The 15 best, darkest Depeche Mode songs (Underrated goth favourites)
The definition of dark Depeche Mode songs
Depeche Mode, apart from their mainstream radio hits, are generally not a band known for fluffy and life-affirming music. In this list, I would like to present the songs that most people don't think of directly and that are really gloomy. Be it lyrically, soundwise or in terms of tonality.
Accordingly, I have selected the songs by the attributes melancholy, bittersweetness and grim and summarised them here. A short explanation why the selected song is one of the "best, darkest Depeche Mode songs" is included. I have added the best dark lyrics to each song as well.
The best, darkest Depeche Mode songs in no particular order
Lyrically, the song 'Blasphemous Rumours' destroys you on a mental level, if you are not exactly an empathy-less steel bolt. Including the provocative lyric line "… God's got a sick sense of humour", the song will not only make you infinitely sad, but at the same time angry with a certain helplessness.
Girl of sixteen
Whole life ahead of her
Slashed her wrists
Bored with life
Acoustically, you can already hear the darkness of this composition. With nauseating voice samples and industrial sounds like from a horror movie, even a casual listener can tell that this is not a happy pop song. If you know the background story of Dave Gahan's overdose including a short clinical death, it makes the song even more bitter.
What do you expect of me
What is it you want
Whatever you've planned for me
I'm not the one
The Exciter album is often described as floating over a spring-like meadow of flowers. But the song 'The Dead Of Night' is completely out of the ordinary. This raw song sounds dirty and almost perverse. Disturbing synths, lots of distortion effects and Dave belts out the song with his nastiest style of voice. Ingenious!
We're the horniest boys
With the corniest ploys
Who take the easiest girls
To our sleaziest worlds
Anyone who has ever been at the end of a relationship knows all those dark feelings sung in the song 'Secret To The End'. From self-doubt, to anger and disappointment that almost makes your throat choke. The song from the 2013 album 'Delta Machine' is really, and especially lyrically, a gloomy song that leaves no one cold.
Thank God, I'm not the same as you
You always know exactly what to do
Is who I am, is not for you
We've come to the end
The song 'Clean' is certainly thematically wide-ranging in its interpretation. However, the underlying darkness of the song cannot be ignored. Even if it can mean something different for every listener, everyone who has left a painful phase in his life behind can identify with this song,
An end to the tears and the in-between years
And the troubles I've seen
If there's one song in this list that evokes the deepest sadness, perhaps apart from 'Blasphemous Rumours', it's 'Little 15'. There are almost 1,000 theories online about the exact meaning of the song. However, I haven't found a credible one that I would mention here. Nevertheless, lyrically the song is probably about a 15 year old girl whose life is going anything but well, rather tragically I would say. That's at least the most obvious thing in this song and that's all the layers this masterpiece needs.
Do you understand?
Do you know what she means?
As time goes by
And when you've seen what she's seen
'A Pain That I'm Used To' is another song with an extreme and almost threatening industrial sonic storm. The song was written by Martin Gore during his divorce and with this background the song almost explains itself. On the album 'Playing The Angel' there are more tracks that accompany or capture the divorce phase.
All this running around, well it's getting me down
Just give me a pain that I'm used to
With the most profound melancholy, the missteps that have been committed out of passion, devotion and sexual lust are sung down here. The song sounds like a lament, which is underpinned by the follow-up single 'Condemnation'. But 'Walking In My Shoes' has, in my opinion, the darkest aura and atmosphere on the 1993 album 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion'.
The countless feasts laid at my feet
Forbidden fruits for me to eat
'Alone' is one of the quieter ballads on 'Delta Machine'. However, depending on your mood, this song can really ruin your day and drag you into a deep emotional crisis. At least that's true for all people who listen to music not only superficially, but I don't assume that for my profound readership.
I would use 'helplessness' as a general term for this moody song. From another point of view, the song could refer to a person with a mental disorder, but here I am only speculating.
Through your failings and success
Through your losses and gains
I didn't see much happiness or pain
The topic of "break-up" is arguably the central focus of the very gruff song 'Useless'. With this song and the unusual and very hard guitars, Depeche Mode gave electro rock a strong boost. Many older Depeche Mode fans don't like this song at all. I consider it an extremely dark pearl in the band's repertoire.
Here I stand the accused
With your fist in my face
Feeling tired and bruised
With the bitterest taste
If there is one song from the difficult period of the album 'Playing The Angel' on the subject of "repentance", it is surely "The Sinner In Me". Lyrically, the song is already extremely bleak and suffering. The bridge (starting at 03:13min) in this song feels sonically like a thousand little needles are being sent through your auditory canal, straight into your brain. The song manages to cause such acoustic pain like no other!
I'll never be a saint
That's not a picture that your memory paints
The song 'In Your Room' is basically sexual desire described in three acts. The 3 acts are audibly built up exactly like that and slowly lead to the sexual climax. The music video for 'In Your Room' is one of Anton Corbijn's best. In general, I think that the 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion' era was the visual peak of the band in collaboration with Anton Corbijn.
Back to the song. The song clearly belongs to the BDSM universe. It's about secret desires and absolute devotion to satisfy sexual pleasures. All in all, very emotional and subliminally performed. A masterpiece of darkness!
Your favourite passion
Your favourite game
Your favourite mirror
Your favourite slave
In 2009, Depeche Mode launched the era of the 'Sounds Of The Universe' with this brute and uncompromising track called 'Wrong'. For me it had something of a dejavu in 1997 with 'Barrel Of A Gun' as the first single on 'Ultra'.
The accompanying music video for 'Wrong' is just as disturbing, unusual and raw as the song itself. If there were fans who thought Depeche Mode were a pop band until then, then this thought should have died with the song. The song is gritty, pitch black and really filthy. I love it!
There's something wrong with me chemically
Something wrong with me inherently
The wrong mix in the wrong genes
The album 'Spirit' is probably the most politically critical 'Depeche Mode' album since the early 80s. The title track 'Going Backwards' clearly sets the tone for the 2017 milestone. Serious topics about politics and society are taken up here and 'Depeche Mode' are not exactly squeamish when it comes to the tonality. Lyrically, they are still in the green zone, but the brutal and harsh undertone makes the music.
For me, the album is mercilessly bitter and serious. You don't necessarily find the big danceable hits on the album, which most fans have missed and criticised. However, I think it is an album whose topic and concept is more important than producing catchy radio hits.
We're going backwards
Armed with new technology
To a cavemen mentality […]
We feel nothing inside
The song 'Leave In Silence' is now acoustically one of the more pleasant, almost radio-ready songs in the list. Nevertheless, the song is lyrically close to the song 'Secret To The End'. Because it is also about the bitter topic of breaking up.
The song was written in 1982 and therefore has a certain naivety, but lyrically Martin Gore was already very advanced and mature for his age. This song has been with me for almost my entire musical life and perhaps there is a bit of nostalgia in the assessment of the dark sound. However, the melancholic mood cannot be denied.
Reached our natural conclusion
Outlived the illusion
I hate being in these situations
That call for diplomatic relations
I'm heading for the door
I can't stand this emotional violence
Listen to 'The 15 best, darkest Depeche Mode songs' on Spotify
What's your opinion about these dark Depeche Mode songs?
Did I miss an important dark song? Do you agree with this list or do you think this list is nonsense? Please use the comment section below.