Happy Birthday, Annie Lennox! Here Are Her 20 Greatest Songs

“Look at this freak on MTV!” Those were the words my sister screamed to me one balmy morning during the summer of 1983. I was in the kitchen picking the Crunch Berries out of the Cap’n Crunch box for my usual Sugar Saturday breakfast, but if there’s one thing that could get me running, it was the promise of Freaks On MTV.

I rushed in, and what I saw began a love affair that’s … going on 30 years. It was, of course, “Sweet Dreams” by The Eurythmics, and the freak in question was Annie Lennox.

Obsessive chart watcher that I am, I followed the rise of “Sweet Dreams” On The Billboard Hot 100, as it took an agonizingly long 17 weeks to reach #1, where it replaced “Every Breath You Take.”

They were no one hit wonders though, and for the next half decade, we could count on a new Eurythmics album every year. They took on different styles, sounds, and for Annie, looks, but they made some of the greatest pop music of the decade, and when they decided to part after 1989’s We Too Are One, it meant the end of an (MTV) era.

Annie didn’t go away, however. She came roaring back as a solo artist, releasing Diva in 1992, which would get a Grammy nod for Album Of The Year, and become the biggest selling album of her career. She continues to release solo albums (albeit extremely sporadically) and she and Dave Stewart have reunited occasionally as Eurythmics.

Annie’s 59th birthday is on Christmas Day, so let’s spread a little cheer by counting down her greatest songs, both solo, and with Eurythmics. (sorry, I know it’s appropriate for today, but “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” just missed the cut)

20. Love Song For A Vampire

Year Of Release: 1992
Hot 100 Peak: N/A

Annie’s contribution to Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was fragile and distant and would have been right at home on the Diva album (and in fact it was the B side of that album’s third single “Little Bird.”)

19. Sex Crime

Year Of Release: 1984
Hot 100 Peak: #81

1984’s Touch was the highest charting Eurythmics album, and yielded three top forty hits. At the same time Touch was riding the charts, they released the “side project” 1984 (For The Love Of Big Brother) which was the soundtrack for Michael Radford’s version of the Orwell classic. Radford reportedly hated the music, however, and two versions of the film were released, one with Eurythmics music, and one with an orchestral score. The first single “Sex Crime” was released in November of 1984, and would herald the end of the Touch sound from Eurythmics.

18. Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)

Year Of Release: 1987
Hot 100 Peak: N/A

The 1987 concept album Savage was the lowest charting and selling release from Dave and Annie, and was torn apart by critics. Coincidentally, not only is it my favorite Eurythmics album, I think it’s one of the most brilliant albums of the 80’s. Annie’s “Diary of A Mad Housewife” journey throughout the album was spellbinding, and the opening track “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)” kicks things off spectacularly.

17. A Thousand Beautiful Things

Year Of Release: 2003
Hot 100 Peak: N/A

Annie released Bare, her first studio album in eight years, in 2003, and it debuted at #4, becoming the highest charting album of her career. The opening track is a gorgeous, sparse, and delicate ballad that ranks with the best songs of her solo songbook.

16. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

Year Of Release: 1985
Hot 100 Peak: #18

1985’s Be Yourself Tonight marked another departure for the duo. Gone was the icy synth pop of Touch, and it was replaced with rock and soul influences. The giddy third single was a duet between Annie and Aretha Franklin, with Dave adding the wah-wah guitar for good measure. Their love of classic soul was evident in both this, and the second single released from the album …

15. There Must be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

Year Of Release: 1985
Hot 100 Peak: #22

This was a minor hit in the U.S., but incredibly it was Eurythmics’ only #1 song on the UK chart. Aided by the unmistakable harmonica of Stevie Wonder, it featured some of Annie’s most optimistic vocals.

14. Into The West

Year Of Release: 2004
Hot 100 Peak: N/A

Did you know Annie is halfway to an EGOT? She’s got multiple Grammy Awards, and she added an Oscar to her shelf with this ode to Galadriel from The Return of The King. Now if Dave can get that Eurythmics musical to Broadway … who knows.

13. You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart

Year Of Release: 1988
Hot 100 Peak: #64

There were a multitude of singles released from Savage, but only two hit the Billboard chart. “You Have Placed A Chill” was Annie at her best … steely but vulnerable.

12. Don’t Ask Me Why

Year Of Release: 1989
Hot 100 Peak: #40

1989’s We Too Are One was a huge hit in the UK, but it stiffed in the U.S., and only one single managed to chart. “Don’t Ask me Why” would be Eurythmics final top 40 hit in The States.

11. No More I Love You’s

Year Of Release: 1995
Hot 100 Peak: #23

The first single from Annie’s covers album Medusa won her the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and it’s easy to see why. Her remake of The Lover Speaks’ song is a triumph of eccentricity (and has been sampled by, among others … Nicki Minaj)

10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Year Of Release: 1993
Hot 100 Peak: #1

“Look at this freak on MTV!”

9. Love Is A Stranger

Year Of Release: 1983
Hot 100 Peak: #23

The second single from Sweet Dreams cemented Eurythmics as the coolest harbingers of 80’s synth pop, and let’s face it, the song is just one long Annie orgasm.

8. Would I Lie To You

Year Of Release: 1985
Hot 100 Peak: #5

First single from Be Yourself Tonight sounded like nothing we had heard from Eurythmics before, and after the initial shock, it became one of their biggest hits. Annie’s kick-ass attitude was on full display, especially in the video, where she gives Steven Bauer the heave-ho.

7. Who’s That Girl

Year Of Release: 1984
Hot 100 Peak: #21

Second single from Touch, it’s one of the greatest synth ballads of the decade, and when I first heard it my immediate reaction was “This is really … British.”

6. Walking On Broken Glass

Year Of Release: 1992
Hot 100 Peak: #14

The second single from Diva was Annie’s highest charting solo single, and may be the most joyous breakup song ever recorded.

5. Missionary Man

Year Of Release: 1986
Hot 100 Peak: #14

Blistering opening track from 1986’s erratic Revenge, it won them the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal, and was yet another departure from their early sound. This and the #4 song were probably Annie’s greatest take-no-prisoners vocal moments with Eurythmics.

4. I Need A Man

Year Of Release: 1987
Hot 100 Peak: #46

First single from Savage is Eurythmics’ most underrated single, and features a go-for-broke Annie at full power. It’s sexy, sleazy, and has provided many fun times at karoake (take my word for it).

3. Brand New Day

Year Of Release: 1988
Hot 100 Peak: N/A

The final track on Savage put the entire album in perspective, as Annie’s schizophrenic character faces a new beginning … or the end of her life. Or was it all a dream? She leaves the interpretation to you, but this is one of her greatest vocal performances.

2. Here Comes The Rain Again

Year Of Release: 1984
Hot 100 Peak: #4

First single from Touch, it proved that “Sweet Dreams” was no fluke, and became their second highest charting single. Simply put, it’s the greatest synth-pop song of the decade. Cold, and a bit creepy, and just stunning.

1. Why

Year Of Release: 1992
Hot 100 Peak: #34

“I may be mad, I may be blind, I may be viciously unkind”

The first single of her solo career, “Why” was a chart disappointment, barely scratching the top forty, but it’s one of the most gorgeous songs ever written. It provided the perfect showcase for Annie and her vocal strengths – cool indifference hiding a delicate vulnerability, and in the years since its release has become a pop classic.

Okay, your turn! What are your Annie favorites?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.