I was hooked on Shinedown ever since I heard "45" for the first time. How a heavy metal rock band can pull off legitimate hard rock hits like "Diamond Eyes" as well as mellower, melodic songs like "Second Chance" and "If You Only Knew" remains a mystery to me. But perhaps that's what makes them such an intriguing band, and just adds to the reason they're one of my all-time favorites. Here's some of the best Shinedown songs according to one of their biggest fans... me.

1. "Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay, Boom-Lay, Boom)"

I first heard this Shinedown song in the trailer for the movie "The Expendables" with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li. The signature line? "Every one of us is expendable." Thanks for the reminder. The "Boom-lay, boom-lay, boom" in the beginning sounds like a catchy riot song, a sharp contrast to the relatively soft intro. The last part of the chorus, "I'll say good-bye to my weakness, so long to the regrets" is perhaps one of the best parts of the song.

2. "Devour"

The first song on the "Sound of Madness" album, Shinedown seems to give listeners a dose of reality to leaders controlling the Iraq war. It kind of carries the same "expendability" of "Diamond Eyes," sarcastically suggesting soldiers be sent off like toys.

3. "Sound of Madness"

Perhaps one of the grittiest on the "Sound of Madness" album, the title track argues the futility of being an overly emotional, dose-dependent psycho case. Basically, whatever it is you're going through, someone else has probably gone through worse, so quit complaining.

4. "45"

One of the best titles off the "Leave A Whisper" album, "45" is perhaps a bit depressing considering its lyrical content. "I'm staring down the barrel of a .45" isn't necessarily uplifting. But it's not a song about suicide - quite the opposite, it's realizing one morning that you've awoken to yourself and maybe you want to change your life a little, accepting it as a gift rather than a burden.

5. "Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide"

One of the hardest-metal hits on "Sound of Madness," this Shinedown song is one of my favorites. A grungy hook, imaginative metaphorical verses and high-flying chorus make this one a must-hear... just don't take it literally.

6. "Cry for Help"

"Cry for Help" channels a little Aerosmith in the line "smoke tea with Mama Kin" but the rest is all Shinedown. You'll catch onto the theme very quickly - Brent Smith doesn't like liars, backstabbers or hypocrites.

7. "Fly from the Inside"

The first track on the "Leave A Whisper" album, you begin to wonder if they've yet settled on a sound for themselves. Of course, this sound would be "madness", but they don't figure that out until a few years later. A verse with an uncertain tone meets a chorus with a message and leaves you hanging with a bridge that screams of insanity - so you've got the best of three worlds wrapped up in one song.

8. "Breaking Inside"

I love to play this one on the piano. It starts out sounding sad and mysterious and morphs into a progressively triumphant chorus. Just the way I like it.

9. "What A Shame"

You probably know someone who fits the description of the man in the song - he's no good for himself, but he'd never harm a fly. Yet people won't stop judging, and it leads him to the point of no return. What a shame. The music is sad almost to the point of tears, but it's one of the most beautiful on the album.

10. "Her Name Is Alice"

Direct from the "Almost Alice" soundtrack for the "Alice in Wonderland" film starring Johnny Depp, the song starts out with an eerie quote from the movie and turns into Brent's even creepier tone of voice beckoning you to join in some insane fun. Or at least, it sounds like fun. But you won't find out until the end of the song. And even then, you'll still be scratching your head. But the lyrics and music are unforgettable, so it made my list of top Shinedown songs anyway.