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Big Rock Ending

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"Big endings. Lots of spitting, swearing, death... eye contact and thumping".
Roger Taylor on how Queen ended their songs live

There are many ways to end a song. Perhaps you just play the final note and end it there. Perhaps your guitarist or saxophonist holds a note and the song fades out as that note plays. Or maybe your band just keeps playing and the song slowly fades out as they continue their rhythm. A Big Rock Ending is for when none of these options will do. Instead, the band drops the tempo and starts jamming out in a flurry of musical awesomeness, usually ending with a final note or riff to let everyone know it is over. Frequent features of the Big Rock Ending include the guitarist or saxophonist or keyboardist going absolutely nuts and improvising wildly, the drummer doing a roll on the cymbals and/or the toms, and if it's a metal song (especially Power Metal), the singer might also scream at a high pitch until the end.

There are a few essential components of the Big Rock Ending that make it what it is; if these components aren't present, the ending of a song likely isn't a Big Rock Ending:

  • The most important aspect of a Big Rock Ending is that the tempo goes away, and the band plays while ignoring tempo entirely. There's no beat or rhythm to Big Rock Ending at all. If the song has a steady beat until the end, it doesn't have a Big Rock Ending. A good guide is to see if you can tap your foot to the beat of the song until the song ends. If you reach a point where you can't tap your foot to the beat of the song, you may have a Big Rock Ending. Disclaimer: Tapping along to a song in Uncommon Time might prove extremely difficult.
  • The band plays something other than what they've been playing previously; faster or slower versions of previous riffs and beats don't count. That something is usually an inconsistent beat with little seeming rhythm or reason to it, though one or two band members may hold a note while the others play.
  • Usually, the song ends with the band members playing a final note or two to let everyone know the Big Rock Ending has ended, but this isn't essential.

The Rock Band video game series is the Trope Namer and has a special way of handling Big Rock Endings. When a Big Rock Ending comes up, players can play whatever they like and earn points, but they need to hit those notes at the end to actually get points. While most songs that have Big Rock Endings in Rock Band do actually have a Big Rock Ending, there are a few important distinctions to make.

  • Not every song that has a Big Rock Ending rendered in Rock Band has a Big Rock Ending. Take The Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock" from Siamese Dream, for example. The game charts it as a Big Rock Ending, yet because the tempo doesn't change and the drum beat and guitar riff are consistent, it isn't an actual Big Rock Ending. Some songs also have Big Rock Endings added on when put in Rock Band, either because they are live versions or because the original songs ended with a fade-out while the band was still playing, so Harmonix added a Big Rock Ending, rather than having the song abruptly end.
  • Just because a song doesn't have a Big Rock Ending in Rock Band doesn't mean it doesn't actually has a Big Rock Ending. Take Jethro Tull's Aqualung as an example; it has all of the components of a Big Rock Ending yet isn't charted as such.

The take-away message is that whether or not a song has a Big Rock Ending in Rock Band doesn't necessarily mean it does/doesn't actually have a Big Rock Ending.

A sub-trope and/or sister trope to Epic Rocking. Often the Grand Finale of a song. Frequently lead into by a Last Chorus Slow-Down and sometimes accompanied (especially in metal songs) by a Metal Scream. Not to be confused with Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies or a Dance Party Ending.

It's not uncommon for a band to add a Big Rock Ending to a song that didn't have one originally while they are playing that song live, especially when it's the last song they play during a show, so only add songs to the list that include a Big Rock Ending when they were first recorded. The one exception to this rule is if the song was only performed by the band during live performances.

Songs with a Big Rock Ending:

    open/close all folders 

    Alternative Rock / Grunge 



    Heavy Metal 

    Progressive Rock / Post Rock 

    Hard Rock / Rock and Roll 

    Other Media 

Subversions/Double Subversions:

  • Problem Child, from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC, ends with this...then finishes by cycling back to the beginning of the song before fading out.
  • Pavement's "Elevate Me Later" seems to go into one about two minutes in, but then the band abruptly starts playing the main riff again for another 30 seconds and the song actually ends on a more subdued note.
  • Prince & the Revolution's "Let's Go Crazy" ends with a big rock ending... before Prince breaks into an unaccompanied guitar solo. The band plays a blues turnaround, which gives way to another big rock ending that closes the song.
  • Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" seems to go into one about four minutes in, before cutting back to the chorus and the outro.
    • Also "Know Your Enemy", which has one right before the last minute of music kicks in.
  • Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City" has a Big Rock Ending... which is then followed by a good few more minutes of the song... which ends in another Big Rock Ending.
  • The Who's "Young Man Blues (Live At Leeds)" has about three or four Big Rock Endings before its actual one, most of which are marked by Keith Moon's monster drum fills.
  • The Who's "My Generation" from My Generation, which gave birth to Rockers Smash Guitars.
  • Iron Maiden's "El Dorado", mentioned above, not only has a Big Rock Ending, it also has a Big Rock Beginning. The two are perfectly identical.
    • Also from Iron Maiden, and also mentioned before, "Only the Good Die Young", with a double BRE... Which is then followed by an acoustic reprise of "Moonchild".
  • Weezer's "Undone - The Sweater Song" actually ends with a complete instrumental trainwreck, which only fits the trope in concept.
  • Wilco's "I Got You (At the End of the Century)" ends with a short BRE, before the guitar comes back in and the band continues playing for another 45 seconds.
  • When played live, all three of "Overkill"'s endings become BREs.
  • "Everything Else" by Everything Else from the album ''Everything Else'' has four of them.
  • Melvins' "Pick It N' Flick It" is essentially a minute and a half big rock ending without an actual song attached to it.
  • "Big Rock Finish" by Andy Prieboy specifically invokes this trope in its name, but the song is largely an aversion. (It is the last song on the album, though.)
  • Niechęć's "After You" has NINE TOTAL Big Rock Endings, 8 of which are at the beginning, and the remaining one actually ends the track.
  • Aerosmith's "Amazing" has a big rock ending, then at the end of that, cuts to a 40's-style Big Band epilogue:
    Steven Tyler: So from all of us at Aerosmith to all of you out there wherever you are, remember: the light at the end of the tunnel may be you. Good night.