Were you somebody who grew up during the early 2000s? If so, there’s a very probable chance that you played Guitar Hero 2 with your friends.
While the series is undoubtedly famous, Guitar Hero 2 was most people’s entry to the game because it was released on multiple consoles. Whether you’re picking it up for the first time, or just want to reminisce, the following songs are some of the best in the game.
The Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’
Initially, you’d probably think to yourself that you wouldn’t play a song by The Rolling Stones all that much in Guitar Hero 2. But, surprisingly enough, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ has a sort of infectiousness that cannot be denied.
In fact, it’s a song that you’ll surprise yourself with time and again each time you return to it. If nothing else, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking is an enjoyable track that will get your fingers properly warmed up.
Rush – YYZ
Many people consider Rush to be the greatest progressive rock band of all time. For a band with only 3 members, such a title has not been acclaimed for no reason.
Give YYZ a go and you’ll quickly see why so many people revere Rush to the degree that they do. Some of Alex Lifeson’s most epic guitar parts are to be found in this song, but don’t be thrown off by its unique rhythm.
Black Sabbath – War Pigs
Featuring at least 1 Black Sabbath song in a Guitar Hero game became somewhat of a tradition in the series. The 2nd installment of the Guitar Hero series saw War Pigs being added to the soundtrack.
This scathing anti-war track remains as relevant today as it was during the era of the Vietnam War. The song starts out relatively simple but dials up the difficulty when the sprawling guitar solo comes about.
Toadies – Possum Kingdom
The 1990s spawned some of the heaviest rock hits to ever grace the mainstream airwaves. Possum Kingdom is one of those songs that could be considered a forgotten classic — people are familiar with it but might not be able to recall its name or who played it.
Fortunately, Guitar Hero 2’s inclusion of Possum Kingdom puts the song back into the modern cloud of the collective unconscious. Its distinct rhythm and spiraling guitar leads are just as potent today as they were in the 1990s.
Dick Dale – Misirlou
You better make sure your wrist is in shape before attempting Dick Dale’s hit surf-guitar song, Misirlou. This song has some ridiculous tremolo picking that does not give up and will eventually exhaust your arm.
Of course, the song’s difficulty is definitely part of its charm, partially because it’s one of the coolest songs ever written. Even Dick Dale himself would shred guitar picks down to a nub when playing this song live.
Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son
Kansas has a number of hits that just about everybody and their distant cousins are familiar with. Carry On Wayward Son is perhaps their most iconic in the sense of being a classic rock anthem.
This track appears toward the beginning of the game, with the exact location dependent on the console you’re playing. On the PS2, it appears in the 2nd level, while it’s in the 3rd level on the Xbox 360.
Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box
Considering that so many young people are into Nirvana, it makes sense that Nirvana would be included in the game. In fact, this would come to be a sort of tradition that would be followed in later installments in the series.
This is another song where the placement depends on the console. Nevertheless, you will get to enjoy playing through it within the first couple of levels.
Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
Rage Against The Machine is known for being slightly inflammatory in the lyric department. That’s why it’s so surprising that Guitar Hero 2’s developers included what is perhaps their most inflammatory song.
But, rest assured, young audiences will be able to play through the song without having to upset their parents. The many F-bombs in the song have been edited due to the fact that the majority of the songs have been re-recorded for the game.
Anthrax – Madhouse
Anthrax is one of those bands that everybody seems to know about but whose catalog escapes them. If there is a song that somebody can name, it’s usually Madhouse, which is one of their biggest hits from the mid-1980s.
This is a track that people will enjoy playing through if they listened to V-Rock while playing GTA: Vice City.
Warrant – Cherry Pie
While it’s always been present in music, the notion that sex sells got ramped up to a new level in the 1980s. One of the finest examples of this can be heard (and seen in the music video) with the Warrant track, Cherry Pie.
This song is the epitome of the lewd stylings of the hair metal bands. There are some golden guitar riffs here that you’ll love mastering in the game.
Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
While Thin Lizzy might be a household name today, the band arguably did not blow up to the successes they deserved. That’s why it’s always a blessing when Thin Lizzy gets included in something that reaches massive audiences.
Bad Reputation is a song you’re probably familiar with that you may not have initially known was a Thin Lizzy track. This barn-burning track is filled with glorious riffs and a tricky guitar solo section.
The Sword – Freya
Unless you were a skateboarder back in the day, Guitar Hero 2 was likely your introduction to The Sword. The band definitely became more popular due after the game’s release, and for good reason.
This track is straight-up stoner rock at its finest and it’s filled to the brim with infectious riffs. Your dexterity will be tested, but that’s why it’s become such a fan favorite.
Megadeth – Hangar 18
You’re going to need to make it all the way to the end of the game to be able to play Megadeth’s famous track, Hangar 18. This track is definitely epic and is usually at the top of the list for most Megadeth fans.
It also has one of the most interesting backstories for a song’s inspiration. As somebody who has visited Dayton, OH many times, even I cannot be sure that aliens weren’t taken there after the Roswell incident.
Rick Derringer – Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo
The 1970s undoubtedly created some of the most timeless rock hits to ever be recorded. It’s for that reason we often deem the era’s rock songs as “classic rock”.
Rick Derringer’s Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo is definitely a staple song from that decade. Unfortunately, the only way you’ll be able to play this is if you have the Xbox 360 version.
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Some songs within the Guitar Hero series have become fan favorites that present equal parts challenge and rock. Iron Maiden’s famous track, The Trooper, became notorious among Guitar Hero 2 players for being one of those very songs.
This is another song that was exclusive to Xbox 360 owners. However, the song’s reputation ensured that PS2 players would spend an evening trying to master the song at their friend’s house.
Reverend Horton Heat – Psychobilly Freakout
If there’s one thing you’ll learn in Guitar Hero 2, it’s that rockabilly is surprisingly difficult in ridiculous ways. While the sound is built from tradition, it would seem that more technique is required than what was played in flashy 1980s rock groups.
It’s actually quite amazing that Guitar Hero 2 would give a nod to Reverend Horton Heat. The song’s inclusion meant that fans of almost every rock subgenre had something to look forward to.
The Police – Message In A Bottle
There are some songs in the Guitar Hero series that are annoyingly difficult. By the time you’ve mastered them, you’re sick of the song from having to hear it so many times.
There’s a good chance that you’ll end up feeling this way after beating Message In A Bottle. The guitar’s rhythm part is probably more difficult to master than the actual guitar solo section.
Primus – John The Fisherman
Not many songs in Guitar Hero 2 are actually the master recordings done by the artists themselves. However, the developers made the right decision to include the original recording of John The Fisherman.
After all, Primus has one of the most unique sounds in rock music. It’s highly likely that Larry LaLonde’s signature guitar parts could not be replicated perfectly.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
Everybody knows that, to be considered a legitimate guitar hero, one must be able to play Free Bird. It’s the one song that always gets jokingly requested at every concert, even if it’s just a solo acoustic player’s gig.
You’ll encounter this song at the very end of the game, serving as an encore to the level. In all likelihood, you’ll probably return to this song over and over again to continually test your chops.
The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica
The Allman Brothers Band is definitely known for its signature guitar medleys, with Jessica being a fine example. This song is a classic guitar instrumental that features some tasty harmonized parts.
If you play with another player, this is one song that you’ll want to make sure that you play together.
Wolfmother – Woman
The majority of the world’s introduction to Wolfmother came by means of playing Guitar Hero 2. Woman is one of Wolfmother’s oldest tracks and prompted many to go out and purchase the band’s album.
Any fan of stoner rock will definitely enjoy the musical stylings present in Woman.
KISS – Strutter
You wouldn’t ordinarily think that a band that dons makeup and costumes would be such a hit in the rock world. On the contrary, KISS proved that their onstage personas were actually a huge factor in their international success.
Strutter is a classic from KISS’s early catalog, filled to the brim with unforgettable guitar licks.
Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies
Guitar Hero 2’s developers made an excellent choice of including Billion Dollar Babies in the game’s soundtrack. Most people only know of Alice Cooper by means of School’s Out, I’m Eighteen, or No More Mr. Nice Guy.
Out of his entire catalog, Billion Dollar Babies is perfect for a video game centered around the guitar. You’ll only be able to find this cut on the Xbox 360 version.
Heart – Crazy On You
If there’s one song that might inspire you to pick up the real guitar, it’s Heart’s hit track, Crazy On You. This song begins with an intro that hints at classical composition before erupting into classic riff rock.
You’ll encounter this track on the game’s 6th level, when things remain somewhat easy but feature a subtle dose of difficulty.
Lamb Of God – Laid To Rest
If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Guitar Hero 2’s focus on metal music mostly consists of classic metal tracks. And while that might be true to some extent, Lamb Of God’s song, Laid To Rest, provides something for modern metal fans.
This song is fairly difficult due to its unforgiving speed. You might just want to lie down and rest once you master this song on the expert difficulty level.
Van Halen – You Really Got Me
Considering that Eddie Van Halen is one of the guitar heroes of the 1980s, featuring him in Guitar Hero 2 was a must. This is especially so since Van Halen got passed over when the developers made the first Guitar Hero game.
You Really Got Me marks what would eventually become a tradition in the Guitar Hero series.
Buckethead – Jordan
Buckethead is a name that just about everybody in today’s society is at least somewhat familiar with. But, to be fair, Buckethead’s popularity only really became such by means of being featured in Guitar Hero 2.
Jordan is an unlockable track that will push your dexterity to the limit if you’re not properly prepared.
Valient Thorr – Fall Of Pangea
If you have access to Guitar Hero 2’s unlockable songs, do not skip over Fall Of Pangea by Valient Thorr. This is a long, spiraling track that blossoms like a flower before erupting into a rock song that isn’t afraid to get in your face.
Strong Bad – Trogdor
Remember the mention of how some songs are considered must-play among Guitar Hero fans? Even though it’s shorter than 2 minutes long, Trogdor is a song that will have you singing its name well after you complete the song.
All That Remains – Six
Your controller is bound to get a serious workout when you attempt Six by All That Remains. There’s a fair chance your wrist will need an ice bag if you play this on the expert difficulty level.
Dethklok – Thunderhorse
If you were in high school when Guitar Hero 2 came out, chances are that you were also watching Metalocalypse on Adult Swim. Considering that Dethklok might be the greatest animated metal band ever, including Thunderhorse in Guitar Hero 2 just makes perfect sense.
You won’t find this song during the game’s main levels. Rather, Thunderhorse is a track that can only be unlocked later in the game.
Top Guitar Hero 2 Songs, Final Thoughts
Guitar Hero 2 greatly expanded on the initial surprising success that the first game in the series managed to achieve. It was the success of Guitar Hero 2 that eventually prompted developers to create spin-off titles with similar gameplay.
Plus, the game was notable for having different guitar controllers depending on the console you purchased the game for. Mastering this game on the expert difficulty level was a necessity if you thought of yourself as a “cool kid”.