Our Top 10 Frankie Goes to Hollywood Songs looks at a band first formed in 1980 that quickly became one of the most prominent bands of the Liverpool music scene along with the likes of Dead Or Alive and Echo and the Bunnymen. They released their debut single “Relax” in 1983 which was banned by the BBC the following year. Despite this it topped the UK chart for several consecutive weeks and would enjoy even more chart success throughout the following year. It ended up being the best selling British single of that year.
They also released their debut album Welcome To The Pleasuredome that year which also got to number one. This album produced more number one singles in the form of “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love” which made them the second ever act to get to number one with their first three singles.
Despite their success and many accolades for the first album, their second album Liverpool released in 1986 was a critical failure. Although it got to number five on the UK album charts two of the three singles from it failed to make any significant ground in the singles charts. The disastrous tour to promote the album led to them announcing their split in 1987. In the aftermath of the split, vocalist Holly Johnson would embark on a solo career.
The band were brought back together in 2003 on the Vh1 show “Bands Reunited.” After they announced that were getting back together, Johnson announced that he was not going to be involved. So they recruited another singer and played several live dates over the next couple of years before splitting up again in 2007.
# 10 – Born To Run
Kicking off our top ten Frankie Goes To Hollywood songs list we actually start with a cover song which as most readers of site will know is originally by a certain Mr Bruce Springsteen. It was included in the band’s best of compilation Bang…The Greatest Hits of Frankie Goes To Hollywood released in 1993.
# 9 – Watching The Wildlife
Up next we have what was the band’s final single released in 1987 and taken from the second album Liverpool. Of the three songs to be released from the album, this was the most accessible with the other two being more dark and heavier sounding. Despite this it only got to number twenty-eight in the UK.
# 8 – Ferry Cross The Mersey
Next up we have another song which was originally by fellow Liverpool band Jerry and the Pacemakers. This version was recorded in 1983 and was the B-side to “Relax.” It would later be featured on the aforementioned greatest hits compilation in 1987 and also Maximum Joy in 2000 which was another best of compilation.
# 7 – War
Here we have the last cover song on this list that was originally by The Temptations. It was released as the B side of “Two Tribes” and had several different mixes for different releases. It was featured on Welcome to the Pleasuredome. This version of the song was interspersed with several lines of spoken dialogue by actor and Impressionist Chris Barrie, who if US readers are unaware, is known for his roles in the British sitcoms “Red Dwarf” and “The Brittas Empire.” He was also Lara Croft’s butler in the “Tomb Raider” movies. Here he is impersonating then US president Ronald Reagan, a role that he would later reprise in the British satire show “Spitting Image.”
# 6 – Warriors of the Wasteland
At number six on our Frankie Goes to Hollywood Songs list is the band’s sixth single released in 1986 taken from Liverpool. Holly Johnson has previously taken lyrical inspiration from literary heavyweights in previous songs and with this one he was particularly inspired by TS Elliot’s “The Wasteland.” He also cited the films “Mad Max”, “Mad Max 2” and “The Warriors” as inspiration for song’s dystopian theme. Despite having three different releases, it only got to number nineteen in the UK, making it their first single not to reach the top five.
# 5 – Rage Hard
Kicking off the second half of this Frankie Goes to Hollywood Songs list we the band’s fifth single released in 1986 and taken from Liverpool. It was the first single to be taken from the album. With a more rockier sound, Frankie Goes To Hollywood saw this song as a reflection of the changing musical landscape. It was the first single of their to be released on CD as opposed to cassette and it got to number four in the UK, making it by far the album’s most successful single.
# 4 – Welcome To The Pleasuredome
At the next spot we have the title track form the first album that was later released as their fourth single in 1985. The song faced criticism at the time for allegedly celebrating debauchery. However, like the poem that it is inspired by, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Kahn” it is actually being critical of this lifestyle. This made the band more controversial after they had already caused offence with “Relax.”
# 3 – The Power Of Love
At number three is the band’s third single taken from Welcome To The Pleasuredome. It got the band to number one in the UK as well as in the top ten in several other European countries. It is often classed as Christmas song despite having no direct reference to Christmas. This is likely due to its December release and also the religious imagery used on the single’s artwork and particularly in the promo which depicts the nativity. It has been re-released twice and has had several cover versions.
# 2 – Two Tribes
Just off the top we have the band’s second single also taken from Welcome To The Pleasuredome. It is safe to say that the cold war was the inspiration to many records of this era, and this song is one of the most well known of the era and is known for the fact that it is nihilistic and seems to be welcoming the incoming threat of nuclear annihilation. It was at the top of the charts in the UK for nine weeks, making it the longest running number one of the 1980’s.
# 1 – Relax
At the top spot we have Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s debut single taken from Welcome To The Pleasuredome. The hit version of the song which features other musicians besides the band entered the top seventy-five singles chart in 1983 but did not climb up to the forty until the following year. Despite being one the eighties most successful records, it was also one the most controversial upon the time of its release. It was banned by the BBC due to its lyrics supposedly being overly sexually explicit.
Top 10 Frankie Goes to Hollywood Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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