Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Motörhead Songs

Photo by Estate of Keith Morris/Redferns

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Motörhead, the hard-riffing rockers who bridged the gap between punk and metal and influenced nearly every band to play either since their 1977 self-titled debut. That original lineup, including the band’s fearless leader, Lemmy Kilmister, have all passed on now, but the undying influence they had on the landscape of heavy music lives on. Here are a few of their most essential songs.

“Ace of Spades”
Album: Motörhead

This cut isn’t only the most well-known in Motörhead’s catalog, it’s also one of the most beloved rock anthems of all time.
Sample lyrics: “That’s the way I like it, baby/I don’t wanna live forever”

“Overkill”
Album: Overkill

Coming just two years after their fiery explosion onto the scene, Overkill — the album and its killer title track — solidified Motörhead’s ability to churn out headbanging, fist-pounding jams.
Sample lyrics: “Rock & roll ain’t worth the name if it don’t make ya strut”

“Hellraiser”
Album: March ör Die

Written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Lemmy, this funk-infused song was recorded first by the Black Sabbath frontman, then re-recorded and released as a single by Motörhead a year later for use in the movie Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
Sample lyrics: “I’m living on an endless road/Around the world for rock & roll”

“Killed by Death”
Album: single only

The raucous 1984 banger is one of Lemmy’s best: filthy, snarling and soaked in sex, its tongue-in-cheek lyrics and video once again showed the band could go as hard as anyone, without taking themselves too seriously.
Sample lyrics: “If you squeeze my lizard/I’ll put my snake on you/I’m a romantic adventure/And I’m a reptile, too”

“I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)”
Album: 1916

It’s not quite so well-known as some of the band’s bigger hits, but “I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)” is one of the group’s shreddiest, most vicious efforts, and the cutaway chorus points back to Lemmy’s obsession with the earliest rock stars like Chuck Berry and Little Richard and the lasting impact they made on his music.
Sample lyrics: “Been to heaven, been to hell/Bought the farm, and I won’t sell”