VNV Nation have been pioneers in the synthpop genre of music, challenging people’s perceptions and expectations and creating their own blend of synthpop, later to be termed futurepop. VNV Nation’s style of music fuses elements of EBM, techno, synth-laden melodies, clear, emotional vocals, and heavy dancefloor pop rhythms, forming a unique combination that has been unrivaled.
When listening to a VNV Nation song, you will hear how the music, the melody, and vocals all form one cohesive unit. As all these elements work together within the song, you are able to focus on the song as a whole masterpiece, which expertly conveys the emotion inherent within the music, be it anger, sadness, or happiness.
To compile a list of the top ten songs by VNV Nation, you also have to consider the many remixes of VNV Nation songs, as many of the various mixes tend to create totally new interpretations of the original song to be discovered and enjoyed by VNV Nation’s rabid fans.
Though the song Honour has been moved aside due to an influx of newer VNV Nation material, its importance has not been forgotten. Stuck between EBM and synthpop, Honour was an instant dancefloor anthem in industrial, gothic, and synthpop clubs. Feet stomped wildly and voices sang high during the dramatic chorus, and it still fills the dancefloor today whenever a DJ rescues it from the vaults. Honour seems to have taken on new meaning due to the current events of the world, and vocalist Ronan sings with guttural intent.
Competing for the number one spot on the list of top ten VNV Nation songs but relegated to number two, Standing is one of those emotional anthems that keep your body moving to rhythm and fills your soul with melancholic delight. The two remixes of Standing are also worth listening to, as the subtle changes in melody and tone enable you to enjoy Standing in a different light while still holding on to the essence of the song. Ronan’s vocals are lighter here than on previous works, as Standing marked a slight change in style. From here, VNV Nation would begin to take firm hold in the synthpop scene, though a few notable tracks still claimed EBM status.
One such song was Saviour, which used heavy synth melodies and pounding beats, along with tight, hard vocals to achieve an angry tone without using angry noises. The song is aggressive but far from harsh. Introspective and sophisticated, Saviour journeys between highs and lows, making you keep pace with the frenetic shifting of energy. The lyrics are poetry, as much of VNV Nation songs tend to be, with religious undertones. Saviour appeared on the Burning Empires album.
At number four, I have chosen the song Legion, from the Empires album. Legion is a passionate song that contains another fine example of lyrical poetry, sung deftly by Ronan Harris. Compiled with raw energy and emotion, Legion is like a dream-dance. The music flows over you softly and carries you away on waves of shimmering light, keeping you aloft until the closing, when it sets you down gently and bids you farewell.
For number five, I choose Rubicon, for it showcases a grand vocal performance by Ronan along with a continuously flowing melody that never wavers. The synchronicity between voice and music is unparalleled, and the emotional energy that flows from the music is addictive, making you want to hear it again and again.
When later VNV Nation albums would tend to focus more on love and self-introspection rather than politics, war, and religion, they released a song called Beloved. Falling into the number six position on the list of top ten VNV Nation songs, the hauntingly beautiful Beloved is a heart-wrenching yet energetically uplifting love ballad, and the additional remixes of the song are worth seeking out, for they completely change the tone of the song.
From the Futureperfect album, Fearless and Epicentre can tie for the number seven spot. Equally capable of keeping a circling energy on the dancefloor, the mantra-like lyrics are catchy and lively. The deftly woven synth sequences aspire to convey a variety of emotions and they succeed, taking the listener on a journey through self and soul.
Solitary is another rousing song that never lets up the pace, rather increasing it as the flow of the song gathers strength and energy. Another fine example of the anthems VNV are best known for Solitary is simplistically beautiful and unwavering.
Similar in style and tone to Solitary but no less appealing is Further. Laden with melody and weepy vocals, the poetic lyrics capture and entrance, and the driving beat binds it all together.
Lastly but certainly not least, Lastlight has probably received very little play in clubs, but skipping over this song would be a great disservice. The long intro slowly builds energy and uplifts you, and the spoken word mantra whispered throughout offers words of encouragement, until at last we reach a thought provoking finish with a few softly sung lines that promise better things to come.