Best of You: Ten songs tracking the musical evolution of Foo Fighters

The US band have won more than a dozen Grammy awards and sold more than 30 million albums

Foo Fighters, led by frontman Dave Grohl, should arrive at Etihad Park rejuvenated with new member Josh Freese. AP
Powered by automated translation

This year's Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix will end with a performance from a band fit for the moment.

For nearly 30 years, the Foo Fighters have built a career as one of rock's biggest bands with a catalogue of finely tuned hits full of inspirational themes that are tailor-made to be played in large stadiums.

The emotions will be palpable on Sunday as the band arrives in Abu Dhabi at last, having cancelled their 2021 race day concert reportedly due to the ill health of former member Taylor Hawkins, who died the following year.

The group – led by irrepressible frontman Dave Grohl – should arrive at Etihad Park rejuvenated and with new member Josh Freese behind the drum kit.

With more than a dozen Grammy awards and more than 30 million albums sold, here are 10 songs showcasing the depth and evolution of Foo Fighters over the span of their career.

1. This Is a Call (1995)

This Is a Call is essentially a solo track by Dave Grohl as he wrote and performed the song as a one-man band.

Released a year after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death, Grohl worked under the Foo Fighters alias to provide some creative space away from the popular grunge group that he was the drummer of.

While not hinting at the later success Foo Fighters would find, This Is a Call puts down the seeds for the kind of euphoric rock the band would go on to master.

2. Monkey Wrench (1997)

Monkey Wrench is a track that is pristinely produced and as melodic as a gargantuan rock ballad.

With lyrics hinting at Grohl's marital discord, the singer delivers some of his most intense vocals, as well as a glorious scream that at the time challenged the orthodoxy of commercial radio.

A staple of modern rock, this song shows how Foo Fighters graduated from Grohl's side project into a successful band.

3. Everlong (1997)

One of the group’s most recognisable songs, Everlong finds the Foo Fighters mining new emotional depth in their songwriting with this reflective anthem of love and longing.

Employing some of the same soft yet loud dynamics of Nirvana, the track lurches from gentle acoustics in the verse to a powerful, cathartic chorus.

Everlong found a greater appeal with its surreal music video that was directed by Michel Gondry as a partial parody of 1981 horror film The Evil Dead.

4. Learn to Fly (1999)

The hilarious music video for Learn to Fly helped elevate an already great song to classic status.

Featuring Jack Black and Kyle Glass from comedy rock duo Tenacious D, the video is set on an aircraft and the flight goes off course.

While there is a lot to enjoy here, from the slapstick comedy to the toilet humour, Learn to Fly is itself an impeccable song with an uplifting message of facing your fears.

5. All My Life (2002)

The group's 2002 album One by One nearly caused them to break up.

However, amid the fraught recording process the band unearthed some gems.

While the anthemic Times Like These was the big radio success single, All My Life is the better track.

Raw and aggressive, it remains one of the hardest-rocking songs in the band's catalogue and shows they haven't lost their edge with all the chart success.

6. Best of You (2005)

By this stage in their career, Foo Fighters could compose a track like Best of You with their eyes closed.

While it all sounds a tad too calculated, it doesn't diminish the song's power and emotional pull.

With Pat Smear joining the Foo Fighters as their third guitarist, the riffs sound heavier and razor sharp, while Grohl's lyrics about overcoming adversity has made Best of You a favourite for television sporting montages.

7. Walk (2011)

The 2011 album Wasting Light revitalised Foo Fighters.

While it doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to their brand of hard melodic rock, the songs feel more urgent and powerful.

Track Walk exemplifies that vitality with its rousing hooks and chorus imploring us to get up and “walk again” when times are tough.

8. The Feast and the Famine (2014)

Taken from the band's collaborative and underrated album Sonic Highways, The Feast and the Famine features guest vocalists Peter Stahl and Skeeter Thompson from punk group Scream.

Intense and invigorating, The Feast and the Famine melds frenetic punk-rock riffs with a howling chorus best experienced live in stadiums.

9. Shame, Shame (2020)

Foo Fighters embrace a more blues and roots sound in the lead single of 10th album Medicine at Midnight.

Where the band often introduce albums with up-tempo tracks, Shame, Shame is more subdued with emphasis placed on atmosphere and tasteful musicianship, including the particularly ominous guitar riff coursing through the bleak track.

10. Rescued (2023)

Rescued is a balm for a grieving band and fan base.

The lead single from their latest album But Here We Are Now – the first without late drummer Hawkins – is visceral and defiant as the band shows it can rock on despite the monumental loss.

Grohl seems to address the moment he learnt his bandmate died in a nearby hotel room.

“It came in a flash, it came out of nowhere / It happened so fast, and then it was over”, he sings before describing the grieving process as similar to falling through a trap door.

Rescued doesn't offer platitudes on resilience, instead Foo Fighters show that sometimes the only way to deal with the pain is by playing as loudly and quickly as you can.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 2:06 PM