Back in the dim and distant I used to write copy for the Top of the Pops website. Yesterday I was asked to provide samples of my online writing, so I dug out this little beauty from 8 years back to demonstrate how I can tailor my writing to an established house style; in TOTP’s case the house style was basically ‘snarky pisstake* with lots of alliteration’.

Top 5 Most Depressing Depeche Mode Lyrics

One day these men will be DEAD!
Check out the suffering on display! The pain... oh God, the PAIN!

You can keep your Smiths and your Leonard Cohens – the Mode are the kings of pain, the sultans of sadness, the maharajahs of misery, the apotheosis of angst. If you really want songs to slit your wrists to look no further than the Basildon lads, they’ll see you right. The first hint of the Mode’s future moroseness came with the early Vince Clark-penned track ‘Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead’, but it was the aptly named Martin Gore who took the theme to the heights. Or the depths, depending upon your perspective.

  1. For example, check out ‘Black Celebration’s little paeon of joy: “Let’s have a black celebration tonight, to celebrate the fact that we’ve seen the back of another black day.” Cripes lads, what’s wrong, your lottery numbers not come up again? Or perhaps someone else ate the last rolo? This title track of their fifth album from 1986 firmly established the band as far and away the most depressing mainstream popsters of the day.

  2. ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’? Pah! Suck on this, Mozza: “Girl of 18, fell in love with everything, found new life in Jesus Christ. Hit by a car, ended up on a life support machine.” Alright, pop pickers! ‘Blasphemous Rumours’ contained a verse about a girl slitting her wrists and failing to kill herself. You get the impression that it was only a sad verse because she failed. This is a band that only a few years earlier were a cheery synth combo singing poppy love songs. Now they take time out to give God a good old telling off for being a sick sod.

  3. Your girl’s left you, you feel bad. Do you sing ‘walk right back’? Do you conjur metaphors to tell her how much you loved her smile? No, you sing a song about how you “would stop this thing from spreading like a cancer“. Nice. Love as manifestation of terminal illness. And there’s more: “You know how hard it is for me to shake the disease that takes hold of my tongue in situations like these“. Great, now he’s got a diseased tongue. Ick.

  4. Mark Knopfler once wrote a cheery song which had a chorus that began: “Sometimes you’re the windscreen, sometimes you’re the bug“. It was a quirky, funny little track. The Mode have a take on the same idea. It’s not so chirpy: “Death is everywhere. There are flies on the windscreen for a start. Reminding us we could be torn apart tonight.” Ooookay. But it doesn’t end there, oh no: “Death is everywhere. There are lambs for the slaughter, waiting to die, And I can sense the hours slipping by tonight.” Good grief man, go watch an episode of Frasier or something. Crack a grin for heaven’s sake.

  5. Check out this litany of horror from ‘New Dress’: “Sex jibe husband murders wife, Bomb blast victim fights for life, Girl Thirteen attacked with knife, Jet airliner shot from sky, Famine horror, millions die, Earthquake terror figures rise“. Doesn’t it just make you want to put on your happy shoes and dance the night away? Or perhaps it just makes you want to drink neat alcohol and take refuge in the slow blindness, deafness, madness and death that it brings as sweet release from the pain and horror and misery and torture… and oh god it’s all too much…

*What do you mean ‘that wouldn’t be a stretch’?

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