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10 Ska Songs So Good That Even the People That Pretend to Hate Ska Admit to Liking Them

In one of the many ways ska is similar to grindcore, it’s very much a “love it or hate it” kind of genre, but nobody secretly listens to grindcore when nobody is watching. We don’t know exactly what it is about ska that people just can’t get past. Maybe it’s the bright colors or the loud shirts. Maybe it’s the puns or the horns. Maybe it’s the fact that your childhood sucked because you weren’t 11 during the Summer of Ska. We’ll never know. But we did compile a list of 10 ska songs that everyone enjoys. Or at least you’ll be able to see the merit in it. You’ll still make fun of it though. That never stops being fun.

“Drunk Again” by Reel Big Fish

Let’s start you off with a song that’s the furthest thing from ska on this list. “Drunk Again” is a departure for RBF and sounds like emo Elton John. It’s a beautifully sad track that showcases the band’s incredible songwriting abilities. Warning: there are horns. There aren’t any upstrokes though. We won’t throw you into the deep end just yet. This one’s for all of you big ballad lovers out there.

“Sunday Morning” by No Doubt

Maybe the ubiquitous social mockery of ska is keeping you from getting into these bands. Well, how about a song by a mainstream-approved artist like Gwen Stefani? This one doesn’t even have horns so you’ll be fine. If you can watch The Voice with no shame, you can hear a guitar play on the offbeats for a few verses. Check this one out if you like pop or radio rock music in general.

“These Scars Won’t Heal Themselves” by I Voted For Kodos

Perhaps it’s ska’s upbeat nature of ska that makes you dismiss it as a credible genre. This emo/ska track from IV4K is something horn-y that’s a real treat for Taking Back Sunday and Senses Fail fans. Screams and trombones, what’s not to love?! Plus, this band was named after a Simpsons reference and Matt Groening mentioned the band in a DVD commentary track so they get some cred for that.

“Beer (Song)” by Mustard Plug

Let’s say you just want to go to a show, get drunk, and mosh to four-chord punk songs you can “woah-oh” along to. Well then Mustard Plug’s closer “Beer” is for you. And if you like that one, check out their “Evildoers Beware” album. It was produced by Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton so, like, come on dude.

“Relocate the Beat” by Big D and the Kids Table

For this one, maybe it’s the name of the band you can’t get past. That’s fair. Ska has a sense of humor about itself. That’s part of the charm. Sometimes, you have to really listen to decipher what’s a joke and what’s for real. “Relocate the Beat” is a masterclass in musicianship and lets their drummer absolutely go off. The album it comes from, “Strictly Rude,” is a great listen for musicians and music nerds alike.

“Would You Be Impressed” by Streetlight Manifesto

Streetlight Manifesto’s genre classification has been debated at length. In the end, they have a sound that’s unique to them and ska is one of the genres that goes into making that sound. “Would You Be Impressed” combines incredible musicianship with tight, catchy songwriting with mosh-inducing speed and intensity. It’s simply a great song. It’s ska, and it’s okay to enjoy it.

“Look What Happened” by Less Than Jake (Borders & Boundaries version)

Less Than Jake experienced an incredible amount of mainstream success with their non-ska album, so we’re recommending the original version of their single “Look What Happened” from the “Borders & Boundaries” album. It’s a catchy alternative rock song with incredibly heartfelt vocals, and lyrics that pump you up for the big moment going into the final chorus.

“Someday I Suppose” by Mighty Mighty Bosstones

We’ve officially entered pure, uncut ska territory. At this point, you should have the proper context to hear a ska song and listen to it for what it is, as opposed to the cheesestick-eating, rollerblading monster the people who make memes would have you believe. So when you hear this song… you get it, right? Like, you get why this song is great. You HAVE to get it. You don’t have to get why they paid a guy to just dance though. And so what if Adam Carolla uses it as his show’s theme song, we all forgot about that guy years ago.

“Sound System” by Operation Ivy

Okay, this is it. This is our last ditch effort. If you don’t get why people like ska after listening to this song then we can’t help you. We can only hope to prevent whatever disease you have from spreading.

“Ska Sucks” by Propagandhi

If you made it through this entire playlist and you still think ska music is cringe-fueled nonsense noise, then we STILL have a ska recommendation for you. This is the most conventionally-written third-wave ska-punk song on the entire list and it’s about exactly what you’re feeling right now. Ska rules. Fuck you.