Top 10 KISS Essentials … KISSentials?

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Beneath the painted faces, the flamboyant stagewear, and the rock-out-with-your-tongue-out, blood-spewing, fire-breathing theatrics, you’ll find the heart of KISS, a band that perfected arena-worthy glam metal not with just their look, but with their music.

Since their inception in the 1970s, their songs have become rock anthems, powerful, earthquaking tunes. To this day, it’s KISS’ hard-driving sound that fills seats just as much as, if not more than, their hard rock antics.

Here are 10 KISS essentials to help you rock and roll all night and party every day.

10. “Hotter Than Hell”

She looked good, she looked hotter than hell / All dressed in satins and lace / I looked at her and it was just too clear / I had to get on the case, opens the title track of the band’s sophomore studio album, Hotter Than Hell. The song is a vicious rock-drenched tune about lusting after a stranger.

Written by Paul Stanley, “Hotter Than Hell” was “written about an encounter with somebody in a bar,” he explained on KISS Konfidential. “And then at the end of the song, I didn’t know quite how to end it so I came up with this riff that was kind of like a Black Sabbath kind of riff and we tacked that on.”

9. “God Of Thunder”

For the iconic serpentine-tongued bassist, Gene Simmons, “God of Thunder” is his showpiece, using the dark, ominous anthem as the backdrop for his theatrical on-stage blood spews and wild-eyed death glares into the crowd.

8. “Calling Dr. Love”

And even though I’m full of sin / In the end, you’ll let me in / You’ll let me through, there’s nothing you can do / You need my loving, don’t you know it’s true

The Simmons-penned “Calling Dr. Love” is KISS to the core. Filled with over-the-top production, and glam rock clichés, the song is simply irresistible.

7. “Shout It Out Loud”

The upbeat “Shout It Out Loud” is driven by a bright jangle, a stark contrast from the band’s trademark rock sound tinted with malevolence and mischief. A favorite among KISS heads, the tune is one of the band’s most-played songs live. Since its release in 1976, “Shout It Out Loud” has been played on almost every tour, seeing a total of 1,743 live performances as of Wednesday (Nov. 30) at Japan’s Tokyo Dome.

6. “Love Gun”

No place for hiding, baby / No place to run / You pull the trigger of my / Love gun, they sing in “Love Gun.” Rumored to be about Stanley’s … “love gun,” the operatic song is the frontman’s favorite. “It’s probably the song I enjoy performing the most,” he explained in a band biography, KISS: Behind the Mask. “To me, ‘Love Gun’ is quintessential Kiss and probably one of the five essential signature songs.”

5. “Deuce”

Baby, if you’re feeling good / And, baby, if you’re feeling nice / You know your man is working hard / He’s worth a deuce, plays the 1974 classic “Deuce.” Hits don’t have to make sense. In fact, hits sometimes hit harder when they don’t.

For KISS’ lead guitarist, Ace Frehley, “Deuce” is a personal favorite. In the liner notes of a 2001 KISS box set, Frehley explained the riotous rock track was the first song he ever played with the band, shredding “Deuce” during his audition for the group.

4. “Beth”

A far cry from the hard-driving KISS sound, the glimmering piano ballad, “Beth,” took the band down a notch and, in turn, sent them racing up the Billboard charts. The sweet song is one of their biggest hits.

3. “Detroit Rock City”

Twelve o’clock, I gotta rock / There’s a truck ahead, lights staring at my eyes / Oh my God, no time to turn / I got to laugh ’cause I know I’m gonna die / Why?

The thundering, apocalyptic rock staple, “Detroit Rock City,” ends in tragedy with someone dying in a car accident on the way to a concert. “I remembered on the previous tour, I think it was in Charlotte, somebody had gotten hit by a car and killed outside the arena,” Stanley explained in KISS: Behind the Mask. “I remember thinking how weird it is that people’s lives end so quickly. People can be on their way to something that’s really a party and a celebration of being alive and die in the process of doing it.”

2. “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”

Kicking off with a gust of high-pitched do, do, dos, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” is a disco-tinged hit, another sidestep from KISS tradition.

“I hate playing that song today,” Simmons explained in an OK! interview. “Stadiums full of people jump up and down like biblical locusts. They go nuts … all jumping up and down and I’m going, ‘Do, do, do, do, do, do, kill me now … Still to this day I hate that song.”

1. “Rock And Roll All Nite”

You show us everything you’ve got / You keep on dancin’ and the room gets hot / You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy, plays the opening lines of “Rock And Roll All Nite” before the iconic chorus, I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day. The most KISSential song in their catalog, no top 10 would be complete without “Rock And Roll All Nite.”

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for A&E

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