Violent Femmes are an American folk-punk band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The band was formed in 1979 by Gordon Gano on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Ritchie on bass guitar, and Victor DeLorenzo on drums. The band’s first album, Violent Femmes (1983), was a critical and commercial success. It spawned several singles, including “Blister in the Sun,” “Add It Up,” and “Gone Daddy Gone.” The band’s second album, Hallowed Ground (1984), was also a commercial success.
The band’s third album, The Blind Leading the Naked (1986), was less successful commercially but still received positive reviews from critics. The band’s fourth album, New Times (1988), was a commercial and critical disappointment. The band broke up in 1988 but reunited in 1993. They released their fifth album, Why Do Birds Sing? (1995), a comeback of sorts and received positive reviews from critics. Free to Fight (2000), the band’s sixth album, was another critical and commercial disappointment.
The band’s seventh album, We Can Do Anything (2016), was their first album in eight years and received positive reviews from critics. Below is the 10 best Violent Femmes Songs of All-Time:
10. Prove My Love (1983)
Prove My Love is the second single from Violent Femmes’ eponymous debut album. The song was a moderate commercial success, reaching 46 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is about a young man trying to prove his love to a girl. It describes the various things he is willing to do for her, including getting a job, buying her a car, and moving to another city.
9. Color Me Once (1994)
Color Me Once was released as part of The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and is one of the more mellow Violent Femmes tracks. The song reflects on a relationship that’s lost its color and features some great slide guitar work from Gordon Gano. It is about as close to a country song as the Femmes ever got and is a welcome change of pace from some of their more frantic material.
8. Country Death Song (1984)
A truly haunting and dark song, “Country Death Song” is one of the Violent Femmes’ most chilling tracks. Inspired by a 19th-century folk tale, the song tells the story of a young girl who kills her entire family. The lyrics are poetic and vivid, painting a picture of the young girl’s descent into madness. The song is equally memorable, with its stark acoustic guitar and vocals.
7. Please Do Not Go (1983)
Please Do Not Go is the third single from Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut album. The song was written by Gordon Gano and featured a simple yet catchy guitar hook. The lyrics are about a young man begging his lover not to leave him. The song was featured in the 1983 film Valley Girl and was also included. It has been covered by several artists, including The Pretenders, Kimya Dawson, Me First, and the Gimme Gimmes. Please Do Not Go reached number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
6. Good Feeling (1983)
Lyrically, “Good Feeling” is one of the most upbeat songs in the Violent Femmes canon. The narrator is elated at the prospect of a new relationship, singing, “I got a good feeling / I’m gonna have a good time.” The song’s simple acoustic instrumentation and Gordon Gano’s childlike vocal delivery drive home the sense of innocence and naivete inherent in young love. Despite its sunny disposition, “Good Feeling” is also tinged with a hint of sadness and loss. The narrator knows that this good feeling won’t last forever and that he’ll eventually have to say goodbye to the object of his affection. There’s a bittersweet nostalgia to the song that makes it all the more poignant. “Good Feeling” is one of the Violent Femmes’ most enduring and popular songs, thanks largely to its universality. Everyone can relate to falling in love and the sense of sadness that comes with knowing that good things never last forever.
5. American Music (1991)
“American Music” is a song by American folk-punk band Violent Femmes. It was released as the lead single from their fifth studio album, Why Do Birds Sing? in 1991. The song peaked at number four on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart and 24 on the UK Singles Chart. The song is about how American culture has been corrupted by greed. The lyrics are critical of the United States’ consumerism and militarism, with singer Gordon Gano singing, “I don’t want to live in America no more.”
4. Gone Daddy Gone (1983)
Gone Daddy Gone is one of Violent Femmes’ earliest and most popular songs. It is a song about child abduction and was written in response to the kidnapping of a young girl named Etan Patz in New York City. The song became a top 40 hit in the US and has been covered by many artists, including Gnarls Barkley and Bruce Springsteen.
3. Add It Up (1983)
“Add It Up” is a song by the American folk-punk band Violent Femmes. It was released as the lead single from their self-titled debut album in 1983. The song was a moderate commercial success, peaking at 37 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The lyrics deal with the frustration of being single and wanting a relationship. In an interview, Gordon Gano said the song is “about a young man who is trying to figure out women and relationships.” Some artists have covered the song, including Paul Westerberg, Amanda Palmer, and The Dresden Dolls.
2. Kiss Off (1983)
This is Violent Femmes’ most popular song, and for a good reason. It’s catchy, angsty, and perfectly captures the feeling of being young and misunderstood. The lyrics are deceptively simple, but they speak to a universal experience of feeling like an outsider. Kiss Off is the perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t quite fit in.
1. Blister In The Sun (1983)
The Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut album is one of the most important alternative rock albums of all time. It was released in 1983 and spawned the hit single “Blister In The Sun.” The song was written by Gordon Gano and is about a man in love with an unattainable woman. The song is catchy and fun but also has a dark undertone.
Violent Femmes are one of the most important alternative rock bands of all time. They have released some truly timeless songs that speak to the human experience. If you’ve never listened to them, I highly recommend you do. You won’t be disappointed.
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