Dad rock is a recent subgenre music journos have coined, although its exact definition seems to be vague and its origins unknown. But it is one of those genres where you'll know it when you hear it, and most music journalists today more or less can describe it as older, male-centric classic rock made by male-centric groups that have since grown older and still retain the adoration of males who have since grown older and become dads themselves.
In any case, if you have a dad, chances are you're aware of or have heard these songs on repeat thoughout your youth and can cite an experience or personal connection with them. Because like it or not, your parents' musical preferences are part of your own origin story, and it's nothing less than endearing the amount of love and dedication dads hold for their music. But that doesn't mean we can't poke fun at them for it.
With that said, here are the 10 best dad rock songs to listen to.
10. The Eagles- "Hotel California"
As soon as those opening chords strike, you know what's coming. A longwinded tale about a weary traveler finding refuge in a strange hotel filled with strange characters, which serves as an allegory for drugs, hedonism and excess in Los Angeles. And then there's a Joe Walsh guitar solo. Can't fathom why this song is so popular, I just know a dad will turn it up every time it comes on the radio.
9. Wilco- "War on War"
Wilco is the most recent dad rock example, and quite possibly the group that is most quickly identified with the dad rock label. Lead singer Jeff Tweedy seems to have very conflicting feelings about the label, but really its not applied to the band for nothing. There's a cozy, all-American vibe to their music, which runs alongside the other music on this list. Plus, Tweedy is in a friggin band with his son, what's more dad rock than that?
8. ZZ Top- "Sharp-Dressed Man"
ZZ Top is the band every dad in a cover band wants to learn to play just to pull off the choreographed guitar-playing moves because it's "unexpected" or "different." And ZZ Top were apparently all about heavy guitar solos, seeing women as "babes" and fast, cool-looking old cars; you know what other demographic is really into old cars? Dads.
7. Jimmy Buffet- "Margaritaville"
The soft, pseudo-Caribbean music stylings within Margaritaville are suitable for kicking back in the sun, complete with tropical drink and hawaiian shirt, the dadliest of all shirts you can possibly wear while you look for your lost shaker of salt.
6. The Offspring- "The Kids Aren't Alright"
Once a young and irreverent punk band, The Offspring have pretty much transmogrified into a bunch of dads. Don't worry, we still think they're cool.
5. John Cougar Mellencamp- "Jack and Diane"
Simply essential dad rock listening.
4. Jimi Hendrix- "All Along the Watchtower"
The saying, "There are two sets of people who love Jimi Hendrix, 16 year-olds and 60 year-olds" is quite true. While there's no denying Hendrix was an iconic guitar player in his day, he stands to be the symbol for every baby boomer today of rebellion and rock n' roll cred. "See! We liked dangerous musicians who died too young early too!" dads are probably saying. Yeah, that's pretty punk dad. *goes back to whatever I was doing*
3. Foo Fighters- "Times Like These"
Foo Fighters is that band that constantly doesn't seem to want to admit they're getting older, even if now their music is more generic, and similar to their sounds before. Not that Dave Grohl isn't cool or anything, But now that his fans are dads, he has become added onto the pantheon of dad rock bands.
2. Bruce Springsteen- "Born in the U.S.A."
"You know what this barbecue needs?" says every dad on the Fourth of July, "Some Springsteen! The BOSS!"
Two thumbs up for the USA, mustaches and cutoff shorts, the official summertime look for dads in the '80s up until today.
1. Steely Dan- "Reelin' in the Years"
You could tell a nation of millenials collectively scratched their heads at the inclusion of seventies jazz rock group Steely Dan in 2015's Coachella line-up, and you just know a legion of dads were front and center for that set. Steely Dan's Reelin' In the Years earns its place as the number one dad rock track on this list because its the only song dads ever really know or care to listen to over and over from Steely Dan. But in their defense, it is a pretty good song.