My Top 40 Songs You Need To Hear Before You Die

40 Songs You Must Listen to Before You Die

If you had 1 day left to live, and you had to choose the top 40 songs you would listen to before your time on this planet came to an end…what would you choose?

I think at least a few people with careers in the music industry will agree with some of my choices here.

Although I obviously haven’t a clue what you would choose, but here is my top 40 songs that I would listen to before I bit the dust.

Contents show

My Bucket List Of Good Songs To Listen To

40. Anesthetize – Porcupine Tree

This 17 minute long epic is simply a wicked song. It’s not the most dramatically innovative one I have ever heard, but after hearing it live in concert, played to perfection, there is not many other just…”rock” songs I would want to put on over this one.

YouTube video

39. Pet – A Perfect Circle

Pet is easily just the most…brutal song that I have heard from APC.

The main riff on the song is almost as unsettling as the lyrics, which continually build a picture of someone being trapped by their own fears of freedom, and letting themselves get manipulated into submission by a partner or parent because of it.

It’s just brutal.

YouTube video

38.  Team Handed – Mogwai

One of my favorite Mogwai songs. It’s just really smooth, and really pleasing, and somehow seems to have worked out it’s verse’s and chorus’ by just little subtle changes in the song (Not some blatant chord change).

I listen to it on repeat (well, the entire “Mr. Beast” album actually.)

YouTube video

37. Pah No – Irepress

From my favorite Irepress album, “Pah No” is an opening song that one is not likely to forget.

The feeling you get when the music first opens up is fairly incredible, you actually forget that all you are hearing is guitar, bass, and drums (because you think there must be some sort of weird ethnic instruments in there).

It’s wicked awesome, don’t doubt that…

YouTube video

36. Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde – Alcest

From the album with the same name, this song is not only soothing (Almost in the Mogwai sense…) but takes you on some sort of journey.

The journey it takes you on is similar to the lyrics it brings to you, through some sort of dream world (Imagine “where the wild things are”).

A must listen.

YouTube video

35. First Breath After Coma – Explosions In The Sky

I gotta move away from the “Chill” songs on this list…jeese…

I listen to “first breath after coma” when I need to get to sleep. It’s just so relaxing, not to mention an accurate portrayal of the song title.

YouTube video

34. Enfilade – At The Drive-In

One of the creepiest songs …alive?

It starts out with a message left by a kidnapper/torturer saying he wants money or…well you know…

He does with some interesting metaphors too. “I’m the Hyena, you’ll see…”

And then when the music comes in, the combination of the instruments and the vocals is something truly hair-raising. It’ll give you some chills.

YouTube video

33. SZ2 – Battles

From the EP B, SZ2 is just a strange combination of music. It goes through ambiance, fast-paced rock, and…sleigh bells?

It’s one of my favorite battles songs, so I suggest you give it a listen.

YouTube video

32. Spies – Coldplay

From Coldplay’s first and best album, “Parachutes”, Spies is a pretty timeless song. I don’t think there will be a time where I don’t like this song.

Very similar to the last song, it portrays a very eerie and creepy atmosphere throughout the entire song, except in a slower, more melodic manner.

It’s a bit hard to describe, and if I was talking to you in person, I would say “It’s just…spies…” and you would know what I was trying to say.

YouTube video

31. When Good Dogs Do Bad Things – The Dillinger Escape Plan/Mike Patton

I think this was one of the songs that really changed the direction of DEP. I mean, after they did this EP their sound changed quite a bit, and focused a lot more on Jazzy type things.

With one of my favorite musicians (Mike Patton) teamed up with one of my favorite bands, it’s actually almost unfathomable that they would actually work together.

But they did, and they created this wonderful piece of music.

YouTube video

30. Temecula Sunrise – The Dirty Projectors

Starting out with just a soft acoustic (And strange time signatures), this song blossoms out into so much more (forgive the sentimental ovulation-resembling metaphor…).

It almost turns into some twisted version of a classic rock song…but crossed with a music-synonym of hipster-like pretentiousness.

YouTube video

29. The Space For This – Cynic

I couldn’t figure out exactly what Cynic song to pick. Their entire album “Traced In Air” is incredible, and there’s easily 4 or 5 songs just from that album that would have been suitable for this list.

All I can say: you better plan on listening to Cynic before you die.

And if you die before you listen to them, I’ll kill you.

YouTube video

28. Axe To Fall – Converge

If you were to kill someone in a massive battle, and everyone around you is dying and body parts are flying everywhere and the essential essence of power and anger were to all end up in a song/album, this would be the one.

If you ever feel down, or depressed, this is the stuff to get you back on your feet and running around the block (a bit less metaphor on that example I suppose…)

YouTube video

27. Ants Of The Sky – Between The Buried And Me

I should have just put down the entire Colours album, but I feel this song describes the album the best.

Not only does it start out with one of the most blazingly fast waggoner solo’s, but it eventually breaks down from death metal into a polka.

Simply awesome…

YouTube video

26. The Ferryman – Maudlin Of The Well

Starting out with the eeriest organ solo ever, it moves into the most calming smooth jazz, and then just as quickly moves into Maudlin of the Well’s signature space astral metal.

It’s one of my favorite MOTW tracks, so you better give it a listen…

YouTube video

25. The Czar – Mastodon

Just listen. Don’t ask…just listen…

YouTube video

24. Messes Of Men – MeWithoutYou

It’s really strange the amount of movement and calmness exists in this song.

I think a lot of it’s greatness lies in the lyrics. They are really strange in the way that they sound often like a nursery rhyme, except with the idea of adultery thrown around somewhere in there.

Makes you think a bit, and captures the atmosphere of everything MeWithoutYou must have been trying to convey.

YouTube video

23. God Hates A Coward – Tomahawk

Best Tomahawk song ever. If you don’t know this band already, you better get into them.

In the live performance of this song, Mike Patton and the band dressed up like Rent-a-cops, and he put on a gas mask (complete with a microphone installed in it) to create the vocal effect he was looking for.

Dedication…just dedication…

So give it a listen!

YouTube video

22. Talk To Strangers – Saul Williams

Technically this song would be a rap. But don’t let that sway you, because it’s actually an incredibly meaningful song.

It’s one of those songs where the lyrics just really give you chills.

Not creepy or anything, but you will probably experience goosebumps if you listen to this song and engage in what it’s saying. Let it take over your emotions for 3 minutes, I guarantee you won’t regret it.

YouTube video

21. Dirge For November – Opeth

The intro to this song is simply beautiful. Just beautiful.

It continues on into intense, and then moves back to beautiful. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s voice is wonderful as usual, and the whole song just really takes on a specialness that makes it something you should pay some attention to.

YouTube video

20. Space Dementia – Muse

I know Muse has grown soft in their older years, but Origin Of Symmetry is still a wicked awesome album.

I think this song is probably the epitaph of their “space” niche that they seem to be milking a little too hard lately.

Anyways, the composition of the song is absolutely awesome, and I would definitely be heading it off with a listen before I took my dive.

YouTube video

19. Apocalypso – Mew

I remember specifically listening to this song after getting my wisdom teeth taken out.

I was really high from the drugs, and I just remember this song making me incredibly happy.

As someone with ADHD, it’s pretty rare for me to actually focus on just one thing at a time.

But I was so damn focused, and I just remember how amazing it made me feel. It always does make me feel pretty good, but it was just really amplified.

YouTube video

18. Exit Music (For A Film) – Radiohead

This is my favorite Radiohead song ever. I don’t really know how to go into it much more than just saying it’s intense, soft, and emotional all at the same time.

Something that everyone had better listen to at some point in their life.

YouTube video

17. Sleep Is Wrong – Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

No I’m sure you haven’t heard of this band before. But there’s a first for everything right?

I’m pretty sure every person in the band plays like, 23,053 instruments all at the same time. Because the sheer amount of stuff going on in this song is crazy.

It’s a little like a twisted child’s song.

Just…really twisted….

YouTube video

16. The Messenger – Thrice

Great electric beats at the beginning (that somehow sound a lot like fire…)

But the really beauty of this song is the chorus. It just somehow really intense (Even though there’s a bit of a punk feel to it which I generally stray away from).

Go punch something while listening.

YouTube video

15. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare – Mr. Bungle

It’s Mr. Bungle! I could have chosen just about any song, but you know I had to settle on just one.

I’ll give you a hint about how awesome it is, it’s about an old-folks home. And it uses it as a metaphor for hell.

’nuff said.

YouTube video

14. Deadman – Karnivool

More back in the straight rock style of Porcupine Tree (Straight doesn’t mean simple, just not as experimental), Karnivool presents a special performance in this song.

It’s one of my favorite songs of theirs, and deserves a fair amount of special attention.

YouTube video

13. So Did We – ISIS

They played this song when I saw them in Vancouver at the Rickshaw theatre.

It was easily the highlight of my night, and made my vocal chords extremely sore (from the screaming).

YouTube video

12. El Manana – Gorillaz

Yeah that’s right, I’m into the whole Hippity-Hoppity scene. I’m hip and cool and got mad skillz like no man.

El Manana is my favorite song on my favorite Gorillaz album (Demon Days) and deserves a place on the list.

Take a listen…fool…

YouTube video

11. The Dead Flag Blues – Godspeed You Black Emperor!

This is the song you listen to when you are feeling especially dark and emotional-like.

And definitely is a good song to listen to on the day of your death. Quote the line “We are stuck in the belly of this machine, and the machine is bleeding to death”.

Dark enough for you?

“And I look in my wallet, and it’s full of blood”.


YouTube video

10. Act I: Chasing Suns – The Sound Of Animals Fighting

From easily the best album this band has ever done, chasing suns really sets the scene for the intensity and emotion that you experience throughout this entire concept album.

I actually recommend the entire album…but you know…

YouTube video

9. Somewhat Damaged – Nine Inch Nails

Before Trent Reznor went to rehab, he wrote the Fragile.

And at the beginning of the Fragile, was this song. It’s definitely an emotional, yet industrial progressive journey that requires your full attention.

So I advise you give it the due respect it deserves.

YouTube video

8. Muffin Man – Frank Zappa

If there ever was a more quirky composer than frank zappa, I would like to hear about him.

I’m currently reading through his autobiography, and honestly, it sounds like a fictional book. That’s how interesting his life is.

And this song? Pretty much the Epitome of his weirdness and originality.

Of course, the addition of captain Beefheart on this song is nothing short of enticing.

YouTube video

7. Blackmail Blues – Extra Life

As one of those obscure bands, extra life presents some incredibly complicated and mind-gripping music.

And this song shows it all.

With the opera-style singing along the crazy poly rhythms happening on the drums, I would be greatly concerned if anyone I knew could actually follow the song with a shred of sanity.

YouTube video

6. I – Meshuggah

This 21 minute long epic contains almost every aspect of what makes Meshuggah…Meshuggah!

It starts of with a wall of sound, then moving on into the signature time signatures overtop of other time signatures, and is simply an awesome journey to go through.

It’s a single-track album. And it’s worth every penny you pay…or…megabyte you download…

YouTube video

5. Desarragio – Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

I would say that out of Omar’s Solo music, this is my favorite song. It’s just got a lot of awesome energy, and with this album (Xenophanes) he actually decided to use his own voice a little.

And it’s great.

So listen and love.

YouTube video

4. The Ternative – A Human Nothing

This is from a much more obscure band called a human nothing. Now the quality of the recording isn’t some exceptionally produced masterpiece, but it really has some incredible elements in it.

It often changes through time signatures without you even noticing. It flows from ambient to metal without making you flinch, and if you were to just sit and listen to it, you would find yourself swept up into some sort of story (And the story is decided by your own imagination).

YouTube video

3. The Ungrateful Dead – Hella

As far as complicated music that is poppy goes, this is one of the best songs I can think of.

Zach Hills drum beats are nothing short of spectacular, and the vocals really do add something to Hella’s Previously non-vocalized music.

It’s pretty catchy.

YouTube video

2. Wings For Marie/10,000 Days – Tool

I consider this one my favorite Tool song of all time.

Well, at least it’s their most emotional.

The combination of the lyrics and the music has made me cry on several occasions, and this 2-part epic is something that really will draw you in to focus on what it’s saying.

Maynard James Keenan’s mother was paralyzed for 27 years (approx 10,000 days) and finally died. This song was written in her honor, and definitely makes you think twice about whining about your crap.

YouTube video

1. De-loused In The Comatorium – The Mars Volta

Yeah yeah, I know this is a full album. But I would not let myself hit the dirt without giving it a full listen.

I honestly believe this is the best album to ever be created. With one of the best stories ever conceived, and it’s super-high energy, it’s a wonder that anyone in the world doesn’t like it.

But I guess some people would argue about the “subjectiveness” of music and such.

I honestly believe though, if anyone listened to this album more than 10 times they would be hooked forever.

YouTube video

Create Your Own Bucket List Of Must Listen Songs!

Right now you are reading my bucket list of songs, but what songs would YOU want to listen to before you died?

So think a little, fire up your boombox and discover your top songs that you would listen to before you bit the dust. You might surprise yourself. Oh, and make sure you get yourself a decent subwoofer for music to enhance the listening experience.

You might also want to check out this article – 7 Songs You Need a Great Subwoofer to Fully Experience.