Top 10 Devil Songs
It has often been said that the devil has all the best songs. Let’s test that theory now, shall we? The Satanic majesties have requested we compile a list of our Top 10 Devil songs. Over the years many classic rockers have written songs about good old Lucifer. Although tackling the subject often raises the ire of certain conservative-minded folks, fear not children, it’s really all just in good fun (insert evil laugh here). Pitchforks ready? Let us proceed!
This would also top our “songs that remind us of our evil former girlfriend” list. Obviously, Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford probably didn’t date the same woman, but whoever it was that’s got him so hypnotized, mesmerized and generally screwed sounds just as bad. We can feel his pain grow with every second he holds that “I belieeeeeeeeeve” note in the chorus.
‘The Number of the Beast’
Ahh yes! The third Iron Maiden album is pure devil slathered gold. A true classic, the entire album is a heavy metal bulldozer and nowhere is that more evident than on the title track. Bible thumpers were sent running for the hills with lyrics like “The ritual has begun / Satan’s work is done.” But fear not, dear friends, the only spells our heroes were casting were of the musical variety. Maiden would go on to make many more classics, but this may still be their shining moment. “Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast / Its number is six hundred and sixty six.”
‘The Devil In Her Heart’
Okay, so there isn’t the tiniest sliver of hell going on here, but any girl with the devil in her heart must be watched. This George Harrison-sung nugget from ‘With the Beatles‘ was written by Richard Drapkin, and originally recorded as ‘The Devil In His Heart’ by girl group the Donays. The Fabs heard it, loved it, and reworked it as one of their own. We might add that John Lennon & Paul McCartney add some trademark sweet as can be backing vocals to seal the deal.
Heavy, heavy riff action kicks off this devilish Metallica tune from the ‘Re-Load’ album. It’s a slow mover with heaviness calling the shots here. Kirk Hammett‘s chaotic guitar solo steals the show and shines very bright. As James Hetfield attempts to channel the dark lord, he warns us, “Deep inside you know, seeds I plant will grown / One day you will see and dare to come down to me.”
‘Christmas With The Devil’
“There’s someone up the chimney hole, and Satan is his name.” What can we say about Spinal Tap that hasn’t already been said to death? They are where parody begat nonsense begat one liners begat a lifetime love affair with those who guffawed and chuckled ad nauseum to the ridiculousness of certain aspects of ‘eavy me’al, all portrayed by these heroic men of stage, screen and typewriter. As for this satanic holiday number, it’s no ‘Sex Farm,’ but it does make the holiday more, um, ‘festive’ as we find “the elves are dressed in leather and the angels are in chains.”
‘Friend Of The Devil’
From the Grateful Dead‘s 1970 classic ‘American Beauty’ comes this sprightly little number that sits nicely in our list of Top 10 Devil songs. The Dead’s much-loved acoustic period ranks among their finest work no question, and this is a real highlight of the album. The old blues tradition of calling out the devil lives in the Robert Hunter lyric here. “Ran into the devil, babe, he loaned me 20 bills / I spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills / I ran down to the levee but the devil caught me there / He took my 20 dollar bill and vanished in the air.”
‘Shout At The Devil’
While Motley Crue were certainly no Venom, they did like to flirt with the devil now and then. Add a pentagram on the cover of the band’s sophomore LP, some shouting in the devil’s general direction and you’ve got a hit. ‘Shout’ is a riff-heavy cruncher with cavernous drums, meat slicer guitars and weedy (if somewhat mysterious) vocals that helped cement the Crue’s standing as metal heads to be reckoned with.
‘Devil’s Food’ / ‘Black Widow’
The first album Alice Cooper made after the original band split, ‘Welcome To My Nightmare,’ saw Alice branching out and employing more, shall we say, “theatrics” to the songs. ‘Devil’s Food’ is a great rocker with a secret weapon: a mid-song narration by the one and only Vincent Price. It takes this song into a whole other realm, becoming an audio play of sorts. ‘Devil’s Food’ leads into another classic, ‘The Black Widow,’ which continues the show in perfect form.
‘Runnin’ With The Devil’
From the demonic, thumping bass notes that introduce the song, to the guitar histrionics and reckless David Lee Roth-isms throughout, this devil of a song was most of the planet’s introduction to Van Halen. From the devil-may-care opening line of “I live my life like there’s no tomorrow,” it’s clear the angels above aren’t calling the shots here. The song remains an unstoppable force to this day. For a real treat, check out the ‘vocal only’ version. No need for auto tuning of David Lee Roth, plus, it’s a hoot to boot.
‘Sympathy For The Devil’
What else could possibly head up our Top 10 Devil Songs list?! It turns out all you really need to make such evil magic is three or four chords. You just have to know how to put them together properly, and few have done so as wonderfully as the Rolling Stones. As near perfect a record as you can get, ‘Sympathy’ works on all levels. The mood captured is pure gold, the playing is stellar, and the lyrics flawless. It’s hard to conceive how Mick Jagger went from “I was ’round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain” to “She’s so cold like an ice cream cone” in just over a decade.