Fury. Aggression. Exhilaration. These are the most accurate words to describe what AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” instills in its listeners. It’s a relentless barrage of pure Rock ‘N’ Roll energy, shamelessly assaulting audiences with wicked, seemingly endless guitar riffs, powerfully-booming drums & the insanely commanding timbre of vocalist Brian Johnson’s scream-like singing; The opening “Thunder, ah” chant & guitar line alone are enough to whip entire stadiums into a frenzy, literally pumping them full of adrenaline as its quick-paced melody of single-handed finger-tapping brilliance blows their minds, so impossibly-steady & skillful yet mesmerizingly expressive at the same time – Of course, there’s much more to the extreme power of “Thunderstruck” than just a cool intro riff, Johnson himself leading the charge with sort of call & receive narrative in which he details the sheer excitement & surprise he felt during a night of particularly devilish debaucheries. While it’s par-for-the course as far as Rock storylines are concerned, he finds some pretty interesting ways to talk about the sex & drugs aspect of the equation; He starts the night off faced with a choice to rail some lines of cocaine, expressed in the line “I was caught in the middle of a railroad track […] and I knew there was no turning back,” followed by some reckless driving & sexual encounters with a group of Texas strippers, detailed in the lines “some dancers who […] broke all the rules,” “could I come again please?” & “the ladies were too kind” – It’s not subtle in any regard, but it tells a story of excess befitting the live-fast-die-young mentality of Rock ‘N’ Roll music, with the phrase “Thunderstruck” describing the notion of being so overwhelmed in a euphoric manner by the activities you’re getting into.
As seemingly dirty as the song is at its core, it’s delivered in a manner that feels like a celebration or sermon for the Church of Rock, building up slowly with stories of the wonders you’ll find in this rebellious lifestyle, eventually erupting after nearly two & a half minutes into an explosion of sound which invites its listeners to join in on the chaos. When this moment finally hits, the headbanging begins in earnest as a Bluesy guitar solo rips away & thick, beefy bass tones flood your senses, each riff full-bodied & all-encompassing in the best of ways. You can see this directly in the accompanying music video as a sea of onlookers hang on Johnson’s every word, continually chanting “thunder” throughout each verse while the band holds them in the palm of their hands, every single audience member letting loose as the song comes to its climax – Honestly, there’s not much more to it than that. “Thunderstruck” is – in its sheer simplicity – the ultimate anthem of Rock ‘N’ Roll as a Genre, unabashedly taboo in its storytelling & unforgiving in its abrasiveness, just how it should be.
"Thunderstruck" is the lead single on the 1990 album The Razors Edge by Australian hard rock band AC/DC.