20 Of The Best Dream Pop Songs – Vol. 1

Dream pop is not so easy to put in a pigeonhole. It is a style of alternative rock and its musical origins can be traced back from gothic rock to the Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The emergence of Dream Pop is closely linked to the British alternative music label 4AD, which was founded in 1980. Many important and well-known Dream Pop artists and bands have been releasing their music on the 4AD label since the early 1980s.
This song list is the first part of ListenMusic.fm's series of the best Dream Pop songs.

1. Mazzy Star - Fade Into You

Fade Into You is the best-known track by the American alternative rock band Mazzy Star. In addition to her band projects Mazzy Star and Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, the singer Hope Sandoval has also worked with numerous other artists, including the following: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Massive Attack, Mercury Rev, Air, The Chemical Brothers.

2. Beach House - Myth

Myth, a track by the American dream pop band Beach House, is from their fourth studio album Bloom. The American music magazine Billboard wrote about the role of Beach House singer Victoria Legrand's voice in the track Myth:
"Victoria Legrand’s scratchy, haunting voice saunters in expanses of reverb over pillowy programmed percussion and pawn-shop organ plinks."[1]

3. The Sundays - Can't Be Sure

Can't Be Sure is the debut single released in 1989 by the British alternative rock and indie pop band The Sundays.

4. Galaxie 500 - Strange 

The American alternative rock band Galaxie 500 is an important pioneer of the dream pop genre. For our first part of the best Dream Pop songs, we have selected their track Strange from 1989.

5. Low - Just Make It Stop

The band Low was an American indie rock band from Duluth, a port city in Minnesota. Musically, the band was associated with the alternative rock subgenres slowcore and dream pop. Just Make It Stop was the first single from their 2013 album The Invisible Way.

6. The Church - Reptile

Compared to later recordings, The Church started out in 1980 with somewhat faster indie rock and new wave songs. Eventually, in the course of their musical development, they also produced slower songs that are very close to the dream pop genre. The band released the track Reptile, which changes from a faster driving tempo to slower phases, as a single in 1988.

7. This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren

This Mortal Coil is a British rotating music collaboration of dream pop and gothic rock musicians and music producers (Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Pixies), whose best-known track is Song To The Siren. Released in September 1983, the song is the first single by the British supergroup, which existed from 1983 to 1991.
Song to the Siren, a cover version of the Tim Buckley song of the same name, was released by the 4AD label. 4AD was founded in 1980 by Ivo Watts-Russell, who led the music collective This Mortal Coil, together with Peter Kent. The song was performed by Cocteau Twins band members Elizabeth Fraser (vocals) and Robin Guthrie (guitar).

8. The Golden Palominos - These Days

These Days by the American alternative rock band The Golden Palominos appeared on their 1993 album This Is How It Feels and vocals come by Lori Carson. These Days is a cover song that Jackson Browne originally published in 1967. The Golden Palominos are musically diverse and not so easy to categorize into one genre, whereby this track could be classified as dream pop.

9. Lana Del Rey - Love 

First of all, the almost 5-minute-long music video for Love is great cinema and tailor-made for the song. After all, the video is set in outer space and leaves plenty of creative scope for the viewer's imagination. The Australian music magazine Musik Feeds wrote about the Lana Del Rey song Love in February 2017:
"Once again, the popstar formerly known as Lizzy Grant has nailed her unique brand of glamorous retro sad-sackery right on its pretty little head, and we adore her for it."[2]

10. Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas

The influence of the Scottish band Cocteau Twins on the Dream Pop genre is huge. In the early and mid-1980s, Cocteau Twins were already shaping the sound of later Dream Pop bands. The song Heaven or Las Vegas, which was released in October 1990, is from their sixth studio album of the same name.

11. Cranes - Jewel

When you hear the British band Cranes for the first time, you will immediately notice the extraordinary, childlike voice of singer Alison Shaw. The Cranes' musical style is not so easy to pin down. However, Cranes are most often described as a dream pop or shoegaze band. The Cranes' best-known track is Jewel, which Robert Smith from The Cure remixed. Robert Smith holds Cranes in high esteem, and the band also opened for The Cure.

12. Still Corners - The Trip

The songs of the British-American dream pop band Still Corners appear in numerous TV series, films, short films and commercials. One of Still Corners' most popular tracks is The Trip, the first album track on their 2013 album Strange Pleasures.

13. Slowdive - Star Roving

Slowdive are among the best-known representatives of the shoegaze genre. Some of the quieter songs by shoegaze band Slowdive can also be assigned to the dream pop genre. Dream pop is not as noisy as shoegaze, so in principle it is a little quieter. At the beginning of 2017, Slowdive released Star Roving, the band's first single release in more than 20 years.

14. Ride - Lannoy Point

And for the next track, a little quiz question first: What does the single Lannoy Point by British alternative rock band Ride have in common with the single Star Roving by Slowdive? Hint: The answer has nothing to do with the musical genre. The answer: Lannoy Point is the first release of a new single by Ride in more than 20 years. Slowdive's last single release before Star Roving was also more than 20 years ago. With Lannoy Point, Ride succeeded in creating a catchy shoegaze / dream pop earworm in which synthesizers, guitar sounds and drums seem to melt into one another.

15. Asobi Seksu - Thursday 

In 2006, the New York shoegaze/dream pop band Asobi Seksu released their single Thursday. It is the 11th track on their album Citrus.
If you're wondering why you can't understand Asobi Seksu singer Yuki Chikudate so well acoustically in the song Thursday, it's not carelessness on the singer's part, but intentional, as the UK music magazine Drowned in Sound revealed in its single review of Thursday:
"‘Thursday’ is more confusing than ‘New Years’, because it reveals less. Lead singer Yuki is difficult to understand, in either English or Japanese – she switches in an entirely deliberate fashion – leaving the metaphors peering through these tracks mysterious."[3]

16. All About Eve - Phased

In the early 90s, the sound of the English indie rock band All About Eve changed from gothic rock to the dream pop / shoegaze genre. In 1992, the song Phased was released on the EP of the same name and is the first track on their fourth studio album Ultraviolet.

17. The Cure - This Twilight Garden

Although The Cure are not clearly labeled as a dream pop band like Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins or Beach House, some of their tracks come very close to this genre. One of these songs is This Twilight Garden, which appeared as a B-track on their 1992 single High.

18. A.R. Kane - Haunting

British indie rock music duo A.R. Kane are said to have coined the term Dream Pop. Rudy Tambala revealed to the music magazine Pitchfork that their music was literally inspired by lucid dreams:
"What would happen was that we’d hear music in our dreams and wake ourselves up to write down melodies, lyrics or even just the atmosphere that we wanted to capture. Our music was literally dream pop."[4]
Haunting is an A.R. Kane song on the B-side of the 1986 single When You're Sad.
Oh yes, by the way! Did you know that A.R. Kane and the English music group Colourbox were responsible for the 1987 chart hit Pump Up the Volume? In fact, both bands had international chart success with the joint project M|A|R|R|S and their single Pump Up the Volume.

19. Blonde Redhead - Here Sometimes

In our first best of dream pop songs list we have now with the American alternative rock band Blonde Redhead once again a band that releases its music via the British record label 4AD. Since the band was founded, singer Kazu Makino, who also plays keyboards and rhythm guitar, and the two musicians Amadeo and Simone Pace, who are twin brothers, have been an integral part of Blonde Redhead. Here Sometimes is the first track on their 2010 album Penny Sparkle, which was also released as a single in the same year.

20. Lush - Sweetness and Light

The dream pop / shoegaze song Sweetness and Light is one of the first singles by the British alternative rock band Lush and was released in 1990. The music label 4AD signed Lush in 1989. Lush are considered to be one of the first shoegaze bands ever.


[1] Staff, B. (2012, March 31). Track Review: Beach House, ‘Myth’ – Billboard. https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/track-review-beach-house-myth-1067038/

[2] Mack, E. (2017, February 19). Hear Lana Del Rey’s Cinematic New Song ‘Love’ Music Feeds. https://musicfeeds.com.au/news/hear-lana-del-reys-cinematic-new-song-love/

[3] Shapiro, S. (2007, August 6). Single Review: Asobi Seksu - Thursday / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound. https://drownedinsound.com/releases/10632/reviews/2242874-

[4] Reynolds, S. (2023, September 27). Catching up with Rudy Tambala of A.R. Kane, the best ’80s Dream-Pop band you’ve never heard. Pitchfork. https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/ar-kane-interview-2023/

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