Characterized by lead singer Annie Lennox's striking androgynous image as well as her passionately soulful vocals, British group Eurythmics enjoyed major success throughout Europe but also in the U.S. In terms of consistency, the duo exceeded nearly all competitors, registering several worldwide hit singles and releasing five platinum albums in the U.K. Stylistically, Lennox and artistic partner Dave Stewart were able to transcend their early new wave/synth pop niche to become one of the classic artists of the '80s. Here's a chronological look at the decade's top Eurythmics songs.
Sporting an impossibly catchy synthesizer riff, this lead-off single from 1981's In the Garden maintains a dark mood throughout, mainly due to its highly mechanized arrangement. Even so, the warmth of Lennox's vocals manages to shine through, even through a lengthy, repetitive strain of the title-phrase chorus to close the track. And although the LP on which it appears failed to chart entirely, this tune strongly represents the evolving punk rock-inspired Eurythmics sound, which would later move squarely into commercially viable pop territory.
In addition to featuring the densest guitar base of the duo's long career, this tune registers as a bona fide melodic post-punk classic that should have been a hit. At this point Lennox had already mastered the frontwoman role - even if her soul and R&B influences remained totally muted - but it's the songwriting quality that steals the show here. Relatively few '80s music fans know the significant charms of the group's initial release, and that's a real shame. The lack of mid-'80s polish actually makes this one sound even fresher today.
The maturation of the duo's sound occurred almost instantly, it seemed, with the early 1983 release of the LP Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). The record's title track thrust Eurythmics into full-tilt stardom, but this track - initially presented as the album's third single - languished upon initial release in late 1982. Hearing the tasty synth and, especially, the mesmerizing vocals of Lennox on this tune, such failure is almost impossible to imagine. The falsetto chorus is nothing short of stunning.
This song deservedly made the Top 10 in almost every major market of the Western world, and several aspects of the composition and performance remain thoroughly unforgettable. The signature synthesizer serves ably as the tune's foundation, but Lennox emerges fully as the forceful lead singer she was always meant to be. Still, an analyst would be remiss in failing to point out the tremendous impact of this song's iconic music video. The close-cropped orange hair and men's suit aside, Lennox's charisma clearly matched the sparkling intensity of a classic '80s melody.
Stewart's mastery of synth songwriting and arrangements continues here on this lead-off single from 1983's Touch, but undoubtedly Lennox commands all attention with her powerful vocal delivery. And although the atmospheric textures of Eurythmics songs sometimes display a tendency to obscure the duo's striking, well-crafted melodies, the memorable nature of its compositions cannot be denied. Madonna would have a hit a couple of years later with the same title, but this version holds up so much better.
The genius of Dave Stewart's production abilities in the recording studio has been no secret to scores of musicians over the past three decades, but this song demonstrates that the combination of top-notch songwriting with a steady vision can create tremendous, lasting results. Layered with stunning synthesizer effects and emotionally compelling percussive touches, the track made the U.S. Top 5 in early 1984 and further cemented Lennox as one of the premier female pop singers of her generation.
The eclecticism of the Eurythmics sound expanded more than ever for 1985's Be Yourself Tonight, as rock guitars and horns far overshadow the group's typical synth arrangements on this smash. At this point, observers began to point out that the duo had left behind its mechanized synth pop sound for a far more commercial mainstream rock approach. However, a shift in Stewart's reliance on keyboards was probably inevitable as the '80s music landscape changed. It was also a smart move to focus more heavily on Lennox's R&B swagger, as her frontwoman confidence perhaps peaks here.
When Lennox sings the forceful first line of this 1986 track ("I was born an original sinner..."), the message is delivered that Eurythmics were not prepared to lose any of the group's momentum from the first half of the '80s. This tune failed to make an impact at the duo's usual level, falling short of the U.S. Top 10 and scarcely breaking into the U.K. Top 40. Still, the Revenge LP kept Eurythmics on the worldwide pop music radar and in a position to further its unique evolution.