Our Death Cab For Cutie songs article looks at one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the last twenty years who were first formed in 1997. It was originally a solo project formed by vocalist Ben Gibbard who then decided to expand it into a full band when he signed his first record deal.
Their debut album Something About Airplanes was released in 1998. After releasing two more albums, their fourth album Transatlanticism released in 2003 became their breakthrough record due to several of its songs being used on film and tv soundtracks, something which the band has always made use of throughout their career. In total they have released nine albums the latest of which was Thank You For Today in 2018.
Death Cab For Cutie’s music is a unique mix of alternative rock, pop and emo. They have an unconventional style of instrumentation and Gibbard, who is the primary songwriter, has a very unique style of singing and lyric writing. Here is a list of their ten best cuts.
# 10 – For What Reason
Kicking off our Death Cab For Cutie songs list we have this song from the band’s second album released in 2000 titled We Have The Facts and Were Voting Yes which is a break-up song, something which the band have proved themselves to be masters of over the years. The song naturally has a downbeat feel, as does the rest of the album.
# 9 – Marching Bands of Manhattan
Up next is the opening track of Death Cab’s 2005 major label debut Plans. The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Association Industry of America. In 2006, it was nominated for the Best Alternative Music Album at the 48th annual Grammy Music Awards.
# 8 – Soul Meets Body
The song was the first single to be released from Plans. In the US, it is the band’s second highest charting single. It peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Charts. It has been certified gold by the RIAA. It was well received critically and was used in a couple of tv shows such as How I Met Your Mother and The OC.
# 7 – Title and Registration
The track was the third single from Transatlanticism. It was initially released as an internet only single with promotional copies being released in CD. Due to its complex arrangements, the song has been performed live in a variety of ways. The song had a unique video which saw Ben Gibbard receiving a heart transplant performed by the other band members where he is still able to sing and be calm despite not being given any aesthetic or being on any form of life support. The reason for this is because his insides are revealed to be made of paper and model organs (only in the video of course!)
# 6 – The Sound of Settling
Here we have the second single from Transatlanticism. It reached number eighty-four on the UK Singles Chart and was one of many Death Cab For Cutie songs to be featured on various movie soundtracks and in particular The OC. The song is one of the more upbeat in the Death Cab catalogue.
# 5 – Gold Rush
Kicking off the second half of this list we have the lead single from Death Cab’s ninth and most recent album Thank You For Today released in 2018. The song was originally recorded as a demo that the band did not initially plan to develop into anything else but we persuaded to by the album’s producer Rich Costley.
# 4 – Meet Me On The Equinox
Up next we have a song that is possibly the band’s best known song due to its appearance on the soundtrack to “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” It debuted at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards and the video for it was broadcast soon after. Like several of the song’s on the soundtrack, it was composed specifically for it after the band had been presented with scenes from it.
Although guitarist Chris Walla stated that he had read some of the “Twilight” books, Ben Gibbard admitted that he had not and that the lyrics he wrote were personal and not about the fictional world created by Stephenie Meyer. The song is rather reminiscent of the British band Placebo and was praised by several critics for its eerie guitar sound. It got to number eight on the US Billboard Charts and number eight-six in the UK.
# 3 – I Will Possess Your Heart
At number three is the lead single from the album Narrow Stairs released in 2008 which is one of the band’s longest songs at eight minutes long, the first five minutes of which are purely instrumental. Also, its music video required location filming across four different continents. There is also a shorter four minute radio edit version. The song was critically acclaimed upon its release and was nominated for the 2009 Grammy Award for best Rock Song.
The video also won several accolades including the MTV Video Award for Best Editing and being nominated for the Best Cinematography Award. This was well deserved as the video truly is a great achievement, being filmed in New York, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, as well as several other places across the world. The song itself is also very well done, having a dark feel to it and being about someone who is in an obsessive relationship.
# 2 – Crooked Teeth
Just off the top spot is the second single from Plans. When the single was released it featured the B side “Talking Like Turnstiles” as well as a cover of the Julian Cope song “World Shut Your Mouth” which had originally been released two years earlier as the B-side to the internet-only single “Title and Registration” which is a previous entry on this list. As a single it got to number ten on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks and is the band’ seventh highest charting single. Ben Gibbard has stated that the lyrics are inspired by Raymond Craver who is one of his favourite writers.
# 1 – You Are A Tourist
At the top spot is the lead single of Death Cab For Cutie’s seventh album Codes and Keys released in 2011. It topped the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart as well as the Adult Alternative Songs chart and the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. It also reached number three on the Billboard Rock Charts. It is their first and so far only number one hit. The original demo for the song contained a sample of Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark’s “Dazzle Ships.” The song was developed rather late into the recording process of the album. When it was coming together the band stated that they knew they had a hit on their hands, and they were right.
Top 10 Death Cab For Cutie Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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