The 7 Best Martin Gore Songs of Depeche Mode

In my humble opinion, Dave Gahan is the greatest frontman of all time. If one wants to see proof of this fact, one needs only to watch Devotional, the concert film documenting the Songs of Faith & Devotion tour Depeche Mode embarked on in 1993. Gahan is absolutely electrifying in the film; I can’t help but think that if he told the audience on that tour to go home and kill their friends and family, the audience would have done so. He had the crowd rapt.

But in a very real sense, Dave Gahan is not the frontman of Depeche Mode. Martin Gore is the main songwriter, lyricist, and creative chief of the group. In fact, one could very readily argue that Depeche Mode’s golden era (roughly from 1986’s Black Celebration to the 1993 tour I mentioned earlier) was entirely Gore’s doing; after all, Dave Gahan was drugged out of his mind for most of this time and only contributed pre-written lead vocals to albums and tours, leaving most instrumentation and all backing vocals to Gore.

Furthermore, Gore has lead vocal duties on at least one song on every Depeche Mode album to date (with the exception of 1982’s A Broken Frame). Let’s face it: Martin Gore is Depeche Mode. Dave Gahan is just the face.

In celebration of Gore, here are the top 7 songs that are 100% him: written, performed, and fronted by the man himself.

Damaged People

It’d be hard to argue that Playing the Angel, the 2005 album this song appears on, is Depeche Mode’s best. While certainly a standout of their late-period work, the album gets pretty weak in the middle and end after a very strong beginning. But “Damaged People” is a terrific song, made all-the-better by Gore’s trademark baritone delivery drenched in audio effects. The album was written while Gore was going through a bitter divorce, and this song seems to be a documentation of his last gasp at trying to sustain that relationship.

The Things You Said

While lyrically and musically this song is simple and blunt, “The Things You Said” features one of Gore’s best vocal deliveries ever recorded. At once pained and angry while simultaneously being powerful and beautiful, his rhythmic enunciation of “How can a view become so twisted” and “I’ve never felt so disappointed” ring pure and true. If I were the person this song is about, I would steer clear of Gore for the rest of my life.

Judas

Gore makes no secret about his devotion to Christ and Christianity (which makes the sensual and sometimes even explicitly sexual imagery of his lyrics quite befuddling), but this song is one of the few where he really lets that flag fly. Dropping a bunch of Biblical names and references while preaching about sacrifice and holiness, it’s hard to know if Gore is talking specifically about Christ or about how he adheres to the teachings of Christ. Either way, the song is hauntingly beautiful.

Somebody

If “Enjoy The Silence” is Depeche Mode’s anthem of intimacy, then “Somebody” is their anthem of loneliness. This quiet, piano-and-vocal track is essentially a laundry list of the things Gore looks for in a partner…and how surprised he is he hasn’t found that yet. As tongue-in-cheek as it is sincere, “Somebody” is the kind of song that pained teenagers pining for someone will always have in their music collection.

Home

Every Depeche Mode fan knew this song would be somewhere on this list, as it’s one of the very few songs that has the trifecta of a) being sung by Gore, b) actually a radio hit, and c) played at pretty much every concert they’ve done since its release. But the reason that’s all the case is because it’s so damn good. The lush strings, the driving kick drum beat, and of course Gore’s incredibly hooky chorus vocal makes the song shine over much of their catalog. Not only is this one of the best Gore songs, it’s one of the best Depeche Mode songs in general.

One Caress

I could write pages and pages on the beauty of this song. The strings, the lyrics, Gore’s vocal delivery, the sentiment…all utter perfection. But what I’m really listening for in the song is the final chorus, where the strings become overwhelmingly loud and Gore seems to be on the floor in tears as he pines for that “one caress” from his lover, so he can once again be “blessed”. The captivating gorgeousness of this song makes my heart swell.

Sweetest Perfection

Not only is this my number one Gore song, it is absolutely in my top five Depeche Mode songs in general. The bass line (actually a synth) gives this song a kind of demonic bounce that I don’t think I’ve ever heard another band emulate. And when Gore spits out, “I want the real thing, not tokens” I tend to close my eyes and think to myself, “Yes, Martin. Hell yes.” Is this song the world’s greatest love song or a song of such abhorrent obsession that the writer should be locked away? That’s for the listener to decide.

2018-05-09T18:21:20+00:00

About the Author:

I'm one of the co-hosts of Skipped on Shuffle. I live in New Haven, CT, I love tea, I love music, and I play a mean game of Scrabble. I am a freelance writer and you can see my work at https://cscottbrown.net/

6 Comments

  1. Katherine September 14, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    My favourite songs on every Depeche Mode album include at least one sung by Martin Gore. His voice isn’t as technically strong as Dave’s, but man, is it ever gorgeous. I love what you said about Martin Gore being Depeche Mode. So true!

  2. Alex September 16, 2018 at 2:00 am - Reply

    I agree with this list, except I’d have A question of lust instead of Damaged People. Sweetest perfection is my fav Martin song, and Home and One Caress are Both amazing (it probably has to do with the strings). In terms of being played live though, I don’t think it could get any better than Home

  3. Tomas September 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    It´s really extremely hard to make just 7 tracks list, for example my absolute favourites are not included here – Jezebel, I Want You Now and Question Of Lust.
    And I can´t agree that PTA gets weaker in the second half (I love that album from first moment to the last one).

  4. An coates September 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    He sings lead vocal on shouldn’t have done that

  5. Miguel September 17, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Really curious.. whren I listened to Martin’s solo album.. songs were just fine. In the other hand, Dave’s solo album (Paper Monsters) liked very much. It is in the tandem DepecheMode were Martin becomes HUGE!! I think, the arrangements are more detailed.. refine.. after all Depeche Mode sounds always AWESOME!! I agree with most of the titles described above, Martin has been so important in DM as long as they have experimented with styles and new sounds and textures.

  6. Nico September 18, 2018 at 6:45 am - Reply

    a sweet storyteller in my life

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