Updated: April 6th, 2021
I think you’ll agree that drumming to actual songs is one of the most enjoyable activities ever. Often I can just about remember I’m not Taylor Hawkins after having smashed my way through a Foo Fighters song.
But it seems you’re out of songs to play drums to, and that’s not good. After all, practicing is hard work, and without a rewarding play-along at the end, you might quickly lose your motivation altogether.
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And that’s why you’re in for a treat today. I’ll not only give you a list of 7 very fun songs to play on the drums. I’ll actually give you a list of 7 fun songs that will also replace your next cardio workout and train your ability to concentrate.
I know that’s sounds like complete rubish, but science says it isn’t.
So let me briefly explain before giving you my 7 best songs to play drums to.
Drumming for the heart
It all began with a study by British researchers published in 2008. They had been measuring the heart rate of Blondie-drummer Clem Burke during concerts for ten years – and found that it averaged at 140 to 150 beats per minute.
That kind of a heart rate is similar to that of a professional footballer during a match – with the slight difference that the drummer on tour often performs night after night.
So drumming really is like a cardio workout. And the fitness industry has even begun to get ride of the “like”:
In 2012, LA drummers Cristina Peerenboom and Kirsten Potenza launched their fitness programme called “Pound”. In it, participants hold quarter-pound sticks while performing rhythmic exercises and hitting the sticks on mats on the floor an average 15,000 times per session.
Looks funny from a drummer’s perspective? Probably so. And that’s why my workout play-along list below can be performed right where we’re comfortable. Behind our drum sets.
But I still have to back up my promise about improved concentration…
Drumming for the brain
Standford researchers found that when playing a beat, our brainwaves synchronise with the rhythm. So slow beats lead us into relaxed and meditative states, while fast beats help us to focus and concentrate.
And rhythm’s influence is so strong that it even increases the concentration of children with Attention Deficit Disorder – to the same amount as their Ritalin or other medication would.
So during each song I’ll be giving you in a second you’ll actually steady your brainwaves at a certain tempo for a few minutes. And since you’ll be going a little faster with each song, you’ll increase your concentration bit by bit.
The final benefit: doing this regularly, researchers suggest, will train us to make our brain shift from relaxation to concentration at will.
My train-your-heart-and-brain drum track list
I’ll be giving you 7 songs to play drums to, because they amount to approx. 30 minutes of drumming. And I’m assuming that everybody can make room for that.
We’re starting off with one warm-up song, become increasingly fast and intensive, until the last two songs will cool you down and, I hope, leave you off feeling good.
1. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day: This is our warm-up song at a relatively slow tempo (83 beats per minute) but with a heavy-hitting chorus.
2. Hysteria by Muse: Don’t be deceived by the relatively slow 94 bpm per minute. Muse drummer Dominic Howard doesn’t treat his drums gently and there’s a little bass drum action going on here and there.
3. Use Somebody by Kings of Leon: We’re getting more intense: a driving beat at 137 bpm with one pause for you to breathe after the intro. If you want to be super-intensive, play the crash cymbal in 8ths not 4ths.
4. Everlong by the Foo Fighters: Are you sweating yet? If not, this one will make you. Taylor Hawkins hitting the Hi-Hat in 16th-notes at a freakin’ 156 bpms.
5. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana: Slower (117 bpms) but not less energetic. Watching the video will also give you glimpses of the younger Dave Grohl on the drums.
6. Bad by Michael Jackson: This classic at 114 bpms starts the cool-down phase. Don’t worry, despite the tempo it’s much more groovy and softer than Smells Like Teen Spirit. Cobus shot a nice cover of the song.
Once you’ve played through to this point, you can pat yourself on the shoulder. You’ve just completed a cardio workout and trained your concentration skills!
And if you want more songs, check out my 7 beginner songs to play on drums.
What’s Your Favorite?
Let me know your favorite song to play on drums in the comments. I’m always curious to widen my repertoire! Thanks!
If you want to get rid of the original drum tracks in the songs, try this tutorial. It won’t make them go away completely, and it might be harder to do with rock songs like the above. But to my knowledge, there’s no other method of manually removing drum tracks (unless you record and edit your drumming over them).