Top 10 Best Progressive Rock Songs

The Top Ten
1 Supper's Ready - Genesis

I've always loved Genesis, but it's more recently that I've realized that this is my favorite song by them as well as my favorite progressive rock "epic". Part of it is my bias towards the band since it introduced me to other progressive rock bands and has been a huge part of my life, but I also truly believe that this is a masterpiece as well.

Split into 7 different sections, this song keeps you invested more than any other long song because of how much it changes, and yet it still manages to feel somewhat cohesive and to maintain an overall theme. The lyrics are very "out there" but feel prolific nonetheless, and the complexity of the musicianship is astounding throughout.

"Apocalypse in 9/8" is one of my favorite sections of music ever - I'm not really sure what it is, but something about the complicated backing rhythm combined with the keyboard solo really works, and I've listened to it so much that it's engraved into my brain. Peter Gabriel's singing at the end is also amazing, and the final Mellotron chords at the end of the section leading into "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs" are fantastic.

Every other section on this song is great too, especially "Willow Farm," where Gabriel's whimsical and odd nature are showcased. If you haven't already, you should really listen to both the studio version of this song and the live version on the album Seconds Out. Phil Collins does a great job in that version, and it is almost better in some ways, although nobody but Gabriel can really do Willow Farm perfectly.

Anyway, there are tons of great progressive rock "epics" and songs in general, and I love bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush, Dream Theater and others for all they have done musically. However, Genesis has always been greater than the sum of its parts, and in my mind, the solos and riffs played by the band often serve to add to the songs themselves rather than to showcase individual talents.

I am a huge fan of the band in all of its... more

2 Echoes - Pink Floyd

Maybe Pink Floyd's best song. It starts with a slow build of instrumentation in the beginning, developing into a burgeoning melody through development 5 minutes in, to turn into an extravaganza of all the players' improvisation. Then the whale screams start entering. This is why the song becomes so good. It becomes more haunting than even The Gates of Delirium, because it's stopped being music. It became an experience.

And just as it started, it slowly returned to form with a build of instrumentation until the end. It's simply an experience you need to hear, though the abridged 16-minute version is a little bit superior.

Very deep and probably the best song ever made. I think it beats the rest of the songs on this list because it is more simple, does not have a long opera-like story nor the exaggerations of the other good prog songs like big solos or massive notes per second, even comparing to other Pink Floyd songs.

3 Close to the Edge - Yes

While not the greatest progressive song in my view, it is a technical and musical masterwork on par with any classical creation by Mozart & Bach and rises above its contemporary peers. The sheer amount of detail packed into every second of this song, the various sections that congeal into a transcendent whole, the vocal harmonies. It's all so good.

Close to the Edge is a masterpiece. Shine on You Crazy Diamond is vastly overrated. It's cool but mostly consists of the band jamming. Supper's Ready is a lot better, but Close to the Edge is on a whole other level. All the instruments are equal in a perfect mix and nothing really stands out except the music itself. The abstract lyrics are an instrument themselves and when you listen to the piece, you feel like LIVING. The different sections of the song cover a spectrum of different moods ranging from mayhem, melancholy, chilling, yearning, rage, mysterious, happy, and serene. This song, if any, is made of pure awesome.

4 2112 - Rush

You know the real reason this song is not number 1 is because nobody knows who Rush is. People do not pay much attention to Canadian bands. It is kind of sad actually. But this song has the most amazing lyrics and I love Geddy's bass in the temples of Syrinx. Amazing musical masterpiece. Rush is the most underrated band there is to date. Rolling Stone gives Rush 2/5 stars on almost every album. I hope whoever is reading this does not like Rolling Stone. Or the Hall of Fame voters. Ha ha ha.

THIS is real prog rock, boys and girls. Rush has been an all-time great prog rock band, no doubt about it. So, you can say whatever you like about Genesis or Pink Floyd, but you can NEVER beat Rush. In my opinion, it should be number one.

Just an electric masterpiece. After the 6-minute guitar intro, you think it'll be silence for a while. But it goes straight back into that awesome guitar stuff again. This is just one of those songs that pretty much everyone will like, and if you don't, I think you'd better 'Rush' to the hospital. Great job, Rush!

5 Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part VI-IX) - Pink Floyd

I love Supper's Ready by Genesis. It's definitely one of my favorite songs of all time. I'm going to vote for Shine On You Crazy Diamond, though. Pink Floyd is my favorite band and they make my favorite music. Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a masterpiece as well as 2112 from Rush, The Knife, Supper's Ready and The Musical Box by Genesis, Roundabout by Yes, Close To The Edge also by Yes, Passage To Bangkok and Twilight Zone by Rush, a long list of songs by Pink Floyd. Progressive rock is definitely my favorite genre. It takes true talent to make progressive rock and true taste to listen to it. 21st Century Schizoid Man is another great progressive rock song.

What do people have against Pink Floyd? Pink Floyd is great! Progressive rock is the best genre of music by far. It's the one that requires the most talent. I love Pink Floyd. Supper's Ready by Genesis is one of the most underrated songs of all time, though. It is beautifully played and the lyrics are amazing.

6 Starless - King Crimson

Simply incredible ending. It seems like it will be a standard King Crimson song in the beginning, with nice singing and good instrumentation, but then it just builds and builds and builds to end with that burst of metal rock at the end. It's the greatest prog metal song ever, in my opinion. Still, it's not as good as some of Yes' creations.

What really blows my mind about this song is how King Crimson packed in so much in the span of 12 minutes. The somber and emotional opening, with very symbolic lyrics. The buildup, constantly getting more and more heavy as it goes. The speedy sax solo, showing how much talent each member at the time flaunted. Hot damn, every instrument worked so well, especially in that section.

And the way the song finishes off. It's as if we were taken on such a journey of various feelings, and it all drew to a crashing close right then and there. Starless really captures the spirit of not only KC at their best, but the abilities prog musicians really have compared to others. It's a grand song to behold, and a prog anthem for the ages.

7 Roundabout - Yes

Such a good song! It's catchy, has a bass line so incredible it must have been commanded to Squire by the gods, has vocal harmonies that fill up my ears, multiple sections, time signature changes, and so much more. The ending vocal parade was one of the most fun I'd had listening to music in years.

Best intro of any song ever created. Also, stunning bass riff…

This song is classic - and amazing!

8 Thick As a Brick, Pt. 1 - Jethro Tull

Of course, this is the second best Prog Rock song of all time. The best is A Passion Play by such a long way everything else fades into insignificance.

My personal favorite, for many reasons:

It is ambitious without being excessively pretentious.
It is perfectly ear-friendly. It is neither overly repetitive, nor boring due to its slowness, nor too solo-ey (if you see what I mean, ELP).
It is very pleasing sonically, with a unique middle-agey rock sound. All parts are catchy and memorable, and after barely two listens you can hum everything.
It doesn't take itself too seriously, as it was meant as a parody of the progressive frenzy of the era.
The piece as a whole has this sincere, beautiful feel, and even though it is 43 minutes long, still seems "simple".

I'm talking about Pt 1 and 2, of course, as everyone else here.

I'm not sure why it is listed as "Pt. 1", since the whole thing is one song. Anyway, I would've picked "Echoes" by Pink Floyd, but I gave "Thick As a Brick" my vote because I think it should definitely be higher on the list. This song has so much intricate and interwoven instrumental layering, and the lyrics are just fantastic as well.

9 Tarkus - Emerson, Lake & Palmer

A 20-minute-long palette of emotions, this composition is truly epic and brings up feelings so complex I can't describe. I've stumbled upon it by accident and now it is my all-time favorite prog rock song.

An extremely underrated song, it combines the elements of three excellent musicians and shows what they are made for. The song's harmonic composition is outstanding, especially on the "eruption" section.

You really understand how difficult and complex Tarkus is when you try to play it. It has many tempo changes and its structure is very atypical. Enough said.

10 21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson

This song is a great example of progressive rock at its best, by the band who helped to jumpstart the genre. The lyrics are relevant, Robert Fripp is great, and the music is a genius arrangement.

Very antagonistic lyrics with an absolutely amazing instrumental section in the middle. One of my favorites.

I love this song so much. The sax and the guitar are amazing. But I like Epitaph better.

The Newcomers

? The Final Encore - Camel
? Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath
The Contenders
11 Octavarium - Dream Theater

This song is purely amazing. However, if I was stating my absolute favorite songs, Echoes and Dogs would be higher. So why did I vote for Octavarium? This is about the best prog songs, not including psychedelic, and Octavarium definitely has an edge on them.

A swan song to all the prior Prog influences that led Dream Theater to this point, Octavarium takes the listener on a musical journey beyond space and time. Leaving one's soul renewed, the conclusion to this magnum opus revels in perfection.

There's nothing to say! This song takes you to another world! You can feel the music through your ears to the soul. Technically, Octavarium is just a brilliant piece of art! Every single person in the band is a master: John Petrucci, John Myung, James LaBrie, Jorden Ruddess, Mike Mangini (now).

Miss you, Mike Portnoy!

12 The Gates of Delirium - Yes

There's nothing like this song. You know what? I'm going to say it. This is the greatest rock masterpiece ever composed. The slow build-up from the beginning's quietly tense electric feeling, to some minutes in when they have all these different sections with so many tempo and signature changes that it makes Close To The Edge jealous, to the middle of the song which has melodies that strike fear into anybody's hearts. It is SO GOOD.

There are sections with a time signature of 22:8, there's a drum breakdown, there are explosions modeled by a drum rack falling. And then there's the end of the song. Soon is likely the greatest ending to any side of an album, comparable with Eclipse in DSOTM in terms of excellence, but much more emotional than even it. I don't cry to music. I did to Soon.

Complex, haunting and transcendent, this song is certainly the greatest thing Yes has ever made. And they didn't even need Rick Wakeman to make it.

13 Dogs - Pink Floyd

A lengthy masterpiece which puts you into a different world, and it has really had an impact on the way I look at society. Clever lyrics, a brilliant multitude of guitar solos, and simply an interesting atmosphere. Possibly the best Pink Floyd song.

This is amazing. It's not only one of the best Pink Floyd songs but one of the best in the world. I seriously think this song is vastly underrated.

Pink Floyd's best composition, in my opinion. Great soloing, beautiful lyrics, amazing buildup to the end, organic but not overly repetitive.

14 Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) - Pink Floyd

Why is Part 1 so far below Part 2? Few epics I have ever heard in my life are as good as SOYCD overall. It's because nothing compares to the opening eight-minute instrumental passage. It is moving, peaceful, trippy, and even terrifying. Plus, the sax solo at the end is gorgeous.

The perfect intro to any Pink Floyd album, in one of my favorite Floyd albums. All the parts flow so well together and that chorus is amazing.

Those four notes… Nothing in the world can beat them.

15 Lady Fantasy - Camel

Wow, great work! Nevertheless, the lyrics are quite mysterious and should be more precise. But this doesn't mean this is not a timeless masterpiece, and in fact, it is!

One of the best of Camel.

Best of all time!

16 Lizard - King Crimson

One of the absolute best.

17 Karn Evil 9 - Emerson, Lake & Palmer

My favorite Prog rock song frequently changes. Right now, it's Karn Evil 9. Technically, it's a 29-minute song, although it has three distinct sections.

The first section is split on the front and back of the album, which one would think would be a detriment. But the song and lyrics bring you right back for the second part and if anything, the song being on both sides only makes it better.

The second and third impressions to me feel like separate songs. So when I say Karn Evil 9 is my favorite, I'm just talking about the first 13 or so minutes which is the first impression. The other two impressions are good, but not as good.

I like the third more than the second, which is a classical jazz piece. But the first impression is strangely catchy, flows very well, and is a fun and chaotic journey. The lyrics to start the second half of the first impression are brilliant in their awkward way.

This song feels like no other, and it feels pretty great. Also, it's a fun song the first time and fun the 50th time heard. I'll let you know when I've listened to it more. Many prog rock songs take a while to fall in love with. This song is pretty immediately likable to people who like rock and roll and particularly prog.

18 Time - Pink Floyd

Wow! Beautiful list with wonderful songs and wonderful artists! But personally, I love "Time" because of many things: after listening to this song, I wanted to play guitar (Gilmour is just great!), and the lyrics remind me of my parents who don't want me to do what I really want. And Mason is brilliant in the introduction!

One of my favorites, no doubt! This song completes the whole album concept. In it, you hear the perception of time from the point of view of any given person, who once is young, but realizes that time flies away one day. Excellent and very recommendable! Long live Pink Floyd!

I believe it's the best song of the album "The Dark Side of the Moon", and of course, it's one of the best songs of progressive rock.

19 A Day in the Life - The Beatles

The Beatles were not a prog rock band, but that doesn't mean they can't have a prog rock song. This is prog rock, and probably one of the first ones.

This song IS prog. I stand by my opinion that The Beatles is the first prog rock band. Also, the best Beatles song by far.

This song IS prog. Probably the first one too!

20 The Musical Box - Genesis

A genuine prog-rock masterpiece. The genius of this song cannot be expressed in words. It's as close to magic as you're ever going to get without LSD or other psychedelics.

Just magical. Lucky is the man who does not know it yet and has to listen to it for the first time. It will take him out of time and space. You can listen to it as much as you live and it stays alive, alive, and forever fresh, never boring, just magical.

A magical experience every time I listen to this. Drama at its best.

21 The Sleepwalkers - Van Der Graaf Generator

Van der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill are, probably, the best examples of what prog rock means. Listen to it loud and, please, pay attention to the words. Simply great. Top of the class. They should be placed at NUMBER 1 in this list.

You cannot find in any other classic prog rock bands the musical scenery and lyrics brought by the songs in the following albums: "H to He, Who Am The Only One" (1970), "Pawn Hearts" (1971), "Godbluff" (1975), "Still Life" (1976), and "World Record" (also released in 1976).

Please do not forget also the solo albums by Peter Hammill, in particular "The Silent Corner and The Empty Stage" (released in 1974), during a hiatus in the activities of Van der Graaf Generator.

22 Firth of Fifth - Genesis

There's the piano. It's good. It's pretty impressive.
The verses come. Pseudo-philosophical stuff with a quite grating melody. Gabriel's being himself, as he does.
And then, there's the interlude. All quiet and nice. But you hear a lick that sounds perfect. It catches the ear. At this point, the interlude becomes more and more intense, building itself up to A MAJESTIC CLIMAX. You need to hear it.

What happens afterwards in the song doesn't matter. It's just that climax. You forget everything else.

Unbelievable piano intro! When I first heard this song, I listened to it seven times in a row. I have never listened to a song twice in a row before then!

Still as powerful today as when it was first released. Banks & Hackett put on a clinic.

23 The Cinema Show - Genesis

A wonderful epic song with its harmonious acoustic beginning and engulfing keyboard solo under an amazing bass and drum rhythm. To be listened to attentively with eyes closed. Thank you, Genesis, for this masterpiece.

One of the most beautiful songs from the album Selling England By the Pound. By the way, the full album is fantastic.

Best song on Selling England By The Pound, which is itself one of the three best classic prog albums ever. (According to ProgArchives.com, the other two are Close To The Edge and Thick as a Brick.)

24 Dancing with the Moonlit Knight - Genesis

They had a lot of great openings - "TLLDOTB", "The Musical Box", "Dancing on the Volcano", "Watcher of the Skies", but this is the best - so powerful!

Wonderful Hackett guitar.

25 Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd

The greatest guitar riffs of all times. I want this song to be played when I'm comfortably numb in my coffin, uplifting sounds to ease my trip beyond!

Are you kidding me? Comfortably Numb is THE best song ever. It's like it was recorded to be number 1 and it's on no.13? How the hell!?!?!?

WHAT?! It's not first?! You've got to be kidding me! The lyrics are great, the solos are epic (especially the second). This (or Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V) should be first!

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