Other than maybe Janis Joplin, Joan Jett is the biggest female badass in rock and roll. She started as part of The Runaways (whose hit, “Cherry Bomb” was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy), but in 1979 she split from the band in 1979 to go solo. Her debut album’s title track, “Bad Reputation,” was the best song she ever wrote. And she wrote a lot of great ones.
It was a perfect way to launch a solo career, announcing right up front that she was still just as rough as she had been with The Runaways, in a song that featured powerful licks and furious lyrics. It cemented her title as “Godmother of Punk,” and her career has inspired dozens of female-fronted bands—including serving as the jumping off point for the 1990s grrrrl movement.
“Bad Reputation” became a misfit anthem when it was featured as the theme song for the early Judd Apatow series, Freaks and Geeks, and then again as background in the nerd-turned-vigilante comic book flick, Kick Ass.
Bad Reputation was the beginning of a terrific career that made Jett so popular, she even got a Barbie Doll in her image.
Further listening: Lots of Jett’s songs could be considered GOAT ones, and still more are well worth listening to. Of course there’s her cover of The Arrows’, I Love Rock and Roll, but these are the ones I say you shouldn’t miss: Cherry Bomb, I Hate Myself for Loving You, Do You Wanna Touch Me, Let’s Do It (a cover song/duet with Paul Westerberg), Light of Day (written by Bruce Springsteen), and the rock/rap fusion single Black Leather featuring Grandmaster Flash.