20 years on from their debut, here are Placebo's greatest triumphs

It's been 20 years since Placebo released their phenomenal self-titled debut - a milestone that led us to premiere exclusive footage of their 1997 Jools Holland performance.

The band have been celebrating by re-releasing their first five albums on vinyl, releasing their greatest b-sides and rarities on streaming services, as well as revealing rare archive footage, including never-before-seen live performances and interviews.

It seemed only fitting, then, for us to look back over the band's innovative career, and whittle down their back-catalogue, singling out our favourite tracks and ranking them from great to greatest.


  • 15. 'Twenty Years': A criminally-underrated one-off from their greatest hits, displaying Molko at his most elegiac - showing a Cure-esque gothic marriage of misery and melody. Beautiful.

  • 14. 'Too Many Friends': The band finding new relevance , with a scorching critique of finding meaning in the age of social media.

  • 13. 'This Picture': One of many gems from the Sleeping With Ghosts era, Molko creates a modern, hedonistic take on a reverse Dorian Gray - looking back on eternal youth and wincing at the ageing horizon. Something we can all relate to, especially as everybody knows 'the ashtray girl'.

  • 12. 'Black-Eyed': Placebo at the peak of their powers, preaching how a twisted youth and broken home can raise a generation of freaks and other.

  • 11. 'Slave To The Wage': If there's one thing that Placebo are masters of, it's portraying that anxiety of modern life - a nine to five that's little more than a race for rats to die.

  • 10. 'Nancy Boy': Embodying the band's entire liberal ethos and manifesto, as well as acting as a springboard to stardom and an instant classic. Few bands could better such an early peak, but Placebo are no ordinary band.

  • 9. 'Loud Like Love': The title track from their latest LP, this is a refreshing, bolder than brass statement of intent - a timeless reminder that Placebo aren't going anywhere: "For all of our youth, we have craved them - their beauty and their truth - breathe, breathe, believe."

  • 8. 'Meds': Another twisted tale of a mind torn inside out through living on the heavy side, and featuring VV from The Kills on guest vocals, this makes for the perfect, heart-racing anthem for anyone who's been on the dark side of 'the sex, and the drugs, and the consequences'.

  • 7. 'B3': A pulsing, futuristic rocker that sadly seems to have slipped under the radar of the mainstream, but now standing towering a not only a highlight of their live set but an utterly enthralling battle cry and call to arms.

  • 6. 'Come Home': From that slapping echo snare drum and choppy guitar intro to Molko's first emaciated squeal, this old friend will take all Placebo fans of a certain age back to a halcyon 90s haze, but its desperation and angst transcends age. Some things you just don't grow out of.

  • 5. 'Without You, I'm Nothing': The combination of Placebo and David Bowie was never going to be anything short of historic, but who could have known that the product would be such an achingly raw and beautiful ode to obsession, loneliness and despair?

  • 4. 'Every You, Every Me': Another monumental moment in modern rock history that sees Molko and co shoulder to shoulder with the greats, you'd struggle to find a more raucous and universal open-heart view into two misfits, bound together.

  • 3. 'The Bitter End': Oof, that intro.

  • 2. 'Pure Morning': Arguably Placebo's most internationally recognisable and beloved song, it's such a rich, textured modern rock staple.

  • 1. 'Taste In Men': Placebo may not always get due credit for the sheer breadth of ground and sounds they've covered, which is why it's fitting that this bubbling, space-age blast of howling, claustrophobic electro-rock should prove a career highlight. Menacingly majestic, it contains all that's great about this band: gazing on in horror, but always on top.

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Photo: Justine Trickett