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Aerosmith Songs, Ranked: Rock Out to 12 Essential Hits by “The Bad Boys From Boston”

From "Walk this Way" to "I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing" — did your favorite make the cut?


There’s no doubt that Aerosmith songs have serious staying power. Formed in 1970, the band pulled off the impressive feat of having iconic songs in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s. Well-known for their devil-may-care swagger, Aerosmith influenced countless bands, and they’ve made everything from sweet ballads to bluesy rock to head-banging heavy metal their own.

Aerosmith has weathered their share of highs and lows over the 50-plus years they’ve been together, but Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer and the rest of the group have remained one of the most enduring classic rock bands. Like other bands of their era, they had breakups, makeups, comebacks and rehab stints but they still pack arenas and keep the rebellious rock-and-roll spirit alive. The band is currently on their farewell tour, so we’re rocking out to all our favorite Aerosmith songs in tribute.

Aerosmith in 1986
Aerosmith in 1986Ross Marino/Getty

Aerosmith songs

Here’s our ranking of the top 12 best Aerosmith songs.

12. “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” (1987)

Written by frontman Steven Tyler, lead guitarist Joe Perry and songwriter Desmond Child, this track embodies Aerosmith’s irreverent sensibilities and marks the first time the band worked with an outside songwriter.

Legend has it that Tyler came up with the phrase “dude looks like a lady” while at a bar where he mistook Motley Crue’s Vince Neil for a woman because of his long blonde hair. 

11. “Cryin'” (1993)

Aerosmith took their place in the MTV pantheon with “Cryin’,” a bombastic tune with a classic vibe and a truly iconic music video. The video featured actress Alicia Silverstone (who would become a household name when she starred in the teen classic Clueless in 1995) and Tyler’s daughter, Liv, as rebellious teen BFFs getting revenge on a cheating boyfriend and letting their freak flags fly.

In a Rolling Stone interview, Tyler said “Cryin'” “was country – we just Aerosmith’d it,” which helped to make it one of their most enduring musical creations.

10. “Rag Doll” (1987)

“Rag Doll,” from Aerosmith’s 1987 comeback album Permanent Vacation, is the perfect mix of ’80s bombast and ’70s grit. The track embraces blues and R&B while adding some contemporary flash, making for something you can’t help but dance to. Aerosmith sounds like they’re having a blast with the swinging beat, and with the help of Joey Kramer’s drums and an outstanding horn section, the song became a solid hit.

9. “Love In An Elevator” (1989)

“Love in an Elevator” peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold. It’s easy to see why: the song is irresistibly naughty — and catchy! Double entendre lyrics about “Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down” might seem silly on the page, but Aerosmith makes them totally rock.

8. “Come Together” (1978)

Surprised by this choice? There are thousands of Beatles covers out there, but we think Aerosmith’s take on “Come Together” is one of the best. The band does a great job of making the tune their own — Joey Kramer hits the drums a bit louder than Ringo Starr did and Steven Tyler makes John Lennon’s lyrics into a hard-rock anthem.

Aerosmith’s performance of the song was also one of the only good things to come out of the ill-fated 1978 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie.

Related: The 10 Most Revealing Beatles’ Songs, Reverse Ranked

7. “Janie’s Got a Gun” (1989)

Once heard, you never forget this 1989 tune. Up until this point, Aerosmith shied away from dark, real-world subjects, but “Janie’s Got a Gun” marked a change in direction, as it addresses child abuse and describes a young woman planning to take revenge for the horrors she has faced. Aerosmith won their first Grammy for the song.

6. “Crazy” (1994)

“Crazy” was one of MTV’s most-played videos in 1994, and with good reason — it once again starred Alicia Silverstone in a cinematic portrayal of a good girl gone bad. The song earned Aerosmith their second Grammy award, and the video, along with “Cryin'” showed that the band were far more than just ’70s rockers and had a vital place in ’90s pop culture.

5. “Sweet Emotion” (1975) Aerosmith songs

“Sweet Emotion” was Aerosmith’s breakout hit — and what a tune to start off your successes with! The song has a soaring, dream-like atmosphere that makes it one of the more psychedelic offerings in their extensive catalog.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Tyler revealed that a percussion instrument they were using broke during the recording of the song and he also used sugar packets in place of maracas — these surprisingly scrappy musical moments were left in the final song, and it would become one of Aerosmith’s signature tracks.

4. “Walk This Way” (1975) Aerosmith songs

“Walk This Way” is hard-rock perfection. It begins with Joey Kramer’s steady drumbeat, leading into Joe Perry’s unmistakable guitar riffs, with Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton joining in and then, of course, Steven Tyler’s rapid-fire lyrics. 

The song has major staying power: In 1986 the hip-hop group Run-DMC covered it in collaboration with Tyler and Perry, and the resulting fusion of rock and rap hit it big on the charts and MTV, expandeding Aerosmith’s reach even further.

3. “Jaded” (2001) Aerosmith songs

After three decades, when many classic rock bands would be calling it quits, Aerosmith burst back onto the scene in a big way. “Jaded” was a pop-rock singalong hit that brought the band into the ’00s. Even more impressive? Just as the song was climbing the charts, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Tyler was inspired to write the song after reflecting on missing out on much of his daughter, Liv’s, childhood due to being on the road. He immediately knew he had a classic on his hands, saying, “When I hit on the melody, it was so phenomenal that for a while I was scared to do anything more with it. I didn’t even tell the band.”

2. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998) Aerosmith songs

The romantic ballad was written by the prolific songwriter Diane Warren and it never actually appeared on an Aerosmith studio album. Instead, it was recorded for the 1998 sci-fi movie Armageddon, which starred Tyler’s daughter, Liv. Aerosmith’s ”Come Together,” “Sweet Emotion” and “What Kind of Love Are You On” were also included on the soundtrack.

The song was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was originally supposed to be a radio-only single from Armageddon: The Album but due to popular demand, the song was commercially released and debuted at number one, giving the band their first and only number-one single in the US.

1. “Dream On” (1973)

Topping our list of best Aerosmith songs is “Dream On,” a stunning power ballad that proved that there was more to Aerosmith’s lyrics and sound than flash and grime. One of the band’s earliest successes, the song became a rock radio staple, and you can still hear it often on classic rock stations today.

Tyler found inspiration for the song in an unlikely place: He grew up listening to his father, a classically trained musician, play the piano, and pulled from his classical music upbringing to create the song’s distinctive chords.

Keep reading for more classic 1980s hits!

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