The 20 Best “Dad Rock” Songs of All-Time

Dad Rock

In an interview with Fatherly, Ryan Britt spoke with the person who accidentally coined the phrase “dad rock“. In 2007, journalist Rob Mitchum first heard the album Sky Blue Sky by Wilco. Since he didn’t like it, he called it “dad-rock.”Looking back, he realized the only reason he didn’t like it was that he was 28, and the song was about problems people in their 40s face like getting old, having kids, and being married. He ended the article by saying, “Dad style as fashion might be a passing, ironic trend, but dad-rock as a frame of mind, an inverse of the youth-chasing mid-life crisis, might just be good mental health.” Now What’s I call music started a series of compilation albums highlighting top music each year. The first album dropped in 1998. A large group of people who bought that album is now dads who might have an original copy somewhere on the top shelf of their closet. So, it’s only fitting they came out with an album of dad-rock songs. One of the most iconic dad-rock movie scenes is Ed Helms on vacation with his family when Kiss From A Rose comes on the radio. Even though his family is cringing, he starts singing the song loudly and off-key, the mark of an excellent dad-rock song. Anything that other people find cheesy and over the top is usually on a dad playlist. These are twenty dad-rock songs and some of the places you might hear them.

20. Jack and Diane-John Cougar Mellencamp


This song may be a better alternative to your dad telling you how he and your mother met for the 100th time. Although, either way, the lines, and the story will be stuck in your head. Jack and Diane is a catchy song that fits well into the dad library; it has easily sung and memorized lyrics. There’s also plenty of room for air instruments in this song.

19. Bad to the Bone-George Thoroughgood


This song is man-cave music. Even if he’s away from the family, you’ll still hear him singing the lyrics. Don’t worry if you hear a minor crash, dad probably was trying to play air guitar with a broom and hit the fan with the handle. Just let dad be, he isn’t bad to the bone anymore, but that doesn’t mean he can’t keep trying.

18. Shine on You Crazy Diamond-Pink Floyd


In an interview with Rolling Stone, Nick Offerman talked about his favorite dad-rock songs. Even though he didn’t like Pink Floyd until later in life, he remembered The Wall concert with many guys who are now dads. It’s true, dads who used to be cool went to Pink Floyd concerts, now most of them are picking up pink teacups with their daughters.

17. Eye of The Tiger-Survivor


Face it; only Dads watched Rocky. And, when a dad is trying to shape up his dad bod, this song is one he’ll play loud and often. The only problem is that no one understands the Adrian references. Look out; he will explain them numerous times.

16. Born in The USA-Bruce Springsteen


Whether it is a grill or fireworks, dads with fire feel like they are masters of cool. Fourth of July is a dad holiday because it involves grilling and explosives. However, nothing will go as planned, and he will need lots of reassurance. This song is one a dad might use while setting up a fireworks show with lackluster results.

15. We Will Rock You-Queen


Dad’s love to give their sons the when I was your age talks, especially if it’s about sports. For example, even though there are much better songs for a workout, a dad might suggest helping his son get in shape for football season. Hopefully, he won’t play this song while in the stands for the night of your debut as the starting quarterback.

14. The Boys are Back In Town-Thin Lizzy


If your dad hasn’t lost his musical inspirations, he probably has a group of other dads who are practicing this song in the garage right now. It probably doesn’t sound that bad, except they are way past the age when starting a garage band is cool. This fun song is a great one for dads to recapture their lost youth, or that’s what they think. Right now, they’re probably in the garage with t-shirts they almost fit into talking about the good old days.

13. Carry on My Wayward Son-Kansas


Somewhere, a Home Depot or Lowes has this as part of their mix. This song is one of those songs that dads love to listen to and reminisce. Perhaps they’re thinking about when this group was popular or about his son in aisle six and wished he was anywhere else on a Saturday afternoon. Dads always want their sons to be just like them and feel hurt when they would rather be anywhere else. It’s ok; dad Home Depot will always be there.

12. Walk This Way-Aerosmith


The group screams dad music, easy to sing along, and a few generations outside of being cool. A dad who played Aerosmith probably graduated high school in the mid to late eighties. Undoubtedly a few pictures lying around will help when this song has been on repeat for several hours. If you’re not too embarrassed that the neighbors can hear this song clearly, you may want to post a few and tag your dad; after all, he is on Facebook.

11. Sweet Child O’Mine-Guns and Roses


This song is for dads of baby girls who haven’t entirely lost their cool days. It’s okay to keep that rock and roll vibe; after all, you will probably need it when she’s a teenager. Also, if you start singing this song to her when she’s a baby, you may have a better chance of her forgiving you if you embarrass her in front of her friends. Even if she doesn’t, you can always play this song and reminisce about the good times.

10. You’re My Best Friend-Queen


The group has gotten a lot of airplay on this list because they are another group that screams dad-rock. Queen has a standard beat and lyrics that you can’t resist singing, so it makes sense that dad wants to sing along and enjoys the group. This song can go one of several ways. Dad may play it in the kitchen to embarrass your mom. The other option is when dad feels melancholy because his son has gone from seeing him as a hero to hiding in his room.

9. Horse With No Name-America


Dad-rock sometimes sneaks up on you, and this is one of those songs. A horse with No Name has no purpose other than it’s catchy and sounds like a song about a cowboy. If your dad grew up in the 50s or 60s, he probably has fond memories of playing with his friends, and this song makes him think about his younger days. It will probably show up when you get into the car with him and turn the radio on. Don’t try to turn it off. You’ll probably get the line, “but that was my jam.”

8. The Joker-Steve Miller Band


Dad won’t get the irony when he’s singing this classic track, even though he looks like a total goof when he sings loudly, even the guitar riffs. After all, maybe he is a space cowboy trapped in a dad bod. He probably was a few other lines in this song years back.

7. Billy Joel-The Stranger


This is one of those songs dad’s going to listen to when he’s feeling mellow. Unfortunately, you won’t feel mellow after it’s been playing all afternoon. This song is undoubtedly on dad’s repeat list if he grew up anywhere in New York or New Jersey.

6. Addicted To Love-Robert Palmer


Dad’s have a funny way of cheering their kids up, and this song would be a good choice for him to play if his teenage daughter had her heartbroken. Then, one of two things would happen, she’d run to her room or wait for the next embarrassing song. May I suggest Pearl Jam, Better Man?

5. Sharp Dressed Man-ZZ Top


Eugene Levy immortalized uncool dads in 1999s American Pie. Unfortunately, one thing the audience never got to see was a good dad rock song. It would have been a great addition to see him with Jim while he’s getting ready for prom singing this song. Unfortunately, that scene never happened, but somewhere multiple dads have probably done that.

4. All Right Now-Free


Now, you can tune out dad rock on road trips. Before we all had personal devices that kept us occupied, dad had a captive audience when taking the family on a road trip. This was the time when dad wanted to tell you all of his favorite stories even though you already heard them. He probably played on many car radios lost in the middle of nowhere because he didn’t stop asking for directions. One of the worst things, poor dad, is he can’t even mellow out with this smooth song.

3. Under Pressure-Queen


What dad doesn’t feel the pressures of life? Everything like work, bills, and a million things they have to deal with every day means that dads everywhere need a song that gets their feelings. The one difference from dad to dad is what hobby they are doing while listening to this song. However, some might favor golf, which is a whole new song. This campy sing a long works best with shooting basketballs in the backyard. Bonus points if one of your kids comes out to play a short game.

2. Rockstar-Nickelback


When Chad Kroger co-wrote this song, I don’t think he thought dad-rock. But, to be fair, I don’t think his band figured they’d be one of the least popular rock groups and the punchline in a lot of jokes. Either way, this song is great for dads who are outside grilling on a hot summer day. After all, they are the rockstars of the grill. It’s best to let him have his moment or walk away quickly to the land of music without the chorus that will get stuck in your head long after you graduate from high school. When Nickelback entered the rock scene in 2000, their first single didn’t sound like something a dad would sing, yet every album after that has a few songs that dads think make them extraordinary.

1. Here I Go Again-Whitesnake


The movie Old School was a tribute to dads everywhere. It features many songs that have a place on this list. Yet, this one embodies all things dad-rock. One of the best lines in the movie, according to is, “Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.” Somewhere, there is a person who has a dad just like Frank the Tank.


Give dads a break. They know not what they do. If they do, you probably should give them a break anyway because they won’t stop even if you say please. Dad-rock songs are a particular genre of music that doesn’t have any rhyme or reason, just that your dad can’t stop playing them. Dad songs create memories that stick with kids for a lifetime, and even though many of them are embarrassing at the moment, years back, they will bring back cringe-inducing smiles, or at least you hope so. Whether dad is embarrassing you in front of your friends or making your mom blush, remember this is how dads show they care.

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