rock Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics  

Will Gish
29k votes 1.5k voters 4.7k views 38 items

When punk began in New York City, the only connecting thread in a cacophony of disparate sounds from the likes of Television, Blondie, The Ramones, and the Talking Heads was weirdness. They were outcasts: art school kids, glam-disco-vampires, self-anointed street poets, greasers in leather jackets who longed for the bygone days of Elvis Presley, not particularly concerned with being punk bands with the best lyrics. The scattered freak-flag nature of punk forever changed with the first wave of British bands to adopt the moniker, notably the Sex Pistols and The Clash.  

Far from the wide-eyed, weirdo positivism and poetry of the New York bands, London kids who adopted punk lived in a socially conservative nation struggling with its post-war identity, a social condition that gave birth to punk bands with political lyrics. There was a brutal campaign of sectarian violence happening a few hundred miles away in Northern Ireland, American commercial influence was expanding throughout the UK, many young people had trouble finding work, and the Thatcher years, lurking just around the corner, promised even worse conditions. 

All the frustrations of these bands, from Londoners like Sex Pistols and The Clash to Northern Ireland's Stiff Little Fingers, came out through incendiary, sardonic, profane, politically and socially engaged lyrics. The first Pistols and Clash albums are cultural snapshots of England and its youth culture, with song titles like "I'm So Bored with the USA," "Career Opportunities," "Anarchy in the UK," and "God Save the Queen." 

Since this first wave of British punk bands, the genre has been all about lyrics. Bands from the Dead Kennedys through to Against Me! have touched up issues ranging from nuclear war to police brutality, Reaganomics, and race, gender, and sexuality-based equality, often times with a wicked sense of humor. The likes of Rancid address political and social issues through personal narratives about life in the San Francisco Bay area, while Crass put so much effort into the lyrics it eclipses the relatively pedestrian music and has fans staunchly defending the group with cries of "It's about the lyrics, not the music!"

Punk bands with the best lyrics span multiple generations of punk, from bands who were banging it out in abandoned British warehouses in the mid-70s to hardcore and folk influenced American bands that headline ballrooms in the 2010s. There are feminist indie-crossover bands, anarchist punks, Bay Area crust kids, Midwestern goth punks, anti-war ex-soldiers with dayglo mohawks.  

As any punk worth her salt would tell you, don't forget to vote. So vote up the punk bands you think have the best lyrics. 

list ordered by

1
586 417
Ramones is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Clark Benson added Ramones Ramones, Rocket to Russia, End of the Century

2
522 365
Dead Kennedys is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Bleed for Me

3
593 426
Sex Pistols is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle

4
524 456
The Clash is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
The Clash London Calling, The Clash, Black Market Clash

5
607 555
The Squids is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Darby added The Squids

6
431 445
Naked Raygun is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Clark Benson added Naked Raygun Jettison, All Rise, Throb Throb

7
342 392
The Exploited is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
The Exploited The Massacre, Beat the Bastards, Horror Epics

8
337 387
The Nation of Ulysses is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
The Nation of Ulysses Plays Pretty for Baby, 13-Point Program to Destroy America, The Embassy Tapes

9
347 400
Bikini Kill is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Bikini Kill Pussy Whipped, Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, Bikini Kill

10
446 526
Black Flag is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Clark Benson added Black Flag Damaged, In My Head, My War

11
376 437
Stiff Little Fingers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material, Now Then…, Nobody's Heroes

12
368 427
Subhumans is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Subhumans The Day the Country Died, Evolution, Worlds Apart

13
419 492
Minor Threat is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Minor Threat Complete Discography, Minor Threat, First Demo Tape

14
342 394
Pup is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Pup PUP

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

15
349 403
Operation Ivy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Operation Ivy Lint Rides Again, Energy, Plea for Peace

16
356 412
X-Ray Spex is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
X-Ray Spex Germfree Adolescents, Conscious Consumer, Obsessed With You: The Early Years

17
341 393
Flux Of Pink Indians is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Flux Of Pink Indians Uncarved Block, Not So Brave, Strive to Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible

18
342 395
Streetlight Manifesto is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
sdc224 added Streetlight Manifesto Somewhere in the Between, Everything Goes Numb, 99 Songs of Revolution: Volume One

19
374 436
Against Me! is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Against Me! New Wave, The Acoustic EP, Reinventing Axl Rose

20
344 398
Anti‐Flag is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Anti‐Flag A New Kind of Army, The Bright Lights of America, North America Sucks!!

21
357 416
Sleater-Kinney is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Sleater-Kinney The Woods, One Beat, Call the Doctor

The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time

22
337 393
7 Seconds is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
7 Seconds The Crew, Walk Together, Rock Together

23
347 409
Crass is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Crass Merry Crassmas, Acts of Love: Fifty Songs to My Other Self, The Feeding of the 5000

24
326 419
Pennywise is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
IvanMikić added Pennywise Land of the Free?, About Time, Home Movies

25
396 520
Social Distortion is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Social Distortion Social Distortion, White Light White Heat White Trash, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

26
407 551
Misfits is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Clark Benson added Misfits Legacy of Brutality, Famous Monsters, Walk Among Us

27
372 545
Bad Religion is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Bad Religion Recipe for Hate, The Empire Strikes First, Stranger Than Fiction

28
345 547
Rancid is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Rancid …and Out Come the Wolves, Let's Go, Indestructible

The Sexiest Women in Rock History, Ranked

29
304 529
Rise Against is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Rise Against The Sufferer & the Witness, The Unraveling, Siren Song of the Counter Culture

30
284 498
The Damned is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
The Damned Phantasmagoria, The Black Album, Not of This Earth

31
314 552
Siouxsie & the Banshees is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Siouxsie & the Banshees 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nocturne, Once Upon a Time: The Singles

32
290 516
Alkaline Trio is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Alkaline Trio Alkaline Trio / Blue Meanies, Crimson, Good Mourning

33
245 478
Matilda's Scoundrels is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Ludvig added Matilda's Scoundrels

34
3 19
The Adverts is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
punksnotdead added The Adverts Crossing the Red Sea With The Adverts, The Punk Singles Collection, The Wonders Don't Care: The Complete Radio Recordings

35
24 107
the germs is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
mwood20 added the germs ( - (GI)

36
31 136
Rage Against the Machine is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
Jacobo added Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire, The Battle of Los Angeles

37
220 630
Green Day is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
NvG Nick added Green Day American Idiot, Dookie, 21st Century Breakdown

38
47 198
The Buzzcocks is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics
1515786547646 added The Buzzcocks