There is no doubt that films and television series have the power to bring older songs back to life with force. Just look at Stranger Things’ effect on Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God), which managed to reach number three on the Billboard Hot 100 almost 40 years after its release.
This week, TV fans were treated to the first episode of the much anticipated HBO series The Last Of Us, and many viewers noticed the song playing on a radio at the end of the first. The song, Never Let Me Down Again, was released by English synthpop band Depeche Mode as the second single off their 1987 album Music for the Masses.
Since the release of the episode on Sunday January 15, Google searches for both the band and the song have skyrocketed by more than 5,000 percent. And despite Depeche Mode still being very much active, having just announced their fifteenth studio album, could the band experience a “Kate Bush moment” with younger generations thanks to the tv series?
Who are Depeche Mode?
Synthpop band Depeche Mode was formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980 by Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke. Clarke left the band after their first album, Speak & Spell was released in 1981, and Gore would take over as the bands main songwriter.
Joined by Alan Wilder, the band would go on to release a range of albums in the 80’s and 90’s that would cement them as one of the defining bands of the era. Their 1987 album Music for the Masses peaked at number 10 in the UK and included the single Never Let Me Down Again featured in 2023’s The Last Of Us.
Their 1990 album Violator would include two of the band’s most famous songs, Personal Jesus (later covered by Johnny Cash) and Enjoy the Silence. Tensions in the band following the release and touring of 1993’s Songs of Faith and Devotion lead to Alan Wilder quitting the band in 1995.
Continuing as a three-piece, Depeche Mode released 6 more albums, the last one being Spirit from 2017, and subsequent world tours. Remaining one of Britain’s biggest and most influential bands, Depeche Mode were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2020.
In May 2022, founding member Andy Fletcher died aged 60 after suffering an aortic dissection. Now a two-piece, Fletcher and Gore announced their fifteenth studio album Memento Mori, released March 17, along with a world tour.
What is the song Never Let Me Down Again from The Last Of Us about?
Never Let Me Down Again was the second single from Music for the Masses, released on August 24, 1987. The single reached no 22 on the UK Singles chart and no two on the UK Indie chart and has become one of the band’s most iconic songs since then.
The song features a distinct drum pattern accompanied by Martin Gore’s guitar and pounding keyboards. The lyrics, opening with “I’m taking a ride with my best friend”, is generally regarded as referring to drug use, with NME naming the song a masterpiece “conveying the feeling of drug euphoria”
In a podcast about the HBO series, co-creator Craig Mazin said he chose the song due to its blend of upbeat sounds and dark lyrics, feeling that the title referred to the relationship between the two main characters Joel and Ellie.
Will Depeche Mode experience a “Kate Bush moment” seeing the song once again climb the charts? I guess we will have to wait and see. And until then, check out some of the band’s other songs from their more than 40 year career.
The Last of Us airs Mondays on Sky Atlantic and on streaming service NOW in the UK.
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