Forty years? Come the 15th encore there have been Cure gigs that felt like they’d lasted that long, but it turns out that’s actually the span of their entire career. To mark the occasion, the Crawley noir rock legends and NME Godlike Geniuses are headlining Glastonbury 2019. And for our part we’re celebrating with a list of their 10 best songs, and making no excuses for the party slant to our picks. There is a time for ‘One Hundred Years’.
‘Close To Me’ (1985)
Made up of heavy breathing and hyperactive funk, ‘Close To Me’ is the epitome of asthmatic ADD disco, and thus in a league entirely of its own.
Smith said: “People who want to hear [the new material] will hear it and those that don’t, don’t. They’ll just keep dancing to ‘Close To Me’.”
‘In Between Days’ (1985)
The proto-’Friday’, the euphoric, freewheeling jangle of ‘In Between Days’ found The Cure out-C86ing C86 before C86 was even a thing.
Smith says: “The pop hits have allowed us to be successful. That was always our intention, I suppose, to draw people in and then smother them… I’ve always been aware enough to know you’ve got to sugar the pill a little bit, but not in a banal way.”
‘Boys Don’t Cry’ (1979)
Ah, those innocent days when The Cure were basically just The Undertones in lipstick. Back then this was merely another New Wave cracker, now we instinctively sense the darkness in its quivering pop lip.
Smith said: “When we did ‘Disintegration’ people said we were going back to our roots, whereas in fact our roots are ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and that sort of idiot pop.”
Essentially Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello’ for people prone to hugging themselves in corners while rocking back and forth battling long-standing self-image issues. Which includes us.
Smith said: “It’s an open show of emotion. It’s not trying to be clever. It’s taken me 10 years to reach the point where I feel comfortable singing a very straightforward love song.”
‘Pictures Of You’ (1989)
Has there ever been a more poignant, pristine and magical depiction of lingering heartbreak than ‘Pictures Of You’? Answers on a tear-stained chunk of earlobe to the usual address.
Smith said: ““With ‘Disintegration’, I wanted to see if The Cure was still able to make a record which had a real substance and if we were able to express and share such deep feelings. The kind of things you feel the first time somebody kisses you violently on the mouth. It’s this kind of intensity, when you’re young, that you must never forget with age. Never…”
‘Friday, I’m In Love’ (1992)
Robert Smith asked everyone he knew which band he’d subconsciously stolen ‘Friday I’m In Love’ from before he realised he’d written a bona fide indie pop masterpiece.
Smith said: “‘Friday, I’m In Love’ is not a work of genius, it was almost a calculated song. It’s a really good chord progression, I couldn’t believe no-one else had used it… I’d phone people up and sing it and go, ‘Have you heard this before? What’s it called?’ They’d go, ‘No, no, I’ve never heard it.'”
‘The Love Cats’ (1983)
Not that Smith was new to indie pop masterpieces. Exhibit One, ‘The Love Cats’, the sound of Mr Mistoffelees going post-punk.
Smith said: “‘Faith’ was the sound of extreme desolation because that’s how we felt at the time. But we didn’t continue doing that because that’s what we thought our fans wanted. Five years later we were on all sorts of stupid pop shows taking the piss out of ourselves.”
Not a real lullaby – if you actually sang this chilling, thinly veiled threat of death-by-massive-spider to your offspring it would be a matter for social services.
Smith said: “When I was really young I had a very strange uncle (also called Robert!) who delighted in finding as many ways to scare me witless as he could. One of his favorites was to whisper grim bedside stories into my ear, stories that often related the twisted deeds of a horrible boy-eating creature called simply ‘the spiderman’. One night he actually went so far as to climb in through my bedroom window after the lights had been put out… I screamed for what seemed like days.”
‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ (1987)
Because even the bleakest goth icon deserves the chance to dress up like a cuddly pink teddy bear and prance around pretending to be Huey Lewis every now and then.
Smith said: “I was in the middle of a tense discussion and these people around the table were looking at me as if I was going to make some ground breaking revelations, and I thought to myself ‘good God, why can’t I be elsewhere? Why isn’t someone else in my place?’ I would’ve traded with anyone; I would’ve preferred to be that guy leaning at the bar than myself.”
‘Just Like Heaven’ (1987)
It was a bit, wasn’t it? Inspired by finding pictures of his girlfriend (now wife) Mary in a wallet that had survived a fire at his home, apparently.