Top 10 Styx Songs
The best Styx songs showcase a group that has always been unafraid to explore new musical ground. The band’s best work spans the ’70s and the ’80s, encompassing everything from guitar-driven hard rock to straight ballads, and incorporating elements of progressive rock, metal, classical music and even techno-pop. From unemployment anthems and songs about the state of America, to romantic ballads and songs about robots, the group had a little something for just about everyone — as you’ll see on our list of the Top 10 Styx Songs:
‘Suite Madame Blue’
Styx singer/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung wrote ‘Suite Madame Blue’ in 1975 for the impending American Bicentennial. The song is a perfect blend of all of Styx’ most important elements, bringing together a melodic verse, massive Sabbath-esque guitar riffing, and impressive synth and guitar solos from DeYoung and James “JY” Young to form a track that is undeniably one of the Top 10 Styx Songs.
‘Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)’
Guitarist Tommy Shaw scored his first real hit with this airy track, which showcases the progressive side of Styx, balancing Shaw’s acoustic singer-songwriter roots with Dennis DeYoung’s keyboard wizardry. DeYoung dominates the track musically, topping it off with a pair of jaw-dropping keyboard solos, while Styx’ unique triple-layered harmony onslaught provides the icing on the musical cake.
‘Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)’
Written by Shaw after a conversation with a friend who had been laid off, ‘Blue Collar Man’ represents the heavier side of Styx, with crunchy power chords in the rhythm track and a flashy guitar solo. DeYoung contributed the track’s signature distorted organ riff, and a prototypical arena rock anthem was born.
This failed single from Styx’ sophomore album got a second chance in 1975, when it landed at No. 6 on the Billboard charts. DeYoung wrote the song, the first of many for his wife. Musically ‘Lady’ is the paradigm for a sound that became Styx’ signature, with a classical piano figure in the verse and heavy guitars in the chorus. ‘Lady’ not only introduced the world to Styx’ trademark blaring vocal triads, it launched the group’s career, easily earning its spot in the Top 10 Styx Songs.
‘The Best of Times’
With this rock ballad, DeYoung accomplished the difficult task of marrying a romantic lyrical theme with social commentary. ‘The Best of Times’ is a perfect pop-rock confection, with sparse verses and a giant chorus. The track features one of DeYoung’s best vocal performances and a well-constructed Shaw guitar solo. Besides, who can keep from singing along with the refrain, “These are the best OF TIMES?”
‘Too Much Time on My Hands’
This song follows the unemployed character from ‘Blue Collar Man’ into the early ’80s, where he’s “sitting on this bar stool, talking like a damn fool” to his fellow patrons. This was Shaw’s highest-charting single for Styx, hitting No. 9. Musically the song perfectly bridges the gap between the hard rock that defined Styx in the ’70s, and the pop-rock band they became in the ’80s, with a new Wave-ish synth track and a deftly melodic guitar solo from Shaw.
‘Babe’ inspires fierce debate among Styx fans, critics and even band members for its shift in musical direction. The track has no rhythm guitars at all, and DeYoung sang all of the vocal parts himself. James “JY” Young doesn’t even appear on the track, while Shaw’s sole contribution is a brief solo. To add insult to injury, ‘Babe’ was such a well-crafted pop ballad that it became Styx’ only No. 1 single, opening a gulf between DeYoung and the rest of Styx that would never truly close.
‘Mr. Roboto’ is undoubtedly the most controversial of the Top 10 Styx Songs. Loved by some, reviled by others, this techno-pop tune about a robot was a hard turn in a different direction for Styx, as even DeYoung admits. But there’s no shortage of pop hooks in this oddly compelling song, making it such a guilty pleasure that it went all the way to No. 3. “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” has become a part of pop culture, and admit it — you know you’ve done the robot to this song when you thought nobody was looking.
‘Come Sail Away’
Styx finally broke through to superstardom with this epic track, which brings together everything that was special about the group. DeYoung contributed his most evocative vocal over a classical piano figure, while Shaw borrowed the heavy guitar riff from an old, unrecorded song of his and Young contributed the song’s instrumental middle section. The result is a true classic that has been a staple of Styx’ live set since its release, and has also appeared in countless movies and television shows.
Shaw made his most lasting contribution to pop culture with this guitar-driven rocker, which also came in at No. 95 in our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs. ‘Renegade’ actually began life as an acoustic ballad, but when Shaw brought it in, DeYoung (somewhat ironically) suggested that Styx heavy it up into the classic it is today. Young contributed his best-known solo to the track, which has become a staple of classic rock radio, television and movies, and sporting events, as well as every Styx concert since the Dawn of Man.