10 rough demos of huge indie anthems

Before they were famous...

Songs aren’t produced out of thin air – countless takes and fine-tuning processes go into crafting an indie anthem. Some artists release demos with their albums, some release them with the re-releases and some just end up on the internet unexplained: here are 10 of the best rough demos of massive indie songs that you’ll definitely have heard. Some of these demos may sound drastically different and change your perception of the song completely – you have been warned.

1. Arctic Monkeys – ‘I Bet You Look Good on The Dance Floor’

Arctic Monkeys have an extensive list of B-sides, rarities and demos available, but perhaps none are better than the demo of their Number One 2005 single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’. At one point Turner’s voice starts to wail off in a raw, authentic take.

2. Oasis – ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’


Thanks to the re-issues of their first three albums, Oasis fans have feasted on discs-worth of demos harking back to the brash and rowdy days of Liam’s early crooning. This demo from 1993 is highly similar in instrumentation to the original, but the vocal track is very distinct – Liam’s voice is a little more polished on the end-cut, so if you love the rough nature of early Oasis, you’ll love this.

3. Florence and the Machine – ‘Dog Days Are Over’

The early version of Florence’s breakthrough hit features lots of tambourine – an instrument that failed to make the final cut.

4. The Stone Roses – ‘Waterfall’

The Roses re-released their classic self-titled album in 2009, and with that came a full disc of previously unreleased demos. This doesn’t sound too dissimilar from the original, though – love it or hate it – the ending features some pounding kicks fired off like a mortar.

5. The Verve – ‘Bittersweet Symphony’


The classic song is stripped back with a very rough take of Richard Ashcroft’s vocals and a Beatles-esque break coming halfway through.

6. Lorde – ‘Sober’

This demo is hardly the song played in full – just cuts of rough vocals, different effects and instruments that would go on to form one of the cuts of her latest and greatest album ‘Melodrama’.

7. The Libertines – ‘Death on the Stairs’

As if ‘Up The Bracket’ didn’t already sound scruffy enough, the rawness of the Libertines is even further amped up on this demo. Pete’s vocals are passionate and unpolished – sure to please any Libertines fan.

8. The Killers – ‘Mr Brightside’

It’s rated the second greatest indie anthem of all time by NME readers, so there’s no surprise that even the demo version sounds great. This recording definitely needed mixing to achieve its mainstream appeal, but the warning signs of what was to come from the band are clear here.

9. Blur – ‘Boys and Girls’

A synth-infested version of the classic, this wouldn’t sound out of place a decade before it was released.

10. Tame Impala – ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’

Kevin Parker’s first solo take of the song – humming the melody along whilst pressing the keys. You can almost hear his thought-process taking shape as he figures out what he wants from the song.


Words: Theo Osborn