10 Best Erasure Songs
While mere mortals would give away their firstborn for a hit song, Vince Clarke has struck commercial gold with not one, but four (!) different groups. After making waves as a member of Depeche Mode, the keyboard wiz left the combo in 1981 to start Yazoo, a duo fronted by a then-unknown Alison Moyet. Yazoo would go on to release two hit albums, which yielded radio staples like 'Situation' and 'Only You,' before going their separate ways in 1983. Clarke would then score another smash single with 'Never Never' in 1985 with ex-Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey under the name the Assembly. Later that year, Clarke put an ad in Melody Maker seeking a vocalist for a new project he was working on. The stars aligned when a factory worker named Andy Bell answered Clarke's ad. Calling themselves Erasure, the musicians had undeniable chemistry. The combination of Bell's R&B-kissed vocals and Clarke's synthed-out arrangements was a dance floor revelation. Along with New Order and Depeche Mode, Erasure would go on to become one of the biggest synth-pop acts of all time, selling more 20 million albums since 1985. Diffuser.fm decided it was about time we pay tribute to the duo's discography and compile this list of the 10 Best Erasure Songs.
‘Here I Go Impossible Again’ is a mid-paced stunner from 2005’s overlooked ‘Nightbird’ album. The newest song on our list, it features a sultry vocal from Bell and positively Euro-kissed synths courtesy of Clarke.
Sharing its name with an AM Gold-era hit from Andy Kim, Erasure’s ‘Rock Me Gently’ is also rooted in pop, but its presentation couldn’t be more different. With a 10-minute-plus running time, the song takes the listener on a journey, as Clarke rings out a tapestry of soundscapes and sonic textures from his keyboard. After an extended instrumental breakdown, Bell returns to sing the song out, backed by a gospel choir. Diffuser.fm recommends listening to this overlooked gem with headphones for maximum effect.
No. 8 on our list of the Best Erasure Songs is the bittersweet ‘Oh L’amour.’ Lyrically, it's about unrequited love, and the “What's a boy in love supposed to do?” line in its radio-ready chorus is what really sticks out. One of Erasure’s best-known numbers, ‘Oh L’amour’ never fails to crowd up the dance floor.
‘Sometimes’ was Erasure’s first big hit at home, sitting on the U.K. singles chart for 17 weeks in 1987. Produced by Flood (Nine Inch Nails, New Order), the tune finds Clarke’s synths bouncing along with a pulsating bass line right beneath, leaving Bell with the perfect setting to work his magic.
You would be hard-pressed to find an Erasure song without a gorgeous vocal line, but ‘Blue Savannah' is quite possibly their finest. From the first time it comes floating through your speaker, it’s the sort of melody that you swear you’ve heard before. Outside of Yazoo’s classic ‘Only You’ single, synth-pop never had a sweeter moment than this.
Arriving at the halfway point of our 10 Best Erasure Songs list is ‘Chains of Love,’ the duo’s 1988 commercial breakthrough in the States. The uptempo dance track wasn’t far removed from what the U.K. production team known as SAW (Stock Aitken Waterman) were doing with acts like Dead or Alive, Kylie Minogue and Bananarama in the mid-to-late ‘80s. Featuring one irresistible melodic hook after another, it’s the kind of song that you don’t have to be a synth-pop fanatic to fall in love with it.
‘Always’ is a sort of spiritual cousin of the aforementioned ‘Rock Me Gently,’ drifting along with the same kind of downtempo vibe. Clarke sprinkles the track with an array of buttery synth lines that weave their way around Bell’s soulful vocals. If you can track it down, Xiu Xiu’s 2012 take on ‘Always’ is also worth the digging.
Issued in the U.K. as the lead single from Erasure's third album, ‘The Innocents,’ ‘Ship of Fools’ is a plaintive ballad showcasing Bell’s most delicate vocal performance to date. The stripped-down version of ‘Ship of Fools’ found on the duo’s 2007 ‘On the Road to Nashville’ live album replaces the synths of the original version with acoustic instrumentation, and it's also a winner.
It's easy to imagine clubs throughout Ibiza still blasting ‘Love to Hate You,’ Erasure’s most anthemic dance cut, more than 20 years after it first hit stores. On the track, Clarke mimics the elegant string arrangements of the disco era, closely mirroring Dino Fekaris’ work on Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’
No. 1 on our 10 Best Erasure Songs list also happens to be one of Clarke and Bell’s biggest pop hits. Carried by a one-two punch of lush keyboards and summery acoustic guitars, plus an impassioned lyric about someone who feels neglected by their lover, ‘A Little Respect’ is synth-pop gold.