Grading the Top 10 Songs in … ROCK!

1. Shinedown, “Unity”

Nothing like a child walking through the city by herself taking pictures for her meatspace blog (a brick wall) with a camera plastered in sparkly stickers like a little Harriet the Spy. Jacksonville’s Shinedown get orchestral and inspirational to mixed results.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “this video actually made me cry because it me think about the way I spent my youth just hanging out at home and watching TV and playing video games and only from time to time going outside to play with my friends … wasted years that will never come back” — TheMisteriousX

2. Green Day, “Oh Love”

Ode to Billie Joe: I gave “Oh Love” a C- on the Adult Rock chart last week, but since then I’ve heard it maybe 10 times on the radio and have decided it’s more like a C+ — it’s just an extra-terrible video.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “these aren’t like the other green day videos … im disappointed by the fact that they needed girls as accessories for the video” — elisabrian328

3. ZZ Top, “I Gotsta Get Paid”

ZZ Top cover DJ DMD’s “25 Lighters” (ft. Lil’ Keke & Fat Pat) and it’s perfect in every imaginable way. The Houston legends are all good friends, since Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is a regular at the studio where Texas underground stars like The Geto Boys and DJ Screw recorded all their classics. ZZ Top say this cover is also influenced by fellow Houston all-star Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Grade: A+

Best YouTube Comment: “this song is so filthy it makes me feel clean!! i fucking love it.” — BeEasyArtGlass

4. Black Keys, “Gold on the Ceiling”

This has Danger Mouse’s fingerprints all over it, and therefore sounds ready to be licensed to the Moby circa Play gills. I like my blues rock a lot greasier than this (see no. 3). This stomps a little too politely. It’s a slippery slope from glam rock to bubblegum pop, and it’s not the Black Keys’ fault that every time I see them I hear the line from Ghost World that goes, “If he really loves authentic blues he’ll love Blues Hammer.”

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “cool song … fucking hipsters” — grenadeface1

5. Foo Fighters, “These Days”

Hope I die before I become DAVE GROHL.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “I wish when I’m 43 I’m as cool as Dave … ” — Greminemable

6. Soundgarden, “Live to Rise”

Since I already reviewed this song from The Avengers soundtrack when it premiered on the Active Rock Charts in May, I’ll take this opportunity to remember when Chris Cornell made a solo album with Timbaland and Timbaland called it “the best work I’ve done in my career” and announced that C.C. would become the “first rock star in the club” and it came out to horrible reviews but was still Cornell’s highest debut as a solo album and then Trent Reznor weighed in on Twitter that it was “embarrassing.” Trent was right.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “I think Chris Cornell is the long lost twin brother of Tony Stark … ” — MagnuMxAvengeR

7. Aerosmith, “Legendary Child”

If this new jam sounds familiarly like Aerosmith’s biggest hits, it’s because it was written and first recorded in 1991 for Get a Grip. Summer comeback single “Legendary Child” was slated as the theme song for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but that film has since been pushed back. The original video, which was shot through with clips from that movie, was swapped out for this confusing roller derby metaphor featuring Alexa Vega from Spy Kids.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “A little FM but mainly a rough ride into the 70s. The boys are back in town.” — Gour80

8. SIXX A.M., “Are You With Me Now”

SIXX A.M. are a Nikki Sixx side project featuring DJ Ashba who is, mercifully, not a DJ. I’ve noticed that a lot of the lyrics to the songs on the rock charts concern aging and dealing with the changes therein. This is no “Lies of the Beautiful People.”

Grade: D+

Best YouTube Comment: “Tony Palermo inspires me to be the drummer I wanna be … ” — whitestorm918

9. KISS, “Hell or Hallelujah”

“KISS have a VEVO” are the last words you hear before you die.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “NO WAY. Hotter Than Hell was slow, HEAVY, CRUNCHY and more over, it was GOOD. This is over compressed, light weight, no crunch, no bottom end and overall way too commercial.” — Danimal77

10. The Offspring, “Days Go By”

The Offspring channel The Cult on this nostalgic pop-punk ballad with psychedelic frills, yet another song about the inevitable march of time from endless teenage summer into bittersweet midlife autumn. A Gram Parsons–style country rock version of this could give The Offspring a whole new side career.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “One of the best from melodic punk style near Misfits. Dexter is a serious vocalist, he can sing very catchy style. This track is interesting, I like it.” — ProagressiveBeaT

Filed Under: Billboard, Foo Fighters, Grading the Charts, Top Ten

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert