On July 21, Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses turns 30. Back in the late ’80s, GNR was the most polarizing rock band on the planet, both revered and reviled for its self-destructive indulgences and uncompromising (some might say obnoxious) lyrical content. But now, pretty much everyone who cares about rock music agrees that Appetite is a classic record.
What is in dispute, however, is what exactly is the greatest part of Appetite For Destruction.
Every Guns N’ Roses fan has a slightly different opinion on which songs are the highlights of this record, and which songs constitute the filler. I am here to settle these arguments once and for all. Here are the songs on Appetite For Destruction ranked from great to greatest.
12. “Anything Goes“
“Welcome To The Jungle” is sometimes referred to as Appetite‘s “mission statement.” But I would argue that this deep cut sequenced in the back half of the album is better suited for that classification. “Welcome To The Jungle” unquestionably sets the tone for the record in terms of themes (fear, danger, the exhilaration of fear and danger) and sound (Axl’s screaming wail, Slash’s bluesy guitar, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler’s surprisingly funky backbeat). But “Welcome To The Jungle” is not about Guns N’ Roses, but rather the city, Los Angeles, that GNR inhabits.
“Anything Goes,” however, is a direct statement about what GNR wanted to convey about itself on Appetite For Destruction. Notice the very meta opening line: “I was thinkin’ ’bout thinkin’ ’bout sex” — Axl isn’t doing the deed in this song, he’s reflecting on doing the deed and turning those moments into art. That’s Appetite in a nutshell.
“Anything Goes” is so direct that it has very little poetry. It’s about as “on the nose” as this record gets. But the fact that “Anything Goes” doesn’t show up until the album is nearly finished is appropriate — there’s no way that GNR would deliver its mission statement promptly.
11. “You’re Crazy“
I’ve always preferred the slower, bluesy redux of this song on GNR Lies to the amped-up, punk-rock version on Appetite. The Lies version sounds like a top five Jane’s Addiction track, whereas the Appetite take is warmed-over Sex Pistols.
I’d love to hear this song from the woman’s point of view. If Axl Rose thought you were crazy in 1987, chances are you were actually the sanest person in the room.
10. “Out Ta Get Me“
If you made a playlist of Guns N’ Roses songs culled from all of the band’s albums, “Out Ta Get Me” would be the Appetite track most likely to be mistaken for a tune from one of the Use Your Illusion records. After Appetite, Axl’s paranoia became a primary driver of his songwriting muse. That’s not to say that Axl wasn’t always paranoid — the UYI era anti-media lament “Don’t Damn Me” actually derived from the same songwriting sessions that spawned Appetite. But Axl’s protestations about government persecution in “Out Ta Get Me” come across as vague and grandiose compared with “Get In The Ring.” which is specific and grandiose as far as who Axl believes is out to get him.
9. “It’s So Easy“
This is the song that made GNR seem like assholes to critics like Robert Christgau, who curtly dismissed Appetite with B- while quoting the infamous lyric that Axl recites as a snotty sing-song taunt: “See me hit you, you fall down.” But to me the signature line of “It’s So Easy” comes right after, when Axl accidentally drops the hot-sh*t rock-star act and lets the insecure Indiana kid come out. “I see you standing there, you think you’re so cool, why don’t you just … f*ck off!”
In that moment, “It’s So Easy” is revealed for what it really is — a power fantasy for a small-town loser. Axl never stopped being the outcast who flipped off the popular kids in the Dairy Queen parking lot. This is why GNR can still fill stadiums based on the undying popularity of Appetite — there will always be a lot of small-town losers with power fantasies out there.
8. “Think About You“
Izzy Stradlin is principally responsible for this one, which explains why “Think About You” sounds like it belongs between “Red Red Wine” and “Skyway” on Pleased To Meet Me .