The Pretenders were founded in 1978 by lead vocalist Chrissie Hynde. The original lineup also included lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bass guitarist Pete Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. According to Live About, if Hynde hadn’t moved to London, England from Akron, Ohio, the group would never have formed. Initially, she was a music criticism. Then, in 1978, she met Frandon, who helped connect her with the final two musicians in the band. One of the significant differences between Hynde and the other band members is that she favored the punk genre while the rest of the group preferred rock. Despite Hynde’s preference, the group was viewed as a breath of fresh air from the emerging punk scene after four years together.
Honeyman-Scott still holds the distinction of being one of the greatest rock guitarists. Sadly, Honeyman-Scott had a heroin problem that eventually led to Hynde firing him. Several days after being dismissed, he died of an overdose, followed by Frandon ten months later. The band began as Hynde’s personal effort and remained committed despite the deaths of her bandmates. Before Farndon’s death, she already had a new lineup. Yet, despite keeping the band name, it was more backing for her unique style. Many people feel that she is a female rock icon who shattered glass ceilings during the early days of The Pretenders. However, Hynde prefers to share the spotlight equally with the original members of the group. These are the top 10 Pretenders songs of all time.
10. Message of Love
A mix of classic rock guitar and drum licks starts this song. However, Hynde’s voice gives the song a standout edge from other pieces from the same era. Throughout the song, there are several drums fills that add additional depth. Without the stylish instrumentation, the lyrics may seem like the same old story. Yet, the Pretender’s unique sound makes the songs seem fresh.
9. You Can’t Hurt A Fool
Much of the Pretenders draw was their inventiveness and the way they transcended genres. This song has a deeper jazz feel than other songs. Instead of using heavy guitar riffs and drum grooves, background music is simply a way of elevating Hynde’s voice.
8. Stop Your Sobbing
The combination of percussion and warm guitar riffs creates a song that feels like it belongs in the sixties. Yet, Hynde’s voice is a counterbalance. Overall, the song is a cross-genre blend of groups like the Sha-Na-Nas from the 60s and later raga music.
7. I Hurt You
Overall, this song has a profound classic rock influence. The song is a powerful anthem for women who seek revenge instead of playing the victim. Additionally, it’s a departure from wistful songs about wondering what you could have done differently to keep your love by your side.
6. Thin Line Between Love and Hate
There is more cohesive harmony than in other Pretenders songs. Typically, Hynde’s voice shines dynamically, and the background music is an added bonus. Yet, this song is equally represented in all elements, with other vocals weaving through her voice.
5. Talk of The Town
Hyde begins this song with plucky guitar riffs and a soulful voice. Throughout the tune, it’s mostly ghost drums with several light fills. Yet, once again, her voice is the standout. The lyrics tell the tale of someone giving off mixed signals even though they like the other person. The upbeat song is a great vehicle to carry them.
4. Brass In My Pocket
This sassy tune is much like Hynde herself. It’s a buildup song for rainy days of the soul because it helps you realize you can do anything. Much like Hynde’s career, it showcases the savvy and tenacious woman who sings it. She was drawing attention to the Pretenders throughout her career, and this song is a celebration of her rock icon status.
3. Back On The Chain Gang
This song was recorded after the tragic deaths of Honeyman-Scott and Farndon. Despite its attempts to stay positive, it’s evident from the missing dynamism of Hynde’s she was grieving, and this was the way she was able to gain catharsis. Much of the song is dreamy and introspective yet, the drum groove stays upbeat, so the music doesn’t drift too far into morbid reflection.
2. Angel of The Morning
Several people covered this song before the Pretenders. Yet, Hynde’s meld of plaintiveness and dynamism brings this song to life. The lyrics speak to one of the most uncomfortable situations, a one-night stand. Instead of a walk of shame, the song is about just letting it be what it is and moving on. The lyrics are powerful alongside the beat because it shows a relaxed emotionless feeling instead of regret and self-loathing.
1. I’ll Stand By You
As far as love songs go, this is one of the best. It’s an emotion-laden ballad about not only being in love but standing by someone no matter what happens. It speaks to anyone who has gone to hell and is back in a relationship but still stands strong by their side because love is more potent than circumstances. Moreover, the lyrics combined with the smooth guitar riffs remind you that it’s ok to be raw and authentic around people who care about you and only want the best for you. Even though it’s easily a romantic song, it’s also a powerful friendship song to remind your nearest and dearest that you’re a shoulder to cry on and someone they can always count on.