Most songs are only as good as their drum parts, and most people would agree with us. This is especially true with styles of music like rock, metal, and funk. There are also some very distinct drum parts that you’ll hear in a lot of jazz songs.
In this guide, we’re going to give you a list of some of the best songs to play drums to. These songs all have incredibly iconic drum kit parts, and it becomes a goal of many drummers to learn them. The list will include songs from most styles, but it will primarily include the styles we just mentioned.
- 1 Toxicity – System of a Down
- 2 In The Air Tonight – Phill Collings
- 3 Funky Drummer – James Brown
- 4 Tom Sawyer – Rush
- 5 Rosanna – Toto
- 6 Grapevine Fires – Death Cab for Cutie
- 7 Song For The Dead – Queens Of The Stone Age
- 8 Painkiller – Judas Priest
- 9 Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
- 10 Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
- 11 Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
- 12 Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
- 13 Take Five – Dave Brubeck
- 14 Guns for Hands – twenty one pilots
- 15 Up All Night – blink-182
- 16 War Pigs – Black Sabbath
- 17 Come Together – The Beatles
- 18 When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
- 19 Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 20 Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
- 21 Final Thoughts on the Best Drumming Songs
Toxicity – System of a Down
Most System of a Down fans will happily tell you that Toxicity is the band’s best song for drummers. The epic drum parts start right at the beginning when the drums fill around all the guitar lines. It basically feels like you’re playing a small drum solo before the first verse comes in.
It doesn’t just stop there, though, as all the verses have a syncopated groove where you play one of the snare drum notes on an offbeat. This makes the song feel a lot more exciting to play than other songs that have straightforward verse grooves.
In The Air Tonight – Phill Collings
In The Air Tonight has one of the most well-known drum fills ever played near the end of the track. That’s what most people know the song for, but it has a great drum part being played before that fill hits.
It includes gentle hits around all the toms to create an atmosphere of expectation, which perfectly suits the build to that drum fill.
Once you play the fill, you move on to a solid groove between the bass drum and flams on the snare drum. The drum part then continues to play fills around the toms in between the consistent groove. It’s an incredibly powerful song, and the drum parts are so simple yet incredibly fun to play.
Funky Drummer – James Brown
Funky Drummer includes several minutes of groovy goodness before the drums break out into one of the most sampled grooves in music history. The track will have you playing quick 16th note grooves the whole time, which feel amazing to play on the drums when locked in with the other band members.
The drums have a solo section just after the middle section of the track. Instead of playing a hectic solo in the original track, Clyde Stubblefield just decided to play the same groove even louder, making it sound funkier than ever.
This groove became known as the “Funky Drummer Groove,” and it’s deceivingly difficult to play on the drums.
Tom Sawyer – Rush
Tom Sawyer is one of the most popular progressive rock songs ever produced. It starts with a strong 16th note groove on the drums, but it progresses to having multiple drum parts that follow the changing time signatures of the rest of the music.
There’s one specific section of the song where Neil Peart plays a few drum fills before the song moves to the next section, and that became a very memorable section of the song where everyone who ever watched Rush play live would air drum the parts along with Neil.
Rosanna – Toto
Rosanna has one main groove that gets played through most of the song, but it’s another groove that became iconic in the music industry. It’s a quick half-time shuffle that got coined “The Rosanna Shuffle.”
Half-time shuffles are already loads of fun to play on the drums, but it’s the speed of the song that makes this one so much more exciting. It’s quite tricky to learn, especially with all the ghost notes coming just before every backbeat.
Jeff Porcaro created this groove with inspiration from Bernard Purdie and John Bonham, but it’s this shuffle that is arguably the most well-known one out there.
Grapevine Fires – Death Cab for Cutie
This track has a similar half-time shuffle to Rosanna, but it’s a lot slower. Since half-time shuffles are so fun to play on the drums, it makes this another tune that a lot of drummers love to play.
With this one, you can sit back and sit deep in the pocket. It’s a bit more relaxing to play than the high-speed shuffle from Rosanna, but it feels just as good when you lock in tightly with the music.
There are a few drum fills in the song that are also challenging to fit within that shuffle feel, but they’ll feel amazing when you nail them.
Song For The Dead – Queens Of The Stone Age
A lot of people often forget how good of a drummer Dave Grohl is, considering that he’s been playing guitar and singing with Foo Fighters for so long. It’s songs like this that will remind you what he can do behind a kit, and it will make you want to jump on your own kit and jam.
This track has an amazing intro drum part, and the rest of the track is full of vibrant drum fills and hard grooves. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to headbang, and you can do so from your drum throne while playing all the parts.
Painkiller – Judas Priest
Here’s a great track for all the double pedal drummers out there. It blew people’s minds when it was first released in the 80s, and it still has one of the heaviest drum intros in music.
The intro groove includes fast singles on the bass drum, along with heavy hits on the snare drum and cymbals. The speed of the double pedal pattern halves, and then the rest of the instruments come in hard.
Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
Sing Sing Sing is one of those tracks that every drummer in big bands loves playing. The song is heavily focused on tom solos. It starts with a swinging floor tom solo, and then the drums get to play a few at certain points in the song.
It’s also quite common for a big band conductor to get a drummer to play a lengthy solo whenever the band plays this song.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
The drum parts are heavily centered around a four-on-the-floor feel. The track starts with the drums playing quarters on the floor tom and bass drum, and then a heavy groove comes in with the electric guitar part. Those two parts switch throughout the entire track.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Here’s another track with Dave Grohl playing the drum part, and it’s one of the most popular songs to come out of the 90s.
The intro groove involves playing crash cymbals and syncopated rhythms on the snare drum and kick drum. It’s the groove that many drummers start playing after feeling comfortable with basic 8th note grooves.
It’s another track on this list that makes you want to headbang while playing the drums, and that’s exactly what Dave Grohl did when he tracked the original drum part.
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
This track starts with an epic instrumental build underneath the vocal lines. The drums start by only playing 8thnotes on the hi-hat. They eventually start playing single kick drums, and then they play kick drums on every quarter note as the build gets bigger.
After the building the intro, the drums break out into a driving 8th note groove with offbeat hi-hat rhythms. It almost has a disco feel, but it stays within the realms of hard rock drumming.
Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Here’s another jazz track that is very enjoyable to play on the drums. It’s a laidback swing tune, but the tricky part is that the swing groove is in 5/4 time. That means that there are five quarter notes in every bar, and it can feel very strange to play when you’re not used to it.
The fun part about playing this song is getting that 5/4 swing to feel as natural as possible. Joe Morello was the original drummer on this tune, and he brought the song to life with his incredible playing ability.
Guns for Hands – twenty one pilots
Josh Dun has created hundreds of amazing drum parts, but the drumming in Guns for Hands has to be one of his finest works. The track includes disco-like grooves, tom grooves, and plenty of drum fills that tend to perfectly suit what the music is doing.
The track switches to a reggae feel near the end, which adds even more depth to the overall drum part. Tyler Joseph raps when that part comes in, and playing drums along to a rap is always a lot of fun.
This track is a classic example of how good Travis Barker is at writing drum parts for songs. Everything he plays here fits like a glove within the context of the music, and the song has a good blend of laidback and driving drum parts.
If you’re a blink-182 fan, you’ll love playing drums to this track. It will make you feel nostalgic about the early 2000s, and you’ll have fun playing the drums at the same time.
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
This track starts off with a slow intro where the drums are very laid back. However, it shifts things up a gear when the vocals come in. The song later has guitar riffs with drum fills filling every break. It’s a lot of fun to play on the drums due to all those fills.
Bill Ward was the original drummer here, and he played drum fills that influenced thousands of drummers who grew up listening to Black Sabbath. When playing the song, you can mimic the fills, or you can play your own.
Come Together – The Beatles
Come Together arguably has one of the most recognizable drum parts of any Beatles song. The switch from the singles on the hi-hats to the singles around the drums is what brings this song to life, and then the driving grooves are what keep the energy of the track up the entire time.
Ringo Starr was brilliant at writing drum parts, and you’ll feel that every time you play this song on the drums.
When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
A lot of people claim that When the Levee Breaks had one of John Bonham’s best drumming performances. While that’s debatable, you can’t deny how much fun this song is to play on the drums.
It starts with an incredibly heavy 16th note groove on the drums, and the drum part opens up as the instruments build with intensity.
Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Dani California has very straightforward 8th note grooves being played throughout the whole track. It’s the classic form of playing the hi-hat in all the verses and the crash cymbals in all the choruses. While the drum parts are somewhat predictable, they feel amazing to play on the drums.
This is one of those songs that every drummer wants to play, purely due to how much of a good time you’ll have behind the kit when playing it.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Billie Jean is a track that purely involves playing a basic rock beat at a moderate tempo. It’s an excellent song for beginners to play once they’ve learned the groove, but it’s also a good song for experienced drummers to play to keep themselves in check.
The beat feels especially good to play when the bass line kicks in. Whenever you sit down at your kit to play this track, you can expect to have a good time.
Final Thoughts on the Best Drumming Songs
All these songs are highly regarded as classics for drummers to learn. We picked songs from a wide range of styles to cater to every type of drummer, so there will undoubtedly be a few songs above that you’ll end up playing repeatedly on the drums.
These songs show you just how much impact drums can have, as the songs wouldn’t be as popular without their original drum parts.