On January 20, 2022, American singer and actor Meat Loaf (real name: Marvin Lee Aday) passed away at the age of 74. He was one of the biggest chart acts of the 1970s, and his stage name often prompted discussion. Did he call himself Meat Loaf because of his mom's recipe he loved as a kid or because it was a nickname his dad gave him? We'll never know. But we do know Meat Loaf was a dark-hearted rocker whose power ballads inspired many to burst out in theatrical song.
In honor of the man, we're publishing this very special top 10 for you, dear readers. We've taken a look at Meat Loaf's discography, and below are the songs we feel best define who he was as an artist. Without further ado, here are our picks!
10. "I'd Lie For You (And That's the Truth)"
Somehow, Meat Loaf manages to make a song over 6 minutes long feel like the perfect amount of time. This ballad features Patti Russo and was released in 1995 as part of Meat Loaf's album Hits Out of Hell.
While "I'd Lie For You" is your typical passionate love song, it does have some flecks of darkness and obsession within its lyrics. Not only would Meat Loaf lie for this person, he'd also sell his soul for them! Pretty crazy, but with the great piano bits and guitar placements, we totally dig it.
9. "Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through"
First recorded by the writer Jim Steinman - Meat Loaf's longtime collaborator - for his solo album Bad for Good, this song was famously put on Meat Loaf’s 1993 sequel to Bat out of Hell – Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell. It was the third single off the album and reached #11 on the UK Singles Chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Thematically, this song is a prayer to rock music, celebrating how it is always there to help you through hard times. We love the choral refrain that feels like it came from an opera house, as well as the very early 90s music video that accompanies this song.
8. "Heaven Can Wait"
This is probably the prettiest song in Meat Loaf's discography. With a blissful piano instrumental and beautiful vocals from Aday, "Heaven Can Wait" is about not needing the joys of the afterlife because the speaker is so happy in the moment.
Thematically, this song seems to carry on the themes of eternity and afterlife Bat Out of Hell lays down. What makes it so unique to the album is how "light" it is: in terms of both its music production and its message. It proves that Meat Loaf has the ability to create masterful songs that are less hardcore than his typical pieces.
7. "Dead Ringer For Love (feat. Cher)"
We never thought we'd see a collaboration between Meat Loaf and Cher, but we're so happy this bop exists. "Dead Ringer" has the tempo of a classic rock song from the late 50s or early 60s, yet has a metal grit only the 80s can offer.
This Dead Ringer song poses Meat Loaf and Cher as two strangers who meet at a bar and hit it off thanks to some "rock n' roll and brew." We don't know a thing about these two lovers, but we know this song is everything we've been dreaming of.
6. "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)"
This song contains one of Meat Loaf's catchiest hooks. It was the first single of Meat Loaf’s career, and second song on Bat Out of Hell. It's a romantic and somewhat nostalgic jam about the singer's first kiss with a girl. What makes this song so breathtaking? Undoubtedly, it's the vivid imagery within the lyrics, instrumental choices that help communicate time and emotion, and Meat Loaf's astounding vocals.
Surprisingly, the initial reception to this song was mostly negative due to the opening intro being too dramatic, not so entertaining, and very vague thematically. After certain edits the song became more popular, but only charted at the 39th spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1977.
5. "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul"
Yes - we're aware this song is not part of Meat Loaf's original catalogue. But if we're talking about songs that truly define him and his career, his cameo song from Rocky Horror Picture Show, "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul" is one for the books. Plus, this song is featured on his 2014 Best of Meat Loaf compilation!
In the cult classic film, Meat Loaf performs this song while playing "Eddie": a rocker on a motorcycle who bursts out of a deep-freeze chamber in the midst of Rocky’s debut party. Him and his eccentric lover Columbia celebrate his return and talent before Frank N' Furter puts him back to sleep...for good. The energy on this track is wonderfully high, and similar to "Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through," it's an ode to the joys of rock n' roll. And who can forget that wicked sax solo?
4. "Two Out of Three (Ain't Bad)"
This is the 5th song on Bat Out of Hell, and is a classic love ballad sung from the perspective of someone breaking up with their significant other. The speaker tries to explain to their loveless partner why the relationship is going nowhere. Ultimately, this song tries to highlight the importance of respect and true love in a relationship as opposed to just sexual attraction.
This is another popular song off of Bat Out Of Hell and like "Heaven Can Wait," it takes its time when it comes to tempo. You can feel the pain and longing within Meat Loaf's dragging vocals.
3. "Bat Out of Hell"
The title/opening track off of Meat Loaf's most famous album, "Bat Out Of Hell" is a fun and fast romp perfect for a gothic party. It was written by Jim Steinman, who had a love for “car crash songs”. He saw an operatic narrative within many of them, and decided to write this one for Meat Loaf about a motorcycle instead.
The song’s protagonist is a boy who wants to take the girl he loves out of their dead-end town, but dies in the attempt. Traditionally, it was the grand finale song at Meat Loaf concerts. In his autobiography To Hell and Back, Meat Loaf wrote about the creation of the song. He said, "In fifteen minutes, [Todd Rundgren] played the lead solo and then played the harmony guitars at the beginning. I guarantee the whole thing didn’t take him more than forty-five minutes, and the song itself is ten minutes long. The most astounding thing I have ever seen in my life."
With its classic rock homages, tipsy turvy instrumentals, and dramatic choral bits, you'll feel like a bat zooming through the starlit sky listening to this awesome song.
2. "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"
Another classic Bat Out Of Hell song written by Jim Steinman, "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" is a rolling epic of a track that sees Meat Loaf play the character of a 17 year old boy in a parked car with a 17 year old girl. "Paradise" features Ellen Foley as the teenage girl, and the lyrics of the jam imply the lovers are about to lose their virginities to each other.
While the second half of the song is more popular than the first, the whole 8 minute track is one giant, jolly experience. In addition to Ellen Foley, the song also features a radio broadcast with play-by-play commentary by sports personality Phil Rizzuto. It's a metaphor for, you know...getting a "home run" with a lover.
Rizzuto denied to the public he understood the subtext behind his cameo, but Meat Loaf later explained in 2007, "Phil was no dummy – he knew exactly what was going on, and he told me such. He was just getting some heat from a priest and felt like he had to do something. I totally understood. But I believe Phil was proud of that song and his participation."
1. "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)"
Meat Loaf's big and theatrical power ballad that's perfect for dramatic TV show trailers, karaoke sessions, or for singing around the house when you're all alone. This song truly is the posterchild of Meat Loaf's career. It's mighty, emotional, and piercing, while being his ultimate comeback song.
The lead single off Bat Out Of Hell, "I'd Do Anything" was written by Jim Steinman and at the time of its release, hit #1 on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and U.K. Singles Chart. “I’d Do Anything” also won the Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance in 1994 at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards.
Some feel the thing Meat Loaf "won't do" for love is absolutely vague, others believe it couldn't be clearer. Putting that all aside, what makes this song a beloved hit is its twinkling piano solos, intense guitar backings, and Meat Loaf's larger-than-life personality that shines through his trills. More than anything, this song shows just how much love Meat Loaf had for music and the genre of rock. R.I.P. to a legend who will never be forgotten!
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