Snare drums are featured in the majority of popular songs, but in certain tracks, they feature more heavily. The snare can be used in a variety of ways, and it’s great for adding groove or syncopation to a song.
Many great songs have standout snare parts. This may be in the form of a marching band-style snare rhythm or a powerful solo in a rock song that is mostly played on the snare.
In this guide, we’ve identified the most famous songs featuring snare drums, with entries from all styles and genres.
- 1. Can – Vitamin C
- 2. My Chemical Romance – Welcome To The Black Parade
- 3. Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers
- 4. Yusseff Dayes – Love is the Message
- 5. Destiny’s Child – Lose My Breath
- 6. Tame Impala – Mind Mischief
- 7. Lauryn Hill – To Zion
- 8. Amerie – 1 Thing
- 9. The Beatles – All You Need is Love
- 10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
- 11. Michael Jackson – Rock With You
- 12. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
1. Can – Vitamin C
Released on the 1972 album Ege Bamyasi, “Vitamin C” is one of the best-known songs by the German rock band, Can. With its catchy repetitive hook and mellow sound, the song is a must-listen for fans of experimental rock.
A standout part of this classic song is the impeccable drumming of Jaki Liebeziet, who demonstrates his chops on the snare drum throughout. The ghost notes, flams, and rolls on the snare sound incredible.
Liebezeit was a jazz drummer originally before switching to rock when he joined Can. You can hear the influence of jazz drumming on his control over the snare drum in this iconic track.
2. My Chemical Romance – Welcome To The Black Parade
In 2006, American rock band My Chemical Romance were enjoying huge worldwide success. Their single “Welcome To The Black Parade,” from the album The Black Parade, is one of the band’s biggest hits.
After the percussion-less intro, the drums enter with a marching band-style snare drum pattern that continues until the fast-paced rock section kicks in. This snare part is played and recorded beautifully, and it really adds to the anthemic feel of the song.
“Welcome To The Black Parade” is a great example of how a fairly simple snare drum rhythm can punctuate other aspects of a song, in addition to increasing the drama of the piece.
3. Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers
Hip-hop icon Eminem is well known for his clever rhymes and fast flow, but the Detroit rapper’s instrumentals are also a huge part of his success. “Like Toy Soldiers,” which was a single from his classic 2004 album, Encore, has an excellent beat.
Throughout the song, a marching snare drum roll keeps the core rhythm. This snare has a warm and sharp sound, providing a driving groove that is pivotal to the overall feel of the song’s instrumental.
If you pay attention to Eminem’s vocal rhythm and delivery throughout “Like Toy Soldiers,” you’ll notice that he often uses the snare as a template for his syllables, masterfully interweaving his rhymes around the beat.
4. Yusseff Dayes – Love is the Message
Released on his 2021 album, Love Over Fear, “Love is the Message” is an exceptional jazz fusion composition by highly regarded drummer, producer, and artist, Yusseff Dayes.
Dayes is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the UK, and this song showcases his excellent ability to use the snare drum for jazz music. His control over the dynamics, coupled with the speed of the snare, is highly impressive.
The live video for “Love is the Message” featured a range of world-class jazz musicians, including Alfa Mist and Mansur Brown.
If you’re looking for more songs with incredible snare playing, check out any of Dayes’ other tracks and collaborations with other artists.
5. Destiny’s Child – Lose My Breath
R&B three-piece Destiny’s Child may not be the first band that springs to mind when trying to think of great snare drum parts, but their 2004 worldwide hit single “Lose My Breath” proves that the snare drum can be used in all styles and genres.
With a syncopated, military-style snare drum pattern, one of the instrumental’s main parts, “Lose My Breath,” has a unique sound that blends noughties R&B with rock.
The lead vocals are provided by Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Roland and are layered with intricate harmonies. Fans of all music styles will love this song’s rhythms and melody.
6. Tame Impala – Mind Mischief
“Mind Mischief” was released as a single from Tame Impala’s second studio album, Lonerism. This entire album is filled with interesting snare drum parts, but this song, in particular, stands out.
With its classic psych-rock sound blended with more modern effects and processing, “Mind Mischief” shows the innovative style of Kevin Parker, the lone man behind Tame Impala’s music.
Throughout the song, the snare drum is used heavily to add more feel to the grooves and feel. Eventually, a flanger is added to the entire drum set, making the snare sound even more interesting.
7. Lauryn Hill – To Zion
After making her name with the rap and R&B group Fugees, Lauryn Hill quickly established herself as a hip-hop icon with her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. One of the standout tracks from the album was “To Zion.”
This song has a strong lyrical theme, and Hill’s vocals suit the beat perfectly. Another key aspect of the track is its prominent snare part. The drums were provided by legendary member of The Roots, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
Questlove uses subtle doubles and triples on the snare to move this song forward, remaining understated enough to allow Hill’s vocals and the flamenco-style guitar part the space they require in the mix.
8. Amerie – 1 Thing
Released in 2005, “1 Thing” was one of the singles from American R&B singer Amerie’s successful sophomore album, Touch. The song was penned by Amerie along with Rich Harrison, and it earned a Grammy nomination.
Along with the impressively smooth vocals, this track is notable due to the prominent snare-heavy drum beat. The drums have been processed to sound fresh and modern from a sample from the classic soul track “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas.
Even over a decade after its release, “1 Thing” sounds just as great today as when it was recorded, and the snare drum part is a large factor.
9. The Beatles – All You Need is Love
“All You Need is Love” is one of the most popular tracks from The Beatles’ 1967 album, Magical Mystery Tour.” Like most of the band’s songs, it is credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership.
At the start of the song, you’ll hear drummer Ringo Starr play a long snare roll, ending when the vocals come in.
Starr’s use of his snare drum is often underrated. If you go through The Beatles’ back catalog, you’ll likely be surprised by how prominent it is in many of the Liverpool band’s best-known songs.
Another example is the use of the snare in “Here Comes the Sun,” a number written by lead guitarist George Harrison and released on the Abbey Road album.
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers has undergone many lineup changes, but many fans believe that the current lineup is the best. “Can’t Stop” from the hit 2002 album, By the Way, features one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time.
Along with John Frusciante’s guitar part and Flea’s slap bass, this song begins with a long 16th note pattern on the snare, played by the powerful drummer Chad Smith. Smith is often the unsung hero of the Chili Peppers’ recordings, with his blend of power and feel matching the band’s music perfectly.
“Can’t Stop” is a lot of fun to play on the drums, as it’s not too complicated. However, it’s difficult to match Smith’s impeccable timing with the snare drum intro.
11. Michael Jackson – Rock With You
Released as the second single from his fifth album, Off the Wall, Michael Jackson’s disco funk hit “Rock With You” is one of his best-known tracks. Along with the excellent arrangement and production by Quincy Jones, this song is notable for its use of the snare.
The 1979 track was a huge commercial success for Jackson, reaching the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
“Rock With You” begins with a short but expertly played snare roll by veteran session musician John Robinson. Robinson demonstrated his chops in this song, particularly with the iconic snare intro.
12. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
Considered one of the best compositions in rock music history, “Whole Lotta Love” is an iconic track by a British four-piece, Led Zeppelin. Each band member performs excellently on this recording, but we’re focusing on drummer John Bonham’s use of his snare.
Firstly, the snare drum in this classic rock track sounds huge. It’s compressed, tight, and powerful, easily cracking through the mix. Then there’s the way that Bonham uses it to complement the rest of the instruments.
Moving from groove to fill, Bonham uses the snare to keep the song’s pulse consistent. Then, the snare drops out when the breakdown section comes in and makes way for an atmospheric soundscape.
Eventually, a fast-paced fill is played on the snare drum to signify the end of the breakdown and Jimmy Page’s distorted guitar re-enters.