The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century – 2002

Cohise – Audioslave

The riff that announced a new supergroup to the world, but it wasn’t the first time Morello had used it – the riff appears on Enola Gay, from 1995’s Weatherman with Vic Bondi.

Lose Yourself – Eminem

The best guitar riff on a rap single since Walk This Way, with an outstanding shuffle feel.

All My Life – Foo Fighters

In 2002, All My Life rocked hard, setting out the stall as lead single for the Foos’ first album of the 21st century. And though Dave Grohl might be the band’s resident megastar, if push comes to shove, it’s Chris Shiflett’s guitar part that we’ll be fighting for. 

At face value, these are two remarkably similar parts, but in the verses Chris lays down the syncopated, almost funky single-note lines as well as the two-note shapes that Dave mirrors. 

Shiflett also delivers the textural part that accompanies Grohl’s powerchords during the breakdown, and he takes the unison string bends in the outro, too. The spotlight will always be on Dave, but most of the magic happens with Chris here.

My Last Serenade – Killswitch Engage

The driving rhythms that defined the American metalcore of the new millennium still kick every bit as hard today.

Can't Stop – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Some will say that 1999’s Californication was the last great Chilis album, but Can’t Stop saw John Frusciante and co bring funk into the 21st century.

Get Free – The Vines

A memorable string-bending riff forms this iconic track from Aussie rockers The Vines, who would inspire a young Alex Turner.

No One Knows – Queens Of The Stone Age

Even if you know nothing about the band, you’ll recognise Josh Homme’s angular C-tuned riffing on QOTSA’s alt/stoner rock classic No One Knows

2002’s Songs For The Deaf album is far from ‘commercial’, but its lead single helped the band break through with mainstream chart success and greater radio play than ever before. Having Dave Grohl behind the drum kit can’t have hurt either! At the heart of those staccato chords is Homme’s dry and unusual neck-humbucker driven tone. 

The QOTSA brain trust keeps its own counsel on gear, but this much we know: Homme is a vintage gear aficionado, favouring guitars by Ovation, Maton and Motor Ave. He loves Ampeg’s VT series combos. 

Having played a Maton MS500 in the No One Knows video, we’d bet one would have been in the studio, too. There’s plenty of low end; some overdrive crunch and a saucing of fuzz. Pedals such as the Stone Deaf PDF-1 add the dirt, the likes of the Fulltone Fat-Boost hold it together. Probably.

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Total Guitar editors

Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.