Top Psychedelic Rock and Indie Rock Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A list of the top psychedelic rock and indie rock songs from the past and present.

The Psychedelic Furs- “The Ghost in You”

The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You” is a classic example of ’80s alternative rock that managed to cross over into the mainstream. The song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September of 1984, making it the band’s highest charting single in the United States. The success of “The Ghost in You” helped to propel the band’s fourth album, Mirror Moves, to gold status.

The Dandy Warhols- “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth”

The Dandy Warhols are an American alternative rock band, formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1994 by Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Zia McCabe. The band was signed to Capitol Records in 1995 and released their self-titled debut album the same year. The album contained the song “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth”, which became a moderate hit in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Stone Roses- “I Wanna Be Adored”

The Stone Roses were one of the most influential bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s Manchester music scene. “I Wanna Be Adored” is a perfect example of their jangly, guitar-driven sound that would go on to inspire countless other bands. The song is also notable for its use of a sample from an interview with former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly.

Oasis- “Champagne Supernova”

Released in 1996, “Champagne Supernova” is one of Oasis’s most popular songs. The song is about the death of a star, and the lyrics are full of references to drugs and alcohol. The song was a hit in the UK and reached #2 on the charts.

The Verve- “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” is a song by English alternative rock band The Verve. It is the lead track on their third studio album, Urban Hymns (1997), and was released as the record’s second single on 16 June 1997. It peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart in July 1997, behind Elton John’s re-release of “Candle in the Wind 1997”. The song recounts lead singer Richard Ashcroft’s Mick Jagger–Keith Richards-related legal battle for the rights to use an orchestral sample from Andrew Loog Oldham’s 1966 recording of “The Last Time” by The Rolling Stones.

The song became one of The Verve’s signature tunes, helping Urban Hymns to become one of the best selling albums of all time. In 1998, it won Best Single at the Brit Awards held that year, beating out Robbie Williams’ “Angels”, which won Best British Video instead. In 2007, Q Magazine named “Bitter Sweet Symphony” the greatest hip-hop song of all time; NME named it the 12th best song of all time in 2014; and on its 20th anniversary in 2017, Pitchfork listed the song at number 13 on “The 200 Best Songs of the 1990s”.

Radiohead- “Paranoid Android”

“Paranoid Android” is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released as the lead single from their third studio album, OK Computer (1997), on 26 May 1997. The song’s title is a reference to the character Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Written by singer Thom Yorke, “Paranoid Android” was conceived in 1995 following a drunken brawl in Hong Kong; he combined elements of three different songs into one. The band then spent over a year arranging and re-recording parts of the song in their studio to achieve its final version.

Upon its release, “Paranoid Android” peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart and became Radiohead’s highest-charting single at the time. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 80 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 347 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

The Flaming Lips- “Do You Realize??”

Do You Realize?? is a song by The Flaming Lips, released as the second single from their 2002 album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The song reached number 34 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, number 33 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and number 21 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2009, NME named it the greatest song of all time.

The song’s lyrics deal with human mortality and realization of the certainty of death. Wayne Coyne has said that “the simple idea behind the song is recognizing that at some point we all go away and our time here is just a brief moment”. He has also said that it is “a sad song disguised as a happy pop song”, and that he wrote it after his father died.

Tame Impala- “Let It Happen”

“Let It Happen” is a song by Australian rock band Tame Impala, released as the lead single from their third studio album, Currents (2015), on 17 March 2015. The song was written by Kevin Parker and produced by Parker. “Let It Happen” is an electronic and psychedelic pop song, with a length of seven minutes and forty-two seconds. Upon release, the song received critical acclaim from music critics, who praised its infectious hook and production

Arcade Fire- “Rebellion (Lies)”

“Rebellion (Lies)” is a song by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire. It was released in March 2005 as the lead single from their debut album Funeral. The song peaked at number 36 on the UK Singles Chart and number 10 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 153 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”.

The Strokes- “You Only Live Once”

The song was released as the first single from the album First Impressions of Earth. The single peaked at number 44 on the UK Singles Chart, and was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 2006 Grammy Awards. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 139 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Last 15 Years”.

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