2020 Grammys

The 10 Best Phantogram Songs

Timothy Saccenti

Phantogram has the luxury of fitting in across several music genres, including electronic rock, alternative, electronica and shoegaze. The duo (Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter) recently released Three, their third (and highest) charting album to date. The pair has known each other since childhood, once bonded over listening to Busta Rhymes, spends a lot of time in record stores, and slept in a Prius during their first tour.

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After being tasked with rounding up our favorite songs, it just so happens that their latest effort makes up half the list. Perhaps it's the heavier (or as Barthel puts it, “more fucking bombastic”) sound, but whatever it is, it’s clearly working. Earlier this year, Barthel told Billboard, “we’re fun people, but if you only know us from our music, you’d think we sit in a dark room.” 

Without further ado, here are critic's picks for the 10 best Phantogram songs.

#10 - “Fall In Love” (2014)

“Fall, in me”

Like the visual for “When I’m Small,” the duo​'s true colors are best expressed ​in black and white. The light show is mesmerizing and Barthel is working her accessories – especially, the studded snakeskin jacket as it catches the light. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Alternative Songs chart.

#9 - “Black Out Days” (2014)

“I don't recognize you anymore”

Carter revealed that the lyric, “I’m hearing voices all the time and they’re not mine,” is a theme behind their 2014 album, Voices. The song, which asks, “if I could paint the sky, would all the stars then shine a bloody red?” peaked at No. 32 on the Alternative Songs chart.

#8 - “Run Run Blood” (2016)

“It's bigger than us”

Carter said that this Phantogram song “is about the sad state of the world we live in today. It feels like the blind leading the blind sometimes.” Whatever state we’re in, “it's bigger than life, bigger than all” and at 3:10 in, it feels like we’ve been abducted by sounds, and we’re ready to follow the leader, even if it leads into “a swarm of bees.”

#7 - “Nothing But Trouble” (2014)

“I'm losing my mind”

This best part of this “darkadelic” track is the buildup to the end. Wait for Barthel to say “I’m evil inside” (at 3:00 in) and enjoy the ride.

#6 - “Mouthful of Diamonds” (2009) 

“I wish I could believe”

Carter revealed that several Phantogram songs were written in 10 minutes, including “Mouthful of Diamonds.” The song about secrecy and false promise, off their debut album, is accompanied by a trippy visual, and it’s easy to feel empowered knowing “the world is not around because of you. You know I'm not around because of you.”

#5 - “You’re Mine” (2016)

“No one's gonna look at you the way I do”

Carter revealed why “You’re Mine” is one of his favorite songs on the album. “It’s got this real driving force behind it and this urgency to it that I really like. It’s about being overly possessive.” Everything will be ok as long as you remember the rules, "you don't talk to no one, don't you look at nothin.' You ain't goin' anywhere, 'cause you're mine."

#4 - “Cruel World” (2016)

“Goodbye to my good side”

Barthel said the song "set the tone for their new album in a huge way. The overall message is about how tragic life can be at times – how the world can bring you down... but you have to try to find the beauty in it.” The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart.

#3 - “Same Old Blues” (2016)

“There's always something that's pulling me down”

One of Barthel’s favorite songs on the album is one of ours too. The addition of gospel really pushes it over the edge in terms of creativity. It opens with a blessing, "O yes, my Lord, he will surely bring you peace," but at 2:20 in, we've hit rock bottom. It's that recurring nightmare, where you're stuck in a hole and can't get out – and no one can hear you scream.

#2 - “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” (2016)

“Nothing is fun, not like before”

The overall theme here is heartbreak, and the addition of director Grant Singer (whose credits include “Can't Feel My Face” by The Weeknd and “Let Me Love You” by Ariana Grande) delivers the big budget visual the single deserves. “Everybody’s on something here,” and we’ll have what she’s having, as Barthel once again delivers an eye catching, often futuristic, wardrobe. It peaked at No. 6 on the Alternative Songs chart.

#1 - “When I’m Small” (2009)

“Am I still alive, or has the light gone black”

All hail this hauntingly beautiful song. The visual, with Barthel and Carter in black and white, is the duo’s most viewed on our list (13.5 million and counting).


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