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, ...more

Genre is really defined by how it is thought of and the audience that listens to it. People who call songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and a day in the life prog are missing the point. Those songs are one-of-a-kind mainstream rock songs. And that is partly because of the bands that sing them and the way they are thought of in our cultre. It's always this or close to the edge and this alwys seems to win.

Man! I love Shine On You Crazy Diamond so much, but Supper' Ready is not only the best progressive rock song of all time, it's also the best song of all time. The only reason this song isn't as popular as Bohemian Rhapsody or Stairway To Heaven is because it's 22 minutes long, and people can hardly listen to a song for more than five minutes. Nevertheless, us progressive rock fans know the greatness of this song. And come to think of it, it's better this way, because it makes it more special, more unique when less people know the existence of this epic masterpiece.

Foxtrot is arguably the album that really put Genesis on the map in the UK, and made them at least a footnote in the US. In Italy they were already very successful, but anyone who knows anything about Italian music of the 70s knows they were VERY into prog rock. Anyways, this song is the song I've listened to almost the most of any song ever, probably behind all of Dark Side of the Moon. It's just such a catchy song, and it demonstrates Gabriel's songwriting and composition skills perfectly, and demonstrates the band's musical talent very well as well.

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 I beats the rest of the songs in 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.

Echoes has the widest range of emotion and thought of any song on the planet. It's somber vocals, frightening guitar blasts and epic interlude transport you to another dimension. I think it should be #1 song not just in prof rock.

Not only a beautiful longform composition, but also a great live track (Live at Pompeii is brilliant). I love Gilmour's guitar tone, and Rick Wright's organ is breathtaking somehow in both sweeping complexity and emotive simplicity. That sonar-esque "ping" is rightfully legendary.

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.

I personally think Close to the Edge should be on the top of the list with Supper's Ready close behind. This song is just a masterpiece. I think Close to the Edge is the best progressive rock album ever and is certainly Yes at their highest creative and talented peak. Shine on is good and I like Pink Floyd and they're one of my favorite bands but they are overrated. I'm not the biggest Rush fan and 2112 is good but when I want to listen to prog, Yes is always my first choice.

To me, it doesn't matter what order all these songs come in: each one is a masterpiece. However, Close to the Edge is more than just a masterpiece. This song is how I, a man with no religion but himself, have come to experience God (and no, I'm not literally claiming to have talked to a bearded man in the sky). The perfect storm of musicality, spirituality, and emotion, these 18 minutes laid out by Yes are the closest to the edge of perfection any song will ever reach.

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 masterpeice. 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 hospital. Great job Rush!

Probably (in my opinion) the greatest song off all time. Technical mastery by all involved, Geddy Lee on bass and vocals, Neil Peart on drums and Alex Lifeson on Guitar. Very diverse song that is captivating through out

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

I love Supper's Ready by Genesis. It's defiantly one of my favorite songs of all time. I'm gonna 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 defiantly 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 are great! Progressive rock is the best genre of music by far. It's the one the 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.

Amazing piece of musical arrangement! One of Pink Floyd's best albums till date and Gilmour's best work with the guitar. The best part is the jazz that you hear despite their music really not being strongly associated with jazz or blues in any way.

The kings of Prog's song is at 2. No, not acceptable. The Beatles invented prog with Sgt. Pepper, but Pink Floyd perfected it and made it their own. Most bands you know probably wouldn't sound like they do today if it wasn't for the Floyd.

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. Greatest prog metal song ever, in my opinion. Still 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.

I always feel this is a song about being depressed The song can take you to hell and back. Yet at the end it lifts you up, leaving you ahead again and seeing the beauty of it all.

To quote Pitchfork (because it is so well put): ""Starless" feels like a summation of all King Crimson had accomplished to that point. Through its strictly controlled verses, hackle-raising crescendo and wild freak-out coda, the band wrings moments of startling beauty and exuberant energy from the dread and dissonance at the song's core."

Starts with a sweet-jazzy melody, then moves to a chilling dissonant bass/guitar interlude, then to a funky quick instrumental, and finally in the last 2 minutes takes the best of the 3 of them into a beautiful mayhem that gives the perfect closure to one of the best songs mankind has ever produced.

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!

To be continued...

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

My personnal favorite, for many reasons :

It is ambitious without being exaggerately pretentious.
It is perfectly ear-friendly. It is neither overly repetitive, nor boring by 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.

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

What a great song the complexity of the magnificent lyrics are truly mind altering.. I have listened to the album over 100 times never gets old like a great movie. Thank you Ian.

The greatest song ever written! I am a huge prog rock fan and I know all of these songs, but none of them can ever touch THICK AS A BRICK, which is 45 minute long masterpiece and which incorporated 4 (! ) music genres! Again-- the greatest song ever written!

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 on accident and now it is my all-time favorite prog rock song.

Extremely underrated song, combines the elements of three excellent musicians and show what they are made for. The songs harmonic composition is outstanding specially on the "eruption" section.

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

It is a true masterpiece. Only played by three people, but it covers so many parts that are crucial to the song's complexity. People need to listen to this now.

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 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.

Amazing, and probably the heaviest track ever dropped in the sixties.

The Newcomers

? Carouselambra - Led Zeppelin
? Baba O'Riley - The Who
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 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 ones soul renewed, the conclusion to this magnum opus revels in perfection.

Need nothing to say! This song takes you to another world! You can feel the music through your ears to the soul and 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 m Mike Portnoy!

Different moods to take us to a journey of life, complexity and length what prog song needs. And last but not least it is presented to us by the most talented band of our time.

12 The Gates of Delirium - Yes

There's nothing like this song. You know what? I'm gonna 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 strikes 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 trancendant, this song is certainly the greatest thing Yes has ever made. And they didn't even need Rick Wakeman to make it.

The most beautiful, dynamic masterpiece ever made on this planet. I've never listened to a song that could astound me as much as the Gates of Delirium. There is so much skill, technique, complexity, insane writing skills, and most of all emotion in this song. If you have not heard it you must give it a full listen. Note that this song may be too much to handle for inexperienced listeners/musicians.

I continue to find it hard to find an equal to this masterpiece. I love most pre Trevor Rabin Yes, but even Close To The Edge doesn't quite have the dimensions that Gates has. Didn't even need Wakeman to make this work. Wow!

The most complex song, pure excellence, Yes at their best. Not of this world! I would also recommend To Be Over. What a song!

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 best Pink Floyd song.

This is an 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.

I listened to this song a couple of days ago, actually. Long but great song.

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, and it's because nothing compares to the opening eight minute instrumental passage. It is moving, it is peaceful, it is trippy, and it is even terrifying, plus the sax solo at the end is gorgeous.

The perfect intro to any Pink Floyd album, in one my favorites Floyd album. all the parts flows so well together and that chorus is amazing.

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

I'm surprised this isn't higher than parts VI - IX... amazing ambiance and phenomenal solo

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 3 distinct sections. The 1st 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 2nd and 3rd 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 1st impression. The other 2 impressions are good, but not as good. I like the 3rd more than the 2nd which is a classical jazz piece. But the 1st impression is strange catchy, flows very well and is a fun and chaotic journey. And they lyrics to start the 2nd half of the 1st 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 ...more

Great song! Amazing instrument playing and great singing. I hope to see this song higher on the list. But, its hard to contend with so many other amazing prog songs.

Unbelievably beautiful, this song is where the trio shows their true performance!

It's a great keyboard. Maybe better than Hoedown! I love them. It's unbelieveble in this incredible fusion of organ and guitar.

18 Time - Pink Floyd

Wow! Beautiful list with wonderful songs! And wonderful artists! But personally I love "Time" because of many things: after listening this song, I wanted to play guitar (Gilmour is just great! ), and the lyrics remind me 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 which 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 life to 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.

Its just a classic deserves a spot in top 5.

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 Beatles is the first prog rock band. Also the best Beatles song by far

This song IS prog. Probably the first one too!

Progressive rock is defined by its progression, developing its tone as the song goes on. because this song does just that, it is indeed progressive rock and it does belong on this list.

20 The Musical Box - Genesis

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

Just magical, lucky the man who does not know it yet and has to listen to it for the first 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 ist best

Pure joy to listen with its mood changes, great singing and amazing guitar and keyboard atmosphere. Orgasmic! Thank you Genesis for this Chef d'oeuvre :-)

21 The Sleepwalkers - Van Der Graaf Generator

Van der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill are, probably, the best example of what prog rock means. Listen it loud and, please, pay attention to the words. Simply great. Top of class. They should be placed in NUMBER 1 in this list... You can not 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 Petter 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 mor eintense, 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 7 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.

Not my favorite but definitively in the top 5

Amazing keyboard solo!

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 eyes closed... Thank you Genesis for this masterpiece :-)

One of the most beautful song 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 3 best classic prog albums ever. (According to, the other two are Close To The Edge and Thick as a Brick)

What in the world is this song doing at #57? Should be top 10 easily!

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 its on no.13? How the hell!?!?!?

WHAT?! It's not first?! You gotta bbe kidding me! The lyrics are great, the solos are epic (especially the second). This (Or shine on you crazy diamond parts In-V) should be first!

While it's not as "progressive" as other songs in this list, it's absolutely fantastic.

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