Although the origins of ska music can be traced back to Jamacia in the 1950s, it was in the late ‘70s that the 2 Tone revival of the genre that saw the style first fusing with elements of punk.

Ska then gained mainstream popularity around the globe in the ‘80s and ‘90s when third-wave ska emerged and made it to places including Australia and Japan.

Some of the best ska tracks over the past forty years remain popular to this day, and are also a fun reminder of when the genre was at its zenith.

For the sake of this list, we’ll be focussing on tracks from this third-wave of ska.

Here are seven of the best ska tracks ever, several of which have bloody excellent videos.

‘The Impression That I Get’ – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The only want to start this list could start, is with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ most popular song. ‘The Impression That I Get’ is a ska-punk track that remains hugely popular in Australia, and still gets regular airplay on Triple M. It’s an absolute belter and has timeless energy.

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Take On Me’ – Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish were my first introduction to ska music via the 1998 David Zucker film BASEketball starring Trey Park and Matt Stone. The band was part of the third wave of the style in the ‘90s, and their version of a-ha’s 1985 classic ‘Take On Me’ is a legendary, all-time tune.

Love Blues Roots & Soul?

Get the latest Blues Roots & Soul news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Nobody Likes A Bogan’ – Area 7

Area 7 is one of the best-known Australian ska bands, emerging in Melbourne in 1994 with their localised take on ska-punk. They were nominated for an ARIA in 2000, but you can’t get away from their attempt at capturing the bogan Australian aesthetic.

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Time Bomb’ – Rancid

American band Rancid are often categorised as a punk rock band, but ‘Time Punk’ is definitely on the ska side of things, and is one of their most popular songs. If it sounds familiar, you may have heard it in several films, Gilmour Girls or as the entrance theme for UFC Fighter Antonio Banuelos.

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Super Rad’ – The Aquabats

Before he was a member of blink-182, Travis Barker was a member of Califonia ska rock band The Aquabats. ‘Super Rad’ was a track from their 1997 album Fury Of The Acquabats and received mainstream airplay across the US. The band has since inspired a TV show.

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Beer’ – Reel Big Fish

Yep, the band so nice they make the list twice. ‘Beer’ is another belter from Reel Big Fish, and also featured on that same soundtrack for BASEketball

YouTube VideoPlay

‘Superman’ – Goldfinger  

Forming in 1994, Goldfinger was another big contributor to third-wave ska. If ‘Superman’ sounds familiar, it’s probably because the track was used in the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999). 

YouTube VideoPlay

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine