Lucifer might be mad, bad, and dangerous to know, but he’s still inspired some belting tunes in his time. From Elvis Presley to Iron Maiden, The Beatles to Motley Crue, no one, it seems, can escape the thrall of the Dark Lord. Some of the songs are sweet, some are sinister, and some will make you cry for your mother. But which is the best? Actually, that’s not a question. We already know which is the best (although in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years and don’t, it starts with ‘Sympathy’ and ends with ‘Devil.’) As for which of the rest count as contenders, find out as we count down the ten best songs about the Devil.
10. Alice Cooper – Devil’s Food
Despite looking like he’s had more than one run-in with the Devil in his time (and enjoyed every one of them), Alice Cooper is actually a very nice, very friendly man who could give Dave Grohl a run for the title of rock’s Mr. Nice. Not that that comes across on this little nugget from 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare.” Ranked as one of Rocks Pasta’s top classic rock songs about the Devil, the song, like the album, is all about a child’s nightmare. If that sounds unpleasant, it’s because it’s intended to be… as, to some extent, is the song.
9. Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil
Motley Crue’s genre-bending music and off-stage antics might not have been to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying they were at the forefront of 80s metal. Taken from their sophomore album of the same name, “Shout at the Devil” combines the Crue’s talent for stadium-sized riffs with a thunderous bass, scene-stealing guitars, and some slightly bizarre vocals that nonetheless hook you in and keep you there.
8. Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down to Georgia
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” may be spoken more than it’s sung, but it’s still a song, it’s still about the Devil, and it’s still an awesome track. It might not come with the menace, the danger, or the very real possibility that someone from the band is on close, personal terms with the Dark Lord, but as far as songs about the Devil go, this is about as fun as it gets.
7. Elvis Presley – (You’re The) Devil In Disguise
The Devil in Elvis Presley’s “(You’re The) Devil In Disguise” might be a woman, but she’s clearly one who needs to be kept an eye on. She did have some merits, though, helping Elvis shift over 500,000 copies in the US alone. A piece of trivia for you: according to Wikipedia, Rat Walker, the husky-voiced singer from gospel group The Jordanaires, was drawn in to represent the Devil by singing “Oh, yes, you are,” on repeat before the song’s fade.
6. Metallica – Devil’s Dance
If any band was going to slay a song about Satan, it was going to be Metallica. “Devil’s Dance” kicks off with some spine-tingling riffing before descending into something very dark, very dangerous, and very, very devilish. If the idea of James Hetfield delivering lines like “Deep inside you know, seeds I plant will grown / One day you will see and dare to come down to me.” sounds epic, just wait till you hear Kirk Hammett’s show-stealing guitar solo – if anything was going to summon the Dark Lord, this would be it.
5. The Beatles – The Devil in Her Heart
Proving that not every song with ‘Devil’ in the title was designed to stoke the fury of the religious brigade is the sweet little number from everyone’s favorite Liverpudlians. Written by Richard Drapkin, performed by George Harrison, and given a bit of extra love from John Lennon & Paul McCartney on backing duty, this is about as sweet as Satan ever got.
4. Van Halen – Runnin’ With the Devil
Taking from Van Halen’s eponymous breakthrough album from 1978, “Runnin’ With the Devil” was, as ultimateclassicrock.com points out, most people’s introduction to Van Halen. What an introduction. If anyone was hoping for an easy ride, they didn’t get it. With David Lee Roth wailing like a banshee, Eddie Van Halen being the guitar prodigy he was born to be, and Michael Anthony doing his level best to imitate a thunderclap, it was an assault on the ears of the very best kind.
3. Lyle Lovett – Friend of the Devil
Who would have thought Lyle Lovett could trump the Grateful Dead? Listening to his cover of “Friend of the Devil,” it’s clear that’s exactly what he’s gone and done. At the risk of inspiring the wrath of Deadheads the world over, there was always something lackluster about the Dead’s delivery on this one. It had the hook but not the catch. Lovett’s version is a different beast entirely. He slowed it down, stripped it back, and gave it enough world-weary attitude to suggest he’s seen worse things than the Devil in his time.
2. Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast
If ever there was a case to be made for going over to the dark side, Iron Maiden made it here. They might have caused all kind of upset when they decided the supernatural horror film ‘Damien: Omen II’ was a good inspiration for a song, but with an intro from Count Duckula (aka actor Barry Clayton), diabolical cover art, and a sound too good for hell but way too dirty for heaven, they clearly made the right decision. The production might sound a little 80s for modern ears, but if you miss the days when metal was heavy, pump up the volume and play it loud.
1. The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For the Devil
Obviously, there can only ever be one winner. And obviously, the winner in this case has to be the Rolling Stones. “Sympathy for the Devil” is the kind of song that gets under your skin and stays there. With its menacing tones, Mick Jagger’s relentless swagger, and those four magic chords, this is about as near to perfection as the Stones (or anyone else, actually) ever got. It may be an obvious choice, but when the obvious choice includes lines like “I was ’round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain,” only the Devil himself would turn it away.