RANKING St. Vincent’s 20 Best Songs

20. “Fast Slow Disco” (2019)

Nina Kraviz rewires Masseduction’s “Slow Disco” into the ultimate sad-bop club banger – accompanied, appropriately, with a music video of St Vincent dancing in a gay club, looking uncharacteristically joyous. “Don’t it beat a slow dance to death”, she sings, as good a reminder as any to live life to the fullest

19. “Your Lips Are Red” (2007)

Disconcerting synths and drums hurry along this highlight from St. Vincent’s debut album. In the chorus, Clark’s voice breaks from it’s default gentle falsetto into a guttural declaration of resentment.

18. “Jesus Saves, I Spend” (2007)

Her debut solo single introduced the world to St. Vincent’s greatness; her ability to evoke rich imagery over a captivating sonic backdrop. Like Clark’s best songs it manages to be both impenetrable and intimate.

17. “Who” w/ David Byrne (2012)

The first glimpse into St Vincent and David Byrne’s collaborative album, also turned out to be it’s brightest; a brooding, horn-filled number accompanied with a suitably ominous music video. “Who is an honest man?” Clark asks repeatedly throughout the song, never seeming to expect an answer and certainly never getting one.

16. “The Nowhere Inn” (2021)

The lead single to accompany her mockumentary with Sleater Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein could have easily found a home on any of Clark’s previous albums. It captures isolation and hopelessness with surgical precision (“Here at the Nowhere Inn / where nothing and no one wins”).

15. “Actor Out of Work” (2009)

The lead single from St Vincent’s sophomore album is, sonically, an unusually conventional rock song for Annie Clark, but lyrically it is wholly and unmistakeably hers; offering a scathing takedown of a cheating partner, while recognising you’re own inability to cut yourself off from them (“I think I love you, I think I’m mad”).

14. “Savior” (2017)

“Savior” is the track that best delivers on Masseduction’s mission statement of dark seduction, beginning with a description of the narrator dressing up in various get-ups – a “nurses outfit”, “a teacher’s little denim skirt” – before a darker truth sets in (“Honey, I can’t be your savior”). Still, she can’t bring herself to say no: “But then you say, please-e-e-e-e”.

13. “Strange Mercy” (2011)

The title track off St. Vincent’s best album to date took on new significance when the press revealed that Clark’s father had spent the previous years incarcerated. She spends the song trying to maintain restraint, but gives in at the end: “If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up” she declares, “No I don’t know what…”; collapsing under the weight of what she’s saying.

12. “Severed Crossed Fingers” (2014)

Perhaps no other song showcases Clark’s Bowie influence more than this one. Then, it’s a testament to her craftsmanship that, here, she still sounds like no one else; using sharp-edged guitar riffs as a pulsating force behind impenetrable, yet intoxicating, lyricism.

11. “Bring Me Your Loves” (2014)

“Bring Me Your Loves” delivers on St. Vincent’s self-proclaimed status as a “future, former cult leader”; taking on a larger-than-life status; at once sounding all-powerful (“Bring me your loves / All your loves”) and staggeringly vulnerable (“I thought you were like a dog / But you made a pet out of me”).

10. “New York” (2017)

“New York” is Masseduction’s emotional centrepiece; a barebones ballad that sees Clark walk through old landmarks and think about all the memories made there with people no longer in her life (“Too few of our old crew left on Astor”). Never has Clark sounded so utterly crushed by love, yet she declares “I’d do it all again” because, in the end, there’s only one “motherfucker in the city who can stand me”.

9. “Happy Birthday Johnny” (2017)

Masseduction is home to some of the strongest ballads of St. Vincent’s career and “Happy Birthday Johnny” is proof of this; a heart-wrenching ode to an estranged family member/friend that also doubles up as a lacerating self-reflection (“Of course I blame me”).

8. “…At The Holiday Party” (2021)

Daddy’s Home‘s penultimate full-length track is a transcendent psychedelic number about reconnecting with an old friend and seeing signs of depression slip through their happy facade (“Red wine lipped a little early”, “Your Gucci purse a pharmacy”, “Think if you can just keep spinning / You won’t miss what you’ve been missing”). It slowly crescendos into an epic outro filled with cries of “you can’t hide from me”.

7. “Slow Disco” (2017)

Another great ballad from Masseduction – perhaps *the* greatest – is “Slow Disco”; a sombre number reflecting on a party’s that gone on just a little bit too long.

6. “Surgeon” (2011)

Strange Mercy’s lead single is centred around one line from Marilyn Monroe’s diary (“Best, finest surgeon / Come cut me open”). It features some of the most bizarre, left-field guitar playing of Clark’s career – best exemplified in the song’s final moments – and establishes her beyond doubt as one of the greatest living guitarists. If you haven’t already, watch her live performance of this song for 4AD. Phenomenal.

5. “Los Ageless” (2017)

The second single from St. Vincent’s most commercially successful release to date is a dystopian meditation on the vanity of social media culture, with some truly disconcerting lines that only Clark could have written (“In Los Ageless, the winter never comes / In Los Ageless, the mothers milk their young”).

4. “The Melting of The Sun” (2021)

The second and best single from St. Vincent’s latest album sees Clark mournfully contemplate her place among a pantheon of female greats (Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Nina Simone) and wonder if she’s left her mark or will just be remembered as little more than a “Benzo beauty queen”.

3. “Cruel” (2011)

The aptly titled “Cruel” exemplifies the central theme of St. Vincent’s best album to date: “cruel to be kind”. It’s a striking, unnerving, pulsating number with some great, heart-wrenching lines: “They could take or leave you / So they took you and they left you”.

2. “Cheerleader” (2011)

The best track from St. Vincent’s best album certifies Annie Clark as a force unmistakeably her own. If it wasn’t clear before, here it becomes clear than she is no one else’s cheerleader.

1. “Digital Witness” (2014)

The centrepiece of St. Vincent’s self-titled album also happens to be the centrepiece of her entire career up to this point; a dark meditation on technology and how it drives us to doing darker and darker things in the name of attention (“Watch me jump right off the London Bridge”). “What’s the point of even sleeping? / If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me”, she sings, offering as effective a reflection on social media as any artist could possibly hope for.

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