11 Underrated Songs: The Cure | Gigwise
You could easily say that 90% of The Cure’s discography is underrated. Beyond “Friday I’m in Love” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” their sprawling 13-album canon just doesn’t get enough love when we celebrate rock music. To celebrate the birthday of revolutionary leader Robert Smith, we explore 11 of their biggest deep cuts, hidden gems and controversial favorites.
The Cure made a name for itself as a pioneer of post-punk with contemporaries like the Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees unintentionally creating the Gothic subculture as it went. Their sound has gone from goth to pop and everything in between, and while purists don’t look past 1989’s Disintegration, the band has a wealth of great music in their back catalog.
‘The 13e ‘
Direct launch with ‘The 13e‘from 1996’s Wild Mood Swings, and perhaps the most unpopular opinion on this list. For some reason, ‘The 13eis frequently voted as The Cure’s worst song by fan groups. While this is a big change from their typical dark sound, it is surprisingly intoxicating.
Maybe it conjures up such a love / hate reaction because it was the first single from Wild Mood Swings. Following on from Wish, the album that brought us their most famous song, was never going to be an easy feat. Choosing such an experimental single teeming with Latin-inspired beats and an entire horn section was a bold move that might have scared some fans. But over time a few brave souls have come forward to say that they really love him. Don’t play in front of hardcore fans.
‘Fire in Cairo’
Let’s go back to the very beginning of their career with their first album Three Imaginary Boys. Smith once said that “Fire In Cairo” is all about the “shamelessness” of pop music, and what lies behind it. It has all the experimental, unpolished sound of those early post-punk days before the genre took off.
Influences can be felt from the last days of The Clash when they started to get more experimental with their sound. While all of the Three Imaginary Boys are a great testament to the band’s early days, “Fire In Cairo” stands out as the band finds its place.
‘Shake Dog Shake’
It takes a lot to qualify as “The Cure’s most depressing song,” but “Shake Dog Shake” wins hands down. It opens with “Wake up in the dark / The aftertaste of anger in the back of my mouth / Spit it on the wall / And cough again and scratch my skin with razor blades.” Yeah, heavy stuff. It was most eloquently described by Robert Smith himself who said it was “I hate myself… but a fabulous open guitar chord”.
“Cut Here” is a new take on the others on the list, arriving in 2001 as part of The Cure’s Greatest Hits compilation. It was dedicated to the band’s friend and Associates frontman Billy Mackenzie, who died by suicide in 1997. Although they are usually about metaphors and veiled expressions, “Cut Here” is a direct account of the last meeting he met. ‘they had with Mackenzie before his death. . It deals with grief and guilt in such a direct and vivid way, showing that The Cure can still stun.
‘The Perfect Boy’
As we do so often with classical artists, people say their most recent albums don’t live up to their heritage. But these aren’t albums you can completely erase just because they weren’t the same cultural reset as Disintegration. On their most recent record, you find “The Perfect Boy,” just one of many reminders of why you fell in love with The Cure lyrics. The only line that stands out the most is the beautiful “Inescapable Fate / It’s out of my hands / Falling into your arms”. They still have it. And it’s time they released the album they’re working on …
‘Strange attraction ‘
Another cut from Wild Mood Swings, we have ‘Strange Attraction’. This song tells the story of a whirlwind romance that burns but doesn’t last a year and contains some of Robert’s finest lyrics. It was released as a single but does not have a music video. Just as the protagonist of the song falls head over heels in love with the bad girl, the listener too will fall in love with such a divine composition. Just try to listen without smiling – I challenge you.
Competing against massive songs like “Pictures of You”, “Lullaby” and “Lovesong”, “Last Dance” often goes unnoticed on Disintegration when you think of the best tracks on the album. But any fan of The Cure’s sprawling live setlists know that ‘Last Dance’ is still a big part of the band’s discography. It’s not a happy song, brimming with the same welcoming cold feel throughout The Cure’s darker albums, but that’s exactly what makes it so great.
Here we have it: The Cure at their most gothic. “Burn” appears on a gothic rock soundtrack for the 1994 film The Crow. The group were initially approached with the intention of using “The Hanging Garden” in the film, but Robert Smith liked the comic so much that he wrote an original song instead. Enter “Burn”, with his relentless drums and endlessly brooding lyrics. Fortunately, in recent years he has become a live favorite, appearing in their Glastonbury 2019 ensemble and many of their recent performances. Even though the lyrics are about as dark as it gets, there’s something about watching Robert Smith’s whistle solo that just gives you an instant shot of serotonin.
No one does a two and a half minute intro like The Cure. With “Push” you want this to continue forever. While the lyrics are interpreted differently by everyone who listens to it (not helped by Robert’s clarification that this is a “train ride”), there is something really uplifting about the song. Whether you repel negative thoughts, toxic people, or really love early guitars, “Push” will make you smile.
Another underrated gem of The Top is “Dressing Up”. In this dreamy mix of layered instruments and electronic elements, Robert Smith dresses up and puts on his lipstick and eyeliner combo before performing. This is one of their more laid back offerings and it feels like a trippy daydream.
This list has looked at a lot of the more soulful songs from The Cure, but ending on “ Doing The Unstuck ” shows that it’s not all dark. It’s a sensational song about breaking the cycle of depression, sung with such passion and despair that there is no doubt about its authenticity. Basically the main message is that it’s never too late to burn it all down and start over. So finish celebrating The Cure’s most underrated songs by breaking down the gloom and knocking out the blues. Be happy.