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Top 15 Songs by Vampire Weekend


Top 15 Songs by Vampire Weekend

(Vampire Weekend at Red Rocks)

Marrying rock music with worldbeat in a way that had not been seen since Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland, Vampire Weekend has established themselves as one of the most respected American indie rock bands since their self-titled 2008 debut album. With the release of four studio albums to critical praise, the band avoided the easy trap of oversaturating their discography following a great debut. Instead, they spaced out their releases, ensuring only the finest of their creations made it onto the records. Vampire Weekend has mixed an innately "preppy" New York sound with perfectionist musical instincts, setting themselves apart from much of the post-punk-revival brand of indie rock coming out of New York. Finding their niche at the crossroads of baroque pop and worldbeat, the band crafted a sound uniquely their own, adding to the color of the 21st-century music scene. With hardly any duds dropped by the band, selecting our picks for the band's top 15 tracks was no easy task but an incredibly enjoyable one.

15. Diane Young (Modern Vampires in the City)

Released from the band's third studio album Modern Vampires of the City, Diane Young takes its name from a play on words of "dying young." The track embraces noise rock sensibilities of the late '80s and '90s alongside momentous singing by frontman Ezra Koenig. Voice mixers and danceable guitar playing have turned this song into a fan favorite and a hypnotizing song to see performed live.


14. Campus (Vampire Weekend)

Finding its home on the band's explosive, self-titled debut album, Campus showcases jangle-pop guitar sensibilities alongside worldly instrumentation, beyond the scope of traditional, 00's indie rock. Vampire Weekend perfects dynamic contrast in this song, delivering loud and electric instrumental arrangements while also mixing in quieter periods too make the loud moments hit that much harder. Ezra Koenig's youthful lyrics continue to ignite nostalgia in listeners for simpler, college times.


13. Sunflower (Feat. Steve Lacy) (Father of the Bride)

Vampire Weekend's fourth studio album, Father of the Bride, marked a significant step in a new direction for the band, delving even deeper into unconventional instrumentation and songwriting. Sunflower is dotted with all sorts of advanced musical delivery, from changing tempos to unusual scatting paralleled with the guitar. This unique song may have never been all that fit for radio but has since found an interesting level of appreciation amongst fans and musicians—a noticeable step to the side of the preppy, indie pop tracks Vampire Weekend has become known for.


12. Walcott (Vampire Weekend)

This fast-paced, energetic track from the band's debut prepares the closing segments of the record before The Kids Don't Stand a Chance finishes the job. The story goes that Walcott is a character in a fictional movie Ezra Koenig made in college. Walcott must go and warn the mayor of Cape Cod that vampires are coming. Oddly enough, the movie was called Vampire Weekend. Aside from the lyrical meaning, the song is yet another bright track, featuring speedy guitar lines and the hum of cellos.

11. Bambina (Father of the Bride)

Perhaps the most surprising entry on the list, this minute and 43-second long track from Father of the Bride is perhaps Vampire Weekend's most danceable and catchy track they have ever released, although the momentous portions of the song are even briefer than the song itself. Regardless, Bambina is a true earworm, just short enough that the listener can play it a few times in a row without feeling that guilty. The almost surf-rock feel of the song pairs well with the more mellow interlude and outro of the song, making the brief track feel complete in its own unique way.


10. Hannah Hunt (Modern Vampires in the City)

Hannah Hunt has since become one of the most respected and celebrated songs in the Vampire Weekend discography, marking a new sound for the band, exposed on its third release, Modern Vampires of the City. Hannah Hunt is a delicate emotional ballad, something unusual for the bright, worldly indie rockers. Nevertheless, the song is beautiful in a way that most Vampire Weekend songs don't attempt to be, marking a sonic evolution of the band, delving into more somber avenues. This evolved sound came back to fruition on Father of the Bride, six years later with its ballad-like tracks, Unbearably White, Spring Snow, or Jerusalem, New York, Berlin.


9. Unbearably White (Father of the Bride)

Speaking of Unbearably White, following the perfection of mellower sounds exposed to listeners with Hannah Hunt, Vampire Weekend had proven they had a knack for emotive and somber songwriting, just as they had for jaunty, bright songwriting. Koenig's lyrics are beautiful on the track, matched by the instrumentation behind him. The use of strings, paired with post-production guitar and vocal effects, makes this song one of the most memorable from the praiseworthy record that was Father of the Bride. With just the right amount of space, instrumentation, and singing, once again, the band nailed it.


8. Step (Modern Vampires in the City)

The A-Side of Diane Young, Step was another emotive Vampire Weekend song, released during a period of sonic evolution for the band. Featuring Rostam Batmanglij on a plethora of instruments, including banjo and keyboards, which encompass the hypnotic musical aspects of the song, Step pointed Vampire Weekend in perhaps the most "Baroque Pop" direction on the album. Koenig's crisp vocals showcase his talent as a vocalist as well as his expertise as a lyricist. Aside from us here at Melophobe, Step is highly regarded amongst fans and publications alike, largely being considered one of their best songs.

7. Oxford Comma (Vampire Weekend)

Containing a bunch of unexpected references to Lil Jon, Oxford Comma is one of the more outlier tracks on the debut— incredibly catchy and all, but oddly profane and surprisingly aggressive. Repeat listens will expose the deeper meanings behind the lyrics, to which Koenig has expressed, "[The Song] is more about not giving a fuck than about Oxford commas." Aside from being deeply catchy, the song indeed harbors a deeper, relatable message than one might assume from an initial listen. Hidden behind what could be misconstrued as shallow lyrics, the song's deeper meaning really did connect with the '00s era New York music scene, a city of outcasts creating music they thought no one would like, just because they liked it, and it felt right, nodding back to the Velvet Underground days.


6. Diplomat's Son (Contra)

The one and only entry from the band's second release Contra, Diplomat's Son is indeed one of Vampire Weekend's best songs, although much of the rest of the record can't quite go toe-to-toe with the rest of the songs in the band's top 15. With a danceable, Afrobeat backbeat, the track begs to be played on a beach somewhere, underneath the sun, at least in the first half. The second half of the track delves more towards that Baroque-ey, progressive sound, connected with experimentation and new, cool sounds, more so than mainstream appeal, and props to the band for that.


5. This Life (Father of the Bride)

Kicking off with a bright guitar riff, a staple of Vampire Weekend, this upbeat track from Father of the Bride has since become one of the band's most well-known songs, achieving appreciation from indie lovers and equally mainstream pop lovers, once the song is uncovered. Garnering comparisons to Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl, the song has a unique blue-eyed soul aspect to it, nostalgic of late '60s pop music. Lyrics speaking of suffering and uncertainty contrast perfectly with the bright indie pop nature of the song.


4. The Kids Don't Stand a Chance (Vampire Weekend)

Perhaps the most surprising, towards-the-top entry on our list comes from the closing track of the band's debut album. The Kids Don't Stand a Chance was the perfect track to close out the expertly crafted debut album, acting as some sort of epic, farewell fanfare. Batmanglij's keyboard playing touches on old-school English influences, whereas the instrumentation behind the lyrical phrases is more akin to Afrobeat. The song is a deeply beautiful one, shockingly touching and memorable, one the band could have played out even a tad longer.

3. Harmony Hall (Father of the Bride)

Being compared to an almost post-'70s Grateful Dead sound, Harmony Hall and its uniquely country(ish) sound step aside from the exact sound most listeners may expect from the band, although, to be fair, much of Father of the Bride does that. Aside from the song's Dead comparisons, influence from late '80s Madchester sounds cut through underneath Koenig's sonic humming through a monstrous wall of sound. Becoming some sort of tropical, soul-laced, country-folk hybrid of indie pop, the track is a deeply complex one, deserving of an even deeper level of respect than the catchy nature of the track might initially suggest.


2. Unbelievers (Modern Vampires in the City)

Starting with a simple organ chord back and forth, Unbelievers is an earworm from the start. Vampire Weekend's unorthodox approach to indie-pop songwriting cuts through on this song just as well as any of the band's most esteemed tracks. Including expressionist lyrics about uncertainty and facing the world as an outsider, this track features some of the band's best lyrics while also showcasing impressive instrumentation through tuba, trombone, trumpet, accordion, synths, alongside the standard guitar and bass combo of indie rock.

1. A-Punk (Vampire Weekend)

The top spot for our list should be no surprise to anyone. Not only is A-Punk Vampire Weekend's best-known song, and by a long shot, it's also one of the best indie rock songs of the 21st century, the fifth best by our metrics. A-Punk introduced the world to Vampire Weekend and their uniquely preppy, New York sound, perfectly contrasting with the prevalent post-punk sound heard throughout the era, and equally rebellious, just in a different way. Whether it's the instantly recognizable guitar riff or Koenig's distinct vocal style, the song was, and still is, a perfectly crafted indie pop song, reintroducing Afrobeat and worldly musical influences into indie rock. What a treat A-Punk still is after all these years; overplayed? Not possible with this song.




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