Sparks' 10 best songs ever, ranked

15 June 2023, 14:58

Sparks' Russell and Ron Mael
Sparks' Russell and Ron Mael. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Sparks are one of the most unique bands in rock music history.

Sparks are a band that defies easy categorization. For over five decades, they have been creating music that is witty, inventive, eclectic and endlessly surprising.

From glam rock to synthpop, from opera to disco, from chamber music to hip-hop, Sparks have explored and experimented with various genres and styles, always with a distinctive and original flair.

Consisting of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, the duo write and produce all their songs. Ron plays keyboards and is known for his deadpan expression and Charlie Chaplin-style moustache. Russell sings lead vocals and is known for his falsetto voice and energetic stage presence.

Together, they have released 25 albums as of 2023, collaborated with artists such as Giorgio Moroder and Franz Ferdinand, and influenced countless musicians such as Morrissey and Depeche Mode.

Here are 10 of their greatest songs for a perfect Sparks playlist:

  1. Something for the Girl with Everything

    Sparks - Something For The Girl With Everything • TopPop

    This glam rock track was released in 1974 as the third single from their third album Propaganda.

    The song describes a man who tries to impress a spoiled woman with various extravagant gifts. The song was a hit in the UK, where it reached number 17 and became Sparks’ second top 20 hit.

  2. When I'm With You

    Sparks - When I'm With You (Official Video)

    This disco and new wave song was released in 1980 as the second single from Sparks' ninth album Terminal Jive.

    The song was written by Ron and Russell Mael, and produced by Giorgio Moroder or Harold Faltermeyer. Bizarrely, the exact producer is disputed!

    The song was a huge hit in France, where it topped the charts for six weeks and became Sparks’ most successful single in that country.

  3. Funny Face

    Sparks - Funny Face (Official Video)

    Released in 1981, this was the first single from their ninth album Whomp That Sucker. Its catchy chorus and humorous lyrics describe a man who undergoes plastic surgery to become more attractive to women, but ends up looking like a monster.

    The song was a minor hit in some European countries, such as Germany.

  4. Edith Piaf (Said it Better than Me)

    Sparks - Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me) [Official Video]

    This pop-rock track was a single from their 2017 album Hippopotamus.

    The dramatic tune reflects on the band’s age and long career, comparing their lack of regrets to the famous French singer Edith Piaf, who sang 'Je ne regrette rien' ('I regret nothing').

    The song was accompanied by a music video directed and designed by BAFTA Award-winning animator and puppeteer Joseph Wallace, which featured the band in a stop-motion animation set in 1930s Paris.

  5. Angst in My Pants

    Angst In My Pants

    This was the title track and first song of Sparks' 11th studio album, released in 1982.

    The risqué synth-pop tune describes a man who feels unsatisfied and restless despite having a successful and comfortable life. The phrase 'Angst in My Pants' means to have an erection, and the subject of this song has a metaphorical erection, a longing for satisfaction, that hasn’t gone away despite getting everything he thought he wanted.

  6. When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'?

    Sparks - When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way' (Official Video)

    This track was released in 1994 as the first single from their 16th album Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins.

    It references the Frank Sinatra signature tune 'My Way' and expresses the singer’s frustration with his lack of success and recognition.

    The song was a hit in several European countries, especially in Germany, where it reached number 7 and became their highest-charting single in that country. In the UK, the song initially peaked at number 40, but was re-released in 1995 and reached number 32.

    Its video was directed by Sophie Muller, who later worked with artists such as Beyoncé, Coldplay and Rihanna.

  7. Beat the Clock

    Sparks - Beat The Clock (Official Video)

    This single was from their 1979 album No. 1 in Heaven, and was produced by Giorgio Moroder.

    The disco and synth-pop track is named after the 1950s game show Beat the Clock, where contestants faced challenges to win prizes while faced with a time limit.

    The song was a hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 10.

  8. The Number One Song in Heaven

    Sparks - The Number One Song In Heaven (Official Video)

    This track was released in 1979 as the second single from their eighth album of the same na,e.

    It is a disco song that was produced and co-written by Giorgio Moroder, the legendary producer behind Donna Summer’s 'I Feel Love'.

    The track imagines what the number one song in heaven would sound like, suggesting that the song is written by God himself and that all the angels are obliged to follow his plan.

    They later released a new version with singer Jimmy Somerville in 1997.

  9. Amateur Hour

    Amateur Hour

    This glam-rock track was released as the second single from their 1974 album Kimono My House.

    It is a tale about inexperienced young men visiting women in the 'hinterlands' in order to learn more about sex.

    The song was a hit in the UK, where it reached number 7. The song was re-recorded in 1997 for the retrospective album Plagiarism, featuring Erasure.

  10. This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us

    Sparks - This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us (Official Video)

    Released in 1974 as the lead single from their third album Kimono My House, this is easily Sparks' most famous song, reaching number two in the UK.

    The song was written by Ron Mael, who was inspired by the movie dialogue cliché. He originally planned to use different phrases for each verse, but decided to stick with the one in the title.

    The song is a fast-paced glam rock anthem with a catchy chorus and quirky lyrics that describe a surreal scenario of a romantic rivalry in a zoo.

    The song was produced by Muff Winwood, who added distinctive Western movie-style gunshots to the track. Russell had to sing in a high-pitched falsetto to match the key of the song, which became his trademark style.

    Its video was one of the first music videos ever made, years before MTV was launched.