Top 10 Led Zeppelin Songs

Hard Rock Pioneers

Led Zeppelin
Photo by Chris Walter / WireImage

Led Zeppelin was a hard rock band formed in London in 1968. Former Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page put the group together and initially named it the New Yardbirds. However, the group adopted the name Led Zeppelin by the end of 1968, and, with the release of their first album, the new group became one of the most celebrated rock bands of all time. Following the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, the group disbanded after releasing nine studio albums. Led Zeppelin has sold an estimated 300 million records worldwide.

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"Communication Breakdown" (1969)

Led Zeppelin Communication Breakdown
Courtesy Atlantic Records

Included on the self-titled debut Led Zeppelin album and the B-Side to the group's first single "Good Times, Bad Times," the song "Communication Breakdown" is best known for the distinctive rapid downstrokes played by lead guitarist Jimmy Page. The style was a primary influence on Johnny Ramone of pioneer punk band the Ramones. The single was not a commercial success, but the album did better. It reached the top 10 on the U.S. album chart and spent more than a year in the top 200. Many rock critics now recognize it as one of the best albums of all time.

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"Whole Lotta Love" (1969)

Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love
Courtesy Atlantic Records

Led Zeppelin released relatively few singles. Instead, they encouraged fans to listen to entire albums. The band also frequently avoided television appearances, choosing to invite fans to attend their concerts instead. "Whole Lotta Love" was released as a single from the group's second album and became the biggest hit song of their career. Peaking at #4, "Whole Lotta Love" is one of the hardest rock songs to be played widely on AM radio. Many radio stations edited the jazz-oriented middle section that features a theremin and moans from lead vocalist Robert Plant out of concerns for on-air decency. "Whole Lotta Love" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.

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"Immigrant Song" (1970)

Led Zeppelin Immigrant Song
Courtesy Atlantic Records

"Immigrant Song" was written as Led Zeppelin was touring Reykjavik, Iceland. It is notable for the repeated staccato riff played on guitar, bass, and drums as well as lyrics that touch on Norse mythology. The song was released as a single and peaked at #16 on the U.S. pop chart. The band included "Immigrant Song," on the album "Led Zeppelin III." The mythological references were part of the album's inclusion of influences from folk music. It was the group's second consecutive #1 hit album and broke into the soul chart at #30.

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"Black Dog" (1971)

Led Zeppelin Black Dog
Courtesy Atlantic Records

Robert Plant's introductory "Hey, hey, Mama, said the way you move," lyrics are more instantly recognizable to many listeners than the song's title "Black Dog." The title is a reference to the black Labrador retriever that wandered the studios while the band was recording the song. Robert Plant's a capella vocal segments were inspired by Fleetwood Mac's song "Oh Well." Jimmy Page's complex guitar riff is one of the most celebrated in rock history. "Black Dog" was released as a single and peaked at #15 on the U.S. pop singles chart.

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"Stairway to Heaven" (1971)

Led Zeppelin album
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin. Courtesy Atlantic Records

"Stairway to Heaven" is arguably the biggest hit song never released as a commercial single in the U.S. An eight-minute epic that closes the first side of Led Zeppelin's fourth studio album, the song is composed of three distinct sections that increase in tempo and volume before closing with the line, "And she's buying the stairway to heaven." Jimmy Page and Robert Plant began putting the song together after they spent time at an isolated cottage in the mountains of Wales. Jimmy Page told rock journalist Cameron Crowe that "Stairway to Heaven," "crystallized the essence of the band."

"Stairway to Heaven" was recognized as the most requested song on rock radio in the U.S. in the 1970s. The band and their management adamantly refused Atlantic Records' requests to release it as a single. Instead, many fans bought the album like they were buying a "Stairway to Heaven" single. In the U.S., the album peaked at #2 on the album chart, but it ultimately became one of the biggest selling albums of all time certified 23 times platinum in the U.S.

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"Rock and Roll" (1972)

Led Zeppelin Rock and Roll
Courtesy Atlantic Records

Led Zeppelin wrote "Rock and Roll" as part of a spontaneous jam session. It is a hard rock celebration of classic 1950s rock and roll mentioning the popular line dance "The Stroll." Rolling Stones pianist Ian Stewart appears on the recording. Led Zeppelin released "Rock and Roll" as a single, but it failed to reach the pop top 40 in the U.S. The song became the first by the group officially licensed for use in a television series in 2001 when it appeared on "The Sopranos."

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"D'yer Mak'er" (1973)

Led Zeppelin D'yer Mak'er
Courtesy Atlantic Records

"D'yer Mak'er" is one of the most controversial Led Zeppelin songs among fans and critics of the group. Many consider it one of the worst of the band's familiar tracks. The title is a play on the pronunciation of the word "Jamaica" with an English accent. Musically, the song uses elements of Jamaican reggae and dub. The group's bass player John Paul Jones publicly expressed his dislike of the song and said it began as a studio joke that the group didn't think through. Vocalist Robert Plant encouraged the release of "D'yer Mak'er" as a single from the album "Houses of the Holy." It reached #20 on the U.S. pop chart.

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"Kashmir" (1975)

Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti. Courtesy Swan Song Records

The group members of Led Zeppelin consider "Kashmir" to be one of their finest achievements. The arrangement is complex using multiple time signatures and features strings and horns in addition to the rock instrumentation. Robert Plant was inspired to write the lyrics after a trip to southern Morocco. The only musical reference to the Kashmir region straddling India and Pakistan is the Eastern-influenced tuning of Jimmy Page's guitar. Rock critics strongly praised "Kashmir" as one of Led Zeppelin's best creations and the best track from the #1 hit album "Physical Graffiti."

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"Trampled Under Foot" (1975)

Led Zeppelin Trampled Under Foot
Courtesy Swan Song Records

Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones credits Stevie Wonder as a critical influence on the beat structure in "Trampled Under Foot." The sexual innuendo in "Terraplane Blues" by the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson influenced the song's lyrics. Released as a single, it peaked at #38 on the U.S. pop singles chart. Vocalist Robert Plant identified "Trampled Under Foot" as one of his favorite Led Zeppelin songs and English producer Danny Boyle used "Trampled Under Foot" to open the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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"Fool in the Rain" (1979)

Led Zeppelin Fool In the Rain
Courtesy Swan Song Rcords

"Fool in the Rain" was the last single released by Led Zeppelin before the band's breakup. It is included on the studio album "In Through the Out Door." It is notable for the unorthodox use of time signatures. Led Zeppelin performs most of the song in 12/8 meter, but the polyrhythmic structure includes piano and bass playing six beats per measure while the drums and melody line use four beats per measure. "Fool in the Rain" also includes a Latin-influenced samba breakdown. The song reached #21 on the U.S. pop singles chart.