10 Best Joan Jett Songs

If you were a fan of 1980s girl-band rock ‘n’ roll, you probably listened to Joan Jett at some point. Jett was a member of the all-girl band the Runaways before going solo, which is when her career took off.

The rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame her brought her leather clad rock girl style to rock ‘n’ roll at a time when women were looking for anthems to female independence.

She rose above in a traditionally male-dominated industry, even getting her first electric guitar against the advice of the salesperson who sold it to her, and proving that women could rock hard as well. The following is a list of the top ten songs that Jett brought to the industry.

“Bad Reputation”

With its angry lyrics that loudly and proudly proclaim that one does not care about the opinions of others, this song is probably one of Jett’s most recognizable songs.

It came as a surprise to those who were used to female singers, even those who wee typically thought of as rock ‘n’ roll singers, to hear a woman belting out the angry lyrics that gave the establishment the proverbial middle finger. 


“Roadrunner”

Joan Jett’s song celebrates the freedom of having nowhere to go but the highways of America while listening to the radio. Its lyrics describe a life free of obligations and boundaries, heading out on the road, answering to no one.

It evokes a sense of escapism, of letting go of traditional female boundaries and following your feet wherever they may lead. 


“Dirty Deeds Done Cheap”

The beat and riffs of this song drew a lot of attention, but the lyrics are a little more difficult to quantify.

The song appears to be telling the story of that one friend that everyone should have who will do your dirty work for you, such as telling off the person who keeps asking you out or telling it like it is to someone who is annoying and doesn’t get it.

With this song, Jett expands on her “I don’t give a care” attitude, demonstrating that she is not afraid to be blunt with those who need it. 


“Crimson and Clover” 

This song is a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ original, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s one of the more popular ones the singer likes to perform at her concerts.

Originally sung by a man, Jett chose not to change the lyrics and continues to perform the song as the singer looking for a female partner, making it one of the first lesbian anthems allowed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Despite the fact that she has never stated explicitly that this was her intention for the song, the singer appears to have no objection to it being used in this manner. 


“Do You Wanna Touch Me?”

One of the defining characteristics of the rock ‘n’ roll genre has always been its willingness to test the boundaries of what was considered acceptable at the time.

With this song about a woman who proposes to a man while ostensibly under the influence of alcohol, which goes against social norms at the time, Jett once again break societal female norms with her “who cares what you think?” attitude.

Its upbeat tone leaves no doubt that women can be assertive in relationships if they want to be.


“Cherry Bomb”

Although Jett recorded the song while still with the Runaways, it is widely credited to her overall career. The song’s title is a play on their lead singer Cherie Currie’s name, who was only 16 at the time of its release.

A “Cherry Bomb” is a small explosive device popular among children, but in the context of this song, it refers to an underage girl who is constantly getting into mischief, in this case taunting her parents and other adults with suggestions of promiscuity and bad behavior. 


“Light of Day”

This song is the title track from the film “Light of Day,” a musical drama in which Joan Jett co-starred with Gena Rowlands and Michael J Fox.

The song adds to the film’s plot about a brother and sister trying to break into the music industry, with lyrics told from the sister’s perspective about her determination to succeed in her career, despite what her family, including her brother, says.


“I Hate Myself For Loving You”

This angry and fast-paced song, from later in Jett’s career, is probably one of her most recognizable songs. It tells the story of a woman who is in love with someone she knows is bad for her, but can’t seem to break free.

He mistreats her to the point where she wants to leave for good, but she keeps returning.

While not a condemnation of women in abusive relationships, the song instead issues an understanding of the situation, that sometimes love is complicated, and can be difficult to move beyond.


“Long Live the Night”

This song, which isn’t as well-known as the others, from the “Days of Thuner” soundtrack, conveys a message about a working-class woman who spends the majority of her day as a servant or doing menial labor for those who are more powerful than she is.

When she gets home to her partner at night, she feels safe and loved, and she sings about how much she enjoys the time they spend together after work.

The song, like many others, is Joan Jett ode to women in various situations, often in positions of no power, talking about taking their lives into their own hands and living as they were meant to.


“I Love Rock n Roll”

There is never a time to not sing along to this one if it’s on the radio, which is quite frequently even decades after its release. Most people are unaware that the song is a cover of a song originally performed by The Arrows, rather than a song written by Jett herself.

The song was originally about an older man picking up a 17-year-old girl and bringing her home for sex. Jett, on the other hand, defied social conventions by having her version of the song depict an older woman picking up a younger boy instead.

Despite the fact that other female contemporaries such as Olivia Newton-song John’s “Physical” actively discussed sexual encounters, it was this song by Jett depicting a woman aggressively pursuing a younger man for a sexual relationship that turned it into a feminism anthem. 

Writer

Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.

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