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100 Greatest Rock Music Lyricists

Criteria: These rock lyricists were ranked according to their influence on rock lyricism, the acclaim they received for their lyrics and, to a lesser degree, the greatness (influence, acclaim, popularity) of the songs they wrote lyrics for.

Last Updated: 2019-06-04
Rock music lyricist Bob Dylan   Rock music lyricist John Lennon   Rock music lyricist Neil Young   Rock music lyricist Rakim   Rock music lyricist Chuck Berry   Rock music lyricist Leonard Cohen
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. John Lennon (The Beatles)
  3. Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
  4. Rakim (Eric B. & Rakim)
  5. Chuck Berry
  6. Leonard Cohen
  7. Joni Mitchell
  8. Nas
  9. Smokey Robinson (The Miracles; Motown)
10. Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkel)
11. Pete Townshend (The Who)
12. Jerry Leiber (Leiber/Stoller; Brill Building)
13. Curtis Mayfield (The Impressions)
14. Bruce Springsteen
15. Stevie Wonder
16. The Notorious B.I.G.
17. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
18. Eminem
19. Ray Davies (The Kinks)
20. Jay-Z
21. Elvis Costello
22. Tom Waits
23. Jackson Browne
24. Jim Morrison (The Doors)
25. 2Pac
26. Bob Marley (The Wailers)
27. Big Daddy Kane
28. Kool G Rap (Kool G Rap & DJ Polo)
29. Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground)
30. Van Morrison
31. Chuck D (Public Enemy)
32. Joe Strummer (The Clash)
33. Morrissey (The Smiths)
34. Patti Smith
35. Gil Scott-Heron
36. Ice Cube (N.W.A)
37. John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
38. Melle Mel (Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five)
39. Kendrick Lamar
40. Randy Newman
41. Warren Zevon
42. Eddie Holland (Holland/Dozier/Holland; Motown)
43. Laura Nyro
44. Nick Cave (The Birthday Party; Grinderman)
45. KRS-One (Boogie Down Productions)
46. Slick Rick
47. Bono (U2)
48. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)
49. André 3000 (OutKast)
50. Sly Stone (Sly & the Family Stone)
51. Tom Petty
52. Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
53. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
54. Common
55. Kate Bush
56. Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)
57. Paul McCartney (The Beatles; Wings)
58. Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)
59. Cynthia Weil (Weil/Mann; Brill Building)
60. John Hiatt
61. Bernie Taupin (Elton John)
62. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)
63. David Bowie
64. Frank Zappa
65. LL Cool J
66. Linton Kwesi Johnson
67. Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)
68. Steve Earle
69. Suzanne Vega
70. Tracy Chapman
71. Robbie Robertson (The Band)
72. Elliott Smith
73. Doc Pomus (Pomus/Shuman; Brill Building)
74. Billy Joel
75. Zach de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine)
76. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
77. Barrett Strong (Strong/Whitfield; Motown)
78. Kool Moe Dee (Treacherous Three)
79. John Mellencamp
80. George Harrison (The Beatles)
81. Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins)
82. Cat Stevens
83. Paul Weller (The Jam; The Style Council)
84. Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
85. Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)
86. Black Thought (The Roots)
87. Chris Difford (Squeeze)
88. Billy Bragg
89. Beck
90. Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)
91. Posdnuos (De La Soul)
92. Sting (The Police)
93. Don Henley (Eagles)
94. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden; Audioslave)
95. Lauryn Hill (Fugees)
96. Neil Diamond (Brill Building)
97. Big L
98. PJ Harvey
99. Mark E. Smith (The Fall)
100. Scarface (Geto Boys)
101. John Flansburgh & John Linnell (They Might Be Giants)
102. Don McLean
103. Maynard James Keenan (Tool; A Perfect Circle)
104. Richey James Edwards, Nicky Wire (Manic Street Preachers)
105. Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
106. Mos Def (Black Star)
107. Pharoahe Monch (Organized Konfusion)
108. Richard Hell
109. James Brown
110. Rod Stewart
111. Ghostface Killah (Wu-Tang Clan)
112. Robert Smith (The Cure)
113. Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy)
114. Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)
115. Gerry Goffin (Goffin/King; Brill Building)
116. James Taylor
117. MC Lyte
118. Ron Mael (Sparks)
119. Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)
120. Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)
121. David Crosby (The Byrds; Crosby, Stills & Nash)
122. George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic)
123. Ian Curtis (Joy Division)
124. Mike Skinner (The Streets)
125. Peter Gabriel (Genesis)
126. Nick Lowe
127. GZA/Genius (Wu-Tang Clan)
128. Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention)
129. Rev Run (Run-D.M.C.)
130. Stuart Murdoch (Belle and Sebastian)
131. MF Doom (Madvillain)
132. Ian Dury
133. Gift of Gab (Blackalicious)
134. Matt Berninger (The National)
135. Ras Kass
136. Nick Drake
137. Peter Tosh (The Wailers)
138. Masta Ace
139. Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff (Philly)
140. Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)
141. CL Smooth (Pete Rock & CL Smooth)
142. John B. Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful)
143. Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)
144. Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs; Dr. Octagon)
145. Liz Phair
146. Prince
147. Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)
148. Exene Cervenka & John Doe (X)
149. Talib Kweli (Black Star)
150. Ani DiFranco
151. Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees)
152. Big Pun
153. Michelle Shocked
154. Joe Jackson
155. Redman (Method Man & Redman)
156. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco; Uncle Tupelo)
157. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
158. Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie; The Postal Service)
159. Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth)
160. AZ
161. Sufjan Stevens
162. Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout)
163. Anne Clark
164. Snoop Dogg
165. Nicki Minaj
166. Burning Spear
167. Roland Orzabal (Tears for Fears)
168. John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats)
169. Lupe Fiasco
170. Jarvis Cocker (Pulp)
171. Guru (Gang Starr)
172. Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys; The Last Shadow Puppets)
173. Roy Orbison
174. Erykah Badu
175. Jeru the Damaja
176. Otis Blackwell
177. David Byrne (Talking Heads)
178. Harry Chapin
179. Graham Parker
180. Mike Scott (The Waterboys)
181. Grand Puba (Brand Nubian)
182. Pusha T (Clipse)
183. Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)
184. Laurie Anderson
185. Lil' Kim
186. Kanye West
187. Jim Carroll
188. Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse)
189. Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan)
190. Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields)
191. Julian Cope (The Teardrop Explodes)
192. Canibus
193. Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel)
194. Percy Mayfield
195. Busta Rhymes
196. Stephen Malkmus (Pavement)
197. David Sylvian (Japan)
198. Grant McLennan (The Go-Betweens)
199. Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan; Method Man & Redman)
200. Jimi Hendrix
201. Grandmaster Caz (The Cold Crush Brothers)
202. Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks)
203. Ice-T
204. Country Joe McDonald (Country Joe & the Fish)
205. Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices)
206. Craig Finn (The Hold Steady)
207. Kurtis Blow
208. Frank Ocean
209. Sam Cooke
210. Tori Amos
211. Big Boi (OutKast)
212. Jerry Dammers (The Specials)
213. John Lydon (Sex Pistols; Public Image Ltd)
214. Mike D (Beastie Boys)
215. Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
216. Prodigy (Mobb Deep)
217. Martin Gore (Depeche Mode)
218. Al Stewart
219. Andy Partridge (XTC)
220. Aceyalone (Freestyle Fellowship)
221. James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem)
222. Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters; Sun Kil Moon)
223. Scott Miller (Game Theory)
224. M.I.A.
225. St. Vincent
226. Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd)
227. Mike Watt (Minutemen; fIREHOSE)
228. Dan Bejar (Destroyer)
229. Jonathan Richman (The Modern Lovers)
230. Eddie Cochran
231. Courtney Love (Hole)
232. Killer Mike (Run the Jewels)
233. Fiona Apple
234. Karl Hyde (Underworld)
235. Robyn Hitchcock (The Soft Boys)
236. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
237. Peter Sinfield (King Crimson)
238. Damon Albarn (Blur; Gorillaz)
239. Jon Anderson (Yes)
240. Dan Fogelberg
241. Queen Latifah
242. Del Shannon
243. Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens)
244. Hank Ballard (The Midnighters)
245. Kurt Wagner (Lambchop)
246. Neil Peart (Rush)
247. Aesop Rock
248. Win Butler (Arcade Fire)
249. Lil Wayne
250. Donovan
Honorable mentions:
50 Cent
Brett Anderson (Suede)
Courtney Barnett
Black Francis/Frank Black (Pixies)
Marc Bolan (T. Rex)
Danny Brown
Foxy Brown
Carrie Brownstein & Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney)
Captain Beefheart
Chance the Rapper
Jim Croce
Mac DeMarco
The D.O.C.
Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip)
Drake
Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music)
Fish (Marillion)
Serge Gainsbourg
CeeLo Green (Goodie Mob; Gnarls Barkley)
Grant Hart (Hüsker Dü)
Matt Johnson (The The)
Rickie Lee Jones
Jim Kerr (Simple Minds)
Kurupt (Tha Dogg Pound)
Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees; Queens of the Stone Age)
Arthur Lee (Love)
Roger Miller (Mission of Burma)
Travis Morrison (The Dismemberment Plan)
Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü; Sugar)
Joanna Newsom
Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy)
Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)
Louie Pérez (Los Lobos)
Keith Reid (Procol Harum)
Royce da 5'9''
John K. Samson (The Weakerthans)
Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees)
Vince Staples
Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest)
Tom Verlaine (Television)
Rufus Wainwright
Scott Walker
Xzibit
"Weird Al" Yankovic


Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues








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