In conjunction with Manchester Day, the staff at plasticmag thought it would be a good idea to list the best songs from the musical epicentre of the North. Here is a diverse list of artists from the city and surrounding areas of Greater Manchester counting down from 10 to 1.
10. “I Am the Resurrection” by The Stone Roses
What list about Manchester artists would be complete without a bit of Madchester? “I Am the Resurrection” is one of The Stone Roses’ signature tracks featuring the abrasive bravado that gained Ian Brown’s recognition as a singer and lyricist with the line; “I am the resurrection / and I am the light”. Featuring on The Stone Roses, the track helped to cement the group’s place in Manchester’s musical annals and is well worth checking out (or listening to again for the 10,000th time).
09. “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve
As the Britpop movement was in its greatest position of power, outliers, The Verve hit the Oasis/Blur saturated market with the string-backed “Bittersweet Symphony”. Alongside the downtrodden, melancholy vocal, the famous video featuring, lead singer, Richard Ashcroft ambling through London’s busy streets in a single take!
08. “Chickentown” by John Cooper Clarke
While not technically a ‘song’ the punk-poet’s best piece is surely worthy of recognition on Manchester Day. Along with his unfathomable influence on bands such as Joy Division, Arctic Monkeys and early Elvis Costello, Clarke has made a name for himself by using excessive vulgarity and dark imagery. Arguably, “Chickentown” could be held wholly responsible for popularising the word “fuck” as you will notice its extreme repetition throughout the poem.
07. “Blue Monday” by New Order
Out of the ashes of Joy Division, came New Order and “Blue Monday” is arguably their biggest hit. At over seven minutes in length, the song features large amounts of syth and a bassline to end all basslines. While Hooky, Sumner and Morris may never have reached the standards they did when coupled with Ian Curtis, “Blue Monday” comes pretty close with its inherent catchiness and brain-worm longevity.
06. “Montreal” by Autechre
Autechre aren’t necessarily the most well-known group on this list, they are one of the most innovative. Their brand of IDM is second to none and (alongside Aphex Twin) they have influenced a wide range of artists including Radiohead, Daft Punk and Björk and “Montreal” is just one of many fantastic tracks from the Greater Manchester duo.
05. “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” by Buzzcocks
Featuring on Love Bites, “Ever Fallen In Love” has done the rounds on radio, film and TV innumerable times. Already on their third album of pop punk by the time Joy Division began their post-punk turn, Buzzcocks are responsible for influencing a HUGE number of bands in the late ‘70s and beyond. “Ever Fallen In Love” is one of a long list that could’ve made this list, but they had to be on here.
04. “She’s A Star” by James
While some may not have heard OF James, many will have heard their music. Any number of randy teenagers will have heard “Laid” on American Pie and the group’s longevity has been helped by a number of top 20 singles. The best of these is “She’s A Star” which features the sweeping vocals of Tim Booth and it’s one of those tracks that gets arena crowds singing back in their thousands.
03. “Numb” by Andy Stott
In the dark recesses of Manchester’s electronic music scene dwell the harrowing sounds of Stott’s layers of ambient techno. Featuring on Luxury Problems, “Numb” takes the album’s paranoia-inducing quality and steps up one further with sampled echoey voices that sound as though they emanate from a break in the fabric of space and time.
N.B. Do not listen to this song immediately before bed – you WILL have nightmares.
02. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
Now we reach the top 2 and the most iconic songs on this list. At number two is Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – a song Curtis wrote the lyrics to right before his suicide in 1980. The song details his split feelings he had for his wife and European mistress and satirises “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille while being one of only a few songs to feature Curtis on guitar while Bernard Sumner played keyboards. Take another dive into Joy Division’s melancholy below!
01. “How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths
Alongside Joy Division, The Smiths are one of the most influential artists on modern indie guitar bands but their most iconic track, “How Soon Is Now?” is possibly the least ‘Smiths-ish’ song they recorded. With phase and delay in abundance, the backing to Morrissey’s self-righteous lyrics can be heard in any number of places. Having heard Johnny Marr play this song live only reduces any doubt in my mind that “How Soon Is Now?” is the most iconic song to emanate from Manchester ever.