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Moby’s Top 10 Songs

Prepare to cry, or dance, or swim, or swoon...

Moby, photo by Philip Cosores
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    This week, Moby returns with his 15th studio album, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, which takes its name from a quote that appears in the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five. In celebration, we decided to re-open the Brooklyn-turned-Los Angeles composer’s exhaustive repertoire and carve out our top 10 favorite songs. What we stumbled upon was a list that we’ll be streaming again and again. Everywhere.


    10. “Raining Again”

    rainingagain Mobys Top 10 Songs

    Album: Hotel (2005)

    The rare, oft-forgotten ambient side of Hotel trumps the actual disc that surfaced in 2005. Still, “Raining Again” still feels like a triumphant win for the pop-oriented DJ. It’s the slide guitar for the win, and when it slices through at 00:56, the track erupts in this odd assembly of folk, gospel, rock, and electronica. This is as close to organic as you can get with modern electronica today. Well, maybe. –Michael Roffman


    09. “Feeling So Real”

    moby feeling Mobys Top 10 Songs

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    Album: Everything is Wrong (1994)

    Don’t forget that Moby’s roots trace back to grungy clubs. His 1994 single “Feeling So Real” remains  a swift kick to the head, the sort of frantic jam still used to great effect by DJs in dire need to wake up the Monday morning crowds. Rozz Morehead’s banshee wails spin around like Sonic the Hedgehog as the breakbeat hardcore splinters and ricochets like a rubber bullet in a metal room. He hasn’t carved out chaos like this since. –Michael Roffman


    08. “Mistake”

    mistake Mobys Top 10 Songs

    Album: Wait for Me (2009)

    “Don’t let me make, the same mistake again,” Moby sings over tumbling percussion and desolate guitars. His 2009 Top Star-earning albumWait for Me, was criminally overlooked by critics and fans alike — and by proxy so was “Mistake”. Although it starts out with his trademark synth strings, it’s the needling fretwork that marries best to the crushing lyricism. There’s a dark mystery to the way the guitar just spirals off into the abyss. –Michael Roffman

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    07. “Natural Blues”

    moby nat Mobys Top 10 Songs

    Album: Play (1999)

    “Natural Blues” is the poster child for the gospel and folk sampling that made Play a mega hit and propelled Moby into super stardom. If you were old enough to be aware of music in 2000, chances are good you stopped what you were doing to try and listen to it. His synth arrangements and well-chosen breaks balance at ease with the baleful voice of Vera Hall to cultivate a sound that remains profoundly unique to this day. –Cap Blackard


    06. “One of These Mornings”

    moby 18 Mobys Top 10 Songs

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    Album: 18 (2002)

    Many forget that Moby’s a bluesman at heart; “One of These Mornings” best exemplifies this. With help from Grammy-winning legend Patti LaBelle — of “Lady Marmalade” fame — the 18 deep cut searches far and wide with two lines: “One of these mornings won’t be very long/ You will look for me and I’ll be gone.” Except, much like any classic blues song, it’s not about the lyrics, but the passion behind it. In a little over three minutes, LaBelle pushes and pulls at the two lines so many times you’d think she just confessed to you her whole life. Minimalism at its most complex. –Michael Roffman


    05. “Go”

    moby go

    Album: “Go” single (1990)

    The mere fact that it contains a sample of Angelo Badalamenti’s gorgeous “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from Twin Peaks is deserved of recognition. The way it breathes and shouts like an underground UK dance club explains why it’s still a favorite amongst DJs over 20 years later. Throughout, Jocelyn Brown’s pained harmonies — stripped from her 1985 single, “Love’s Gonna Get You” — taunt the track’s pace, leaving Badalamenti’s synths to wrap the whole thing up in digital plastic. Gotta love those new jack swing-inspired orchestra hits at the end, too. So 1990. –Michael Roffman


    04. “Porcelain”

    moby porcelain

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    Album: Play (1999)

    While the gospel-sampled tracks off Play propelled Moby into the global music scene, it was the album’s sixth single, “Porcelain”, that ensured his staying power. It’s a melancholic, beautiful song spotlighting Moby over his borrowed spirituals and introduced many to his ambient side. The track even made an appearance on one of the later iterations of the New Age compilation powerhouse Pure Moods. Moby himself wasn’t a fan of the song, but his “really weak” vocals only serve to further humanize the potent feelings “Porcelain” evokes. –Cap Blackard


    03. “Extreme Ways”

    moby 18 Mobys Top 10 Songs

    Album: 18 (2002)

    “Extreme Ways” is sampling at its finest, and a testament to Moby’s ear for transforming musical perspectives. The track’s signature strings actually belong to Hugo Winterhalter’s cheery cover of “Everybody’s Talkin’”, only they’re transformed into a terrifying loop more befitting of a Bernard Herrmann score. The drum breakdown of Melvin Bliss’s “Synthetic Substitution” even finds some real estate. However, Moby’s own touches and lyricism are some of his best attempts at pop, and as the Bourne movies have shown – a perfect companion to death-defying action, whether it’s on the big screen, or during your morning jog. –Cap Blackard

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    02. “Memory Gospel”

    moby honey Mobys Top 10 Songs

    Album: “Honey” single (1998)

    The descriptor “religious experience” can explain so much of Moby’s music — probably every song on here — but the nearly seven-minute ambiance of “Memory Gospel” is most deserving of it. What starts out like a prayer eases into a confession as each layer builds, enhances, and expands at every measure. The Play B-side is quite singular, working best as an extended echo of the blockbuster album. To date, few tracks in the vegan’s catalogue exclude the piano, and this era still hosts his best tones on the black and white. “Gospel”‘s minimal notes offer little accents that create these inexplicable lyrics that change upon every listen, making for a timeless experience. –Michael Roffman


    01. “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters”

     Mobys Top 10 Songs

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    Album: Everything is Wrong (1994)

    Long before Play or 18, Moby delivered his cinematic coup de grace with the piano-driven masterpiece, “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters”. Used to great effect in the closing moments of Michael Mann’s crime epic, Heat, the way the piano shifts from haunting to graceful (00:20) to heavenly (00:39) to downright emotional (1:17) through the dual piano and synth hooks defines why mainstream audiences have always been patient enough to give Moby all the time and space he needs. It’s all about the movements, though: The way that orgasmic key change (2:33) slowly retreats (3:11) for its broad landing (3:30) before taking off once again (3:49) captures a sharp yet anarchic precision of a true composer. Never has a song’s title been so accurate, and convincing. –Michael Roffman


    Playlist

    Stream all 10 tracks via Spotify below.

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