When their friends got into a brawl outside a Manchester club in 2005, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson wisely decided not to join in and discussed music instead.
Four years later, as synth-pop duo Hurts, they gained more than 21 million YouTube views with the self-made video for their song “Wonderful Life,” and their debut album, Happiness, sold 2 million copies globally.
Pharrell featuring Jay-Z: Frontin’
THEO: “There’s a simplicity to Pharrell’s songwriting and an intricate approach to production that is completely unique to him. We’ve tried to replicate his technique many times, but it’s impossible. This is a great early example of his sound. It’s catchy, it’s funky and at the same time unmistakably Pharrell. He’s influenced the recent history of hip-hop like no other musician.”
Chris Isaak: Wicked Game
ADAM: “This song has been a big influence on us. We’ve stolen the chord progression about 16 times and no one has ever noticed. It also features one of the most beautifully recorded vocals you’ll ever hear. It sounds like Chris is whispering in your ear as he sings. To top it all, ‘Wicked Game’ ends with one of the most devastating lyrics ever: ‘Nobody loves no one.’ How dark is that?”
Massive Attack: Angel
ADAM: “For a long period, when I was into wowing women, ‘Angel’ would be my go-to tune, because it’s so incredibly sexy. Also, it had quite an influence on the sound of our new record. We were aiming for the kind of intensity and darkness that this song emits. We always play it at our concerts before we come on stage. Our sound guy puts it on to get everyone in the mood. It works every time.”
Prince: Purple Rain
THEO: “If I had to narrow it down to one all-time favorite, it would be this song by Prince, the greatest living musician. What’s so incredible about ‘Purple Rain’ is that when you listen to the song in full, it just gets better and better. It starts out with these brilliant chords, then the chorus gets you excited, then it goes up and up. In the end, you just can’t resist singing along: ‘Whoo-ooh-ooh-ooh!’ ”
The Smiths: There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
THEO: “This song has possibly the strongest lyrics ever: ‘Driving in your car, oh, please don’t drop me home, because it’s not my home, it’s their home …’ As a teenager in Manchester, the Smiths’ hometown, I could relate to those words, and they still give me goosebumps. What I also love about the Smiths is that I didn’t know what music they were listening to, because they sounded so different.”