What's the perfect song for air guitaring?
June 1, 2007 8:59 AM   Subscribe

AirGuitarFilter: I need to find a song with a killer guitar solo for an Air Guitar competition.

We're hosting an Air Guitar competition tomorrow night, and I need to find a song for the compulsory freestyle round. Each contestant is allowed to bring their own two minute clip for the first round, but the second round will be an unknown song, of our choosing, which they must perform to on the spot. I need your help finding the perfect song for the second round.

I'm going to cut the song down to a 90 second clip, so I'd ideally like to have as much of that time as possible filled with a face-melting guitar solo. So, what's the perfect air guitar solo song?
posted by bjork24 to Media & Arts (61 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
November Rain by Guns N Roses has two very good solos in it, althought it might be a little obvious.
posted by fire&wings at 9:02 AM on June 1, 2007

Anything on this list appealing?
posted by dnthomps at 9:03 AM on June 1, 2007

posted by scblackman at 9:16 AM on June 1, 2007

The Cowboy Song, either by Thin Lizzie or the Golden Smog
Comfortably Numb (live, off of Delicate Sound of Thunder), Pink Floyd
Chickamauga, Uncle Tupelo

More Avant-Garde:
What A Waste, Sonic Youth
posted by COBRA! at 9:16 AM on June 1, 2007

Joe Satriani - "Circles", when it kicks in (about one minute in).
posted by eightball at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2007

Theme From An Imaginary Western - Mountain
Jesus Just left Chicago - ZZ Top
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2007

The Glass Prison by Dream Theater.

The entire song is 14 minutes long, but the (< 90 sec.) guitar solo will destroy your soul.
posted by disillusioned at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2007

The guitar solo from Hot For Teacher comes to mind immediately though Ratt's Round and Round has a slightly higher cheese factor. 90 seconds is actually a pretty substantial extended solo though and you may be better off with Yngwie Malmsteen's Far Beyond the Sun or Dokken's Mr. Scary, though you're sacrificing just a tad of corn by going the shred route.
posted by The Straightener at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2007

Target by Fugazi. (They'll never know what hit them, and those who air guitar this song correctly will be incredible. And it has the best guitar solo ever.)

No More Shoes by Stephen Malkmus

The Hexx by Pavement

Crossroads by Cream

Clapton's solo from While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles.
posted by The World Famous at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2007


Look no further, your face is melted.

Best DF solo is in "My Spirit Will Go On" at around 4:00.
posted by baphomet at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2007

The only guitar solo worth hearing is Robert Fripp's extended screeching on Brian Eno's "Baby's on Fire".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:26 AM on June 1, 2007

Last summer I was a music counselor at a day camp, and I had to make a mix CD with guitar solos for the kids to fool around with on air guitar. This was my setlist:

Crossroads - Cream
Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Jessica - Allman Brothers Band
The End - The Beatles
Hotel California - The Eagles
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

Other songs I recommend:
Chalkdust Torture - Phish (although I feel that air guitar skews strongly towards classic rock, it's an appropriate solo)
Red House - Jimi Hendrix
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
posted by danb at 9:26 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh wait, seriously though, you should consider doing "Trapped In A Corner" by Death, or "These Fevered Times" by Darkest Hour.
posted by baphomet at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2007

The last minute of "Side with the Seeds" on the new Wilco album is a great solo, and easily compressed down to 90 seconds, since you'd get the end of a chorus and then the whole solo which finishes abruptly at the end of the song.

Or.. there are a few sections of "Hocus Pocus" by Focus that could be used at that length, although you might consider it a bit extreme to air guitar to. YouTube video for demonstration.

Alternatively, almost any 90 second bit of any The Mars Volta album ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2007

"Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC. You will be the air guitar god!
posted by malaprohibita at 9:35 AM on June 1, 2007

Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
Sweet Leaf - Black Sabbath
Tom Sawyer - Rush
Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson
Rise Above - Black Flag
posted by psmealey at 9:37 AM on June 1, 2007

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed-The Allman Brothers Band
Layla-Derek and the Dominoes
While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This is going to sound weird and hippie, but if you want to do something shredarific that they haven't heard before find some live Disco Biscuits and skip around. Lots of incredibly fast, inventive and hard-driving soloing.

Salt Creek-The Tony Rice Unit (face melting acoustic!)
posted by kosem at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2007

samba pa ti
posted by killermac at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2007

nth the Clapton solo from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". It kicks arse. In fact, I'm going to listen to it right now!
posted by jtfowl0 at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2007

Is it really possible that nobody has mentioned "Eruption" by Van Halen yet? That's the mother of all guitar solos.

Speaking of mothers, try "Mother (Don't want to go to school today)" by Extreme; not speaking of mothers, try "We're not alone anymore" by Kansas.
posted by jbickers at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2007

Also: I'm Going Home - Ten Years After
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2007

Neil Young's one note solo from "Cinnamon Girl".
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:55 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

More Than a Feeling - Boston

The guitar solo is only 30 seconds, not 90, but you can edit together 90 seconds of pure guitar awesomeness and opportunities to really emote from that song.

Beyond this, the Van Halen, Thin Lizzie and Boston catalogues are worth exploring. Of these, Van Halen may have the most face-melting solos, but Boston and Thin Lizzie will offer more opportunities to show off your air guitar skills.
posted by andrewraff at 9:56 AM on June 1, 2007

Boston's More than a feeling. If only for the bit it goes deliberately wonky for a second. Although also seconding Baby's on Fire.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 9:56 AM on June 1, 2007

Just beaten to it! Damn!
posted by ClanvidHorse at 9:56 AM on June 1, 2007

Steve Via, The Attitude Song

The Who, Magic Bus (how awesome would it be to fake a one-note solo?)

U2, Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl (same concept, you could make the Rock Star face)

Primus, Groundhog’s day

Metallica, Anesthesia / Pulling Teeth (if you can do a bass solo)
posted by bondcliff at 10:13 AM on June 1, 2007

Lots of good stuff here, not much to add other than the guitar solos in Blue Öyster Cult's, "Don't Fear the Reaper" are pretty decent. 1, 2, 3
posted by samsara at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2007

posted by mrmarley at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2007

U2, Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl

Fantastic. I'm still in awe that US released that without making any attempt to fix it up. Not only is the solo utterly terrible, he botches it badly. It's kind of a stunning moment from a major band. Even back in 1980whatever when it came out, it was still stunning.
posted by psmealey at 10:19 AM on June 1, 2007

Queen, "Tenement Funster". It's two, two, two solos in one!
posted by bink at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2007

Is this a serious competition? If you are looking for laughs (and plus points if you have a nice beer belly and maybe a sweet lion sweater that rides up), something like Jet's "Are You Going to be My Girl", all the way.

I've seen this guy, Dainoji, countless times and can't help but laugh every damn time... (easily amused)
posted by QueSeraSera at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2007

Dyers Eve- Metallica
posted by cashman at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2007

I'm with Disillusioned, too.

Also, try the solo from Dream Theater's 'As I Am' faster than The Glass Prison...
posted by roderashe at 10:30 AM on June 1, 2007


Totally seconded, except I recommend the tour de force from 4:55 to 6:06 in Though the Fire and Flames. It's got some slower parts that are tailor made for epic metal poses.

Or, you could try some part of Cry For Eternity from 4:50 to 6:30. Although that may be too much awesome for any mere mortal to handle, even with just a fake guitar. You'd probably have to keep some paramedics on hand or something. You know, in case.
posted by tracert at 10:41 AM on June 1, 2007

Of course, I actually mean Through the Fire and Flames. You would probably want to go through those.
posted by tracert at 10:43 AM on June 1, 2007

What about Jimi Hendrix's 'Are You Experienced'? Seems kind of overdone, but that's part of the beauty. And Breadfan by Metallica. Aces High, Trooper, Somewhere in Time, and Powerslave by Iron Maiden. Warpigs by Black Sabbath.
Bear in mind that these are suggestions from Mr. Jalapeno.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 10:47 AM on June 1, 2007

I'm still in awe that US released that without making any attempt to fix it up. Not only is the solo utterly terrible, he botches it badly. It's kind of a stunning moment from a major band. Even back in 1980whatever when it came out, it was still stunning.

I always figured that was intentionally released rough like that. Wasn’t it just a B-side after all? Sort of “and here’s the band unplugged and just kicking back .” Even when they did it at Red Rocks he referred to it as “a silly song.”

Some other suggestions:

U2, Bullet the Blue Sky, with the delay it’s a bit tough to get the sliding timed correctly.

Van Halen, Ice Cream Man or Cathedral. Those volume swells would be fun to fake.

Ditto Metallica’s Damaged, Inc.

The ultimate air guitar song is probably Stairway to Heaven. See if they know when to switch between the 6 and 12 string necks.

Dire Straits, Sultans of Swing or Money for Nothing

Phish, Stash
posted by bondcliff at 10:52 AM on June 1, 2007

I've seen Will Arnett (of Arrested Development -- the TV show, not the band) do a hilarious air-guitar rendering of the Law & Order theme song. To die for.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:52 AM on June 1, 2007

Pick from one here. Stairway to Heaven is #1
posted by fiTs at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2007

Anything by Led Zepplin, Boston or Van Halen (Diamond Dave era preferably).

I agree with the people calling for Boston's "More than A Feeling".

I know I do my best work with that song, but my wife hates it when I play air guitar and drive. nag, nag, nag.

just kidding turtlegirl!
posted by terrapin at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2007

G'n'R - Sweet Child o' Mine.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2007

Assume that many of the above suggestions - particularly 'classic rock' like Zep, Boston, Who, etc. - will already be overrepresented in the competition (doesn't mean that they're bad suggestions, just that they're mega popular). Here's something a bit different:

Steve Vai's solo from "Ease," on the album Album, by Public Image Limited. It's a tremendous, 2 minute long solo, considered by Vai himself as 'some of his best work.' I'm not a fan of Vai, and I generally hate guitar solos, but this one is pretty damn good.

Couldn't find any clips online, unfortunately. Sorry.
posted by googly at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2007

China Grove by the Doobies!
posted by medium format at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2007

For The Love of God (Steve Vai) has a good mix of slow bendy bits and fast stuff. If you would rather have an solo from a vocal track I'll nominate Get The Funk Out (Extreme) which is irresistibly cheesy and fun.
posted by teleskiving at 11:09 AM on June 1, 2007

I've always been partial to the solo from Led Zeppelin's "Achilles' Last Stand." Starts at around 3:45, and runs through around 5:00 or so. It's a weird, sad solo with two sets of intense punctuations from the rhythm section. Check it out!
posted by saladin at 11:10 AM on June 1, 2007

Stevie Ray Vaughan. "One of the greatest blues musicians who ever picked up a guitar," said John Lee Hooker. ... Or Leo Kottke, who does awesome things with guitar strings and has a distinctive style.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2007

Unearth - "Zombie Autopilot" at about 1:50.

Also, as has been said previously, Dragonforce.
posted by phaded at 12:34 PM on June 1, 2007

Yes, definitely DragonForce...they are the definition of killer guitar solo. Although they do it with two guitarists...not sure how that would translate to one air guitar...
posted by gueneverey at 12:37 PM on June 1, 2007

"Joyful Noise" by the Derek Trucks Band, especially if you can work in one of the double-time sections.
posted by emelenjr at 12:43 PM on June 1, 2007

"Good Times Bad Times" by Led Zeppelin, srsly
posted by Monster_Zero at 12:50 PM on June 1, 2007

King Crimson - Elephant Talk, two crazy solos for one. With lots of room for flailing about. Bonus points if someone throws in a Belew "grab the headstock and bend the neck" move.
posted by alikins at 12:50 PM on June 1, 2007

Eric Johnson - Cliffs Of Dover
Smashing Pumpkins - Window Paine
Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
Al Di Meola - Race With Devil On Spanish Highway

Any number of Sabbath songs would work (War Pigs, Into The Void, Sweet Leaf, A National Acrobat,etc)
posted by alikins at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2007

Big Electric Cat by Adrian Belew
posted by Thorzdad at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2007

more props for "more than a feeling" by boston.
posted by chasles at 2:04 PM on June 1, 2007

"Watermelon in Easter Hay" by Frank Zappa.
posted by MrFongGoesToLunch at 2:30 PM on June 1, 2007

I'll have to agree with the two people who already said 'Crossroads' by Cream. Especially the second guitar solo.
posted by Mael Oui at 3:16 PM on June 1, 2007

If you're going for whimsy and sheer crowd pleasing, nothing beats Foreigner's Jukebox Hero.

A bit of advice, though. Avoid the dreaded white man's overbite at all costs while soloing. That has cratered many an otherwise high voltage performance.
posted by psmealey at 3:31 PM on June 1, 2007

Another Girl, Another Planet by the Only Ones.

Gets right down to bidness and you can check the technique here
posted by black8 at 3:37 PM on June 1, 2007

Living Color: "Cult of Personality"
posted by 4ster at 3:48 PM on June 1, 2007

I go for a splice from Comfortably Numb from the Pink Floyd PULSE Live CD. Plenty of goodness to choose from.
posted by The Deej at 11:24 PM on June 1, 2007

"stars" by hear 'n aid
posted by fac21 at 6:50 PM on June 5, 2007

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