Blues rock revivalists the Black Keys have come a long way since their humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio. Starting out around the time garage rock bands were coming out in droves in the early 2000s, the Midwest duo have ascended to arena rock pros. Diffuser pays tribute to one of the hardest working bands in music today by counting down the 10 Best Black Keys Songs.

  • 10


    From ‘Turn Blue’ (2014)

    The first single released from the Black Keys' latest studio effort, 'Turn Blue,' 'Fever' is -- as its title might suggest -- simply infectious. It's not a complex song; perhaps that's why it's such a catchy tune. Regardless of the reasons, it's hard to talk about any list of the best Black Keys songs without a mention of 'Fever.'

  • 9

    ‘Just Got to Be’

    From ‘Magic Potion’ (2007)

    2007′s ‘Magic Potion’ marked the time the Black Keys first signed with their current record label, Nonesuch Records. Despite their new partnership, the band didn’t stray from their blues rock focus on the record. Second single ‘Just Got to Be’ has a smoke-filled bar arrangement is raw and rugged, just the way a Black Keys song should be.

  • 8

    '10 A.M. Automatic’

    From ‘Rubber Factory’ (2004)

    Coming in at No. 8 on our Best Black Keys Song list is '10 A.M. Automatic,’ taken from their 2004 album ‘Rubber Factory.’ Carney seems to have a jump in his step while drumming, and Auerbach soulfully breaks up with a girl. '10 A.M. Automatic’ ends in a tornado of guitars that you have no chance of escaping.

  • 7

    ‘Howlin’ for You’

    From ‘Brothers’ (2010)

    ‘Howlin’ for You’ was the second single from ‘Brothers,’ the Black Keys album that finally started to take the group to another level. Carney’s bouncy drums and infectious hand claps provide the foundation for Auerbach’s attempt to woo the object of his desire. “I must admit / I can’t explain / Any of these thoughts / Racing through my brain / It’s true / Baby I’m howlin’ for you,” he confesses. The music video for ‘Howlin’ for You’ is an excellent parody of a sexploitation movie trailer, featuring the Black Keys and sombrero-wearing assassins.

  • 6

    ‘Gold On the Ceiling’

    From ‘El Camino’ (2011)

    The Black Keys perfected the art of combining soulful blues rock and catchy hooks in their songs with ‘Gold on the Ceiling.’ The jabbing organ keys and well-timed claps furnish the track with retro decor. The gospel harmonies and spastic guitar work put the finishing touches on ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ and show just how far along Black Keys and Danger Mouse’s partnership has grown.

  • 5

    ‘You’re the One’

    From ‘Magic Potion’ (2006)

    The Black Keys song ‘You’re The One’ is a tune you’d slow dance with your special someone to while drinking in your backyard. The laid back track keeps it simple and forgoes any fancy guitar work or drum beats. Auerbach channels his inner Sam Cooke, crooning sincere lyrics like, “Will you be true / Till life is done? / Be the one I adore, oh / You’re the one I adore” on the track, which lands at No. 5 on our Best Black Keys Songs list.

  • 4

    ‘Strange Times’

    From ‘Attack and Release’ (2008)

    The Black Keys turned up the aggressive factor with ‘Strange Times,’ the lead-off single from 2008's appropriately titled ‘Attack and Release.’ Carney bangs on the drums with frantic precision while Auerbach’s guitar work pierces through the sonic onslaught. Spooky keys during the chorus add to the layered atmosphere. The music video for ‘Strange Times’ reveals how serious the Black Keys are about laser tag.

  • 3

    ‘Lonely Boy’

    From ‘El Camino’ (2011)

    The Black Keys managed to take all the frustrations of waiting on love and turned it into a three-minute hit. The quirky keys infuse some fun into ‘Lonely Boy’ despite the depressing subject matter: “Well I’m so above you / And it’s plain to see / But I came to love you anyway“, the singer confesses. “So you tore my heart out / And I don’t mind bleeding / Any old time you keep me waiting.” The best part of ‘Lonely Boy’ is the music video, featuring a one-shot take of actor Derrick T. Tuggle dancing and lip-syncing to the track.

  • 2

    ‘Tighten Up’

    From ‘Brothers’ (2010)

    The Black Keys scored big with ‘Tighten Up,’ the lead single from their 2010 record ‘Brothers.’ The whistling intro is an earworm all by itself, and it transitions to sparse guitars and Carney’s deliberately-paced drums. “Someone said true love was dead / But I’m bound to fall for you,” Auerbach declares. Their fictional sons in the ‘Tighten Up’ music video seem to feel the same as they fight over a girl at the playground. It’s not long before Auerbach and Carney follow suit.

  • 1

    ‘Set You Free’

    From ‘Thickfreakness’ (2003)

    You know the story: Guy falls in love with a girl who’s in a relationship with a jerk and won’t leave him, despite knowing she can do better. The Black Keys sum it up perfectly in this poppy garage rock tune. “Let him go, walk out your door / And come to me / I’m gonna set you free,” persuades Auerbach. If ‘Set You Free’ sounds familiar to you, it may be because it was featured in the Jack Black film ‘School of Rock.’ Carney gets explosive at the end with a flurry of drum beats, and ‘Set You Free’ rises to the top of our Best Black Keys Songs list.


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