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Top 40 Instrumental Songs: Best Songs Without Lyrics

Best pop and rock instrumental songs that topped the charts or had significant radio play -- the most memorable instrumentals.
Songs are not always dependent on words. Some songs don't even have lyrics, and a few of these have emerged as memorable instrumental hits. It's rare for an instrumental to become big or even break the Top 20 Billboard charts, and even harder to reach #1, but a few unusual instrumentals made it to the top. Here are the Top 40 Rock and Pop instrumental songs: the best songs without words.

1 - Fire On High by ELO Electric Light Orchestra, an indelible instrumental from the "Face the Music" CD, few songs have as much power without any vocals.

2 - Frankenstein by Edgar Winter Group reached #1 in 1972, featuring an unforgettable riff and psychedelic sound.

3 - One of These Days by Pink Floyd, also one of the earliest animated music videos

4 - I, Robot by Alan Parsons Project

5 - Funeral for a Friend by Elton John

6 - A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy & the Big Red Apple Band. This classical disco hit topped the Billboard Charts in 1976. Walter also did Flight '76, a new version of Flight of the Bumblebee on the same album.

7 - Seven Seas of Rhye by Queen from their debut LP, it rocks even without Freddie Mercury's strong voice.

8 - Speed of Life by David Bowie from Low (1977)

9 - Tequila by the Champs, made famous a 2 nd time by Pee Wee Herman

10 - Fanfare for the Common Man by ELP Emerson Lake & Palmer

11 - Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin

12 - Third Stone from the Sun by Jimi Hendrix

13 - TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees, was a big #1 hit in February of 1974

14 - Warm Sporran by Jethro Tull from the Stormwatch LP

15 - Wipe Out recorded by the Safaris, the most memorable #1 instrumental hit.

16 - Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer, on the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop.

17 - Miami Vice Theme from Jan Hammer went to #1 in 1985

18 - Buried Alive in the Blues by Janis Joplin

19 - Pick Up the Pieces by Average White Band was a #1 hit in 1974 and stayed on top for several weeks.

20 - Fritz the Blank by Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1980)

21 - Express by B.T. Express (1975)

22 - Walk, Don't Run from the Ventures

23 -The Entertainer (1974) Marvin Hamlisch, theme song from the movie "The Sting"

24 - Hocus Pocus by Focus, a top-10 hit in 1973

25 - Song for America by Kansas, progressive rock FM hit

26 - Telstar, a spooky Top-10 hit from the the Tornadoes

27 - Icarus Dream Suite by Ingwie Malmsteen

28 - Unidentified Flying Object (1970) UFO was spacy before they became progressive & hard rock

29 - Eve by Dream Theater

30 - La Villa Strangiato by Rush from their Hemispheres CD

31 - The Rockford Files Theme by Mike Post cracked the Billboard Top 10 in 1975

32 - Arrival by Abba

33 - Soul Sacrifice by Santana

34 - Toad (1967) from Cream

35 - Tangerine (1976) by The Salsoul Orchestra

36 - Freewheelin' by Bachman Turner Overdrive

37 - The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Rick Wakeman

38 - Wot Gorilla? (1976) Genesis from Wind & Wuthering

39 - Careful With That Axe, Eugene -- a trippy hit from the early days of Pink Floyd

40 - Embryonic Journey by Jefferson Airplane, a hit without words from Surrealistic Pillow

Honorable Mention: The Snow Goose (1975) by Camel, another album rock FM station hit

Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band by Meco was a disco version of the movie theme with the cantina band section in the middle. It was odd, but it landed in the Top 10 back in 1977.

I guess sometimes the music is enough. After all, how often can we understand the words anyway? Instrumental pop songs are just special by themselves, without all the chatter.


  1. cool list, thanks! I only know a handful of them, so I've got homework to do. I love those surf rock tunes - Pipeline by The Chantays and Apache by The Shadows are both amazing too.

  2. Super super useful thank you!! :)

  3. Fleetwood Mac albatross or the chain (F1 tune)