Siouxsie and the Banshees are one of the original punk bands who, with their look and dark sound became one of the pioneering goth bands. Since their formation in 1976, they have been highly influential in both genres. Vocalist Siouxsie Sioux was notably present on the infamous British television appearance on the Bill Grundy show with the Sex Pistols whose bassist Sid Vicious was briefly the Banshee’s drummer at one point.
They released their debut album The Scream in 1978 which was critically acclaimed, being considered a record that had a sound that stood out from much of the first wave of punk bands. This was presented by not conforming to the standard three chord format that many of the other bands had utilized. After this, they progressed from the cold and dark sound of this LP into the post-punk era, becoming more commercially accessible and having much success.
They released eleven studio albums in total and had many line-up changes throughout their career which ended in 1996 when they decided to disband. Only Siouxsie and bassist Steve Severin remained from the original line-up. Since then, the members have continued to make music with other projects. They had a brief reunion in 2002 but have since remained inactive. Here is a list of our favorite Siouxsie And The Banshees Songs.
# 10 – Peek-a-Boo
Kicking off the list is a song from 1988’s Peepshow album. This track saw the band moving in an experimental direction by use of a loop of sound which came about when producer Mike Hedges accidentally played a track backward. This was an element that saw some critics likening it to a hip-hop track. However, this rather daring move paid off as this song was a successful single, being the band’s first to chart on the US Billboard reaching number 53.
# 9 – Christine
This song was the second single from the band’s third album Kaleidoscope released in 1980. The song is about a woman who in the 50’s developed an identity disorder after witnessing two deaths and an accident as a small child. It marked a change in direction for the Banshees, with it veering more away from punk and more into the goth sound, sounding rather like what the likes of The Cure were doing at the time.( The Cure frontman Robert Smith was a member at one point.) It charted at number 22 in the UK.
# 8 – Shadowtime
Here we enter the band’s final decade with this single from 1991’s 10th album Superstition. The song saw the band veering into pop-oriented territory which sounds almost unrecognizable to the band who recorded The Scream over a decade earlier. The track’s commercialism got it a considerable amount of radio airplay, particularly in the US where it charted in the Modern Rock charts at number 13. It also reached number 57 in the UK.
# 7 – Monitor
Next is a track from Juju, the fourth album released in 1981. This track has an almost dance-like feel to it. Guitarist John McGeoch’s riff sounds uniquely distorted and drummer Budgie also puts in a performance that shows that he can deliver a danceable beat. The album was both commercially successful and critically acclaimed, with McGeoch’s and Siouxie’s performances receiving praise. It reached number 7 on the UK album charts.
# 6 – Happy House
At number six on our top 10 Siouxsie And The Banshees Songs list is the first single from Kaleidoscope. This album was both Budgie and McGeoch’s debut with the band, the former having previously played with The Slits and the latter with Magazine, respectively. The band saw this single as being symbolic of their progression, feeling that they were going in a whole new musical direction with it. The lyrical content is a sarcastic critique of the media always presenting the idea of “the perfect household” which is often not the case in reality. It was their second top 20 hit reaching number 17.
# 5 – Israel
Next up is a standalone single released in 1980. The song was written while the band was on tour with the intention of being released as a Christmas song. It was released between the band’s second and third albums and reached number 41 on the UK singles chart. It proved to be a popular song and has been retrospectively considered to be one of the Banshee’s best, with other artists such as Air and Ride naming it as one of their favorites.
# 4 – Arabian Knights
The second and last single from Juju, this track sees the band go in a “spaced out” direction with its hypnotic guitar sound and general experimental approach. In many ways, the song is a precursor to the shoegaze/dreampop sound that would develop later in the latter part of the 80s. Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins named it one of his favorite songs in a British radio interview. It reached number 32 in the UK charts.
# 3 – Dear Prudence
Here we have a cover of a certain band called The Beatles which was released as a standalone single in 1983. McGeoch had just left the band due to alcohol problems and was replaced temporarily by Robert Smith from The Cure. It was not the first time that they had covered a Beatles song, with a version of “Helter Skelter” being featured on The Scream. Ironically, it ended up being their biggest hit, reaching number three on the UK charts.
# 2 – Spellbound
At the number two spot is the first and only other single from Juju. It charted at number 22. It is one of the band’s more aggressive and fast-paced numbers, which makes it a strong opening track for the album. Mcgeoch in particular has been praised a lot for his work on this track, with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr remarking how unique and pioneering his style was. It was also received very well critically.
# 1 – Hong Kong Garden
At the top of the list is the band’s debut single released in 1978. It got the band off to a good start commercially, reaching number seven on the UK singles chart. The track is widely regarded as one of the all time greatest post-punk songs. Upon its release, it was acclaimed by much of the British alternative music press, with several publications naming it as their single of the week. The lyrics are said to be inspired by racist attacks that the band often witnessed at a local Chinese takeaway by Nazi skinheads.
Updated May 24, 2023
Top 10 Siouxsie And The Banshees Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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