Florence + the Machine's 10 Best Songs: Critic's Picks

Florence and the Machine
Vincent Haycock

Florence and the Machine

Picking Florence + the Machine’s ten best songs is a cruel task, because they’re All So Good. There are dozens of other amazing songs of Florence’s that deserve a place on our list.

At any rate, the recently announced new album High as Hope made for the perfect excuse to revisit the outfit's discography, before it arrives on June 29 (via Republic Records). While Florence's most recent releases "Hunger" and "Sky Full of Song" didn't yet make the cut for us, consider them honorable mentions.

Here are the top ten Florence + the Machine songs, painstakingly ranked.

10. “Queen Of Peace”

This might be No. 10 on this list, but admit it: it’s still better than the No. 1 for most artists out there. Florence Welch has called this rousing track (from 2015's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) one of her "little spells," and it was written after she experienced being in a relationship with someone who was driving her away: "The songs become these talismans [that] you've written that are just for yourself. And you can carry them with you."

9. “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”

If you've ever experienced the loss of a loved one, then the line, "Maybe I'll see you in another life/ If this one wasn't enough," might hit close to home. This is the first song Welch wrote for the 2015 album of the same name; the dreamy track is inspired by the Los Angeles sky and it really does transport the listener. 

8. “Ship to Wreck”

"Ship to Wreck" sees the return of water imagery, which you’ll remember is prevalent throughout Florence's second album Ceremonials (more on that in a second). It's about Welch's self-destructive side, but as always, she channels her inner chaos into beauty. Fun fact: HB HB HB's producer Markus Dravs told Welch not to write any more songs about water, but she basically went, “Screw you, I'm doing it anyway.” (Paraphrasing.)

7. “What The Water Gave Me”

Speaking of water, this Ceremonials jam is named after Frida Kahlo’s painting called Lo que el agua me dio (which literally means “what the water gave me”). Welch has also reportedly said the melancholy-but-upbeat single was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s suicide by drowning: “I was just thinking about her death... that’s always been such a strong image: going to the river with your pockets full of stones.” 

6. “What Kind Of Man”

When that guitar comes in after the first chorus, it's impossible not to break out into your most frantic dance moves. “What Kind Of Man” is the lead single from HBHBHB, and it rocks so very hard.

5. “Cosmic Love”

The performance of this song that appears on the 2010 iTunes Live from SoHo EP is absolute magic. Florence + the Machine is one of the only rock bands on the planet that uses the harp as much as, say, a guitar, and when they strip it back in cases like this, "celestial" doesn’t begin to cover it.

4. “Shake It Out”

Before there was Taylor Swift’s similarly-named “Shake It Off,” we had this Ceremonials anthem. Welch wrote it while she was hungover, and it’s now the epitome of a hangover cure, among other things.

3. “Only If for a Night”

Including this Ceremonials opener so far at the top of the list might raise some eyebrows, but here it is. Perhaps it’s the pounding pre-chorus, or the fact that Welch wrote it about her late grandmother, or that catchy-as-hell piano riff -- something about this one just grabs you.

2. “Dog Days Are Over”

The harp! Those claps! This was Florence’s breakout hit, driven into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 by a stunning performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Welch recently revealed that it was inspired by Arcade Fire's album Funeral, and the singer came full circle when she performed it with the band during the final London stop of their tour on April 13.

1. “You've Got The Love”

With absolutely stunning vocals, that damn tinkly harp and the eternal message to always remember that you are loved, this cover of Candi Staton's 1986 single "You Got the Love" truly never gets old.