It’s amazing to think that at one point Dave Grohl was just known as the drummer from Nirvana. What he and the rest of the Foo Fighters have achieved over the last 25 years is outstanding, and 10 albums later they are still one of the most popular rock bands in the world. To celebrate the release of their latest album, Medicine at Midnight, I’ve decided to rank all of their studio albums from worst to best. It’s been so much fun listening back through their discography and I’ve definitely changed my opinion on a few of the albums along the way. If you enjoy this article you can also check out my ranking of Blink-182 albums here and Sum 41 albums here. Without further ado, here is my ranking of Foo Fighters albums from worst to best:
10. Concrete and Gold (2017)
Grohl and Co. knew they needed to mix things up a bit and change the formula for their ninth album Concrete and Gold, but instead of radically changing their sound they instead decided to ‘mix it up’ by working with pop producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Pink, Sia, Halsey). I was fairly excited and the singles were great (as is usually the case with Foo Fighters), but the album as a whole was underwhelming. I actually dislike the production and the songs stripped down just sound like B-sides – all in all it just wasn’t the fresh sound I was hoping for. There are a few good tracks – Arrows, Run, The Line – but for the most part this album doesn’t do it for me.
9. Sonic Highways (2014)
I appreciate the concept of 2014’s Sonic Highways – eight songs recorded in eight cities with an accompanying film – but without that concept this album is largely mundane and, again, relies on the singles too much. Closing track I Am A River is fantastic and one of my favourite Foo Fighters songs, but considering the album is only eight songs long and the concept was hyped up a lot, I expected more from this album. Fairly forgettable in my opinion.
8. Medicine at Midnight (2021)
MAM is the latest offering from Foo Fighters and shows that the band wanted to go one step further in ‘mixing things up’ following Concrete and Gold. There are a lot of pop/dance beats and backing vocals throughout and this is probably the bravest the band have been in experimenting with new sounds – in a strange way it actually works well when combined with the classic Foo Fighters rock sound. Shame Shame was a disappointing first single but was luckily a red herring (perhaps not intentionally) and actually fits in nicely with the rest of the album. Midnight is a bit short with only nine songs but I definitely prefer it to the previous two albums.
7. In Your Honor (2005)
In Your Honor is one of those albums I automatically put on a pedestel when it was released, not only because I idolised the band at the time but because they were such a dominating force in music. Listening back now and comparing it to the rest of their catalogue, it’s not as amazing as I used to think it was. There’s no denying it’s a good album and arguably has the band’s best song on it (Best Of You), but the double-LP decision feels unnecessary for me and I get a bit bored about halfway through both albums. I really love No Way Back and Best Of You, but the rest of the album is just ‘good’.
6. One By One (2002)
This album gets a lot of stick from fans and critics, and even frontman Dave Grohl has admitted he was difficult to work with at this time and only likes four of the songs on the album. I actually quite like One By One though. It was probably the first Foos album to be released after I started listening to them, so I’ve certainly listened to it more than most of their other albums, but even still I think it’s in the better half of their discography. The album is not without its faults, but All My Life and Times Like These are undoubtable anthems and there are some other hidden gems in there too – Overdrive, Come Back and Halo to name a few.
5. Echo, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)
Foo Fighters’ sixth album felt like a slight departure for the band – despite In Your Honor having a whole acoustic album on it – but I’ve grown to appreciate it so much over the past 13 years (it’s crazy to think it’s been that long already). They kept up their tradition of strong singles – The Pretender, Long Road To Ruin – but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find some amazing acoustic-based songs. Let It Die is a great example – an incredible song with a natural and impressive transition from mellow-acoustic to full-on rock with Grohl screaming away. But Honestly, Stranger Things Have Happened and Summer’s End are a few of my other favourites.
4. There Is Nothing Left To Lose (1999)
I can’t believe I only listened to There Is Nothing Left To Lose from beginning to end for the first time this week, because it’s so good! I have no idea why I overlooked this album for so long, but I feel confident placing this album so high after just a couple of listens. It’s a straight up, solid, classic Foos album. If you asked me to choose one album from the now-deep catalogue that perfectly sums up Foo Fighters, I would have to pick this one. Following on from two strong albums the band were really in their stride by the time this album was released and their songwriting was on top form.
3. Foo Fighters (1995)
The debut, self-titled album from Foo Fighters was Grohl’s chance to prove his worth and show the world what he was really capable of following the tragic death of Kurt Cobain in 1994. Everyone knew Grohl was one of the best rock drummers in the world, and that he had it in him to write a good song, but with ‘Foo Fighters’ Grohl exceeded all expectations (and famously played every instrument on the record). The production is noticeably clunky compared to the other records, but there’s a charming rawness about it and most importantly the songs are just fantastic. What’s unique about the self-titled album is that there isn’t a ‘stand-out’ song that’s by far and away the best on the record – it feels more like an album.
2. Wasting Light (2011)
At this point in the article you might have noticed a slight pattern in the ordering – the bottom three albums are the most recent albums, the middle four are the 00s albums, and the top albums are the earlier albums, with the exception of…Wasting Light! I would like to say this is the best of their recent albums, but it’s already nearly a decade old! Either way, Wasting Light is a hard-hitting album with a host of rock classics. I wasn’t so sure about White Limo at first, and I still don’t know how I feel about it, but the rest of the album is fantastic. Rope, Dear Rosemary, Bridge Burning, Arlandria, Walk, the list of anthems goes on and on. I love that this album was recorded using analogue equipment rather than digitally, and it shows just how talented the band are, but production aside it really is a fantastic Foos album and I always find myself coming back to it. A deserved runner-up.
1. The Colour and the Shape (1997)
We have arrived at the top spot and my favourite Foo Fighters album of all time is none other than 1997’s The Colour and the Shape! This album really has it all – energy, riffs, solos, anthems, but above all it has passion. It confidently ramps things up to 10 with tracks like Monkey Wrench, Wind Up and the title track but also brings it right down with mellow songs like Doll, February Stars and Walking After You. Where I really see the band hitting their stride and finding their sound on this album though is in the songs that merge those two sounds – Everlong is the perfect example, but other notable mentions are My Hero, Hey Johnny Park and My Poor Brain. The Colour and the Shape really sees Foo Fighters finding their feet and is the most complete Foo Fighters album to date.
With 25 years and 10 albums under their belt, Foo Fighters have long cemented their place as rock legends and at this point in their career could take a ‘Rolling Stones’ approach and focus more on the touring. The fact they’re still bringing out new albums every few years though and trying new things out is great to see, and I hope they continue to make music and tour for as long as they can!