"I've escaped it, a life wasted/And I'm never going back again." - Pearl Jam, "Life Wasted"

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top 15 Electronica songs

What's a mat rocker doing, listening to crappy synthesizer music? Hey, if you want to remain close-minded, be my guest.

15 Gary Numan - Cars
Enduring new wave. Numan tries to incorporate the ground-breaking synth work of Kraftwerk with conventional songs. The result is a haunting ode to driving. Sexy. Spine-tingling moment: The unforgettable synth line that drives the song. Hypnotising.

14 Prodigy - Firestarter
Yayyy! Finally, a techno band that has a face. It is a scary one at that, Keith Flint's menacing leer peering at you. This song is so punkish, you can almost air-guitar to it. Unrelenting. Spine-tingling moment: Flint channels all his bile into the third verse: "I'm the self-inflicted!"

13 Tricky - Black Steel
Otherworldly remake of, get this, Public Enemy's rabble-rousing anthem. Tricky scales away the rap as his frequent collaborator Mary Torpley-Bird drawls at the most incendiary lyrics. Somehow it works. A daring transformation, from one of electronica's most inventive artiste. Spine-tingling moment: A strange, wheezy synth line, sounding like a choked-up guitar, slides through the song.

12 Portishead - Sour Times
Deliciously brooding, Portishead define the cinematic potential of electronica. Every subtle shade of black is available on their sonic palette. This song is awash with twangy guitar sounds, and singer Beth Gibbons sounds as if she's weeping out the words. Devastating. Spine-tingling moment: The tragic chorus: "Nobody loves me, it's true/Not like you do."

11 Daft Punk - Around The World
Enigmatic French duo who come up with the genre's catchiest songs, bar none. This one chugs along for seven minutes on just one riff, and you'll be left wishing it was longer. Not an easy feat. Spine-tingling moment: The robots chanting the title.

10 Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring
Perhaps the most human of all synth bands. PSB arch for emotions; sometimes they fail, and sometimes, like this song, they shatter hearts. A paean to a friend lost to Aids, it's a triumph of understatement as Neil Tennant murmurs mournfully to tasteful synth from Chris Lowe. Spine-tingling moment: The third verse: "I never I thought I'll ever get to be the creature that I'm always meant to be/But I thought, in spite of these, you will still be standing here with me."

9 Moby - Natural Blues
Why hadn't anyone thought of it? Moby ransacked the blues catalogue for samples, and came up with this sad gem. If only people would look harder. Spine-tingling moment: "Ooh lord, my troubles so hard." Proof that blues sound blue in any context.

8 The Chemical Brothers - Setting Sun
Pile up the beats, noodle up some synth noise, and invade the arena. Chemical Brothers' monstrous sound is suitable for caverns, and this frenetic track jacks up the thrill factor of electronica forever. No wimpy synth lines from this on. Spine-tingling moment: After Noel Gallagher finishes his chorus, Godzilla stomps in on a wicked synth screech.

7 Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy
The aural equivalent of thrash metal, Richard E James rewrites the extremes of electronic sonic terrorism on this brutal track. Buzzsaw noises rip through the song, and when James exhorts "I want your soul", you better give in. Otherwise, your ears will hurt. Spine-tingling moment: Actually, it's the ground-breaking, absolutely mind-bending music video that will scare you witless.

6 Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?
If Aphex Twin is the one-man hellraiser, then Basement Jaxx are his more well-adjusted cousins. Manic, endlessly inventive, always infectious, the duo's party anthems like this stormer define everything good about electronica. Best listened to when you're drunk and able to blabber the song title like a mindless slob. Spine-tingling moment: Everybody now: "WHERE'S? YOUR? HEAD? AT??????"

5 Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again
Ah, the definitive synth band. No other group crafted more albums using synthesisers as their primary musical tool. And they lasted this long on the sole merit of crafting indelible songs. This is a personal favourite because it sounds so massive while meaning so little. But who cares about the lyrics, when the melodies crash on you like a tidal wave. Spine-tingling moment: The main synth line reminds me of an endless desert, I don't know why.

4 Nine Inch Nails - Closer
I'm putting this "band" here because, really, industrial is electronica with guitars. And Trent Reznor is the only worthwhile industrial artiste. His rage may get a little tiresome after a while, but when he turns it on and produces a masterpiece like this, you forgive him. Amid in sub-human electronic landscape, NIN whispers, whimpers, whines and finally wallops you into submission. The Ghost in the shell, no doubt. Spine-tingling moment: "I wanna fuck you like an animal." The ballsiest chorus, ever.

3 Kraftwerk - The Robots
The grand-daddies of electronica, unsurprisingly, are German scientists. "Ve hav vays to make you twitch!" they must have thought. And so they proceeded to hynotise us with bleeps and wheezes repeated ad nauseum. Geniuses. Spine-tingling moment: The robotised vocals are a nice, dehumanised touch.

2 New Order - True Faith
People devalue this band because they arose from Joy Division. Stupid, because even without Ian Curtis, the musical trio that soldiered on are surely one of the most inventive of any genre. Every moment this spell-binding song drips brilliance. The opening drum synth, the bass melody to introduce the song, the supportive synth notes in the chorus, Bernard Sumner's plaintive yet desperate lyrics and the squiggly guitar solo. Perfect. Spine-tingling moment: It really is a thrill-a-second ride.

1 Massive Attack - Protection
This song made me stop my car by the kerbside. It requires absolute quietude and solitude to reveal its devastating heart. The whole song is an exercise in subtlety. Tracey Thorn speaks of utter devotion to protect her lover with her tremendous understatedness. No vocal leaps needed. Then, the music - patiently rolling out its emotions for eight minutes, gently supporting Thorn with echoed guitar stabs, stop-start rhythms and an unforgettable piano line - will tug your heartstrings the way no other electronica song can. I was misty-eyed after the first spin. Pure love. Spine-tingling moment: For a guy, nothing chills like Thorn singing: "Stand in front you, take the force of the blow, protection" again and again and again.


Blogger Rob said...

Hey Big Fuzz,

Thanks for visiting my blog! I took a look at your electronica list...if you like Daft Punk, you might like Seattle's own United State of Electronica. I hear they're kind of a Daft Punk rip-off (I don't know my electronic music enough to know) but they're a fun, fun, show.

12:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keith said...

Nice list man exspecially Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and Massive Attack some of my favourites.

4:20 AM

Blogger ( ~ะด~) said...

shit list, lol "richard e james"

2:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daft Punk Around the World is awesome!
fantastic list.

10:28 PM

Blogger Mary said...

even after some 5 years, i still agree. great selection.

6:44 PM

Anonymous Insidious-Eye said...

Perhaps you take spin with Bjork someday folks. now if you want to hear the pre madonna of electronica and songs sung that remind you of a little girl playing with her easy bake oven and mixed with a yamaha department store keyboard-As a electronica artisan myself-I have a huge woods section selected from my vsti host and softsynth just for this cutie-you hear her music you think of a little girl-you see her on her album she looks like a centerfold. yeah...I was estatic in many ways to meet her.

4:53 AM


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