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DJ Daph’s Depeche Mode Top Tracks - The 1990s - 2000s

Hey everyone! My name is Daphne Franklin; known as DJ Daph when I’m gracing the airwaves of WUSC FM. If you’ve listened in, chances are you’ve heard me play my favorite genre: new wave. Fun fact: a lot of new wave artists are Top 40 artists! Including my favorite band of all time: Depeche Mode.

How did I, a 2004 baby, end up with D-Mode as my favorite band? Look no further than my father and his music that he loaded onto the family Zune. That origin story is for another time, though. Today I’ll be going through my favorite Depeche Mode songs off each of their albums from the 1990s-2000s and exactly why I love them!

Violator (1990)

Here it is: the album that is often considered Depeche Mode’s crowning achievement. Violator is perhaps the most iconic album of theirs, with the rose album art and tracks such as “Personal Jesus” appearing on the album. It’s impossible for me to choose just one track off of this album. So, once again, I’m going to highlight two!

First up: “Halo”. I really like the lyrics to this one. It’s very accusatory, and there’s nothing like singing accusations to nobody at the top of your lungs. I also REALLY enjoy the simplicity and aggressiveness of the bassline. PHEW!

Second: “Blue Dress. This is a vibe song if I’ve ever heard one. The panning of the track adds to the entire experience. How do I even describe the way this song makes me feel? Just go listen!

Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)

Violator may be considered Depeche Mode’s best album, but Songs of Faith and Devotion was Depeche Mode’s most successful album. My favorite track off of this album, hands down, is “Walking in My Shoes”. The distant, angsty piano at the beginning. The pulse of the bassline. The synths echoing around the vocals. The lyrics. The chorus. THIS ENTIRE SONG SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. I could do an entire blog post on this single song. 

I'm not looking for a clearer conscience / Peace of mind after what I've been through

And before we talk of any repentance / Try walking in my shoes

To all of my overachievers out there, this song is for you. Own it.

Ultra (1997)

I would consider Ultra to be my favorite D-Mode alb

um. While not necessarily a hot take, it’s not the norm. This album follows Alan WIlder’s departure from the band, and leans more into alternative rock than previous albums. Two of my favorite songs of all time are off of this album. “Useless” features an actual bass guitarist, as opposed to the usual synth bassline. This song is grungy, angsty, and angry. Are you seeing a theme for my favorite songs yet? The lyrics are abrasive and accusatory. There’s no use waxing poetics or mincing your words when you’re angry at someone! If you’re looking for a different flavor of angst, this album contains my favorite song of all time: “Home”. Five minutes and forty-two seconds of pure melancholy and yearning. This song features Martin Gore on vocals- giving Dave Gahan a break, but also giving Gore the opportunity to shine through with one of his excellent ballads. I love the string synth sound in this song. I love the lyrics. I’ve never related to a song this much. The denser sound during the chorus has such an incredible effect, and I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever find another song that elicits the same emotion in me.

Exciter (2001)

20 years after their start, Depeche Mode was STILL experimenting with their sound. I describe this album as “folktronica”. Don’t know what that sounds like? Listen to “Dream On” off of Exciter. D-Mode experiments with acoustic instruments and electronic sounds in this single, creating a really cool mix out of the two. It has the signature Depeche Mode groove, signature Martin Gore lyrics, but a new and experimental sound for the group.

Dream On (2007 Remaster) 

Playing the Angel (2005)

I was alive when Depeche Mode released this album! Now we’re getting somewhere! This album returns somewhat to the Depeche Mode norm. Still the same old utterly depressing lyrics, the incredible synths, and mixing as before. My favorite off of this album is a little ‘ole track called “Suffer Well”. This was actually a recent discover for me! (I don’t know EVERYTHING about Depeche Mode, believe it or not. I’m well on my way though.) I like how upbeat it is, and the grungy sound mixed with the spacey synth sounds (sensing a trend again?). It’s also REALLY fun to scream the lyrics “I just hang on / suffer well / sometimes it’s hard / so hard to tell”.

Suffer Well (2006 Remaster) 

Sounds of the Universe (2009)

Is it bad that I forget this album exists? Yes? No? Regardless, the ONLY correct choice of song to highlight on this album is “Wrong”. It’s oddly groovy for how angry the song is. I don’t have much more to say about this album- it doesn’t stand out, really.

Depeche Mode - Wrong (Official Video) 

Delta Machine (2013)

I actually remember this album being released! Delta Machine was an improvement on Sounds of the Universe, for sure. So much that I have two picks off of this album. “Soothe My Soul” falls into the angry section of my favorite D-Mode songs. It also reminds me of a Call of Duty theme in a very positive way. I also enjoy how this song builds layer by layer until it “explodes” on the chorus. Such a good song! 

The second song is “Broken”. This song falls into the utterly-depressing-and-gut-wrenching section of my favorites. Just read these lyrics. 

When you're falling / I will catch you

You don't have to fall that far

You can make it / I will be there

You were broken from the start

Who let Martin Gore write these lyrics. It should be ILLEGAL.

Depeche Mode - Soothe My Soul 


Memento Mori (2023)

This entire album is bittersweet. Andy Fletcher, (affectionately known as Fletch), passed away in 2022, and the longstanding Depeche Mode trio was reduced to a duo. This album was not a result of his death, but it came together as Gahan and Gore grieved their friend. The album is somber but beautiful, and I have two songs I’m going to highlight: “My Favourite Stranger”, which is a classic Depeche Mode electronica song, and “Soul With Me”, a beautiful Martin Gore ballad. This album is a testament to the sound Depeche Mode has developed over the years, and I can only hope that they will continue to make music.

Depeche Mode - My Favourite Stranger (Official Audio)

Depeche Mode - Soul With Me (Official Audio)  

Cover photo courtesy of the Depeche Mode official website

Check out DJ Daph's Ratings of the Depeche Mode albums from the 80s here!

Daphne Franklin

Areas of expertise: Star Trek, podcasts, tomfoolery, and wizardry.

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