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The 11 best Florence + The Machine songs

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are our favourite 11 Florence + The Machine songs, ranked

Florence Welch and company are not known for releasing bad songs. In fact, almost everything they have done since 2009 has made them critical darlings, each track showered with praise, every album loved and lauded. As a listener, it’s a gift; as a writer attempting to choose a mere 11 of their songs it’s a curse.

But after much deliberation, we’ve managed to whittle it down to what we believe are the band’s 11 best. Some will be obvious and some contentious, but just believe us when we say that if we could have chosen 30, we would have. Actually, we probably wouldn’t have stopped there…

11. You’ve Got The Love

(Lungs, 2009)

On her debut, Florence Welch took Candi Stanton and The Source’s gospel-tinged disco hit and turned it into indie-rock perfection. ‘You’ve Got The Love’ became one of those rare covers that feels as if it should have been written by its performer – Welch’s vocals are free-wheeling and euphoric and the song’s message of love and connection is perfectly in line with the rest of Lungs, as it is with the band’s discography at large. It’s no wonder the B-side to ‘Dog Days Are Over’ went on to become such a fan favourite.

10. Spectrum

(Ceremonials, 2011)

Whether you’re a ‘Spectrum’ purist or you prefer Calvin Harris’ EDM remix, this is a massive track. Impressively, it holds up just as well as a dance song as it does the triumphant orchestral pop composition that first appeared on 2011’s Ceremonials. It feels redundant to keep pointing out the incredible vocals on every song in a Florence + The Machine ranking, but I’ll state the obvious again: she sounds great.

9. Free

(Dance Fever, 2022)

Dance Fever saw folklore and nightlife united, and ‘Free’ encapsulates that beautifully. Welch speaks eloquently and poetically on mental health struggles and her fluctuating happiness over an urgent pop track that compels the listener to move. Written with Jack Antonoff, the track is an ode to losing yourself in the music that forces you to do exactly that – never clunkily, never directly, always leading by example.

8. Never Let Me Go

(Ceremonials, 2011)

This sparkling, dreamy offering from Ceremonials displays Florence + The Machine’s sheer force in baroque pop – even by their second album, they had conquered the genre. Welch’s ever-spiritual vocals soar over a choir of voices repeating the track’s refrain to create a stirring hymnal about falling intensely in love.

7. Only If For A Night

(Ceremonials, 2011)

The opening track from Ceremonials feels somehow more restrained than many of the band’s huge numbers, despite its dramatic strings and racing percussion. Pounding, alluring and emotive, this intensely personal song about Welch’s late grandmother may not have ever got the single treatment but it’s deserving of great praise nonetheless.

6. The End Of Love

(High As Hope, 2018)

Intensely vulnerable and wholly beautiful, ‘The End Of Love’ showcases the light and shade in Welch’s voice. She sings over a simple chord pattern, leading us into devastating choruses packed with vocal harmony. The beat kicks in the bridge, but a simple percussive clapping doesn’t inhibit the feeling that we are witnessing her alone at the piano, waking up from a strange dream. It’s staggering.

5. Girls Against God

(Dance Fever, 2022)

“We’ve all wanted to fight God at some point in our lives, haven’t we?” Welch asks (not literally) on ‘Girls Against God’. Honestly, it doesn’t get more perfect than Welch’s restrained, lyrical vocals over a guitar-led instrumental as she, along with a choir of equally aggrieved women, threatens a deity.

4. King

(Dance Fever, 2022)

With ‘King’, Welch gave us some of the best opening lines to any album ever recorded. “We argue in the kitchen about whether to have children, about the world ending and the scale of my ambition,” she sings. Over a marching beat, she explains how difficult she finds it to marry both the human and the artist within her and to successfully be both things. “I am no mother, I am no bride, I am king,” she maintains. Lyrically, it’s Welch at her best.

3. Dog Days Are Over

(Lungs, 2009)

We all know this one. But put aside its overexposure, disregard the many times you’ve heard it playing in the background of your day, and really listen. What Welch creates in ‘Dog Days Are Over’ isn’t just an earworm, but a tumultuous and ultimately euphoric story of accepting happiness. She runs from it, questions it, but can’t escape it entirely. The slightly messy, entirely infectious recording forgoes polish and lets us hear Welch gasping at the mic – a fantastic choice.

2. Ship To Wreck

(How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, 2015)

‘Ship To Wreck’ is some of Welch’s poppiest work and definitely her most infectious. Almost a precursor to Dance Fever in that it urges the listener to get up and move, this folk pop hit is a triumphant, almost joyful expression of Welch’s self-sabotage. Few songs offer a chance to confront your own destructive habits and force you to smile whilst doing so.

1. Shake It Out

(Ceremonials, 2011)

That gentle, melodic vocal over that droning organ… From the very first second, ‘Shake It Out’ is extraordinary. It only becomes more so. For a band characterised by huge baroque pop tracks sung by a huge voice, it’s hardly a surprise that Florence + The Machine’s most cathartic song is also their best. Welch is simultaneously vulnerable and restrained and, as the track continues, a force of nature. With lyrics that a Romantic poet would envy and a gospel influence that truly takes the listener to church, ‘Shake It Out’ has to be one of the best singles of the last twenty years.

Florence + The Machine begin their UK and Ireland tour on 28 January, with tickets available here.