Our top 10 Moby songs list presents ten of the best songs released by a six-time Grammy Awards nominated American cross-over techno and dance music star. The 1965-born icon has seen his music carve out the way for the dance music scene into the mainstream in the ‘90s. Moby achieved critical acclaim and commercial success with his 1999 fifth studio album, Play. The album has since its release sold over twelve million copies globally, earning a Platinum certification in over twenty nations.
While his career foundations ooze more techno influences, Moby remains a significant figure in popularizing the electronic genre. Moby’s fusion of disco beats with punk rhythm and heavily distorted guitar riffs made his musical pursuits quite unique awarding him a cult following both in the US and the UK. While none of his later albums has managed to topple Play off its heights, Moby remains reliable and relevant to date releasing new music regularly. His most recent releases have seen Moby substitute his techno/disco sounds with explorative ambient sonic influences.
Moby’s Career Beginnings and Album Releases
Before pursuing a solo career, Moby was a rock and roll guitarist at Ultra Vivid Scene, an alternative rock outfit influenced by The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground. Moby was signed to Instinct Records where he issued his debut solo single “Mobility.” The B-side of his debut single “Go,” marked his breakthrough moment, with the song making it to the UK Singles Chart, peaking at the tenth spot. “Go” would later be featured on the singer’s 1992 eponymous debut album.
Moby, together with the singer’s sophomore record, Ambient, were the only albums issued by Moby through Instinct Records. The two albums were fair releases but far from Moby’s best work. His 1995 album Everything Is Wrong, issued through Mute/Elektra Records was the beginning of success for Moby. The album managed to rise to number twenty-one on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at a similar position on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. Everything Is Wrong went ahead to be Silver-certified in the UK. “Everytime You Touch Me,” “Into the Blue,” “Hymn,” “Feeling So Real,” and “Bring Back My Happiness” are the best Moby songs from the album.
In 1996, Moby issued his fourth studio album, Animal Rights. Animal Rights saw the singer take a brief expedition into punk rock and alternative rock. The album is way far from his electronica, techno, and dance sonic influences. Nevertheless, Moby managed to squeeze a few musical gems into this album including “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” and “Come On Baby.”
Play, issued in 1999, is the embodiment of Moby’s music career. The album stands unrivaled in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success, boasting over twelve million copies in sales globally. Play topped the UK, Scottish, New Zealand, French, Irish, and Australian Albums Charts, peaking at number thirty-eight on the Billboard 200. Not a single hit on the album was a flop!
However, “Porcelain,” “Natural Blues,” and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” proved too precious for Moby fans and critics! Play was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2000 in the Best Alternative Music Album category, losing to Mutations by Beck. Other albums that were nominated for the album include To Venus and Back by Tori Amos, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby by Fatboy Slim, and The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails.
Moby returned in 2002 with his sixth studio album, 18. 18 was an exquisite release, but not as much as Moby’s album, Play. Nevertheless, the album outperformed Play on the charts, topping the UK Albums Chart while rising to a peak position of number four on the Billboard 200. 18 has sold slightly over four million copies globally, earning a Platinum certification in the UK and a Gold certification in the US. “Extreme Ways,” “In My Heart,” “In This World,” and “We Are All Made of Stars” are the most popular musical gems from 18. 18 featured Sinéad O’Connor, Azure Ray, Angie Stone, and MC Lyte on the guest vocals.
Hotel, issued in 2005, was Moby’s last massive commercial success. This BPI Gold-certified album topped the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart, peaking at number twenty-eight on the Billboard 200. Hotel made it to the eighth spot on the UK Albums Chart. “Lift Me Up,” “Slipping Away,” “Dream About Me,” and “Beautiful” are the best Moby songs from the album. In 2008, Moby issued his eighth solo LP, Last Night. The album saw him take on electronic dance music, featuring musical gems including “Disco Lies,” “Alice,” “Oh Yeah” and “I Love to Move in Here.”
Last Night peaked at number twenty-seven and twenty-eight on the Billboard 200 and UK Albums Chart, respectively. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 in the Best Electronic/Dance Album category. However, Last Night lost to Alive 2007 by Daft Punk. Other LPs nominated for the accolade include New York City by Brazilian Girls, Bring Ya to the Brink by Cyndi Lauper, X by Kylie Minogue, and Robyn’s eponymous fourth studio album. Moby has released eleven more albums since Last Night, with the most recent being his 2021 LP, Reprise.
Moby’s Accolades and Legacy
Throughout his career, Moby has received several awards including the 2002 Billboard Music Awards Top Electronic Artist accolade. Moby has been nominated for a Grammy Award six times winning none. Nevertheless, the singer remains a significant pillar in the mainstream success of dance and electronic music. Moby has cited “Heroes” by David Bowie, “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, “I’ve Done It Again” by Grace Jones, and “Atmosphere” by Joy Division as the songs that shaped his musical taste. Here we present the ten best Moby songs of all time.
#10 – The Perfect Life ft. Wayne Coyne
Ushering us into the top 10 Moby songs is the outstanding hit “The Perfect Life.” The song was penned by Moby and issued on his 2013 eleventh studio album, Innocents. “The Perfect Life” features the Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips on the vocals. The two had initially met in 1985 when Wayne’s band, The Flaming Lips, was opening for the rock outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their long-time friendship yielded this magical cut off Moby’s LP, Innocents. The choir vocals on this hit make it quite a significant release!
#9 – Mistake
“Mistake” takes us to Moby’s ninth studio album, Wait for Me. This song finds Moby crooning about mistakes he had made in a relationship, wishing not to crumble into such mistakes again. Moby went on to reveal that “Mistake” was centered on the error he made in his past relationships and empathizing with those he had dated in the past. “Mistake” is the only song on Wait for Me that Moby takes the lead vocals role. The song peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart.
#8 – In This World
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Moby songs list is the tremendous hit “In This World.” The song was penned by Moby, who went on to feature Jennifer Price on the vocals of this masterpiece. “In This World” is featured on the singer’s sixth studio album, 18. Like most of the songs on the album, “In This World” feels a little soul-influenced. The song sampled vocals/lyrics of the 1956 hit “Lord Don’t Leave Me” by The Davis Sisters. “In This World” managed to rise to number thirty-five on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number eighteen on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart.
#7 – Everytime You Touch Me
Moby’s third studio album Everything Is Wrong was an instant success, thanks to its alluring electronic and dance sonic influences. “Everytime You Touch Me” is one of the singer’s best cuts off Everything Is Wrong. The song features the vocals of Kotchie Banton and Rozz Morehead. “Everytime You Touch Me” features an uplifting and catchy tune enough to give you a melancholic sensation.
The song sampled the drums of the 1987 remix of the hit “Hot Pants” by Bobby Byrd. “Everytime You Touch Me” was a success on the charts, rising to the seventeenth spot on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart. The song also made it to the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number twenty-eight. “Everytime You Touch Me” was covered by the electronic dance music outfit QFX.
#6 – Lift Me Up
Number six on our top 10 Moby songs list is the high-spirited hit “Lift Me Up.” The song was penned by Moby after the re-election of George W. Bush as the President of the US. He went on to feature this hit on his seventh album, Hotel. Moby revealed that the song was an anthem in protest of the intensifying fundamentalism and intolerance. In this song, Moby reflects on his contemplations about immigrating to Canada.
“Lift Me Up” was penned as a tribute to the English goth-rock outfit The Sisters of Mercy. The singer’s initial idea was to have The Sisters of Mercy’s frontman Andrew Eldritch take on the vocals. However, after failing to track him down, Moby took on the lead vocals with Shayna Steele providing background vocals. “Lift Me Up” peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart. The song was covered by the French symphonic power metal ensemble Karelia.
#5 – Extreme Ways
While it might not have sold as Play, 18 was an impressive album, to say the least, helping solidify Moby’s status as an electronic music superstar. 18 is home to one of the best Moby songs, “Extreme Ways.” The song has been heavily used as the end title theme of five Jason Bourne films including The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy, and Jason Bourne.
“Extreme Ways” features samples of the 1971 cover hit of “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Hugo Winterhalter, the 1973 hit “Synthetic Substitution” by Melvin Bliss, and the 1976 hit “I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” by Coke Escovedo. The song made it to the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, peaking at number twelve. “Extreme Ways” also peaked at number thirty-nine on the UK Singles Chart.
#4 – Natural Blues
“Natural Blues” is one of the musical gems by Moby from his most acclaimed LP, Play. The song sampled the 1960 folk hit “Trouble So Hard” by Vera Hall. “Natural Blues” was a success on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, where it peaked at number eleven. The song rose to number eleven on the UK Singles Chart.
“Natural Blues” was covered by Mark Mallman in 2003. The song earned Moby a Grammy Award nomination in 2001 in the Best Dance/Electronic Recording category. However, it lost to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men. Other songs that had been nominated for the same award that year include “Blue (Da Ba Bee)” by Eiffel 65, “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez, and “Be With You” by Enrique Iglesias.
#3 – Go
The third pick on our top 10 Moby songs list is the cheery hit “Go.” “Go” is a rave hit featured on the singer’s eponymous debut album. Initially, the song was issued as the B-side to “Mobility,” the singer’s debut single release. The song features samples of the 1984 hit “Go!” by Tones on Tail. “Go” went on to top the UK Dance Chart, rising to number sixteen on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Singles Chart. The song was Moby’s first hit to make it to the top ten on the UK Singles Chart.
“Porcelain” is among the musical gems that epitomize Moby’s success in the electronica genre. The song is featured on the singer’s fifth studio album, Play. “Porcelain” was penned by Moby inspired by a doomed romance experience he had with a certain lady. Moby sang the lead vocals on this track with Pilar Basso delivering backing vocals.
“Porcelain” had its popularity majorly fuelled by its presence on the soundtrack of the 2000 adventure drama film, The Beach. The song sampled the hook/riff of the 1961 hit “Fight for Survival” by Earnest Gold. “Porcelain” made it to the UK Singles Chart, peaking at the fifth spot.
#1 – Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
Number one on our top 10 Moby songs list is the touching hit “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” The song is featured on the singer’s most acclaimed LP, Play. “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” sampled lyrics from the hit “He’’ Roll Your Burdens Away” by The Banks Brothers & The Back Home Choir. The song features the outstanding vocals of The Shining Light Gospel Choir.
“Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” is the singer’s best-selling song, having attained Platinum status in German, Gold Status in Austria, and Silver status in the UK. The song rose to a peak position of number sixteen on the UK Singles Chart. Jazz singer-songwriter Gregory Porter covered this song in 2021.
Feature Photo: bahadir aydin / Shutterstock.com
Top 10 Moby Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.