My 20 Favourite Dad Rock Songs Of All Time

by Tanya June 12, 2024

Dad rock is a colloquial term used to describe rock music that is generally considered classic or retro by younger generations.

It often refers to music from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s that dads, particularly those who grew up during that era, might listen to.

The genre includes bands and artists whose music has stood the test of time and continues to be popular with older audiences.

Characteristics of dad rock often include guitar-driven sounds, straightforward song structures, and lyrics that appeal to universal themes like love, loss, and life experiences.

Regtransfers, the private number plate company, recently created the “Ultimate Dad Rock Driving Playlist for Father’s Day,” a nostalgic yet fresh Spotify playlist that’s sure to surprise many.

Each generation often dismisses the music of the previous one, only to find their own favourites becoming the new “dad rock.” What was once considered edgy and rebellious is now viewed with nostalgia.

Many dads and even grandads have embraced “dad rock” as a badge of honor, signifying music that has enduring appeal.

The rise in popularity of dad rock playlists and CDs shows a growing appreciation for this music genre.

However, with a new Gen Z generation of dads comes a new generation of ‘Dad Rock’ that will make some of the dads out there feel a little old.

Below are some highlights of the shocking tracks that are now classified as ‘Dad Rock’

‘Dad Rock’ tracks you didn’t realise are now considered ‘Dad Rock’

Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” might seem too modern for dad rock, but it’s over two decades old now.

Green Day’s “American Idiot” and Blur’s “Song 2” are also part of the mix, proving that songs from the early 2000s are now dad rock staples.

If you were rocking out to Oasis’s “Morning Glory” or Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop,” it might be a shock to realise these are now considered dad rock.

Kaiser Chiefs’ “Oh My God” and Garbage’s “Stupid Girl” are other surprising entries, showing how the boundaries of dad rock have expanded.

The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” and Blink-182’s “All the Small Things” were anthems of the 2000s, and they’ve found a place in the dad rock hall of fame.

Sum 41’s “In Too Deep” and Alien Ant Farm’s “Smooth Criminal” cover are also on the list, making it clear that the early 2000s were a pivotal time for what’s now dad rock.

Even more recent bands like The Killers with “Somebody Told Me” and Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly” have made the cut.

And don’t forget Fall Out Boy’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” or The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy),” both of which are dad rock anthems now.

Bowling for Soup’s “The Girl All The Bad Guys Want” is a fun addition, while Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains an undisputed classic. Linkin Park’s “Numb” rounds out the playlist, showing how nu-metal has also aged into dad rock territory.

While the selection of the greatest dad rock songs can be subjective, here my list of the most iconic tracks that scream ‘dad’ in my opinion:

1. “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

A Southern rock anthem with memorable guitar riffs and sing-along lyrics.

2. “Hotel California” – Eagles

Known for its intricate guitar solos and enigmatic lyrics.

3. “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin

A quintessential rock epic with a blend of acoustic and electric guitar.

4. “Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

A rock and roll classic that captures the spirit of youthful rebellion and longing.

5. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

An operatic rock masterpiece that defies conventional song structure.

6. “Back in Black” – AC/DC

A hard rock anthem with powerful riffs and catchy hooks.

7. “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Journey

A song of hope and perseverance that has become a staple sing-along.

8. “Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd

Known for its emotional depth and iconic guitar solos.

9. “Free Fallin'” – Tom Petty

A laid-back rock tune with a memorable chorus.

10. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses

Featuring one of the most recognizable guitar intros in rock history.

11. “Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi

An anthemic rock song about holding on through tough times.

12. “Dream On” – Aerosmith

A powerful ballad with soaring vocals and a climactic finish.

13. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles

A timeless classic with a universal message and sing-along ending.

14. “Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac

A song about the complexities of relationships, featuring strong melodies.

15. “Light My Fire” – The Doors

A psychedelic rock classic with extended instrumental sections.

16. “Piano Man” – Billy Joel

A storytelling song that captures the lives of bar patrons.

17. “Layla” – Derek and the Dominos

Famous for its passionate lyrics and dual guitar solos.

18. “More Than a Feeling” – Boston

Known for its soaring vocals and powerful guitar work.

19. “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

A protest song with a driving rhythm and poignant lyrics.

20. “Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix

A groundbreaking track that showcases Hendrix’s innovative guitar style.


The beauty of “dad rock” is its inclusivity. It’s not confined to a specific genre or era. While it might have started with the classic rock of the ’60s and ’70s, it has expanded to include ’80s heavy metal, ’90s grunge, and even early 2000s punk-pop.

Basically, if you’re old enough to have kids, the music of your formative years is now considered “dad rock.” It’s a moving target that evolves with each generation.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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