Plus One

The 11 best songs by Crowded House

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are the 11 best Crowded House songs ahead of their 2024 UK dates

Here’s a bold statement to start us off: no band in history has written bigger or better choruses than Crowded House. Beatles schmeatles – Neil Finn can make a chord change feel like something spiritual, especially when it sits alongside that voice, which is manuka honey in human form.

Casual listeners will have minimum three Crowded House songs that they can sing on demand. What was immediately evident to me as a teenager buying their 1996 compilation album, Recurring Dream, was the amount of songs that I didn’t realise I already knew. It’s a quick progression from subconsciously knowing that ‘Fall At Your Feet’ is the best love song of all time to discovering the bountiful delights of Woodface and Temple Of Low Men.

The band have somehow managed to return from hiatus twice now and remain as invigoratingly wonderful as ever. This latest iteration includes Neil’s sons Elroy and Liam in the line-up, making it even more of a family affair. Ahead of a string of UK dates, we look back at Crowded House’s most essential songs.

11. ‘Playing With Fire’

(Dreamers Are Waiting, 2021)
Not many bands go away for a decade and come back as strongly as Crowded House did. Even fewer can do that twice. Each of their four post-reunion records has standouts that rival the band’s 80s and 90s output, subtly updating their sound while retaining the idiosyncratic pop sensibilities that made them wonderful in the first place. The jerky rhythms of ‘Playing With Fire’ sound like a band falling down the stairs, landing on their feet for horn-fuelled choruses.

10. ‘Nails In My Feet’

(Together Alone, 1993)
Killing Joke’s Martin Glover pushed Crowded House into more experimental realms on Together Alone. The results aren’t glaringly obvious on ‘Nails On My Feet’, but the brief flourishes do their fair share of the heavy lifting. It starts simply with Neil Finn’s vocals over muted guitar and percussion but strings, keys and distant harmonies swim in and out, culminating in a trademark swelling chorus.

9. ‘Better Be Home Soon’

(Temple Of Low Men, 1988)
Few songs seem better positioned for end-of-set, lighters-in-the-air singalongs than the finale from Temple Of Low Men. It’s taken on a whole new meaning since Finn’s acoustic rendition at the ARIA Awards in tribute to the late Paul Hester.

Neil Finn: Better Be Home Soon | 2005 ARIA Awards

8. ‘Don’t Stop Now’

(Time On Earth, 2007)
Time On Earth was supposed to be the third instalment in Finn’s post-Crowded House career, but the death of drummer Paul Hester drew the remaining members back into each other’s orbit. An immediate highlight from the band’s comeback album, ‘Don’t Stop’ opens on a tasteful, gliding guitar line from none other than Johnny Marr, who’d joined forces with Finn during the latter’s solo stint.

7. ‘It’s Only Natural’

(Woodface, 1991)
Neil and his brother Tim had played together in Split Enz so it wasn’t a tremendous surprise when the latter entered the Crowded House fold. The brothers had been writing a record together, much of which became part of Crowded House’s third album, along with Tim. Like all of Woodface’s greatest moments, it’s impossible to imagine the pure pop magnificence of ‘It’s Only Natural’ without Tim’s harmonies.

6. ‘Four Seasons In One Day’

(Woodface, 1991)
Spend a day in Melbourne and ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ makes a lot of sense. It also serves as an excellent shorthand for any kind of unpredictable relationship, Finn noting how “even when you’re feeling warm, the temperature could drop away”. The brothers wrote the song when they were sharing a flat in St Kilda, which offers a little insight into the difficulties of living and working with a sibling.

Crowded House - Four Seasons In One Day (Live At Sydney Opera House)

5. ‘Private Universe’

(Together Alone, 1993)
So many intense emotions bounce around within ‘Private Universe’: overwhelming happiness and liberation, anxious yearning and impermanence – all reverberating at a subtle frequency that demands close attention. Atop it all sits Neil Finn in the “highest branch of the apple tree”, watching hidden worlds unfold beneath him.

4. ‘Weather With You’

(Woodface, 1991)
The top four could genuinely be interchangeable. All are pop perfection, stunningly crafted songs that embed themselves in your brain like a strangely aggressive yet agreeable tapeworm. Nothing else out there sounds like ‘Weather With You’ with its sitar interludes and note-perfect harmonies. Even if you don’t know Crowded House, you know that unmistakeable chorus.

Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over (Official Music Video)

3. ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’

(Crowded House, 1986)
In any other list, putting ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ third would be sacrilege. Some will surely say that putting it third here amounts to the same. Just as the chorus of ‘Weather With You’ is one of the musical wonders of the world, so too is the intro to ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’: those chorus-drenched barre chords meeting Nick Seymour’s fluttering bassline. Almost 40 years later, the song maintains its impact.

2. ‘Fall At Your Feet’

(Woodface, 1991)
Seeing as we’re dealing in bold pronouncements: there isn’t a better love song in existence than ‘Fall At Your Feet’. It’s such a sincere declaration of not just loyalty or devotion but total self-sacrifice. Finn sings “Do you want my presence or need my help? Who knows where that might lead” like he knows he’s doomed and still can’t hold back. That soaring chorus makes it sound like nobody’s ever played a I-IV-VI-V chord progression before.

1. ‘Distant Sun’

(Together Alone, 1993)
In the liner notes to Recurring Dream, Peter Paphides references a story of Spike Milligan, deep in the grip of a nervous breakdown. Crying alone in his room, Milligan turned to find his baby daughter standing there with a glass of water. “She wanted to give something,” Paphides writes, “Something to make it alright. This was all she could find.” It’s the physical embodiment of Finn’s line: “I don’t pretend to know what you want, but I offer love.” Is there anything purer than that? Humanity’s every good impulse is summed up in those words, much like nothing describes love’s shattering impact better than: “Seven worlds will collide whenever I am by your side.” Giant, complicated feelings, rendered poetically simple and set to a gigantic hook.

Crowded House tour the UK this summer, including dates at On The Mount At Wassing and the Isle Of Wight festival. Get tickets here