Manic Street Preachers are one of the most successful bands to emerge from Wales who first formed in 1986. Since the disappearance of guitarist Richey Edwards in 1995, the band has consisted of vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield, his cousin Sean More on drums and bassist Nicky Wire. The band started off as a punk and glam influenced band with the release of their debut album Generation Terrorists in 1992. As their career went on, they evolved into a more alternative rock band which led to them gaining success during the Britpop era.
The Manics have been a very popular band throughout their career, often playing many of the Uk’s biggest festivals. They have also been nominated for many awards and have won several of them. In 1995, the band were the subject of one the most mysterious and tragic events in rock history when guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared and was never seen again. Despite several claimed sightings of Edwards over the years, he has never surfaced and in 2011 was officially presumed dead. Nevertheless the band have carried on in the years since his departure, and here are ten of the best songs from their career.
# 10 – Last Christmas
Kicking off this Manic Street Preachers Songs list we have a surprising entry that is a cover of the George Michael classic that was never released and never actually recorded. The band played it at a number of shows and television appearances around the Christmas period of 1994. What makes it great is that it isn’t just some cheesy office party-style drunken singalong. The band actually manage to make it genuinely heartfelt and dark.
# 9 – La Trisstesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
This track was the single from the band’s second album Gold Against the Soul released in 1993. It reached number twenty-two on the UK charts. The title of the song is taken from the last words spoken by Vincent Van Gough. The lyrical concept is written from the perspective of a war veteran. Musically, it has a grunge-esque fell to it. When it was released it contained the B-side “Patrick Bateman,” a song about the titular character from “American Psycho.”
# 8 – Everything Must Go
Here is the title track from the band’s fourth album released in 1996. It was the second single to be released from the record. It charted at number five on the UK charts. The song is apparently a message to fans after the disappearance of Richey Edwards. The message is that although the music has changed, the band are still the same. The song does indeed, see the band going in a more adventurous direction, featuring violins and Sean Moore reportedly had a lot more freedom with what he could do with the drums in terms of space.
# 7 – Stay Beautiful
Here we go all the way back to the beginning with the band’s first single from Generation Terrorists released in 1991. The song originally shared its title with the album. It is a pure example of the band’s earlier punk-influenced sound. It just about managed to get into the UK Top forty. However, it failed to do so when it was re-released six years later, only managing to reach number fifty-two. The song has also managed to have its influence on wider popular culture, being the inspiration for a slogan used in a car advert and even having a club named after it.
# 6 – Little Baby Nothing
Here is a track that was the sixth and final single to be released from Generation Terrorists. It features guest vocals from American actress and singer Traci Lords. The song is about the exploitation of women and the band approached Lords to sing on it due to her previous involvement in the adult film industry. They originally wanted Kylie Minogue to do it but she was not available. It reached number twenty-nine on the Uk charts.
# 5 – So Why So Sad?
This track is taken from the band’s sixth album Know Your Enemy released in 2001. It was a joint single that was released alongside “Found That Soul.” It reached number eight on the UK singles chart. It is one of the band’s more melancholy numbers that lyrically tackles the issue of depression and anxiety and how it is often experienced by people who live comfortable lives. It was the only song from this album to be included on the 2002 compilation Forever Delayed.
# 4 – Faster
Here we have a track taken from what is considered to be Manic’s classic album from 1994 titled The Holy Bible. It reached number sixteen on the Uk singles chart. A song that is a mixture of rock, punk and indie, it features a sample at the beginning taken from the film adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984”, by actor John Hurt. Like the previous entry in this list, it was also the only single from its respective album to be featured on Forever Delayed.
# 3 – PCP
This track is the closing number of The Holy Bible. The album’s lyrical content was heavily dominated by Edwards and his battles with depression and self-harm, and this track is no exception. The fact that it is final track on the final album that Edwards played on makes it particularly haunting. The album is considered to be one of the greatest British rock albums of all time as well as one of the saddest pieces of work ever created.
# 2 – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Just off the top spot we have a track that was released as the first single from the band’s fifth album Here’s My Truth So Tell Me Yours. It reached number one on the UK Singles chart. Inspired by the Spanish Civil War, the track is regarded as one of the most poignant tracks ever to speak out about the issue of racism and fascism. Ironically, the song was used in 2009 on the website of the fascist British National Party.
# 1 – Motorcycle Emptiness
At the top spot we have what is the best-known cut from the band’s early period. Released in 1992, it was the first single to be taken from Generation Terrorists. Musically the song stands out from most of the faster punk influenced that the band was largely producing at the time. It is a power ballad and in many ways is a pre-cursor to the sound that they would become more known for. It reached number seventeen on the UK singles chart.