songs

 

The Cure is one of the emblematic new wave / cold wave bands of the 80s. The Forest, from the excellent album Seventeen Seconds released in 1980, is here sung by a Robert Smith not yet famous for his makeup and dishevelled hair.

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Black Old Sun by the American rock band Soundgarden was released in 1994. Chris Cornell confessed that he had written the lyrics in just a few minutes and that he didn’t himself know what they really were about – but that the title sounded nice.

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A revelation in 2019, the post-punk rock Irish band Fontaines DC is hitting the charts. Good music, good lyrics, alternating punk riffs and ballads with the energy of youth! Too real is taken from their first and so far only album Dogrel.

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Two shots to the head appears on folk artist Emily Jane White‘s first album Dark Undercoat, released in 2008. A melancholy song on a melancholy album, here played acoustic.

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God Save the Queen was released in 1977, twenty-five years after Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. It appears on Never mind the bollocks, the only album by The Sex Pistols, becoming an anthem for punk music (noooooo fuuuuture…)

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Punk crooner Nick Cave‘s songs are haunting. Higgs Boson Blues from the album Push the sky away and opening Live from KCRW is but one example of his pure talent, as a song writer and singer.

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Fade Into You (1993) is Mazzy Star‘s most famous song. The singer Hope Sandoval then formed her own band and collaborated with such great bands as Jesus and Mary Chain and Massive Attack. I don’t really know what the song is about, but Hope Sandoval’s voice sounds mournful and melancholy.

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Joe Strummer and Mick Jones from The Clash wrote the song London Calling in 1979. The song is about what characterised London in the 70s : the conservative Margaret Thatcher, floods, police violence… As often with The Clash, it brilliantly mixes punk and reggae. An essential song!

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After the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed went on a solo career. In 1972, he sang Perfect Day, a beautiful song produced by David Bowie. As most Lou Reed’s songs, the lyrics deal with love and/or drugs.

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Formed in the 1960s in New York city, the Velvet Undergound was mainly composed of Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison. Nico also sang on their first banana album, produced by Andy Warhol. They performed many shows, notably at the pop art artist’s factory. They would have a major influence on rock and roll, punk and new wave in the following years.

Click here for the explicit lyrics of the song Venus in Furs

 

 

The DØ is a French band. Dan Levy and Olivia Merilahti met in Paris 2005 and created a few albums. I particularly like this live recording of Despair, Hangover and Ecstasy in what they call a « take away show ».

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Portishead is a band from Bristol who formed in 1991. They made few albums, but their songs are haunting, thanks to the hip-hop beats, synth sounds, and Beth Gibbons’ bewitching voice. One of my favourites is Humming (1997).

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Hostiles is a quiet song from Damon Albarn‘s great album, Everyday Robots (2014). Albarn is also the singer in the English pop band Blur, and in Gorillaz.

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First song of P.J. Harvey‘s eighth album, Let England Shake (title of the song and of the album released in 2011) seems to offer a bleak view of the country’s history and present days.

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The song War first appeared on Bob Marley and the Wailers‘ album Rastaman Vibration in 1976. It is a song calling for world peace, based on a speech pronounced by the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I at a UN conference.

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Space Oddity, by the flamboyant David Bowie, was first released in 1969, the same year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

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First a cover by Leonard Cohen in 1969, The Partisan is here covered by 16 Horsepower and Bertrand Cantat (Noir Désir). The lyrics were written in London during the second world war.

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Thom Yorke recorded Creep with his band Radiohead in1992. It made them famous all over the world.

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My Friends, by the amazing band Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was 23 years old and living in London when it was released – great time!

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A song about love and jealousy, first sung in 1971, Jealous Guy. As often with John Lennon, the lyrics are quite simple. But it’s so beautiful!

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Strange Fruit was first sung by Billie Holiday in 1939. It is a very moving song about the lynching of African Americans. The strange fruit refers to black men hanging from trees.

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Johnny Cash‘s cover version of Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) was recorded in 2002 for the album American IV. A good song, and a great cover!

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