10 Meat Loaf songs that define his signature over-the-top style

·3 min read

Meat Loaf, the Grammy-winning operatic singer-songwriter beloved by many for his bombastic stage persona, died Thursday at the age of 74, leaving behind a lexicon of hits that shaped rock music.

From "Bat Out of Hell" to "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, made epics of his hits, often turning videos for his singles into over-the-top musical theater. His presence in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fight Club, Wayne's World, and more films spoke to his appreciation for characters and storytelling.

As those touched by Meat Loaf's work mourn his death, here are the songs that show him at his finest.

'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' (1977)

"Let me sleep on it," Meat Loaf sings, and before you can figure out whether he should or shouldn't marry a desperate Ellen Foley, the song whooshes by with a zillion complicated time shifts, a funky guitar-and-piano break, a baseball broadcast set to sexual groaning, among many, many other things.

'Bat Out of Hell' (1977)

In the year that punk rock broke, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman revved up in the opposite direction, opening their breakthrough album with a perfect piano-and-guitar overture that makes Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" seem restrained.

'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' (1993)

Motorcycles. Pianos. Power chords. Thundering drums. Then Meat Loaf's voice at the two-minute mark. He's back.

'You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)' (1977)

[Dramatic actor voices:] "On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red rose?" "Yes." "I bet you say that to all the boys." Pretty much sums up Meat.

'Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are' (1993)

The great thing about this busy piano ballad is how Meat Loaf endlessly repeats the clunky title sentence as if reading it off stone tablets brought down from Mount Sinai.

'Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul' (1975)

As Eddie, the sleeveless, sax-playing delivery boy, Meat Loaf makes his Rocky Horror Picture Show film entrance through a wall on a motorcycle (of course) and turns a Grease-style rock 'n' roll anthem into something far sleazier.

'Dead Ringer for Love' (1981)

Any song with a voice-alike Meat Loaf and Cher duet belongs on this list, but this relatively economical four-minute rocker might have fit on Bruce Springsteen's album The River the previous year.

'Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back' (1993)

In which Meat declares, "Now this, Queensrÿche, is a power ballad."

'I'd Lie for You (and That's the Truth)' (1995)

Written by Diane Warren, this may be one of the most overwrought ballads in pop-music history, but Meat Loaf's scenery-chewing approach makes it at least dramatic, if not exactly poignant.

'Peel Out' (1981)

Meat Loaf's post–Bat Out of Hell albums got a bad rap, but this one starts with motorcycles and keeps up the biker energy for six-plus minutes. A feat.

Related content:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting