With our top ten Sugarcubes songs list we look at the group who are primarily known for being the former band of singer Bjork but were also brilliant in their own right. Hailing from Iceland, the band’s very quirky style was an instrumental factor in the band producing some of the most ground-breaking music of the late eighties and early nineties. Up until the Sugarcubes gaining success, Iceland was not a country known for producing many massively successful musical artists, so in that sense the Sugarcubes were very much a pioneering band by putting their home country on the musical map. Although Bjork has had much more commercial success with her solo career, it never would have happened had she not been the singer with the Sugarcubes.
The band’s career was short lived, with them having produced only three albums over their six-year existence which lasted from 1986 to 1992.
After splitting in 92, the band got back together for a one-off reunion in 2006 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their debut single “Birthday” which was later featured on their debut album Life’s Too Good and is their most famous song. However, any fans hoping that this reunion was going to lead to other things were left disappointed as the band stated that they had no intention of playing any more shows or recording any more material. So that leaves us with only three albums worth of material from which to select the band’s ten best songs for this list. Fortunately, the band have plenty of brilliant material to make that task much easier than it sounds.
# 10 – Planet
Kicking off this Sugarcubes songs list is this track which is the closing number of the band’s second album Here Tomorrow, Gone Next Week! It was one of three singles to be released from the record. In the US, the album got to number seventy and in the UK it got to number fifteen on the mainstream charts as well as topping the indie charts. Despite this commercial success, the album was not as well received critically as their debut.
# 9 – Tidal Wave
Speaking of which here is another single taken from the same record which is its opening number. This song features vocals alongside Bjork’s from the band’s trumpet player Einar Orn Benediktsson. Einar performs a lot more vocals on this album which was actually something that many of the critics did not like. However, the track is interesting enough in its own right, having a rather quirky pop vibe to it.
# 8 – Take Some Petrol Darling
Here we have a hidden track from the first album Life’s Too Good which is very short at just one minute and twenty-nine seconds long. The album is considered to be the first Icelandic album of its kind to have had the kind of international impact that it did. It was an unexpected success in the sense that the band themselves did not take the album very seriously when recording it. It was both critically and commercially successful, reaching number fourteen on the UK albums chart, number one on the British Indie chart and fifty-four on the US Billboard. It also won accolades within the British alternative music press upon the year of its release.
# 7 – Sick For Toys
Here is a track that is one of the band’s finest moments off the first record. The track has quite an eighties punk/goth vibe to it being rather reminiscent of bands such as New Model Army. However, that is just the music side of things as Bjork’s ethereal vocals are nothing like those of such bands and give the track a whole new dimension.
# 6 – Dues
Here is another great track off the first record that shows the band’s more shoegaze side. That, however, is not the only side to it as the chorus takes the song in a completely different direction with a spoken part from Einar. In general it has a sound that is very unique in the sense that there really is not all that much to compare it to.
# 5 – Mama
This track is also taken from the first record and has a dark atmosphere to it, being quite gothic with its sound and likely taking inspiration from the likes of Sioux and The Banshees. The sound of the song would most accurately be described as a cross between Goth and Dream Pop. Whatever the case, it is definitely one of the more atmospheric cuts in the Sugarcubes’ catalogue.
# 4 – Chihuahua
Here we have what is the final track on the band’s third and final album released in 1992 titled Stick Around for Joy. This album was the band’s least commercially successful, charting in the US Billboard at number ninety-five and number sixteen in the UK, the band’s lowest in both countries. Several critics described it as being the band’s most commercially accessible record.
# 3 – Hit
This single was released in 1991 as the lead single from Stick Around for Joy. Despite the fact that the album is the band’s least successful, this is ironically their most successful single which actually managed to top the Billboard Alternative Charts in the US. It also did well in the Uk where it got to number seventeen on the Singles Chart.
# 2 – Leash Called Love
This track is also taken from the third record and was the follow up single to “Hit.” The lyrics are quite hard hitting here, with the title referring to an abusive relationship that a woman is in and is vowing to get out of. This was the band’s final ever single before their breakup in 1993. While the song did not chart on any mainstream charts it did find later success on the Billboard Dance Club chart.
# 1 – Birthday
At the top spot is the band’s debut single from their debut album. It is generally considered to be the band’s most famous song and received much critical acclaim upon its release. In the UK it got to number sixty-five on the mainstream charts and number two on the indie charts. British radio disc jockey John Peel also placed it at number one on his annual festive fifty on the year of its release in 1987.
Top 10 Sugarcubes Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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