The Cure is one of Britain’s best-loved Gothic Rock bands who have been together since 1978. They have seen many line-up changes over their forty-year career with frontman Robert Smith being the only remaining original member. The Cure released their debut Three Imaginary Boys in 1979 and were part of the post-punk movement. However, from their second album onwards, they adopted a much darker style which led them to become pioneers of the Goth genre, a fact that was also helped by their look.
After a string of dark and experimental albums, the band started to add more pop sensibilities to their sound. With this, they enjoyed much commercial success throughout the 1980s. Here is a list of our favorite Cure songs.
# 10 – Boys Don’t Cry
Kicking off the Top 10 Cure Songs list is the band’s second single from 1979 which was not included on their first album. The track reached number 22 on the UK album charts and was quite instrumental in setting off the group’s career. The song tells a story of a man who has lost the person he loves and is trying to hide how he really feels. It was written at a time when The Cure was a trio. Accompanying Smith who plays guitar as well as sings is Michael Dempsey on bass and Lol Tolhurst on drums.
# 9 – In Between Days
Up next is the first single from the band’s sixth album The Head on the Door released in 1985. This song marked a successful point for The Cure, as it was their first big hit to be included on an album as opposed to a stand-alone single. It also got them more recognized outside of the UK, being their first song to chart on the US Billboard 100 as well as several other countries. It is one of their more poppy songs and has something of a feel-good vibe to it, which seems ironic given the song’s melancholy subject matter about loss and aging.
# 8 – Friday I’m in Love
At number eight is another of The Cure’s more commercial tracks. Taken from the album Wish released in 1992, the song was a massive hit internationally. It charted high in the UK at number 8 and number 18 in the US. Smith has stated that the very upbeat nature of the song was written deliberately to dispute the stereotype that many people held about the band as always being dark and gloomy all the time.
# 7 – Lovesong
This track was the third single released from 1989’s Disintegration album. This song was their highest charting in the US, reaching number 2 in the Billboard. The title of the song speaks for itself, with the lyrics being one of the band’s most straightforward about the person who Smith loves. By this point, they had added to their personnel. Alongside Smith is Simon Gallup on bass, Porl Thompson on guitar, Boris Williamson on drums and Roger O’Donnell on keyboards. The song has also been covered many times, with the most notable versions being by American rock band 311 and British pop star Adele.
# 6 – Just Like Heaven
Taken from 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, this song is The Cure’s first hit single in America and reached number 40 on the Billboard singles charts. It was inspired by a trip Smith had with his then girlfriend and now wife Mary Poole to Beachy Head in southern England. Like many of the band’s singles, it is very melodic and has a dreamy pop sensibility to it. Smith came up with the melody for the song whilst forcing himself to write music straight for fifteen days in order to come up with material for the album.
# 5 – Lullaby
Another song from Disintegration, this much darker track was the band’s highest charting single in the UK, reaching number 5. There has been much speculation regarding what “Lullaby” is about. It is believed to be about depression or addiction or possibly nightmares. Either way, it is a fantastically haunting number that stands out from many of their more poppy singles. The song also had a notably unique promo video which won an award for best video at the 1990 Brit Awards.
# 4 – Fascination Street
Also, from Disintegration, this song was released as a single only in North America. It was the band’s first number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart where it remained for seven weeks. The song has an almost industrial feel and in Cure terms is quite heavy. It also has a notably long bass introduction. It is a staple of the band’s concerts where it is often played out for longer than its four-minute length.
# 3 – Killing an Arab
Here is the band’s debut single released in 1979 but not included on their debut album. The lyrics were inspired by French writer and philosopher Album Camus’s book The Stranger. It is told from the perspective of the narrator who shoots an Arab on a beach. Due to the title the song has often been controversial, being seen as promoting racially motivated violence, though this was absolutely not the case. As a result of this, it was disowned by the band for many before they revived in 2005 under the title “Kissing an Arab.
# 2 – A Forest
At number two n this top 10 Cure songs list is a track from The Cure’s earlier period from 1980’s Seventeen Seconds which is still to this day their most played live. It was their debut in the UK singles chart reaching number 31 and is seen as one of the most representative tracks from their least commercial years. Along with the rest of the album’s tracks, it was recorded over a period of just eight days because of a small budget. This was one of the last to be recorded and took the longest due to the overdubs that it required in the studio.
# 1 – Pictures of You
Topping of this Cure songs list is the fourth and final single from Disintegration . This song is a sublime piece of dream pop, with full eight-minute version with the best and can be found on the album. The other is the shortened single version. Lyrically, it is yet another love song, this time inspired by a time when a fire occurred in Smith’s house, after which he rummaged through the remains and found pictures of his wife in his wallet. It charted at number 27 in the UK, 19 in the US and its highest position was in the Irish Singles chart at number 19.
Updated May 27, 2023
Top 10 Cure Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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