Top 10 Rock Operas (Rock Musicals)

The Top Ten
1 The Wall - Pink Floyd

The Wall is a musical triumph. Just the words "Hey you, would you help to carry the stone?" especially with that harmonization, are enough to send chills down my spine. I'm working on a script for a stage album, and it's turning out greatly. Thank you, Nick, Dave, Roger, and Rick for giving us a masterpiece, and God bless the last one, you are forever in our hearts.

My criteria for a quality rock opera:

- pleasure of listening
- quality of message
- how interesting the story is
- re-listen value
- ability to portray a feeling
- excitement

This ticks all of the boxes better than any other rock opera or album I have heard. Runners up for me are Quadrophenia and Operation: Mindcrime.

2 Tommy - The Who

Tommy is just the best written of them all. Plus, it has the most obscure, but interesting storyline. A boy who witnesses his father's death and is told not to see or say anything about it, and his mind takes it to an extreme and he becomes deaf, dumb, and blind. He is then given to his molesting Uncle Ernie. He discovers he is a "Pinball wizard" and becomes famous around the world. He becomes very attached to mirrors and they feel he can't see the things around him but himself in these mirrors. His mother is mad that he is becoming too attached to the mirrors and smashes them. This cures Tommy of his odd disease, hence the songs "Sensation" and "I'm Free." Uncle Ernie tries to take advantage of Tommy's fame and starts a wildly overpriced camp for children of Tommy's old nature to be cured and learn pinball. The children in the end rebel, which is the song "We're Not Gonna Take It." I feel that this storyline by itself makes it #1.

3 American Idiot - Green Day

Green Day's American Idiot is one of the absolute best rock operas of the 21st century. Jesus of Suburbia is such a powerful song comprised of 5 movements, adding up to a 9-minute track. It is followed by several songs that simply add to the story of Jesus of Suburbia, eventually closing the album with a sort of aftermath track: Whatsername. Legendary masterpiece. 10/10.

This is clearly the most powerful/political rock opera EVER. Following the Jesus of Suburbia and his view of how F-ed up the world is, and how he can't stop it, as he has his own problems. Add his alter ego. St. Jimmy, and the girl he falls in love with, Whatsername, and you have the story of the century! On top of that, it hit Broadway.

4 Quadrophenia - The Who

Kind of an opera. The concept is a little sloppy and it almost feels like Townsend had to bend the story to work in the personalities of the 3 other members. But they are at the peak of their musical powers and you can hear it all in "The Real Me" - Entwistle's blaring bass guitar, Moon's manic and brilliant drumming, and Townsend's guitar all shine but the real star of Quadrophenia might be Daltrey, who with his work on Who's Next (who can forget the scream on Won't Get Fooled Again?) and here elevated himself onto the Robert Plant, Mick Jagger level lead singers. Daltrey started finding his voice around 1970 and just got better and better all the way through Who Are You and "You better you bet."

5 Moon - Gackt

Consisting of two albums (Moon and Crescent), two tours (Kagen no tsuki and Jougen no tsuki), two novels (Moon Child and Requiem), and a movie (Moon Child), it is one of the most amazing musicals of all time!

6 Jesus Christ Superstar - Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber

There is no question that JCS is the greatest rock opera. The quality of the music surpasses both The Who and Pink Floyd, and the lyrics are far more complex, akin to top literature. Whilst the themes of The Wall and Tommy (especially the latter) are by comparison quite straightforward. JCS asks fundamental questions about the meaning of one of the greatest stories in history (whether it is actually historical fact or not). I find it quite amazing that this work is so little celebrated.

I think there are many that claim to be "rock opera," but in my opinion, this is the one true example of what a rock opera should be like. The music, the voices, the story, the political message. And it is incredibly moving while at the same time manages to be catchy as hell.

7 Bat Out of Hell / Bat Out of Hell II - Meat Loaf

I love the Bat II album, but it was skipping a little, and I think I need a new copy!

Great music and enjoy it most every day! # 1 goes with this post as well!

The rock opera all rock operas need to be measured against.

8 Grease
9 Operation: Mindcrime - Queensryche

This is my favorite album of all time. Fantastic concept album. I am so happy that Adam Pascal is developing a version of it for the stage!

10 Lifehouse - The Who

This was never a real rock opera because the project was scrapped and made into Who's Next. But you can hear on YouTube what it would've been like, and in my opinion, it would've been better than their number one album, Who's Next!

The Contenders
11 21st Century Breakdown - Green Day

An even more modern version of Romeo & Juliet. Beautifully crafted, I love this album.

12 The Rocky Horror Picture Show

How can this not be higher? When you think of a rock opera, isn't this the first thing that pops into your mind?
It's the most iconic rock operas of all time!

Who didn't vote this top?! Oh my word! Richard O'Brien is the greatest genius of our time, and Rocky Horror is a testament to that!

Flashy, trashy, kinky, and leather makes this movie/musical one of the most memorable out there.

13 Diamond Dogs - David Bowie
14 The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis

The story and lyrics by Peter Gabriel are not easy to understand, but they are great. And the music is also amazing. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," "Carpet Crawlers," "The Lamia"... WOW!

15 The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

A good album with lots of catchy songs, although I'm not entirely sure it's one of the best "rock operas" in that sense (the plot and characters aren't as expertly defined as, say, Tommy or American Idiot). Ignoring that part, the album is great.

An album that shaped a generation of teens that felt left out in society. The Black Parade is an epic that was timely and effective.

I don't know whether or not this is a rock opera, but it sure is an awesome concept album.

16 Rent

Very hard-rock type of score, yet so beautifully done in terms of plot. Pretty good.

Belongs at the top of this list!

I love all of this music. There's not a day that goes by when I'm not singing a song from Rent.

17 Sweeney Todd

The version by Michael Cerveris and Patti Lupone is grand in the best way possible. They renew this show into a gothic classic. You can still feel the emotions on this CD. The whole company played their own instruments - amazing!

18 The Wake of Magellan - Savatage

I don't disagree that Savatage deserves this spot. Why I am commenting is because Savatage did two other rock operas that are better than this one. Whereas Streets is my favorite and is inspirational beyond belief, musically, Dead Winter Dead is better and should be number one on this list. Covering a love story in the middle of the chaos during the fall of communism in Yugoslavia, it still strikes a chord with the people in Bosnia, even though it came out in 1995. Phenomenal!

Great album, great story, great lyrics. Very elaborate melodies, and once more, a brilliant use of counterpoint in the vocals. It's very ambitious because there are a few different stories, but somehow, in the end, they seem to complete each other, and you get the sensation they really should be told together.

19 Hair

One of the first and one of the best!

20 Thick as a Brick - Jethro Tull
21 Joe's Garage - Frank Zappa

Haha, this is at #25! Real music is dying.

22 01011001 - Ayreon

The double album that set a new standard in rock operas, with amazing songs that tell a state-of-the-art story.

I have to agree. This is a killer album.

23 We Will Rock You

Some of the best ever Queen songs, with an insane plotline thrown in! It couldn't get any better!

By far the best rock musical of all. Best music, best dialogue... SUPERB!

24 Antichrist Superstar - Marilyn Manson

This will take you away if you let it... great!

25 Cats
8Load More
PSearch List