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The Cure’s ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ Turns 30: Ranking The Songs


 The Cure’s ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ Turns 30: ranking their sprawling, ambitious 1987 double album from worst to best.

May 25th marks the 30th anniversary (30!!) of The Cure’s double album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (this is a big month for Cure milestones: Wish and Pornography turned 25 and 35 respectively).

Click here for The Cure’s Wish Turns 25

Kiss Me helped cement the group as one of the most iconic and important band’s of their era, propelled by the hit singles Just Like Heaven, Why Can’t I Be You? and Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

The album wasn’t confined to pop music however, with the group indulging in the goth grandeur that built them a cultivated fanbase of melodramatic romantics the world over, along with other compositional experimentations. This resulted in the most wide-ranging and diverse album of their career.

That being said, double albums as a general rule are tricky–often falling prey to filler and unevenness than more concise efforts.

In honor of the album’s 30th anniversary, I’ve ranked the album’s 18 tracks from worst to best, which turned into a modest nightmare: even the weakest Cure song is better than many band’s best material. Robert Smith is a tunesmith of the finest order, and he and his band mates played their asses off on this album.

Click here to see where Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me ranks on my list of the best albums from 1987

In other words, this was harder than I thought it was going to be! I’ve tried to measure my own tastes with the predilections of other Cure fans, and have come out somewhere in the middle (although according to a recent Slicing Up Eyeballs poll, for the band’s best songs, results may vary).

Without further ado, let’s take a trip back in time shall we?

18. Hey You!!!

Hey You!!! was only included on cassette and vinyl due to the limited space compact discs could hold at the time. Nevertheless CD owners weren’t missing much. Hey You has its moments but feels somewhat disposable in light of the album’s stronger material.

 

17. Icing Sugar

A sultry jazz-infused number, Icing Sugar comes across like a more menacing version of The English Beat, laced with soaring sax and a stomping bassline.

 

16. How Beautiful You Are

This Doorsy number feels somewhat listless compared to the rest of the album. The best aspect is Smith’s lyrics which recounts a bleak travelogue of a romance doomed by superficiality and lack of social graces.

 

15. Hot Hot Hot!!!

I realize putting one of the band’s most popular singles so low in the list may cause some controversy, but Hot Hot Hot is a polarizing track for Cure fans. It’s quirky, funky stylings feel a bit trite and methinks it might not have made the cut on a shorter album. Why this wasn’t nixed for To The Sky (recorded around the same time) remains a mystery, but it did well for them commercially.

 

14. The Snakepit

A song relying on atmosphere over composition, The Snakepit is pure narcotic bliss for fans of the group’s somnambulist trappings, using their patented lengthy instrumental intro before Smith’s vocals creep into the mix (this goes for just about every song on the album, save the singles).

 

13. A Thousand Hours

A buoyant baseline collides with monolithic synth textures and Smith’s pained wail. A Thousand Hours has that mixture of pop smarts and gloomy sonics reminiscent of their 1985 predecessor The Head on the Door.

 

12. The Perfect Girl

Sublime romantic pop euphoria as only The Cure can deliver.

 

11. One More Time

Oceanic guitars, ethereal flute and twinkling synths, One More Time is classic Cure heartbreak with a side of childlike whimsy.

 

 

10. Torture

A dark anthem tailor-made for a late night drive, Torture mines the “classic” Cure sound: churning bass, chiming guitars and synths that cut like a butcher knife.

 

9. All I Want

Smith’s vocals are at their most guttural and primal, soaring across a spidery guitar riff and widescreen synths.

 

8. Shiver and Shake

A song as jittery and combustible as its title, with a dash of punk energy and some of Smith’s most acidic lyrics: When I think of how you make me hate/I want to smash you to pieces/I want to smash you up and screaming…smash you until you’re not here anymore.

 

7. Fight

A song that feels like a rebuttal to critics who deemed bands like The Cure wallow in their own misery, Fight sees the group at their most defiant, offering a battle cry to disaffected youth the world over: So when the hurting starts/And when the nightmares begin/Remember you can fill up the sky/You don’t have to give in.

 

6. Catch

Only The Cure could come up with an oddball love song inspired by a scene from Rocky 2 involving the title character’s wife after she lapsed into a coma  (seriously, it was). It’s sweet without being syrupy, with a slightly warped production that gives it a quirky, nursery rhyme quality.

 

5. Why Can’t I Be You?

The first hit single off the album, Why Can’t I Be You is a delirious carnival ride of a tune with Smith indulging in envy and infatuation all at once.

 

4. Like Cockatoos

Inspired by the novella The Cockatoos by writer Patrick White, this is one of the Cure’s most evocative and cinematic tracks (no small feat). Enhanced by eerie flute, ornithic sound effects and a magnetic bassline, its one of their all-time best deep cuts.

 

3. The Kiss

The Kiss has all the melodrama of a horror film, with wah-wah guitar histrionics that stoke the ashes of Jimi Hendrix. Smith is at his nihilistic finest here, culminating in his epic wail on lines like: Get it out get it out get it out/Get your fucking voice/Out of my head/I never wanted this…I wish you were dead!

 

2. If Only Tonight We Could Sleep

If you ever battle insomnia, this should be your theme song. Tranquil droning bliss augmented by coral sitar, Smith and co. offer hallucinatory mediation, with the vocalist intoning Then an angel would come/With burning eyes like stars/And bury us deep/In his velvet arms. Moody make out music for the John Hughes set.

 

1. Just Like Heaven

 

Confession: I was not a fan of Just Like Heaven upon its release. Happy Cure wasn’t my thing at the time–it was their gloomy sound that I craved. But who can deny the pop confection Smith conjured here? Only the most insufferable music snobs (of which I’m a recovering addict) can dismiss its charms.  It proves irresistible.  It’s just like a dream indeed.

That concludes my Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me ranking! How would you rank them? Be sure and tell me in the comments.

Own The Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me on Amazon:

 

About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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8 Responses to The Cure’s ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ Turns 30: Ranking The Songs

  1. Danie G. May 26, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    How Beautiful You Are is undeniably Top 5, sorry.

  2. SLIS May 27, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi Danie: it’s been very interesting. The biggest pushback I’ve had on this list is that song and All I Want are too low and that Fight is too high.

    Very interesting because I never knew anyone who was that into How Beautiful You Are! I never disliked it but it never grabbed me. Amazing how songs mean so much to some but not to others–one of the many things that makes music such a fascinating part of our lives.

  3. Peter May 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    “Why this wasn’t nixed for To The Sky (recorded around the same time) remains a mystery.”

    One of the more enduring ones too, I might add. My guess? Contractual nitpicking. Some great tunes are on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me but there’s way too much filler for me to play it with any regularity. Then again, my favorite Cure album is The Top so what do I know?

  4. SLIS May 30, 2017 at 1:08 am #

    It’s definitely scattershot compared to some others: I tend to gravitate to Disintegration (I know, somewhat predictable) and Pornography the most. The Top is one of the most amazingly weird albums ever. I appreciate it but have to be in the mood!

  5. Chris July 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    I’ve been on a huge Cure binge the past few weeks– I was very into them in high school (about ten years ago) and its crazy to see how my opinions have changed. Of all the albums, I think Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me has aged the best in my eyes. Songs that I’d overlooked in the past seem wonderful to me now, while the ones I’ve always adored have aged splendidly. These days, the more atmospheric tracks resonate quite strongly. I’m vibing with “The Snakepit” and “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” especially well. I agree that “Fight” is a bit high — I might switch it with “How Beautiful You Are” — but on the whole, I really liked this list. Kiss Me is my second favorite Cure album I think– Disintegration just can’t be topped, but this comes dangerously close.

    • SLIS July 5, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      Chris,

      Thanks for the comment! Glad you liked the list–I’m still learning how in the minority I am on both my love of ‘Fight’ and being somewhat indifferent to ‘How Beautiful You Are’ :-).

      ‘If Only Tonight’ is probably in my top 5 Cure songs–it just has that classic atmosphere that you mentioned. I think Disintegration and Pornography will always be my top 2, but Kiss Me is close behind!

  6. J. August 31, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    There’s a nice irony in saying that Smith’s lyrics are the best thing about “How beautiful you are”, because they are not Smith’s at all. They are a straight, nearly word-by-word rip-off of Baudelaire’s “Les yeux des pauvres”, although Smith leaves the conclusion out (which is, however, the most important part of Baudelaire’s text).

    • SLIS September 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

      Interesting. Smith is definitely one of the most well-read singers in rock.

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