The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century – 2003

Stillborn – Black Label Society

It’s almost as if Zakk Wylde was trying to beat his own record of the most amount of pinched harmonics in one riff. Hats off!

Feeling This expanded the pop punk template in under three minutes with a Zeppelin-inspired drum groove, rap-tinged verses, and Beach Boys harmonies.

Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet

Its turbocharged Bo Diddley beat was irresistible, and proved that classic rock was not just a 20th century phenomenon.

Molly's Chambers – Kings Of Leon

This high watermark of the garage rock revival was based around one undeniable riff that kickstarted the band’s entire career.

Windowpane – Opeth

The opener on the Swedish quintet’s morbid masterpiece could arguably see them at their most stunning, delving deep into Mikael Åkerfeldt’s obsession with vintage prog.

I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness

Grunge killed off the pomp of 70s glam and hard rock. Les Paul devotees Justin and Dan Hawkins’ 2003 anthem almost single-handedly revived them.

Don't Look Back Into The Sun – The Libertines

Perfect pop songs with filthy guitars win every time, and this is so perfect critics immediately hailed Pete Doherty a genius.

Inertiatic ESP – The Mars Volta

Prog rock was once exclusively for real ale enthusiast dads. The Mars Volta made it sound fresh and young again.

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

You’d need to have hidden away on another planet for this track to have passed you by in the early 00s and, well, pretty much ever since. While 2001’s White Blood Cells brought Jack and Meg White an early taste of commercial success, it was this banger from

2003’s Elephant that blasted the pair into the stratosphere. Having achieved a new life beyond the original recording, these days you’ll more likely hear White’s gnarly riff chanted on the football stands or in political campaigns – just add your own lyrics! 

The secret to that grinding tone? A little light overdrive (easily achieved just using an amp, but a pedal is just as good) matched with an octave-down setting on a pitch shifter plus a dash of spring reverb. And you’ll get best results with the full-bodied tone of a semi-acoustic.

Needled 24/7 – Children Of Bodom

Turbo-charged Maiden-esque harmonies, earworm licks and rapid-fire soloing. This track from the melo-death pioneers has it all.

House Of Pain – Deep Purple

All the classic elements of Deep Purple were still there on album 17.

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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.