Rock Bands With the Most Intelligent LyricsList of Intelligent rock bands judged by lyrical content.
The Top Ten
At first listen I could hardly make out anything Maynard (vocals) was saying, but as soon as I read the lyrics of their songs I was completely unable to unhear those lyrics. The way all of their songs are crafted both musically and lyrically is genius. I'm not going to break it all down for you, if you want to be enlightened by the brilliance of Tool your going to have to stop reading these responses and actually go listen to them. Completely submerge yourself in their music and you will come out the other end a new person.
Just listen to lateralus and you will see how intelligent their lyrics are.
Tool has incredibly well thought out songs like Lateralus where the syllables of the lyrics work up and down the Fibonacci sequence or The pot where the entire song is supposed to make you think its about weed even in its name, but hidden meanings in the lyrics show it is truly a satirical work to criticize those who look at songs only on surface level. As well as well thought out album structure for example 10,000 days has three songs in it where two are played back to back while the third songs audio is layed over the other two to form a hidden song.
I extracted the meaning of all of tool's songs; placed them into a sonic concoction, and now I can't stop break-dancing. It's like I have an intel pentium performance platform running my mental data banks, and every time I hear the song "10,000 days" I cannot stop doing the robot. Artistically speaking, tool has pressed music and art to a threshold of evolution. Their bodies may not posses 46 and 2 chromosomes, but their album Anemia does. This song is a noteworthy elaboration on human evolution and requires a vast amount of mental horse power to create. Maynard is said to have an I.Q. of around 140 and a level of emotional intelligence that cannot be measured. The next time I listen to the song, "eulogy" I will make sure I do the electric worm.6 Comments
Decode Waters' lyrics!
No one else can write thus
In my opinion, Roger Waters is the second best lyricist to ever live, behind only Bob Dylan himself.
Songs like Time, Money, US and Them (Dark Side of the Moon), Wish you were Here, the whole Animals album are time immemorial, not just for their music, but equally for their content too. Pink Floyd has inspired many artists for their concept albums which upholds the fact that their songs mean something.
"Every year is getting shorter,
never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught,
or half a page of scribbled lines."
You cannot say that's not beautiful poetry. - MontyPython
Will Sheff of Okkervil River (a band with incredibly impressive lyricism) put it quite well when he said "Radiohead lyrics are terrible".
Thom Yorke is definitely a creative visionary and a leading edge musician, but a good lyricist? I don't think so.
It is pretty commonplace to use complex metaphors to say something simple when it comes to poetry and songs. But how many people can use everyday words and phrases to convey something extremely deep? Thom Yorke is the answer.
Their songs are simply magical and they have a lot of meaning3 Comments
There is only one band serving this designation. Just a few examples:
Animate - man's need to embrace his feminine side
Earthshine - a rock song about astrophysics/planetary science for crying out loud! Find me another rock tune that does THAT!
Limelight - "I can't pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend" Were truer words ever spoken?
The Trees - a story about the apprehensions of Quebec, as it feels threatened within an English dominated Canadian confederation
Entre Nous - perhaps the most concise analysis of the intricacies of relationships... in fewer than 250 words
Distant Early Warning - A Canadian perspective, told by one with genuine concern and affection for America, expressing concern about America's dangerous course
New World Man - a tribute to America's great potential, with a cautionary admonition. Of course, a little tweak for the old powers of Europe never hurts.
Territories - a rejection of nationalistic fervor, and bling allegiance to a ...more
The older I become, the more I appreciate Neil's lyrics. Coming back to old favourites and listening to them again after some of life's curves and challenges, makes me realize what genius this band possesses. After some deeply personal losses in my own life, the meaning within Something for Nothing, One Little Victory, Earthshine, Dreamline, Bravado, Secret Touch and Ghost Rider resonated.
Even when they do decide to do a song about some rock staple like a car... they created the gem that is Red Barchetta. If that isn't the perfect car song, I don't know what is!
Add to all that the fact they are all musician's musicians makes Rush the only one I could vote for in this "top ten" list.
Neil does NOT have a degree in English. He is a high-school dropout. Neil is a self-taught, self-made man. He has gotten where he has through hard work & perseverance.
Just look into how the lyrics are written and you'll understand5 Comments
Better then a thesaurus for complex words, better than your television for political discourse
Agree with this. Also, Dead Kennedys somewhere. - JoLeKosovo
Undoubtedly Bad Religion are the most intellectual and articulate band on any notion.
Factual information that form intelligent deep thoughts on the human condition comminguling with a wide array of emotions.
There's a running joke among punks about the "Bad Religion Dictionary" that is needed when analyzing their lyrics. Graffin is actually a university professor, and his articulate diction definitely shows this.5 Comments
A first I thought these guys were just noisy and high on cocaine... But one particular day I took my time to really understand their lyrics, they are very good
They enjoy hiding deeper meanings in their songs by making it sound like they are just a bunch of idiots. I love it - kempokid
Eye opening. They have left nothing untouched with their critical, harmonic verses.
Very political2 Comments
Many of their songs provide a stunningly complex view of a historical event. For example, "Paschendale" off of Dance of Death examines its namesake WWI battle, while "The Trooper" examines the Charge of the Light Brigade, an attack in the Crimean War. Another common theme amongst Maiden's music is literature. "To Tame a Land" summarizes Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic, "Dune", while Powerslave's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is capable of passing as a complete thesis on the Coleridge epic. Overall, Iron Maiden puts out consistently fantastic music, paired with some of the most intellectually stimulating lyrics that can be found in rock and metal.
Every lyric is deeply meant and sang for a reason, particularly the political side most can relate to. There is no "beating around the bush", the Manics say it how it is and their lyrics tread on grounds most other bands fear to tread.
What the other guy said.
With the constantly declining intelligence in song lyrics its nice to have an intellectual space in music
Just listen to Killer Queen, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Under Pressure Etc. All of them have very complex lyrics.
Queen had a Doctor in the band. And they all wrote some pretty deep lyrics to their songs
There are songs they don't even use the title in
Based heavily in literature, sex, and some current events, led zepplin tells stories in a beautiful way. Not only are the lyrics fantastic but the instrumentals are great too.
Music is good!
A Progressive rock band! The best of all time! Their lyrics are deeply well thought out! And most. Of all intelligent
This band is the ultimate political criticism.
The best ever!
Social commentary throughout the 90's. Considered one of the most politically dangerous groups at the time. References societal ills stemming from the beginning of the US.
Lyrics don't get much deeper than this
Peter Sinfeld wrote some of the most articulate, well thought out lyrics in the early days of King Crimson
"Death seed blind man's greed
Poets' starving children bleed
Nothing he's got he really needs"
Cold often assumes a brooding, contemplative tone, but its latest album, Superfiction, changes all of that with imagery that alternates between raw realism and depressing majesty, and messages that convey a more authentic and often unexplored side of humanity, revealing us as a race striving to imbue our lives with meaning and purpose, and inevitably failing, but admirable nevertheless in its relentless, naive optimism.
One of the best hard rock bands I know, took me a while to like them but it seemed each time I would play a song over and over I understood something new
Generally, I think all goth bands are creative and intelligent, but I personally think there isn't a goth band better that these guys, especially their old stuff like "Enter"
Sharon's lyrics are full of emotion and actually mean something. Even though she sometimes forgets them herself when performing live.
Sharon den Adel's lyrics kick ass
Sharon's Lyrics are meaningful & thought provoking.1 Comment
All I can say is that their music is an "ART" and only intelligent minds can understand the cello metal
No offense but the list I see here doesn't reflect much intelligence. Some of them express social awareness in their music but are literally singing commentary instead of intelligent lyrical craft. Try also listening to other intelligent acts like Leonard Cohen, Velvet Underground and Depeche Mode.
This amazing band has the most beautiful and complicated lyrics.
This duo is amazing!
Very heavy, very drifting and helps me think clearly
Pearl Jam must be way higher than this!
Pick any song of this master's discography and you will know why he deserves the Number One spot. The Beautiful People, Get Your Gunn, The Fight Song, and Cake and Sodomy, you will see that Manson is undoubtedly the most intelligent Metal Singer this world has ever seen.
A lot of people think his lyrics have bad messages, but if you dig deeper, they actually have good messages.
Lyrically and instrumentally one of the smartest bands
Although they write what seem to be clever alternative rock love songs, there are always multiple interpretations. The she in songs can be a stand in for the love of democratic ideals. Tranquility Base, the latest is more direct like Muse, Pink Floyd or Bad Religion. They are also like the beatles super catchy. They can reach an audience in 15 different ways with one song. They remind me of poet Percy Byshe Shelly, Mary Shelly's husband. Very keen observers of human nature. I am a 54 year old and my wife who is also well read in the classics agrees.
This band from Sheffield,England have the most lyrically creative,diverse and relatable masterpieces that no band can even hope to match. - Praj
Plenty poetry, social comment, on relationships, global apocalypse, some clever, some really visceral. Fugazi, Misplaced Childhood albums, say. Bass-line arpeggio in Chelsea Monday from "Script for.." album.. is more poetry - like many tracks from around this period.
People who appreciate neo progressove rock definitely admire this band! Listen to pseudo silk kimono, you would need a dictionary to decipher their well written english grammar mixed with metaphorical meanings, loved them always!
Ambulance, Burn Bright, Fake Your Death, The Ghost of You, The Light Behind your eyes, The World is Ugly to name just a few. My Chemical Romance have created some of the greatest songs I've ever heard. By far the most thought provoking and deepest lyrics I've ever heard. There's a reason their my favorite band.
Seems like a lot of people are unaware of this band.I will place it next to Pink Floyd and definitely above Nirvana.
Also took me some time to really understand the depth of these guys plus the lead singers voice is epic
So understated. Not always saying something pertinent, and sometimes not saying anything at all, but the genius comes from being able to connect through emotion and melody. in my humble opinion harder and smarter to sing that way.
Listen to "We aren't the World" and you'll see. But actually listen.
Don Henley is one the most intelligent lyricist that I know of. He was an English major and attended college. All the other members of the Eagles were also good at writing lyrics, but not as good as Don Henley.
A band centering around philosophy, psychology, and politics its strange that they aren't on this list.
Eric Johanson's second band, a very mellow and thought provoking band who's lyrics invoke emotion with heavy meaning and well thought out structure. every song tells a story that can either bring you to tears or lift your spirits to new heights.
The Coheed and Cambria albums have been released out of sequence in relation to The Amory Wars story arc; the last album released was the first part of the series. The Amory Wars, originally titled The Bag. On. Line Adventures, is an ongoing series of comic books written by Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez and published by Evil Ink Comics. The story of The Amory Wars is also the focus of the band's music. Each studio album released by the band tells a chapter in the science fiction tetralogy originally narrated by Sanchez's lyrics.
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List StatsCreated 25 Feb 2013
Updated 1 Oct 2018
6 years, 270 days old