Welcome to the Jungle
Guns N’ Roses
Writer(s): Guns N’ Roses (see lyrics here)
Released: September 28, 1987
First Charted: October 3, 1987
Peak: 7 US, 9 CB, 10 RR, 37 AR, 24 UK, 41 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.1 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 445.85 video, 692.78 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Welcome to the Jungle” was initially released in September 1987 as the second single from Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction. It was a minor hit in the UK, reaching #67. It wasn’t until April 1988 that it hit the Billboard album rock chart and it didn’t hit the Billboard Hot 100 until October 1988, after the success of the #1 hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The song then recharted in the UK, reaching #24.
The song is about “the ugly underbelly of the streets of L.A.” AMG “many people encounter when they go there to pursue fame.” SF Author Dave Thompson calls it “a glimpse into the sometimes nightmare of modern urban life, where even the wildest beasts are uncaged.” DT Lead singer Axl Rose’s lyrical inspiration came from an encounter in New York with a homeless man who yelled, “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby.” WK Musically, bassist Duff McKagan contends that the song’s breakdown originated from a song called “The Fake” that he wrote in 1978 for a punk band, the Vains, that he was in. WK
According to Alan Niven, the band’s then-manager, the video was inspired by the movies Midnight Cowboy, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and A Clockwork Orange. It depicts Axl Rose arriving in Los Angeles and transforming into a city punk after encounters with a drug dealer and a wino, played by the band’s guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash, respectively. When Geffen Records was struggling to sell the video to MTV, David Geffen made a deal that they show it once about 5am on a Sunday morning. The network received multiple callers wanting to see the video again and it soon became MTV’s most requested video. WK
The song’s “gritty, swirling angry sound was a huge contrast to the cartoonish pop-metal” AMG of “buffoonish party bands like Poison.” AMG The guitar work was “unapologetically loud, wailing, and unpolished” AMG and Rose’s “abrasive, screeching voice had a sneering, well-worn quality to it.” AMG VH1 named this the greatest hard rock song of all time WK while a Blender poll called it the “greatest song about Los Angeles.” WK Rolling Stone readers named it the greatest sports anthem in 2009. WK
First posted 2/1/2021; last updated 4/1/2023.