Talking Heads Songs Ranked

Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass), and Jerry Harrison (keyboards, guitar). Described by the critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine as “one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the ’80s,” the group helped to pioneer new wave music by integrating elements of punk, art rock, funk, and world music with avant-garde sensibilities and an anxious, clean-cut image. Here are all of the Talking Head’s songs ranked.

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20. Slippery People (Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

“Though the studio version may not be outstanding, the live version in ‘Stop Making Sense’ is just irresistible from the bottom to the top!”

19. Artists Only (More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978)

“From humble and mad beginnings, the sing branches out into a superb guitar fade out. I love how David Byrne sings like a retard throughout this song. I wish I had been around when the Talking Heads were just putting out their albums, just so I could see how people reacted to their unconventionality.”

18. Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)

“Terrific. The message is clear reading the lyrics but Dave’s neurotic delivery makes you think that he doesn’t like that lack of control and craziness too much… (“Stock broker made a bad investment when love has come to town” or the “Uh-Oh” on the title). A killer song… isn’t it a bit different from the rest of the album?”

17. No Compassion (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)

“I think this one’s the best on the album, even better than “Psycho killer”. The transition through different sounds makes it just like a mini progressive rock song though. I love the transitioning in this song, it almost makes it feel like he’s arguing with himself about whether he should be more caring or no”

See more: Talking Heads Albums Ranked

16. Cities (Fear Of Music, 1979)

“You get the feeling this guy will never ever find a home. He sounds so anxious and paranoid about it. To me, it’s like discussing the meaninglessness of the whole world, like it makes no difference if you live in Memphis, in London, or somewhere else. At least, that’s the way I think things go for the narrator.”

15. Stay Up Late (Little Creatures, 1985)

“This song starts out sounding really happy and cheerful, with a couple just adoring their new baby and thinking how cute he is and how you just want to wake him up and play with him but then, in the middle of all this cheeriness, comes this incredibly anguished “i know you wanna leave me” which changes the whole meaning for me. so i think its really about two people whose relationship is on the rocks and so they just desperately focus on the baby, which may even be the thing that has come between them. the lyrics even say “why don’t we pretend”, so they’re just pretending everything is hunky dory. the reference to money could be ironic, and a clue to some of their misery”

14. Houses in Motion (Remain in Light, 1980)

“I heard the song Houses in Motion on the radio and it reminded me of how much I loved David Byrne’s quirky style and the kickass playing of the Talking Heads. There weren’t all that many great bands to come out of the 80s but the ‘Heads are one of the best! I even love the “spin off” band The Tom Tom Club and it’s a real shame that terrestrial radio insults it’s listeners by playing Pop Diva Drivel instead of real music like the Talking Heads.”

13. Crosseyed and Painless (Remain in Light, 1980)

“Crosseyed and Painless rides a great dance groove that doesn’t veer from its direction the whole way. Funky slap bass lines, guitars, keyboards, lots of percussive sounds and special effects scattered about. David Byrne goes on about facts, especially during the final part: facts are this and facts are that. Take it easy, dude!”

12. Road to Nowhere (Little Creatures, 1985)

“I like the singing near the end. “There’s a city in my mind.. ” that was my favourite part of any talking heads songs. This is their best song! Should at least be in the Top 3! This is crazy good!”

11. Take Me to the River (More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978)

“The song remained a great recasting of the Al Green tune, but the context changed. I felt the DJs (or station as a whole) were using it to suggest they were indeed very well-cultured and well-versed in musical history, and that they had stacks of records from the Velvet Underground and Neu! and many other bands that you surely have never heard of, but they were playing this one because, hey, commercial radio.”

10. Thank You for Sending Me An Angel (More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978)

“The best opening track from their best album- sheer nonsensical beats and riffs coming together to form something amazing, all exemplified in this song.”

9. Born Under Punches (Remain in Light, 1980)

“What I love about “Born Under Punches” is the fact that, upon hearing the first three drum beats and a loud “HA!” from Byrne himself, you are then introduced to a composition of layered loops which somehow work to produce one of the most complex, funkiest songs ever produced. With each listen, you keep on discovering new sounds in the song that could easily be missed as they’re hidden through the layered sounds of this song. Just like the repetitive lyrics, this song flows like water, as it goes on, and goes on, and goes on, and goes on, and goes on, and goes on, and goes… well, you get the idea. It doesn’t even stop so that’s why it fades out towards the last few seconds.”

8. The Great Curve (Remain in Light, 1980)

“The world has a way of looking at people, sometimes it feels like the world is wrong.” Some of the lyrics in this are just so powerful, and with those instrumentals this makes one crazy good song. Sounds like a whole orchestra. Everything fits together so well. You always hear something for the first time when you listen to it again.”

7. And She Was (Little Creatures, 1985)

“Easily the best song ever about dropping acid outside of Yoohoo factories. Always liked this one, but it appears to have become the go-to Talking Heads song. I hear this one now far more than any other (except perhaps “Take Me to the River”), despite not being much of a hit AND having better hits in their repertoire.”

See more: David Byrne Albums Ranked

6. Life During Wartime (Fear of Music, 1979)

“Just the best song, builds and builds, then finishes in a great crescendo, can’t get sick of listening to it. David Byrnes voice, Jerry Harrison on percussion, Steve Scales and all the backup, Stop Making Sense… Just the best of Talking Heads!”

5. Wild Wild Life (True Stories, 1986)

“Wild Wild Life” was fun when you first heard it, but is in all respects, a novelty song that wears off. “Wild Wild Life” was enormous fun and it’s a measure of Talking Head’s adaptability that they could sound so convincing in both stripped down and crisp pop/rock modes.”

4. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

“This is my favorite song of all time. It’s rare to see David Byrne put so much emotion into this song and here it creates something beautiful. It’s simple and sweet and makes me happy. Isn’t as groovy as some of the others, but has a genuine heartfelt quality that they’d never achieved up till this point.

3. Burning Down the House (Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

“Best song to scream out loud too! Both the recorded version and stop making sense live version are amazing in their own way. Probably the best of their songs to listen to with a group.”

2. Psycho Killer (Talking Heads: 77, 1977)

“Carried by Tina Weymouth’s instantly iconic bass line, “Psycho Killer” hints at the rhythmic gifts that would eventually become Talking Heads’ trademark. While there is an undoubtedly sinister character to the music, it is delivered with a winking playfulness that would also remain one of the group’s enduring strengths.”

1. Once in a Lifetime (Remain in Light, 1981)

“My absolute favorite kind of silly-but-serious. Considering how left-field it is by commercial standards, it’s also remarkably catchy. Even the spoken word verses get weirdly stuck in your head. Maybe it’s the disco riffs playing behind them, or maybe it’s just how weirdly relatable the lyrics are. David Byrne is a strange dude, but there’s a reason everyone loves him. Only he could write a song like this and somehow make it a hit.”