Depeche Mode are one of the most crucial artists in electronic music who first formed in 1980 and have been active ever since. They first spilled on to the British New Wave scene with the release of the debut album Speak and Spell in 1981. After this founding member Vince Clarke left and they then recorded their second album A Broken Frame. As the eighties wore on, the band became a very dominant force within electronic music. Selling millions of albums and playing to massive sell-out crowds, they proved to be highly influential on a variety of other acts that have come out over the years, not just in electronic music but also in alternative rock and even certain areas of metal, with their songs having been covered by the likes of Marilyn Manson and Lacuna Coil.
The band have a massive charting track record within their native United Kingdom, with fifty-four singles and seventeen top ten albums. In addition to this, they have been successful internationally, with over one hundred million albums sold worldwide. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at ten of the best from their remarkable career…
# 10 – Shake the Disease
First off, we have a single released in 1985. It was one of two new songs that were released on two compilation albums released that year: The Singles 1981-85 and Catching up with Depeche Mode. Alan Wilder, who was the band’s keyboard and synth player at the time, stated that he felt that this was a song that truly captured the essence of the band. The song reached number forty on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
# 9 – Policy of Truth
Up next is the third single from the group’s 1990 album Violator. Although it was less successful than both of the album’s previous two singles, it was a significant entry in the band’s chart history in that it was the only single to chart higher on the Billboard than on the UK chart. With that said, it only reached one place higher, fifteen on the former and sixteen on the latter. It was also their second chart topper on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.
# 8 – Enjoy the Silence
And here we have the second single to be released from the aforementioned seventh album Violator. As one of the band’s biggest hits, it may come as a surprise to see it so low on this list. The song’s writer Martin Gore originally conceived it as a ballad, however Alan Wilder insisted to it be reworked into the more up-tempo tune that it ultimately became. It charted high in a high number of charts worldwide.
# 7 – Barrell of a Gun
Next on the list is a later period single from Depeche Mode from 1997 taken from the album Ultra. As the band’s thirty-first single, it was yet another that was hugely successful, charting high in the United Kingdom as well as several countries all over Europe. The band have stated that the song’s lyrics are about self-realization, which vocalist Dave Gahan has stated comes from the battles that he was having at the time with substance abuse.
# 6 – Behind the Wheel
This is the band’s twentieth single taken from 1987’s Music for the Masses. It reached number twenty-one on the Uk charts and the higher position of number six in West Germany. It had several different mixes, many of which included its B side which was a cover of the R n B classic “Route 66.” The mixes have helped to give the track its legacy, each having made it something different both from the original and from each other.
# 5 – Master and Servant
Kicking off the second half of this list, we have the group’s eleventh single from 1984’s Some Great Reward. At the time of its release, its lyrics were met with some controversy due to being about BDSM relationships (with the title referring to dominating). It charted at number nine on the UK charts as well as number eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and number forty-nine on the American Dance chart.
# 4 – Strangelove
This next single was the band’s eighteenth single that was released in 1987 and was taken from their sixth studio album Music for the Masses. Upon its release it charted at number sixteen in the UK as well as high in numerous other countries. The album version differs from the one released as a single. The single version which was the original was a fast paced pop track which they felt did not fit well with the albums generally darker style, so they made a version for the album that was more in line with it.
# 3 – Miles Away
Here at number three we have a track from one of the albums from the more recent years of the band namely 2009’s Sounds of the Universe. The track sees the band adapting their sound for modern times whilst still staying true to the core Depeche Mode sound. The album was a success both critically and commercially, gaining positive reviews and charting high all across the world, including number three on the US Billboard.
# 2 – Everything Counts
Just off the top spot we have a single that was released in 1983 from the album Construction Time Again. It is a song that very topical at the time of its release, dealing with greed and corruption particularly in the context of the “yuppie” craze that was happening at the time. The song was re-released in 1989 in live form due to being a live favorite with fans. Upon its original release it charted high reaching number six on the UK singles chart and the re-release reached number twenty-two.
# 1 – Blasphemous Rumours
At number we have what was the band’s first double A side single released in 1984, the other side being “Somebody”, both of which were taken from the album released that year titled Some Great Award. The song has a rather heavy lyrical concept about a sixteen-year-old girl who fails to commit suicide, has a religious revival but is then killed in a car accident when she is eighteen. It was the first single to feature Martin Gore on vocals.