An alluring enigma in her own right, the one-of-a-kind Annie Lennox had us questioning everything from “what’s normal” to pop music and sexuality when she initially burst on the scene with Eurythmics in the 1980s. That decade was the perfect platform for Lennox. Just as music television was taking shape, she excelled in creative, conceptual music videos as much as she did as a powerhouse singer. So credit some fortuitous timing for launching Lennox into the music pantheon where she remains one of the most powerful female vocalists of all time and continues to inspire musicians. Her multifaceted career has provided us with a lot to listen to. Whether with Eurythmics partner Dave Stewart or as a solo artist, here are ten of her finest performances.
10. “Would I Lie to You”
In 1985, the Eurythmics started to veer away from the synth-heavy New Wave sound that put them on the map and head more towards soul and rhythm and blues. This new sound allowed Lennox to let loose and resulted in one of the band’s most radio-friendly tracks that’s hardly diminished in appeal.
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9. “Here Comes the Rain Again”
Of all the tunes on this list, this one rates as the most atmospheric. The melancholic anthem picked up right where its predecessor (‘Sweet Dreams’) left off and became one of the biggest hits in the group’s history. The everlasting worth of this number is evidenced by its’ appearance in the 2019 Black Mirror phenomenon “Bandersnatch.” Even today, the Eurythmics are trending.
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Lennox gave fans a fresh take into her new solo career with a soft ballad that might’ve been an ill-fit for the Eurythmics catalogue. Yet “Why” served as a lovely way for Lennox to assert herself as an independent entity. The highly-revered composition has emerged as one of the most covered songs of her career with renditions by Bon Iver, Allison Crowe, and even Neal Schon of Journey.
7. “Who’s That Girl?”
The follow-up to the Eurythmics’ breakthrough album Sweet Dreams Are Made of This was Torch, an LP with a debut single that told a dark tale of jealousy and infidelity, perfectly exemplifying the group’s edgy aesthetic. The song was accompanied by one of the most striking music videos of its time with cameos from Kiki Dee and Bananarama, and Lennox doing a sweet Nancy Sinatra impression.
6. “Walking on Broken Glass”
Lennox’s solo debut Diva has some of the best compositions of her career. Unlike her work with the Eurythmics, this track had a much more upbeat feel with a great utilization of orchestral strings and a contagious groove. All that helped to make it Lennox’s highest chart-topper post-Eurythmics, outside of “Put a Little Love In Your Heart,” her duet with Al Green.
5. “Whiter Shade of Pale”
Lennox’s version of this ‘60s staple was a sinister marriage made in heaven. The song, the lead single off her sophomore solo LP Medusa, was the highlight of an album which consisted entirely of covers including renditions of Paul Simon’s “Something So Right,” Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” and The Clash’s “Train in Vain.”
4. “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves” (feat. Aretha Franklin)
It’s extremely rare for two giants to come together and put out a song with such lasting power, but in 1985, the dream team of Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin released a song for the ages. “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves” brought together two of the world’s most soulful singers for five and a half minutes to sing the praises of female empowerment. It never gets old.
3. “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)”
Arguably one of the smoothest, grooviest Eurythmics’ singles of all time, “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” delivers an infectious horn arrangement and a vibrant music video, all anchored by Lennox’s insanely talented vocals. The song was also paired with some of Stewart’s most impressive guitar work. No small wonder, it landed in the top three.
“All mockery is laughing, all violence is cheap” Lennox exclaimed as she dared us to enter the luxuriant world of ‘”Savage,” her sultry ballad which conjures up a hypnotic dream. The album of the same name was a predominantly Lennox-driven project and gave us a hint of what lay ahead. It remains the most seductive composition in the Eurythmics’ discography. This one will send goosebumps down your spine.
1. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
The Eurythmics breakout hit was imperative to the identity of 1980s pop music. After Dave Stewart accidentally discovered the tune’s trademark synth line from a backward bass recording, Lennox contributed a haunting melody atop multilayered vocal tracks and the rest is history.
Photo Credit: Portrait of Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics. Undated photograph. (Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Pavement cracks, little bird, no more I love yous
add her to the list of rock women who gave girls like me permission to embrace their inner badass. Thank you, Annie, and thank you Michael for this great article! Nailed it!
I use Money Can’t Buy It from Diva as a test song for streaming services quality. Perfect example of dynamic range. Compare Tidal lossless to Google or Amazon music and the difference is stark… thanks for the article!
I would like to mention a little heard CD called “peace”.
Some wonderful songs on this!
Great article, Mike! This brought me back and I learned a few things.
Annie was a powerhouse. Thanks for reminding me of all her incredible music.
You have placed a chill in my heart,
Was it just another love affair?
You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart is one of my favorites.
Annie Lennox for Xmas. Perfect.
It’s a shame the Eurythmics’ 1986 album Revenge gets overlooked here. Thorn in My Side is a terrifically twisted update of 1960s “girl group” styles and the closing track I’ll Remember You is one of Lennox’s finest vocal performances.
This list does not include Annie’s astonishing cover of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” from the 1990 “Red Hot + Blue” AIDS benefit album, and is therefore disqualified. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Is this Who’s That Girl the same as Madonna’s?