10 songs that weren’t massive hits the first time around

29 June 2023, 18:13 | Updated: 9 February 2024, 12:48

Dick Valentine in the video for Electric Six's Danger! High Voltage
Dick Valentine in the video for Electric Six's Danger! High Voltage. Picture: YouTube

Which of your favourite songs did better second time out? From The La's to Radiohead, they weren't all chart smashes right away.

If at first you don’t succeed… reissue, repackage, re-evaluate… Sometimes genius isn’t appreciated during the artist’s lifetime. Sometimes they get a second bite of the cherry.

Radio X

By Radio X

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  1. Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage

    Originally released in 2001, when the Detroit band was known as The Wild Bunch, the dancefloor favourite was re-mixed into a new version when the band signed to the UK based label XL. Because there was already a band called the name The Wild Bunch, the group settled on the Electric Six moniker and the rest was history: the track made No 2 in the British charts.

    Electric Six - "Danger! High Voltage" (Hi Res)

  2. The Cure - Boys Don’t Cry

    When Robert Smith first issued his lovelorn ditty in the summer of 1979, it failed to chart. By 1986, he’d morphed into the tousled-haired pop star we know and love and re-voiced the classic hit to go alongside a compilation of the band’s singles. It made No 22.

    The Cure - Boys Don't Cry

  3. The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

    Originally included on the band’s Combat Rock album, this classic made a respectable No 17 when issued as a double A-side with Straight To Hell in 1982. However, off the back of its inclusion in a Levis jeans ad in 1991, the song made the top spot in the UK.

    The Clash - Should I Stay or Should I Go (Official Video)

  4. James - Sit Down

    When the Manchester band originally issued their communal classic in 1989 it was on the Rough Trade label and lasted a hefty seven minutes. It fared well in the indie charts, but only hit No 77 in the nationals. Come 1991, the band had signed to the major label Fontana and the track had become a live favourite, with audiences literally sitting down during the song. Now that “Madchester” was a thing, Sit Down was re-recorded and made No 2. It was included as an extra track on the reissued Gold Mother album and remains the band’s best-known song. Here's the video to the 1989 version.

    James - Sit Down

  5. Radiohead - Creep

    Radio 1 though that this stone-cold classic was “too depressing” to play on its release in September 1992 and it only made No 78. After some enthusiasm in countries as far apart as New Zealand and Israel, the song was reissued a year later and strode all the way to No 7.

    Radiohead - Creep

  6. The La's - There She Goes

    One could never accuse La’s frontman Lee Mavers of rushing into anything. This modern Merseybeat classic made No 59 in the national chart when first released in October 1988, but the accompanying album took another two years to arrive. When the song was re-issued to promote the LP, it made a more respectable No 13.

    The La's - There She Goes

  7. Kraftwerk - The Model

    “Das Model” was originally included on the Dusseldorf droids’ 1978 album The Man Machine, but when the record company were looking for a b-side to their new single Computer Love in 1981, this oldie was pressed into service. Its emotionless techno groove got noticed by New Romantic club DJs, who started to play the flip rather than the A-side. The track made No 1 in the UK in February 1982.

    Kraftwerk - The Model (official video)

  8. The Dandy Warhols - Bohemian Like You

    This Stones-lite classic only made it to Number 42 when it was first issued in September 2000... however, after appearing in a popular TV ad for Vodagone, the track went straight back in at Number 5 in November 2001.

    The Dandy Warhols - Bohemian Like You

  9. The Psychedelic Furs - Pretty In Pink

    This New Wave classic only managed to creep to Number 43 in July 1981 when the track was taken from the Furs' album Talk Talk Talk. However, in the summer of 1986 the song gave its name to the classic John Hughes movie starring Molly Ringwald and a re-recorded version re-entered the charts, peaking at Number 18.

    PSYCHEDELIC FURS : Pretty in pink (HD)

  10. Joy Division - Atmosphere

    Factory's finest had a unique approach to their discography, mainly thanks to the whims of manager Rob Gretton. He gave two of the band's greatest tracks - the beautiful Atmosphere and the fearsome Dead Souls - to the French label Sordide Sentimentale, who released them on an extrenely limited edition 7" in March of 1980. After getting plentty of airplay from John Peel, fans clamoured for a wider release of the songs, and Atmosphere graced a 12" - which was only available in the US, annoyingly.

    This edition was eventually given a British reissue, but none of these releases sold enough to get near the charts. Eight years later, Factory compiled most of Joy Division's rarities on one album called Substance 1977-1980 and issued Atmosphere as a promotional single, complete with an iconic video directed by Anton Corbijn. Nearly a decade after it was recorded, Atmosphere crept into the bottom end of the Top 40, and peaked at Number 34.

    Joy Division - Atmosphere [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]