The devil has been a figure in popular culture throughout history, and music is no exception.
This article will explore some of the best songs about the devil.
From the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” and The Charlie Daniels Band’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” these songs explore the devil’s presence in a variety of ways.
Other songs discussed in this article include Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil,” Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil,” The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil,” and Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail.”
By examining these 15 songs, readers will gain insight into how the devil is portrayed in music and how these songs have helped to shape the idea of the devil in popular culture.
1. “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones‘ song, “Sympathy for the Devil”, is widely recognized as a classic and iconic tune about the devil.
Written by Mick Jagger and released in 1968, the song is an examination of the role of Satan in human affairs.
The lyrics are thought-provoking, highlighting the ambiguity between good and evil.
The song’s instrumentation is also noteworthy, featuring a combination of Latin-influenced percussion and a driving rhythm.
Overall, “Sympathy for the Devil” is a timeless classic with an intriguing and powerful message.
2. “The Number of the Beast” by Iron Maiden
From its 1982 release, Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” has become a classic heavy metal anthem, renowned for its lyrical references to Satan.
The song is an adaptation of the biblical Book of Revelation’s description of the Antichrist and its powerful chorus is a hallmark of the genre.
Its heavy guitar riffs and vocal delivery by Bruce Dickinson convey the song’s dark themes of impending doom and malevolent forces.
The deep and brooding atmosphere created by the song is a testament to Iron Maiden’s technical proficiency and use of creative storytelling.
3. “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
Featuring a fiddle-driven melody and spirited lyrics, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band is a classic country-rock song that has become an iconic classic.
The song tells the story of a devilish character, who challenges a young man to a guitar-playing duel.
The winner of the duel will be awarded a golden fiddle.
The lyrics are full of witty wordplay, and the music is driven by a fast-paced, upbeat tempo.
The song has become a fan favorite and is often regarded as one of the best songs about the devil.
4. “Runnin’ with the Devil” by Van Halen
Van Halen‘s “Runnin’ with the Devil” is an anthemic hard rock classic that captures the thrilling essence of rebellion.
Released in 1978, it quickly became a hit single, peaking at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song’s subject matter is somewhat ambiguous, but it has been interpreted as a celebration of youthful rebellion, and its lyrics have been seen as a tribute to the Devil.
The song’s driving guitar riffs and explosive chorus help to convey the energy of the message.
It is a powerful anthem for the devil that has stood the test of time.
5. “Friend of the Devil” by Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” is a beloved song that has become a classic of the Americana genre.
It tells the story of a man looking for redemption in the face of his criminal past.
The song is known for its complex lyrics, featuring a mix of folk and country elements.
Instrumentally, the song is driven by an acoustic guitar and a banjo, providing a traditional Americana sound.
The song has been covered by numerous artists, proving its staying power and timelessness.
Its themes of redemption and its iconic sound have cemented it as one of the definitive songs about the devil.
6. “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath
Transitioning from the 1970s folk-rock of the Grateful Dead, the heavy metal band Black Sabbath released a song in 1970 titled “Black Sabbath” that further explored the theme of the devil.
The song opens with an eerie soundscape of ‘scary noises’ and an intro that features a dark tonality, ominous minor chords, and a descending chromatic riff.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a man who is visited by the devil, who warns him of the consequences of his behavior.
“Black Sabbath” creates a sinister atmosphere by using a minor key and a heavy, distorted guitar sound, emphasizing the devil’s presence.
7. “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC
Released in 1979, AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell” is a hard rock anthem that captures the feeling of unrestrained freedom and rebellion.
The song’s lyrics explore themes of nihilism and the devil, with an iconic guitar solo to set the tone.
The song’s popularity is due in part to its hard-hitting and driving beat.
It has been covered by numerous artists and continues to be a classic favorite.
Its message of disobeying authority and living life to the fullest resonates with listeners, making it a timeless classic.
8. “Me and the Devil Blues” by Robert Johnson
Considered one of the earliest blues songs to reference the devil, Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues” is a haunting and evocative track.
It paints a vivid picture of a man’s deal with the devil, employing imagery of walking through a graveyard and being warned of the devil’s intentions.
Johnson’s lyrics and blues guitar riffs, combined with his powerful vocal performance, create a captivating song that stands out among classic blues.
His use of vivid imagery to convey the devil’s presence is an example of early blues songwriting at its finest.
9. “Devil’s Haircut” by Beck
Beck’s 1996 single “Devil’s Haircut” is an example of the alternative rock artist’s creative approach to blues-influenced music.
Through a mix of electric guitar riffs, heavy bass, and a catchy beat, Beck creates an upbeat and upbeat track that is imbued with the blues tradition.
The song’s lyrics explore themes of the devil as a metaphor for temptation and personal struggle.
The song is an example of Beck’s experimental approach to blending musical genres and speaks to his ability to use traditional blues sounds in creative and unexpected ways.
10. “Lucifer” by Jay-Z
Jay-Z’s song “Lucifer” is a hip-hop track that utilizes a mix of electronic and trap influences, creating a sinister atmosphere.
The song is structured with a slow tempo and dark production, with lyrics that reflect the power of the devil.
Jay-Z proclaims his own inner strength and determination in the face of the devil’s temptations.
The song speaks to the ongoing battle between good and evil, and how it is ultimately up to the individual to decide which path to take.
The track reinforces the idea that everyone has a choice and that the devil’s power is only as strong as we allow it to be.
11. “The Devil in I” by Slipknot
Slipknot’s “The Devil in I” is a heavy metal track that delves into the depths of human emotion and the power of the devil’s influence.
The song is a metaphor for the internal struggle many people face between their inner darkness and the power of the devil that can pull them in.
Musically, the track is heavy and intense, layering guitars and drums to create a dark atmosphere.
While the song is about the power of the devil, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of inner strength in overcoming the darker aspects of life.
12. “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
The Animals’ classic hit “House of the Rising Sun” has become a cultural icon over the decades, showcasing the band’s unique 1960s rock-and-roll style.
This song, rumored to have been inspired by a real house in New Orleans, is often interpreted as being about the devil.
Lyrically, it tells the story of a young person’s life of sin and regret, and its dark imagery gives it a devilish quality.
Musically, it features minor chords and a furious guitar solo that evoke feelings of dread and despair.
Together, the sound and lyrics create a powerful and haunting song about the devil.
13. “Shout at the Devil” by Mötley Crüe
Moving on from The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”, another popular song about the Devil is Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil”.
Released in 1983, this heavy metal song was well-received by fans and critics alike.
Its lyrics depict a struggle between good and evil and are accompanied by blistering guitars and pounding drums.
The song was a chart-topper in several countries, in part due to its intense and powerful sound.
14. “Hellhound on My Trail” by Robert Johnson
Widely considered one of the most influential blues songs of all time, “Hellhound on My Trail” by Robert Johnson is a hauntingly beautiful account of being haunted by the Devil.
The song is based on a traditional African-American folk spiritual and features a powerful vocal delivery and an intricate, melancholic guitar arrangement.
Johnson’s lyrics reflect a sense of despair, as he begs for mercy from an unyielding entity.
The song is a classic example of the Delta Blues style and has been covered by a number of artists, establishing its legacy as a timeless classic in the blues genre.
15. “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” by Volbeat
Drawing influence from Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail”, Volbeat’s “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” is a modern-day interpretation of the Delta Blues style.
Gritty guitar riffs, powerful drum beats, and a soaring vocal performance lend the song a dark, intimidating atmosphere.
The lyrics are filled with vivid imagery and macabre symbolism, creating a sense of foreboding and unease.
“The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” stands as a testament to Volbeat’s mastery of the blues genre and is a masterful tribute to Robert Johnson’s classic piece.
Best Songs About the Devil – Final Thoughts
The devil is a powerful and enduring symbol in popular culture, often evoking fear and fascination.
As the figurehead of darkness and evil, the devil has been the inspiration for some of the most beloved and enduring songs ever written.
From The Rolling Stones’ classic “Sympathy for the Devil” to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” and Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil”, these 15 songs capture the essence of the devil’s influence and power.
Each song presents a unique and captivating interpretation of the devil’s enduring legacy in music, providing a thrilling and thought-provoking listening experience.
By exploring the devil’s presence in music, we can better understand the dark and mysterious forces that shape our lives.
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