Today I have the wonderful privilege of prepping you for the weekend with ten albums to soundtrack your Friday evening. We all need to blow off a little steam after a five-day slog in the office – or wherever we might find ourselves plugging away to make ends meet. I am aware that some of you will be weekend shift workers; if so, replace the Friday in this article for whatever day is most akin to that Friday feeling for you.
When thinking of a Friday, like me, you might have come across The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’ while flipping through the racks of your mind. I’m afraid you won’t find this song in the below soundtrack because, as I’m sure you won’t need reminding, the album ‘Friday I’m In Love’ find’s itself on, Wish, is a Cure album, so naturally, it has a fair share of depressing (Monday?) songs.
Instead, the albums I’ve selected have been chosen for consideration as a whole. This is a much more difficult task than I initially thought. Most albums worth listening to tend to balance a selection of upbeat and slower tempo tracks that range from ecstasy to melancholia. Today, of course, we want to focus on the former, and so I have picked albums that, on the whole, contain upbeat danceable music.
While making my selections, I became increasingly aware of how depressing my music taste tends to be. Alas, I have defied the odds to bring you ten albums that give me that uplifting Friday feeling and may even tempt me to dance after a couple of shandies. As a forewarning, there will be the odd song on some of the albums that will lower the tone for your bustling Friday party. I suggest these tracks are put aside for the early evening, perhaps as a soundtrack for your getting ready routine, or while you wait for your friends to arrive.
After a hard week at work, we may find ourselves reaching out for something peaceful to lull ourselves into a restful sleep. But we mustn’t give in to this temptation, not yet. Fridays are for blowing off steam, Sundays are for resting. Today you need something that makes you want to move. So, as our funky friend James Brown would say, “get up offa that thing” and have a shuffle through the following ten best albums for a Friday.
10 best albums for a Friday night
The Stooges – Raw Power
Is there any album better to get fired up for a wild Friday night out? Iggy’s third and final studio album with his proto-punk group, The Stooges, was among the most alluring rock albums of the early 1970s. The iconic photograph of the androgynous Iggy taken by the late photographer Mick Rock draws you in first to The Stooge’s trademark lair of provocative and depraved sounds.
The album’s producer David Bowie described it as a work of “wound-up ferocity and chaos”. Indeed, the pacey music within is marched to perfection with the iconic frontman’s raw yellings. True justice can only be done with the volume turned up to 11. The album begins strongly with ‘Search and Destroy’ and ‘Gimme Danger’, two tracks that will shake off any residual lethargy from the working week and prepare you for a wild Friday night.
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Sheffield indie-rock group Arctic Monkeys hit us hard and fast with two number one hits in quick succession. ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ (2005) and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ (2006) took the radio waves by storm and left us ravenous for more. Luckily, we only had to wait one week following the release of ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ for the group’s much-anticipated debut album to grace us with its presence, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The album was a generation-defining classic studded with upbeat indie anthems that find a good home at any alternative club night. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not has always seemed the perfect album to soundtrack a Friday night with its poignant imagery of British youth culture. Alex Turner’s insightful lyrics spark nostalgia while the music peps you up, ready for a weekend of youthful high jinks.
Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues
While I would place Talking Heads’ previous two albums, Fear Of Music (1979) and Remain In Light (1980), much higher up the ladder of musical excellence than 1983’s Speaking In Tongues on any other day, on a Friday, I make an exception.
Talking Heads carved out their own brand of rock music that many people call post-punk, but in reality, their unique blend is something that can’t, and shouldn’t, be bound by genre classification. Speaking In Tongues came as the New York group’s most consistently upbeat and danceable album. Every track beams with an unbridled optimism while remaining effortlessly cool, something that will forever suit that Friday feeling.
The B-52’s – The B-52’s
These new-wave giants from Athens, Georgia really knew how to lay down a danceable rock anthem. Their early gigs drew in swathes of students from the University of Georgia with the irresistible groove of formative hits, such as ‘Planet Claire’, ‘Rock Lobster’ and ’52 Girls’.
The debut album was even endorsed by John Lennon. The late Beatle heard the up and coming group in the late 1970s shortly before his death. “I was at a dance club one night in Bermuda,” Lennon said in a 1980 interview. “Upstairs, they were playing disco, and downstairs I suddenly heard ‘Rock Lobster’ by the B-52s for the first time. Do you know it? It sounds just like Yoko’s music.” Lennon cited ‘Rock Lobster’ as one of the main inspirations behind his return to music with Double Fantasy. “I said to myself, ‘It’s time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up,” Lennon concluded.
The Streets – Original Pirate Material
In 2002, Mike Skinner brought something fresh and invigorating with the first album of his garage-inspired project, The Streets. Skinner shows off his skills as an accomplished wordsmith as he paints the good, bad and ugly aspects of a young life in South London.
The lyrics tell tales of everyday life with the welcomed injection of Skinner’s quick wit. The garage beats throughout give the album the pace required to soundtrack any Friday night party worth it’s salt. With hits like ‘Has It Come to This?’, ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ and ‘Same Old Thing’, need I say more?
T. Rex – Electric Warrior
In 1971, T. Rex released their masterpiece album, Electric Warrior. The album hears Marc Bolan at his best with a bounty of groovy glam-rock anthems including ‘Get It On’, ‘Jeepster’, ‘Mambo Sun’ and ‘The Motivator’.
Admittedly, there are a couple of acoustic songs that are a little slow for a Friday evening like ‘Cosmic Dancer’ and ‘Life’s A Gas’. But the lively tracks definitely outweigh these and offer something that can be equally applied to a preparatory bedroom scene as you slather on your makeup pre-party, or indeed as the main course, as you show your finest moves on the dancefloor in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Can you really afford not to have a little Bolan to spice up your Friday?
Parcels – Parcels
To any young readers, I apologise for all the golden oldies on this list. As a peace offering, I bring you the unmitigated beauty of Parcels’ first album. The record was released in 2018 and is a classy, funky electro-rock masterclass from the Australian five-piece.
The album is awash with belting tracks to soundtrack your Friday from the minute you wake up to the early hours of Saturday. The music beams with positive energy and draws from a variety of musical flavours in a unique blend of rock, funk and disco that I personally can’t help but dance to.
David Bowie – Young Americans
In the mid-1970s, David Bowie made a marked departure from his glam-rock ties as he delved into a more soul-orientated spell. The major fruit of this era was 1975’s Young Americans. The album is by no means the late Starman’s finest artistry, but few of Bowie’s albums are as good for getting down and groovy to as this one. ‘Fame’, Bowie’s famous collaboration with John Lennon, is a particularly danceable number.
In true soul fashion, the album doesn’t have a dark moment. While there are slower tracks like ‘Win’ and ‘Can You Hear Me’, the album maintains that air of optimism you need on a Friday. Perhaps play ‘Win’ in the car on the way home from work and save the likes of ‘Fame’ and ‘Fascination’ for partying later on.
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
Every weekend needs a little bit of hip-hop thrown into the mix. So when laying out these albums for perfect Friday listening, naturally, at least 10% would have to be put aside for the genre. What better artist to choose than the original hip-hop heroes, N.W.A.?
The group’s seminal debut album Straight Outta Compton oozes with that confidence you need on a Friday to allow you to truly “express yourself”. We can thank the producers, Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, for the seamless mix of synthesised beats, funky guitar riffs and groovy samples that bounce throughout the album. Throw some of the greatest rappers of their generation into the mix, and you have one damn fine album.
Happy Mondays – Pills’ n’ Thrills And Bellyaches
This list would seem incomplete without Manchester’s dance-rock giants, Happy Mondays. The group are known for their more dancey contributions to the famed Factory label. Their funky music appeared to ignite the rave scene of the 1990s, which sprouted from the Happy Mondays’ spiritual home, the Hacienda club.
Happy Monday’s had been around since 1980 but didn’t hit their peak until the release of their third studio LP, Pills’ n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, in 1990. Fronted by the charismatic Shaun Ryder and his pill-popping, maraca-shaking sidekick Bez, the group delivered some of their biggest hits on this album, including ‘Step On’, ‘Kinky Afro’ and ‘Loose Fit’. Pills’ n’ Thrills And Bellyaches is a surefire party pleaser.