The 25 best Indie Songs of 1989

26 May 2024, 18:00

Some of the biggest indie tracks of including tracks by The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Pixies, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.
Some of the biggest indie tracks of including tracks by The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Pixies, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Picture: Press

Take a trip back to the year of Lullaby, Personal Jesus, Hallelujah, Made Of Stone and that Monkey Gone To Heaven.

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Radio X

By Radio X

  1. The Sundays - Can't Be Sure: released 30th January 1989

    The debut single from the Bristol band, fronted by the ethereal voice of Harriet Wheeler. It would be another year before the band's first album, Reading Writing And Arithmetic would appear,

    The Sundays - Can't Be Sure (2020 HD remaster)

  2. Pop Will Eat Itself - Can U Dig It? Release date 30th January 1989

    The Stourbridge rap/rock band broke the Top 40 with this tribute to everything they loved - with plenty of samples from the cult film The Warriors included.

    Pop Will Eat Itself - Can U Dig It? (Video)

  3. Morrissey - The Last Of The Famous International Playboys: release date 30th January 1989

    A one-off single from Mozzer, following the success of his solo debut album Viva Hate the previous year. A tribute to the members of notorious British gangland families, it made Number 6 in the UK charts.

    Morrissey - The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

  4. Jesus Jones - Info Freako: release date 13th February 1989

    Fronted by the charismatic Mike Edwards, Jesus Jones shared a label with Blur and had a string of hyperactive hits in the early 90s. This was their first, getting to Number 42 in the early weeks of 1989.

    Jesus Jones - Info Freako - Official Music Video

  5. New Order - Round & Round: release date: 27th February 1989

    The second single to be taken from the Manchester band's Number 1 album Technique, remixed slightly for radio play.

    New Order - Round and Round (Official Music Video)

  6. The Stone Roses - Made Of Stone: release date 6th March 1989

    The tune that broke the Roses, arriving just before the landmark debut album. It wasn't a chart hit in 1989, but crashed back into the Top 20 in March 1990 in the wake of the "Madchester" buzz.

    Made of Stone (Remastered 2009)

  7. Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven: release date 20th March 1989

    This environmentally-conscious track was the first single to appear from the beloved album Doolittle.

    Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven (Official Video)

  8. The The - The Beat(en) Generation: release date 20th March 1989

    The third album from Matt Johnson's collective, Mind Bomb, featured ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.

    The The - The Beat(en) Generation (Official Video)

  9. Birdland - Hollow Heart: release date 27th March 1989

    Raucous punk revivalists from Birmingham - this debut single topped the Independent singles chart in Spring 1989.

    Birdland - Hollow Heart

  10. The Cure - Lullaby: release date 10th April 1989

    The first new Cure material in nearly two years came accompanied by a creepy video directed by Tim Pope. The single remains the band's biggest hit, peaking at Number 5 in the UK and previewing the epic album Disintegration.

    The Cure - Lullaby

  11. Public Image Ltd - Disappointed: release date 24th April 1989

    Produced by the much-admired Stephen Hague, this was the first single from PiL's album 9.

    Public Image Ltd - Disappointed

  12. Mudhoney - (You Got It) Keep It Outta My Face: release date 30th April 1989

    Following their notable debut Touch Me I'm Sick and a cover of Sonic Youth's Halloween, this was a one-off single from the Seattle band, just as grunge was set to go mainstream.

    You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)

  13. Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven: release date 8th May 1989

    The laconic trio of J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph liked this tune from The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss me album so much, they covered it - although they could never master the finale, hence the abrupt ending.

    Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven

  14. R.E.M. - Orange Crush: release date 15th May 1989

    Included on the previous year's major label debut Green, Michael Stipe and co found themselves on Top Of The Pops in the Spring of 1989 when this tale of US warfare broke the UK Top 30.

    R.E.M. - Orange Crush (Official Music Video)

  15. The Lightning Seeds - Pure: release date 12th June 1989

    Liverpool-based producer Ian Broudie found himself in the charts with this gentle pop song - and it kick-started a new career as The Lightning Seeds.

    The Lightning Seeds - Pure (Official HD Video)

  16. James - Sit Down: release date 19th June 1989

    This is the orginal release of the Manchester band's empathetic anthem - it would be a bigger hit in 1991 when James enjoyed renewed attention in the wake of the success of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.

    James - Sit Down

  17. Inspiral Carpets - Find Out Why: release date 7th August 1989

    Clint Boon's garage rock revivalists released a series of well-received singles across the year of 1989, this being the best-known, thanks to its use as the theme tune for the Saturday morning kids' TV show The 8.15 From Manchester.

    Inspiral Carpets - Find Out Why

  18. Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus: release date 29th August 1989

    Issued far in advance of the album Violator, which would surface in March 1990, this classic single made Number 13 in the UK charts.

    Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus (Remastered)

  19. The Wonder Stuff - Don't Let Me Down Gently: release date 11th September 1989

    The Brummie indie outfit fronted by Miles Hunt had their biggest hit until the arrival of Size Of A Cow with this, the lead single from their second album, Hup.

    The Wonder Stuff - Don't Let Me Down Gently

  20. The Wedding Present - Kennedy: release date 25th September 1989

    David Gedge's indie stalwarts were a favourit of John Peel, but this single from their album Bizarro broke the UK Top 30.

    The Wedding Present - Kennedy

  21. The House Of Love - I Don't Know Why I Love You: release date 30th October 1989

    Guy Chadwick's second single on the major label Fontana - the first being Never, in the summer of '89. Their former label Creation would soon find themselves busy with Ride and Primal Scream.

    House of Love - I Don't Know Why I Love You

  22. Faith No More - From Out Of Nowhere: release date 30th October 1989

    The American alternative metal act flopped in the UK first time out with this single, from their third album, The Real Thing, but it charted when reissued in the wake of the successful tune Epic.

    Faith No More - From Out Of Nowhere [Official Music Video]

  23. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Head On: release date 6th November 1989

    Jim and William Reid's third album Automatic was issued in October 1989 and this track was plucked as the second single after Blues From A Gun. Black Francis liked Head On so much that the Pixies covered it for their 1991 album Trompe Le Monde.

    The Jesus And Mary Chain - Head On (Official Music Video)

  24. Happy Mondays - Hallelujah: release date 13th November 1989

    After the success of Vince Clarke's remix of Wrote For Luck in the Spring of 1989, the Mondays issued the one-off "Madchester Rave On" EP, which got them on Top Of The Pops with fellow Mancs The Stone Roses, performing Hallelujah with singer Kirsty MacColl. This elaborately remixed version came out a month or so after the EP and is now the "definitive" version of the track.

    Happy Mondays - Hallelujah (Club Mix) [Official Audio]

  25. Electronic - Getting Away With It: release date 4th December 1989

    New Order's Bernard Sumner and former Smiths man Johnny Marr topped off 1989 by unveiling their indie supergroup Electronic, with this classic single featuring backing vocals from Pet Shop Boys man Neil Tennant. It'd be over a year before the duo's self-titled debut album hit the shops.

    Electronic - Getting Away With It (1989 Official Music Video) [HD Upgrade]