The best Vampire Weekend songs, ranked for your enjoyment

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The best Vampire Weekend songs, ranked for your enjoyment


The news that Vampire Weekend is returning to the stage is exciting music lovers the world over. Like the re-emergence of the Arctic Monkeys, their return has compelled fans to unfurl their cherished records from a box in the basement. Punters are now starting to brush the dust of Vampire Weekend’s Contra, Modern Vampires of the City and their self-titled first effort with hopeful enthusiasm.

As we await their huge headline slot at Splendour in the Grass as well as impending news on album number four, it’s time we reflected on the revered indie rock quartet’s best 20 songs.

20. ‘One (Blake’s Got A New Face)’ (2008)

The peculiarity and knowing irony of Vampire Weekend is encapsulated in Vampire Weekend’s ‘One (Blake’s Got A New Face)’. According to frontman Ezra Koenig, the song is based on meeting a friend of his girlfriend, called Blake, and assessing his face.

19. ‘Diane Young’ (2013)

The lead single of 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City is a pop classic and was easily the album’s biggest earworm upon its release. It’s exuberant and vivacious but we now look elsewhere when exciting our Modern Vampires of the City nostalgia.

18. ‘Diplomat’s Son’ (2010)

‘Diplomat’s Son’ bears dancehall inspirations with perky voice samples decorating a quirky synth line — yes, this won’t be the only time we talk about their use of synthesisers.  

17. ‘Finger Back’ (2013)

Distortion is this infectious track’s best friend. It’s not often we hear of a noisy, garage-inspired Vampire Weekend but when the lyrics tell a tale of a falafel shop worker getting beaten up, it mirrors the bash and crash perfectly.   

16. ‘Holiday’ (2010)

Yes! We’re going on a holiday. This is the Vampire Weekend’s best road trip song, even if the narrative is about giving up eating meat in light of world war.  

15. ‘Giving Up The Gun’ (2010)

Koenig is a historical intellect and at the surface, the meaning of ‘Giving Up The Gun’ is simple — persistence through adversity. But deeper down it touches on a time when the Japanese gave up guns in favour of swords. One of their longest tracks is a mesmeric ballad and one their most memorable.   

14. ‘Obvious Bicycle’ (2013)

The first track from 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City has a lackadaisical train chug beat which tos-and-fros throughout. Enveloping that is a cosmic array of piano and guitar arrangements making for a truly beautiful song.

13. ‘Campus’ (2008)

That awkwardness of seeing that certain someone soon after a one-night stand at college — “How am I supposed to pretend / I never want to see you again”. This is a university hit.

12. ‘Ottoman’ (2008)

The wit of Koenig is on full display on ‘Ottoman’, a track which hasn’t made it onto any album but slipped in as the B-side for 2010’s ‘Holiday’. Looking back, it probably fitted better alongside ‘Oxford Comma’, ‘Mansard Roof’ and the rest of the Vampire Weekend alumnus given its staccato rhythms and frivolous string work.

11. ‘Step’ (2013)

A treasured masterpiece from Modern Vampires of the City takes you on a journey across the world — from Anchorage to Dar es Salaam and beyond, one step at a time.

10. ‘M79’ (2008)

From the start, this track is infectious and the perfect soundtrack to get you out of bed. It potentially goes by the wayside given the strength of the rest of their debut album, nevertheless, it remains a timeless charmer.

9. ‘Unbelievers’ (2013)

Can you believe it? ‘Unbelievers’ continues to resonate strongly with the chaos of 21st-century society and we don’t see it becoming obsolete any time soon. A candid track about the presence of faith with a juxtaposing playful melody.

8. ‘Horchata’ (2010)

After their debut album, the blueprint was set for Vampire Weekend’s sound — vibrant, guitar pop with a bevy of synthesisers, strings and keyboard lilting over the top. The opening track from Contra, ‘Horchata’ championed that and more, infused with some snooping xylophones.  

7. ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ (2008)

Paul Simon was an inspiration to Vampire Weekend and you can’t escape the comparisons on 2008 track ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’. The Afrobeat undercurrents of Simon’s work, as well as his curious bass lines, are ever-present.

6. ‘Everlasting Arms’ (2013)

Everything that Vampire Weekend have achieved in their music comes together on ‘Everlasting Arms’ — the melodies, the sophistication of narrative and so forth. Like a turning anchor escapement in a clock tower, it all comes together at just the right time.

5. ‘Mansard Roof’ (2008)

It’s no coincidence that the last five songs on this list are lifted off Vampire Weekend’s debut album — it’s just so good. “I see a Mansard Roof through the trees / I see a salty message written in the eves / The ground beneath my feet / We are garbage and concrete / And now the tops of buildings / I can see them too.”  

4. ‘Walcott’ (2008)

Give yourself some room, ‘Walcott’ will get you giddy for the dancefloor. The frenetic guitar play mirroring breakneck keyboard rhythms at the two-minute mark is incredible. Then it slows down before upheaving again — such a banger.

3. ‘Oxford Comma’ (2008)

Only Vampire Weekend would apply their collegiate smarts to a pop song like this. It seems daft to talk about this in song, but college-green VW couldn’t get English out of their head in 2008. A beautiful climax.

2. ‘A-Punk’ (2008)

‘A-Punk’ was Vampire Weekend’s hot ticket to fame. It sounds different from every other song in that it has an irresistible rhythm that’s so far removed their work but at the same time feels so close to home. It’s also been played to death, so it does have a cliched varnish.

1. ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance’ (2008)

Vampire Weekend’s album closer could be seen as a huge surprise at the top of the list but it’s definitely not out of place. The melodies draw you in and out like you’re immersed in the clouds — it doesn’t need many lyrics to be grandiose; let the music breathe I say. Magical.