When singer and songwriter Andy Bell teamed up with songwriter, producer, keyboardist, and Depeche Mode co-founder Vince Clarke, pop gold was bound to happen. And it did, with the duo dominating the charts throughout the late ’80s and ’90s with synth-pop gems like Always, Sometimes, and the irresistible A Little Respect. Almost 40 years on from their first success, they’ve sold over 28 million albums worldwide, picked up dozens of awards, and earned millions of loyal fans the world over. Here, we take a look back at some of their finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Erasure songs of all time.
10. Oh L’amour
In at number 10 on our list of the ten best Erasure songs of all time is this bittersweet blast of synth gold from the 1986 album Wonderland. Described by The Quietus as one of the most gloriously effervescent pop anthems ever recorded, it tanked on the mainstream charts, but became one of the group’s most enduringly popular hits thanks to its massive success on the club scene.
Up next is Sometimes, the group’s first major hit on their home territory. A dazzling combo of bouncy synth and pulsating bass lines, it’s one of the most irresistibly catchy tunes in their catalog. Released in October 1986 after three commercial failures, it became a massive international hit, reaching number 2 in Germany, number 4 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and number one in South Africa. In their native UK, it spent an impressive 17 weeks hanging around the charts, peaking at number 2.
8. Blue Savannah
As diffuser.fm says, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Erasure song without a gorgeous vocal line, but the vocals on Blue Savannah ring especially sweetly. A gloriously effervescent love song with crisp instrumentation, a sweeping keyboard, and a haunting vocal performance from Bell, it’s what synth pop dreams are made of. Released as a single from the album Wild! in February 1990, it reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, number 44 on the US Dance Club Songs Chart, and charted in the top 20 across various countries in Europe.
Stop! opens with an invigorating blast of synthesizer and gets ever more manic from there. An irresistible, hugely infectious dance number with a sing-along chorus and a pulsating disco throb, it packed out the dance floors in the ’80s and hasn’t stopped since. Released on the Christmas EP Crackers International in November 1988, it hit the top spot in Denmark and Argentina and climbed to number 2 in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
6. Ship of Fools
At number 6 is Ship of Fools from Erasure’s third album, The Innocents. A plaintive, almost unbearably fragile ballad with a showstopping vocal performance from Andy Bell that manages to be equal parts haunting and seductive, it’s been described by Record Mirror as Erasure “at their most open, melodic and beautiful”. Released as a single in February 1988, it reached number 6 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked in the top 20 across Europe. For a stripped-back update on the original, check out the version from the group’s 2007 live album, On the Road to Nashville.
5. Chains of Love
In 1988, Erasure scored their biggest hit to date in the US with Chains of Love. A super-catchy synth-pop anthem that combines heartfelt lyrics about breaking down the barriers around what love should and shouldn’t be with a pouting disco beat and buttery layers of synth, it’s one of the chief highlights of the band’s third album, The Innocents. Released in May 1988, it broke into the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart and became the duo’s breakthrough single in the US, where it peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart.
True to its title, this next song from the 1989 album Wild! is a delicious piece of high drama that opens with a thunderclap and doesn’t let up from there. Consisting of 4:08 minutes of pure energy, its electro-pop perfection, with a killer groove, hypnotic keyboard riffs, and a jaw-dropping performance from Andy Bell. Released as a single just before the release of Wild!, the song took the duo to number 4 on the UK Singles Chart, number 10 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and the top 20 across various countries in Europe.
Andy Bell has never hit a bum note in his life, but on this quirky ballad from the duo’s self-titled 1994 album, he sounds in finer voice than ever, delicately weaving his smooth, bittersweet vocals through layers of buttery synth lines and hypnotic trance beats. The end result is one of the finest examples of euro-pop you’ll ever have the privilege of tapping your head too. Released as a single in April 1994, it became one of the duo’s biggest hits to date, climbing to the top 10 in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Spain,and Sweden, and the top 5 in the UK. On the other side of the pond, it reached number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 19 on the RPM Singles Chart in Canada.
2. Love to Hate You
30 years after its original release, and Love to Hate You still stands as one of the most gloriously sassy, wonderfully soulful pieces of pop/ dance to have ever filled a dance floor. It might borrow shamelessly from Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive (with just a little bit of Abba for good measure), but when the results are this good, who’s going to mind? Released in September 1991, it became one of the duo’s biggest hits in the UK, peaking at number 4. It also reached the top ten on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart.
1. A Little Respect
What else could take the top spot on our list of the 10 best Erasure songs of all time than A Little Respect, the duo’s signature hit and their most enduringly popular song to this day? Not many pop songs can be described as perfection, but very few people would argue this isn’t one of them. From the lush keyboards to the impassioned lyrics, the note-perfect vocals to the uplifting melody, it’s the band’s masterpiece.