Top 10 Best King Crimson Songs

The Top Ten
1 Starless

The magnum opus of the entire progressive genre and one of the best songs ever composed. From the very first note, you are hypnotized, drawn completely into the track. The melody is haunting, unsettling, extremely melancholic, and unbelievably beautiful.

The music during the first three verses feels so delicate and fragile. Then it breaks into the instrumental section and becomes a fierce and heavy piece, unpredictable and exciting, with rock, jazz, classical, and even metal elements. It's a roller coaster ride.

But that outro. Simply put, the best ending to any song ever. It reprises the first melody in the most epic way you can think of. The bass and the Mellotron play in sheer orchestral fashion, then it ends. Those last moments of music remain unparalleled by anything I've ever heard in any other song. Masterful is an understatement.

2 Epitaph

It was extremely hard to choose between this or Starless. In the end, I went with Epitaph. This is truly a haunting, beautiful masterpiece by King Crimson. It's hard to believe that these guys were so underrated. No one talks about them as much as they talk about other '70s bands. King Crimson surely deserves more credit than what they get.

It's really painful to see how most people's taste in music is absolute crap. Thankfully, they appreciate bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Prog rock is so underrated, it hurts.

When I first heard this song, I wanted to share it with my friends. At the end of the day, I realized they weren't going to appreciate it, so I kept it to myself. Besides, now that I think about it, it's better that way. People won't play this song to the point where I get sick of it, and that's a good thing.

3 21st Century Schizoid Man

This is just a brilliant song. So much soul was clearly fed into this track. The sax solo, the bizarre lyrics, the pulsating guitar riff, the disorientating drums. Everything about this song just screams brilliance.

Craziest prog-rock song I've heard. The instrumentation is unbelievable, and this in 1969 would be one of the heaviest things out there. Lyrics are so weird but so memorable. Great song overall.

Began it all, blasting 1969 (and beyond) wide open. Still the most powerful prog-rock track ever, though they certainly came within a hair of matching it by the end of the run in 1974.

4 The Court of the Crimson King

This song is unlike any other song in recent history. It is so gloomy and impressively represents the band's name, The Crimson King, who apparently is Lord Satan. All in all, KC is the most underrated group of its time, skilled in making this form of European jazzy music.

I love this song so much because it goes from verses that are so dark to choruses that are still dark, yet uplifting at the same time. That Moog played between the moaning in the choruses is so great. "The court of the Crimson King, ah-ah-ah, (Moog) aahh-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah."

5 Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part One)

The most layered and interesting folk and metal music juxtaposition any rock band could have come up with. Okay, here's my favorite song from every King Crimson record for noobs.

Court: Moonchild

Poseidon: Pictures of a City

Lizard: Prince Rupert Awakes (it's a close tie with Lady of the Dancing Water)

Islands: The Letters (Impaled on nails of ice!)

Larks': Larks' pt. 1

Starless and Bible Black: The Great Deceiver

Red: Providence (yeah, it's to die for)

Discipline: The Sheltering Sky

Beat: Requiem (The perfect drum improv)

Perfect Pair: INDUSTRY (2nd best instrumental)

Thrak: One Time

Construkction: Frakctured

Power to Believe: Level Five (from what I remember from my one listen where I found this album unsubstantial)

6 I Talk to the Wind

I'm not the biggest KC fan, but I really love the debut and Red. I couldn't agree more with the list. I actually can't decide which one of these in the top 5 is the best as they are all amazingly great.

Perhaps the best song King Crimson ever composed. Please listen to it, guys. It's going to blow your minds!

Underrated much? Easily the best quiet song off the self-titled album since Moonchild is a little too draggy.

7 One More Red Nightmare

The interlude is so beautifully constructed in its complexity. Full of great rhythmic ideas throughout the song.

8 In the Wake of Poseidon

Goosebumps every time Poseidon appears. The sound is barely audible at the auditory threshold but can be perceived all over the body. Dynamic as it used to be.

The best progressive rock band after Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd! Enough said!

One of the best songs I have ever heard.

9 Red

To listen to Red is to view an important stepping stone for modern-day progressive rock and metal. Driving, raw, and incredibly composed - it's possibly the best song of KC's career.

Only King Crimson can rival Metallica for the greatest instrumentals of all time.

Same as Starless. Can't get enough of it.

10 Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part Two)

Way better than the aimless Part 1. I don't know what everyone's smoking when they listen to Part 1 to think it's better than this cut.

Why is this not #1? This has always been my #1. Oh well.

The Contenders
11 Islands

One of the best King Crimson songs ever written, though unless you have an original pressing, you should stick to live versions. Boz Burrell sounds absolutely amazing, don't get me wrong, but they messed up somewhere along the line in the mastering room. There is a high-pitched ring around 6 minutes in that almost ruins it.

The best example of prog-meets-classical music you can find on King Crimson. Marvelous Pete Sinfield lyrics. Islands (the album) is one of the most underrated of KC's albums, perhaps because of an unbalanced line-up. Its complex harmonies and weird influences (ranging from Mahler to the Beatles) make it a very rewarding listen.

12 Fallen Angel

Surprisingly heartfelt, impressionistic Palmer-James lyrics with hints of a Beatles influence both melodically and in terms of the guitar arpeggios. A great change of pace.

Fallen Angel is probably my favorite King Crimson song, with its amazing combination of classic soft rock followed by a transition to what I can only describe as metal.

The contrast between the chorus and the verses is just unbelievable.

13 Lizard

Prog rock MASTERPIECE. Jon Anderson kicks off the beginning with perfection, which then goes into something like The Devil's Triangle, which sort of fades into an Islands type sound. THEN it gets very jazzy before a verse of spoken word. A Pictures of a City sound proceeds to kick you in the face and leaves you with a beautiful outro.

This song really takes me to another place, from the beginning with Jon Anderson's part to the last circus-like part. All the jazzy improvisation in the middle comes from a beautiful melody and suddenly turns into really dark and weird music. I just love this song.

14 Dinosaur

The solo in the middle when everything is quiet makes me feel like watching the discovery of a dinosaur on a black-and-white screen or retro screen. This song's rhythm is also nice.

I wonder what kind of instrument was used for, well, the dinosaur's sound. A bit like an elephant's roar. I appreciate the lyrics because I kind of identify with the guy.

King Crimson fuses prog, metal, and even pop to make an excellent song.

15 Moonchild

The most underrated song from the greatest prog album of all time. Such a beautiful melody followed by tender lyrics. The perfect lullaby.

Oh, Moonchild, the ugly duckling of their debut album. For sure it's not their best, but it deserves more recognition.

It reminds me of the Moulin Rouge movie, and I don't know why. But I like this song.

16 Fracture

The greatest example of how technically advanced music can show great emotion. This is probably Fripp's best guitar work, Wetton's best bass work, and undoubtedly Bruford and Cross' best work. They all combine to create a psychotic masterpiece that does exactly everything the music requires. No more, no less.

Considering it was all done live in one take with Fripp's guitar as the only "written" part makes this even more astonishing.

The best instrumental by the band, in my opinion. It shifts and changes genres and sounds throughout the song. Definitely deserves top 10.

17 Frame by Frame

Great guitar riff. Classic Fripp!

18 Exiles

This song is absolutely beautiful in every way. I don't know why, but I always compare it to Starless. I actually much prefer it. Fripp's guitar solo gives me chills, and the Mellotron is so haunting, but the song always has a hopefulness about it.

Few King Crimson songs are actually uplifting and happy, and this, along with Islands, are my two favorites that fit that description. The flute, the violin, everything just works perfectly in this song. It's so sad how people just look over this one.

A highlight of King Crimson's songwriting prowess. Every sound works together, painting a perfectly soul-tearing landscape.

The delicate melody of the guitar solo sometimes still brings tears to my eyes after all these years.

19 Pictures of a City

This is a great Greg Lake KC song that is very jazzy and reminiscent of 21st Century Schizoid Man. It should at least be within the top 20.

20 The Devil's Triangle

My reaction:

1.17: I hear something
2.19: Oh, it's getting started
3.47: Oh, the climax is coming
3.50: Quiet again
3.59: Whoa, it's coming back
5.33: This is apocalyptic
6.57: That was a loud climax
7.27: Is it over? But there's 5 minutes left!
7.32: What's that noise
7.50: Yes, it's not over!
7.52: Oh my god, it's more epic than ever!
9.09: What's happening? That sounds like Big Top.
9.36: This is really random
10.48: The Court of the Crimson King?! What are you doing here?
11.11: So dreamy
After: My god.

21 Easy Money

One of my favorites, especially live.

Oh my God! Why is Easy Money so down on the list? One of my favorites. From the awesomest prog album ever, Larks' Tongues in Aspic.

From the opening riff, I knew I'd love this song, and it didn't even remotely disappoint.

22 The Great Deceiver

Power drives its way through the synapses of your brain and tells an interesting Marjoe Gortner-type tale uncompromisingly.

Energetic, foreboding, amazing - so many adjectives describe a song that is criminally 32 spots away from where it should be (aka number 1).

23 The Night Watch

Beautifully constructed medieval-sounding lyrics and my favorite guitar solo (so far, at least) from King Crimson. The only problem is how short it is. Lasting only 4 minutes, you just don't want it to end. If they had combined this with Fracture or at least added some of Crimson's great instrumental work, then hands down this would be my favorite song by them.

If I were ever to be on 'Desert Island Discs,' this would be the KC one I took with me. It's a great example of a Crimso masterpiece not needing to be long.

Also, to be fair, the painting, which I have seen in Amsterdam, is magnificent.

24 Heartbeat

Okay, that's nearly easy listening and not really King Crimson. But totally magic.

King Crimson does pop music, and the results are surprisingly awesome.

25 Sailor's Tale

The first two minutes are the finest in the fashion of Soft Machine. Then Robert Fripp introduces the guitar to gently remind you of the mastery that is Crimson. And then in the fourth minute, the full power of King Crimson kicks you straight in the crotch. Finally, a gentle denouement of Pink Floyd's "Echoes"...

The atmosphere of this tune is amazing.

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