Hailing from San Francisco, California’s bay area, Journey remains one of the most renowned acts of all time. Formed by previous members of commanding rock bands like Santana and Steve Miller Band, the celebrated rock group reached their peak in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, but their legacy remains timeless due to their wildly popular hits and ability to write a melody you’ll never be able to get out of your head.
With a list of accolades a mile long, the group experienced the most success during Steve Perry’s time spent with the band as lead vocalist. Often paired up with Neal Schon or Jonathan Cain while songwriting, their dynamic album releases earned them almost 100 million record sales worldwide. Just shy of 20 top 40 singles, what’s even more impressive is their highly coveted 25 Platinum and Gold albums. Their tireless touring schedule was recognized by Billboard when the longtime magazine gave them their prestigious Legends of Live award.
This high-powered list is equal parts romantic and heartbroken, but all of it is bravely unapologetic and oozes over-the-top ‘80s production. Check out our list of the top 10 Journey songs below.
10. Who’s Crying Now
“Two hearts born to run. Who’ll be the lonely one?” In this unconventional Journey track, it appears both lovers are to blame for a chronically troubled relationship. Though they know the romance can be toxic, they stay due to perceived necessity. To the singer, sometimes it’s just easier that way. This complicated number helped the band break into Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, climbing all the way to #4. ‘Who’s Crying Now’ was also the first track to feature new bandmate Jonathan Cain. The keyboardist and guitarist helped frontman Steve Perry write the hit song.
9. Stone in Love
An often underrated Journey track, despite ‘Stone In Love’ not being one of their commercial successes, it remains a defining release for the band. The song’s origin story began in guitarist Neal Schon’s house in California during a party. He came up with a melody and riff and called it “Stoned in love.” However, once Perry and Cain got a hold of it and worked their magic with the lyrics, they whittled the title down to ‘Stone In Love.’ An uplifting, anthemic tune about love and romance featuring an epic Schon guitar solo, it is featured on their Escape album, which gained a ton of chart attention after its release. It remains their most successful studio-recorded album.
8. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
A breakout hit for the band in the late ‘70s, lead singer Perry went through a crushing heartbreak in order to write this emotional number. Based on real life events, the love-gone-wrong track was born after Perry caught his then-girlfriend red handed with another man. Seeking revenge the only way he knew how, he penned this track and referred to it as “love justice.” ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’’ was Journey’s most successful single release from their Evolution album, climbing all the way into the top 20 on Billboard charts.
In 1977, Steve Perry came on board as Journey’s official lead singer (replacing Robert Fleischman) and kicked off their most successful time period. Perry wrote ‘Lights’ with Schon, and recorded it not long after joining the group. The groovy rock tune became one of Steve’s first Journey songs that he performed. With a hint of nostalgia, the track is really a coming-of-age story for the band, chronicling their formation in San Francisco, California. When it debuted in ‘78 it failed to make a splash. But the song had staying power. Thanks to its timeless rock sound and unforgettable melody, it is now considered to be one of Journey’s most memorable songs.
Recommended: More songs about San Francisco.
6. Wheel in the Sky
This haunting tune really set the tone for the band’s heyday, which saw them pump out high-powered hit after hit. Perry transformed the band when he came on board, and you can really hear his unique presence on the album Infinity, which ‘Wheel in the Sky’ is featured on. A darker tune with a reference in the title to the space and time of existence, it actually began as a poem. Journey bassist Ross Valory penned many of the lyrics to his wife while she was missing him because of his constant traveling with the band. Though Perry sings on the track, the band began working on the song when Fleischman was still the resident vocalist. He was actually the one who transformed the poem into song.
An enduring Journey track covered many times over, ‘Faithfully’ is one of rock’s most beautiful efforts. Much to fellow bandmate Neal Schon’s friendly jealousy, Jonathan Cain wrote this romantic power ballad in under 30 minutes while stuck on a bus during a tour. The song came to him so effortlessly he’s always claimed it was “God-given.” He penned the lyrics to his wife at the time while missing her due to constantly being on the road. This top ten ‘80s hit has stayed in the limelight for decades due to its pop culture presence. The single was sent back into the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart when hit show Glee featured a powerful duo rendition performed by co-starring actors Lea Michele and Cory Monteith.
4. Open Arms
Now considered to be one of the group’s greatest hits, when Cain brought ‘Open Arms’ to his fellow bandmates early on in his tenure with them, they were highly skeptical of including it on their legendary Escape album. There just wasn’t a market for over-the-top rock power ballads at the time. Sometimes in the business, when there isn’t a market for something, that simply means you need to create one. That’s what Cain did when he joined forces with Perry to finish the sugary track about a former couple who ends up falling back in love again. The gamble paid off big time when it was released as a single. It became wildly successful, charting higher than all other Journey singles so far at the time in the early ‘80s. It was also the catalyst for an onslaught of record sales. After its undeniable success, soon the rock power ballad became a staple for record releases.
3. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
The rockers reached their stride in the early ‘80s, releasing hit after hit. ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’ is one of their heavier tracks with an immediately recognizable dramatic synth solo that kicks things off, and into high gear. The band had spent the ‘70s earning their stripes on the road, and after reaching massive success in the subsequent decade though they traveled in style they were still away from their loved ones constantly. This had detrimental effects on the band’s marriages. Perry and Cain co-wrote this temperamental top ten hit while the group worked through their emotions due to various impending divorces. The quintessential ‘80s pop-rock track has long been used in cinema and TV shows. In 2022, the band signed off on hit Netflix series Stranger Things using a popular remixed version of the track for their Season 4 installment.
2. Any Way You Want It
Now a classic rock staple and one of the band’s trademark singles, ‘Any Way You Want It’ is an anthemic song encouraging acceptance and living life your own way. Released on their 1980 album Departure, Thin Lizzy’s frontman Phil Lynott had a hand in creating the lyrics. While Journey and Thin Lizzy were on tour together in ‘79, Lynott, Perry, and Schon had some fun with rhyme scheme “exercises” while backstage. They’d trade off lyrics amongst each other and before they knew it, they had the beginnings of this hit single memorized. The mellotron synthesizer used in the recording was actually faulty. Production layered organ work over it to smooth out the sound, and this produced the song’s signature “celestial ring” as the band calls it. This unplanned experiment became one of the band’s crowning moments in the studio still talked about in rock history books today.
1. Don’t Stop Believin’
The band’s most popular track also has one of contemporary music’s most unique song structures. The elevating ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ single waits almost the length of the entire song to bring in the chorus and hook, while the meat of it contains several detailed verses. Sunset Boulevard and California’s dream-like environment served as inspiration while the rockers worked on the tune. Hitting on timeless Hollywood-style subjects like following your dreams and never giving up even if the odds are against you, the international top 10 hit would go on to become an essential part of America’s modern music landscape. It’s been used in countless films and TV shows. It also acts as the driver behind their multi-million record sales counted every time they release a new Greatest Hits collection. The song remains such an impactful part of music, in 2022 the Library of Congress honored the track by adding it to their historic National Recording Registry.
Recommended: More songs about believing in yourself.