This. Is. Glorious.
Indeed, I think we have achieved rock n’ roll nirvana. Certainly arena anthem ecstasy. It was a long and winding road, and impossible decisions needed to be made … feelings needed to be hurt … assumptions needed to be overcome … and all previous titles needed to be set aside, much as the championship belt sits ringside, awaiting that final bell to toll and the undisputed champ to hoist it to the heavens in triumph.
And so … our grand finale features the godfathers of hard rock, AC/DC, up against the legitimate heirs to its throne, Guns N’ Roses.
Somewhere, Beavis and Butthead are beside themselves, giddy in anticipation of this one: Thunderstruck vs. Welcome to the Jungle.
Let’s rumble …
But first, a look back at how we got here.
#1 Seven Nation Army 49%
#1 Welcome to the Jungle 51% ✅
I really, really, really — like, really — thought y’all were gonna stick to this whole Seven-Nation-Army-cannot-be-stopped narrative and just “give it the fucking trophy.” But you paused, reflected on our mission here, weighed all facets to both tracks in our East/West grudge match and gave the slight nod to GNR (and made me Nostradamus with my prediction!). And I am so proud of you. Again, SNA is a thumper. No doubt. A legit contender to the crown. But, in my humble opinion, it’s not even in the same league as an all-timer like Jungle! Yes, SNA has a bassline for the ages. But its entire appeal as an arena anthem is a very chant-along-with-able 15-second hook that repeats four times. You cannot compare that to a song that is, as GoodFellas is to film, perfection from first to last note. (I happen to believe we have two perfect hard rock songs in our final … more on that in a moment.) And look, I know SNA isn’t going anywhere and will still be way overused in sports for years to come. But it gave me some sliver of hope that teams will start to branch out in search of originality. Once we get back to, oh you know, what are those things? … Sports! Right. Those. No rush though.
#1 Thunderstruck 59% ✅
#1 We Will Rock You 41%
This was another one I nailed! Oh. Well. I nailed the percentages. But y’all flipped the script on me on this one. I legit thought Queen was going to roll into the finals on historic reputation alone. After all, they kinda invented this arena anthem shit. But wow was this a blowout the other way. Don’t get it twisted, I approve wholeheartedly! But dang, sorry Queen — seems your run at the top is over. Somehow, I imagine the band is happy to pass the mantle along … In the end, it seemed our voting masses preferred complete masterpieces to quirky hooks.
So let’s now take a look at our two magnum opuses and how they match up. And let’s go a little nuts with it, shall we?
Welcome to the Jungle
Guns N’ Roses
Released: Sept. 28, 1987
- W. Axl Rose – lead vocals
- Slash – lead guitar
- Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Duff McKagan – bass, backing vocals
- Steven Adler – drums
4:33 in length
Reached No. 7 on Billboard Hot 100
In 2009, named the greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.
Released: Sept. 10, 1990
4:52 in length
Reached No. 5 on U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks
In 2010, named the No. 1 song on Triple M’s (Aussie radio) Ultimate 500 Rock Countdown.
- Brian Johnson – lead vocals
- Angus Young – lead guitar
- Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Chris Slade – drums, percussion
I asserted earlier that we have two perfect songs going up against each other. Prove me wrong. You can’t. They even follow the same blueprint, i.e. if it ain’t broke, don’t meddle. Let’s break that down a bit more so you can see what I mean.
Welcome to the Jungle
Comes in with just guitar for 10 seconds, Axl softly says “Oh, my God” in the background, then cue drums, bass, rhythm guitar and a guttural scream for 20 seconds. Lyrics kick in at 40 seconds. One minute bridge in middle. Contains suggestive lyric, “Feel my, my, my serpentine ... uh, I, I wanna hear you scream..” Features signature move in live performances of Axl’s rock-back-and-forth sidle.
Comes in with just guitar and a gentle drum tap for 10 seconds, then joined by a satanic, singsongy chant for 20 seconds before booming drums and soon thereafter bass, finally with rhythm guitar and a screamed, “THUNDER!” at 51 seconds. Thirty-second bridge in middle. Contains suggestive lyric, “I was shaking at the knees, could I come again please.” Features signature move in live performances of Angus Young’s guitar-duck-walk-in-a-schoolboy-outfit followed by a seizure-on-the-ground solo.
So as you can see, there’s a method to the madness of winning this tournament, and both of our finalists exude the right stuff.
So, one final time … who ya got?
I can’t see a blowout here, though I will give a slight edge to AC/DC. Let’s say … 57% to 43%.
Let the voting begin … I’ll be back once again to wrap it all up in the postgame. Good luck to two worthy finalists. May the bad-assiest, shreddiest, most frenzied anthem of all time win …
Bonus coverage: Here’s Axl Rose appearing with AC/DC on Thunderstruck at MSG in 2016 (and, spoiler alert, it actually works — worlds colliding!).