MusicOpinion

The Ultimate Florence + The Machine Starter Playlist

Tessa Roy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Editor

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Run fast for your mother and fast for your father… because Florence + The Machine has new music!

Last week, frontwoman Florence Welch announced a June 1st release date for the band’s third album, How Big How Blue How Beautiful. And with it, she dropped the single “What Kind of Man” and an accompanying music video:

Considering 2011 was the last time Flo and her fabulous machine had any new material, fans across the internet collectively freaked out. It’s just one of the many ways the British pop group is poised to take over 2015. They’re playing a slew of festivals across the U.S., plus a handful in Europe.

If you’re not already listening to this flame-haired, operatic woman and her equally talented band, it seems now would be as good a time as any to start. Plus, while Florence + The Machine’s first two albums did well in the U.S., much of the public seems blind to the fact this band has more music beyond their two popular singles.

“But Tessa,” you protest. “I know ‘Dog Days are Over’ and ‘Shake it Out’ were the only ones on the radio. But I heard Flo on the Snow White and the Huntsman and The Great Gatsby soundtracks too!”

And to that I say yes! Yes you did! But I’m not here to make you listen to songs you already know, regardless of how great they might be. I’m here to expose you to the ones you’ve probably never heard before.

So here it is: a playlist of 27 songs including b-sides, acoustic remakes from their MTV Unplugged set, and some bonus covers to get your Flo on. And for old fans, sit back, enjoy, and let this hold you over until June 1st.

1. “Spectrum” – Ceremonials, 2011

Let’s start with something upbeat. “Spectrum” is a great proclamation of strength – so much so that it’s almost a battle song. It’s unceasingly bright and empowering. Also, did I mention this band has a harpist? Listen for the great Mr. Tom Monger and his strings towards the end.

2. “Howl” – Lungs, 2009

Have you ever loved someone so much that you’ve wanted to hunt them down, climb inside their body, and tear their flesh apart? Flo feels you.

3. “Bird Song” – Lungs: The B-Sides, 2011

Probably one of the creepiest songs involving a bird ever written. But that’s what makes it great.

4. “Heartlines” (acoustic) – MTV Unplugged, 2012

The studio version of “Heartlines” is much bolder, but the song’s encouraging message isn’t lost in this pretty acoustic version. Flo believes in you, people!

5. “Seven Devils” – Ceremonials, 2011

While this song was actually inspired by a book title, “Seven Devils” is a good introduction to the religious imagery that pervades many of the band’s songs. Just don’t reach for the holy water while listening – “it can’t help you now.”

6. “Kiss With a Fist” – Lungs, 2009

In all fairness, this one was the band’s kickoff point and thus did get a bit of mainstream attention. But it makes the list because it doesn’t sound like any of the band’s other tracks. It’s guitar heavy with more of a rock vibe, deviating from their usual big-sound, choir-like pop.

7. “Never Let Me Go” (acoustic) – MTV Unplugged, 2012

The decision to put the acoustic over the studio version on this list was tough. But acoustic wins; Flo’s vocals here are highlighted even more beautifully than on the original track. Her riffs are stunning and gentle, mirroring the “arms of the ocean” she’s allowing to envelope her.

8. “Bedroom Hymns” – Ceremonials, 2011

Never has a song been so holy yet so completely dirty at the same time. *Blushes*
Additional note: “Bedroom Hymns” appeared in The Great Gatsby Trailer, but not on the soundtrack.

9. “Falling” – Lungs: The B-Sides, 2011

Flo ditches the belting for some softer notes here, letting the strums of the harp lull her listeners into bliss.

10. “Cosmic Love” – Lungs, 2009

Back to the big stuff. “Cosmic Love” is nothing short of explosive. The band is ready to blow out the stars and the moon with heavy percussion and even more of that lovely harp.

11. “Leave My Body” – Ceremonials, 2011

Need an out of body experience? This will do it.

12. “Hurricane Drunk” – Lungs, 2009

Here’s one to keep in the arsenal on a really, really horrible day. “Hurricane Drunk’s” overflowing of emotions is an intensely therapeutic catharsis.

13. “Only if For a Night” – Ceremonials, 2011

What do you do when you have a dream about your deceased grandmother? Write a song about it, of course.

14. “Heavy in Your Arms” – Lungs: The B-Sides, 2011

True to it’s name, everything about this track is heavy. Especially Flo’s voice – “Heavy in Your Arms” gives us a really good dose of her lower register.

15. “Lover to Lover” – Ceremonials, 2011

This is arguably Flo’s best vocal performance. She belts, exhibits much of her range, and shows off her phenomenal lung capacity. “Lover to Lover” is a surefire jaw-dropper.

16. “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)” – Lungs, 2009

Become that “lion-hearted girl” you’ve always wanted to be.

17. “Landscape” – MTV Unplugged, 2012

It might not be one of the band’s most exciting songs, but “Landscape” lands on this list for its creative lyrics.

18. “My Boy Builds Coffins” – Lungs, 2009

The contrast between the easygoing-guitar-track sound and morbid lyrics on “My Boy Builds Coffins” is brilliant, quintessential Florence.

19. “No Light No Light” – MTV Unplugged, 2012

Like “Hurricane Drunk,” “No Light No Light” is an outpouring of feelings. It captures all the sadness and frustration of trying, and failing, to communicate.

20. “Blinding” – Lungs, 2009

Another instance of creative, haunting lyrics. Beware Snow White and her circuit boards.

21. “What the Water Gave Me” – Ceremonials, 2011

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Flo has a water theme going through much of her music. “What the Water Gave Me” is a stunning addition to the aquatic catalogue. Don’t be fooled by the graceful hair flips and adorable dancing shown off in the video – this track is just as morbid as many of her others.

*BONUS*

Did I mention Flo is a master of covers? Here’s just a few of them.

22. “Try a Little Tenderness” – MTV Unplugged, 2012

No one sings this like Otis Redding, but Flo will make lovers melt just as quickly.

23. “Oh Darling” – (Not on an album)

Flo takes a soulful turn on this Beatles tribute. Believe me; she does it no harm.

24. “Hospital Beds” – Lungs: The B-Sides, 2011

It sounds like Flo and her machine sat on some overturned buckets with a couple of guitars to record their rendition of this Cold War Kids hit. And it’s perfect.

25. “Not Fade Away” – Rave on Buddy Holly, 2011

Flo busts out her jazzy side in a toe-tapping bow to Buddy Holly.

26. “Addicted to Love” – Lungs: The B-Sides, 2011

The Robert Palmer classic gets a dreamy, sensual makeover from Flo. Of course, lots of harp included.

27. “Girl With One Eye” – Lungs, 2009

Flo conquers the rock vibe covering Ludes. It’s creepy and almost difficult to listen to, but “Girl With One Eye” is one of her most powerful covers.

28. “Stay With Me” – (Not on an album)

Considering Sam Smith just nabbed four Grammys, it’s completely appropriate to include Flo’s homage to him here. She’s not Sam, but she sure does him justice.

Believe it or not, I could add more. But since this is a starter playlist, I can’t include everything. So do yourself a favor and listen to the rest of Lungs, Ceremonials, MTV Unplugged, and search for more covers. You’ll be obsessed (Flobsessed? No, I’m not sorry) before you know it, and you’ll begin to find June 1st can never come soon enough.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

Follow this playlist (with the exception some of the covers) on Spotify.

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