What are The Who's biggest songs?

29 February 2024, 16:44

The Who in 1978: Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle
The Who in 1978: Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Picture: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

The mod icons have been in business for 60 years now - but which of their many tracks have proved most popular?

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Radio X

By Radio X

The Who: essential facts

  • Formed: London, 1962.
  • The original line-up was: Roger Daltrey (vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals), John Entwistle (bass) and Keith Moon (drums). After Moon's death in 1978, Kenney Jones of The Small Faces played drums on 1981's Face Dnaces and 1982's It's Hard, while Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey has occupied the drum stool since 1996.
  • Album Discography: My Generation (December 1965); A Quick One (December 1966); The Who Sell Out (December 1967); Tommy (May 1969); Who's Next (August 1971); Quadrophenia (October 1973); The Who By Numbers (October 1975); Who Are You (August 1978); Face Dances (March 1981); It's Hard (September 1982); Endless Wire (October 2006); WHO (December 2019).
  1. The Who - Baba O'Riley: release date 2nd August 1971

    Opening with the distinctive sounds of the VCS-3 synthesiser, this epic track was taken from the 1971 album Who's Next but never released as a single in the UK. Despite that, Baba O'Riley remains The Who's most popular track, being certified Platinum by the BPI and notching up over 565 million Spotify plays. The band's live performance of the song at Shepperton studios for the film The Kids Are Alright has had over 14 million views to date.

    The Who - Baba O'Riley (Shepperton Studios / 1978)

  2. The Who - Behind Blue Eyes: release date 2nd August 1971

    The more mellow side of The Who came out on this song from the Who's Next album - but Pete Townsehend felt the track was too "out of character" for their fans to be released in the UK. Behind Blue Eyes has still been certified Silver by the BPI and the Limp Bizkit cover from 2003 has prompted over 264 million plays of the tune on Spotify and over 3 million views of the official video on The Who's YouTube channel.

    The Who - Behind Blue Eyes (Lyric Video)

  3. The Who - My Generation: release date 29th October 1965

    The all-time mod anthem was first issued as a single in 1965, where it made Number 2 in the UK charts - The Who's highest-charting single alongside 1966's I'm A Boy. The track has been streamed over 233 million time and the official video has been viewed over 3.7 million times.

    My Generation (Stereo Version)

  4. The Who - Pinball Wizard: release date 7th March 1969

    The climax to The Who's rock opera Tommy made Number 4 in April of 1969 when issued as a single, giving the band their second Gold disc. On Spotify, the track has had over 202 million Spotify streams and there's been over 3.4 million views of the band's 1970 Isle Of Wight performance on YouTube.

    The Who - Pinball Wizard (Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970)

  5. The Who - Who Are You?: release date 14th July 1978

    The title track from The Who's eighth studio album was also the last single to be issued before Keith Moon's death on 7th September 1978 and peaked at Number 18 that week. A Silver disc in the UK, Who Are You has been streamed over 188 million times and the video of the band performing the song from the film The Kids Are Alright has had over 3.4 million views on YouTube.

    The Who - Who Are You (Promo Video)

  6. The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again: release date 25th June 1971

    "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss." The emotional centrepiece of the Who's Next album - and intended as the climax to Pete Townshend's aborted Lifehouse project - Won't Get Fooled Again was the last song Keith Moon ever played with the band. This was for the film The Kids Are Alright and the video has been viewed over 19 million times, with the track being streamed over 172 million times on Spotify.

    The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again (Shepperton Studios / 1978)

  7. The Who - Eminence Front: released December 1982

    This track from the album It's Hard was intended to be a single in the UK at the tail end of 1982, but subsequently cancelled. Eminence Front was issued as a 45 in the US and has been since adopted by the Dallas Mavericks basketball team as their intro music, which may account for the track's 71 million Spotify plays and 3.7 million YouTube views.

    Eminence Front

  8. The Who - The Seeker: release date 20th March 1970

    After the release of the hugely-successful Tommy album in 1969, The Who issued this one-off single in Spring the following year. A minor hit - it made Number 19 in May 1970 - the track has become popular over the years, after being included on compilations like Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy, notching up over 66 million streams and over 350,000 views on YouTube.

    The Who 'The Seeker'

  9. The Who - I Can't Explain: release date 19th December 1964

    The band's first single was Zoot Suit under their short-lived moniker The High Numbers, but this was the first track to be issued as The Who. It broke the Top 10, climbing to Number 8 in April 1965 and this mod dancefloor classic has since been streamed over 29 million times and viewed over 13 million times on YouTube.

    The Who - I Can't Explain

  10. The Who - Substitute: release date 4th March 1966

    "I'm a substitute for another guy / I look pretty tall but my heels are high." This classic song of contradictions was the follow-up to the hit My Generation and peaked at Number 5 in April 1966. It remains a classic into the 21st Century, enjoying over 17 million Spotify streams and over 11.8 million YouTube video views.

    The Who - Substitute