In Scotland, there are certain things we can rely on. Wedding day rain. Arguments about the TRNSMT lineup. Entire articles based solely around a picture of Lewis Capaldi with his arms around a restaurant owner. 

And, every few years, a new collection of quality songs from Teenage Fanclub. 

A person’s opinion of Teenage Fanclub can tell you a lot about them. If they’re not a fan, it tells you they either just haven’t heard enough of their music or they’re a joyless contrarian. Their melodies are so undeniable and warm that actively disliking them would be akin to professing your contempt for sunshine or back massages.

Formed in 1989, the Fannies have become a Scottish institution while attracting critical acclaim, respect from their peers and a devoted fan…base. Beloved by the likes of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, harmonies and songwriting duties throughout their career have been shared by Norman Blake, Gerry Love (who left in 2018) and Raymond McGinley. 

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Teenage Fanclub pass the ‘10-song compilation’ test with flying colours. Put a playlist featuring 10 of their best songs up against that of any other artist in the world and they would stand a fighting chance. 

This isn’t ‘The Very Best of Teenage Fanclub’. An official attempt was made at that with 2003’s ‘Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds - A Shortcut To Teenage Fanclub’, but even at 22 songs there were still plenty of strong contenders that missed the cut (no Alcoholiday???). 

There are also those who would suggest that albums such as 1991’s ‘Bandwagonesque’ and 1995’s ‘Grand Prix’ can be considered Best Ofs on their own.

The following 10 songs are not a definitive list of the band’s greatest songwriting achievements (no Alcoholiday??? Again???), but a selection of high points from over three decades of excellence.

That consistency risks them being taken for granted, but these songs make an argument for Teenage Fanclub being considered one of Scotland’s most significant cultural forces. 

EVERYTHING FLOWS (A Catholic Education, 1990)

There’s a reason this Blake song typically closes the band’s live shows. One of their most anthemic compositions, its memorable “I’ll never know which way to flow, set a course that I don’t know” refrain gives way to increasingly fervent guitar that ends the night with a shot of adrenaline.

THE CONCEPT (Bandwagonesque, 1991)

One great opening begat another. Few songs can boast as memorable an opening couplet as Blake’s “She wears denim wherever she goes/says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo”, and those lines were memorably sung by Hollywood star Charlize Theron in the opening scene of 2011 comedy-drama Young Adult.

STAR SIGN (Bandwagonesque, 1991)

For all the beauty in their harmonies, there’s a wry sense of humour evident in many of the band’s songs. In this power-pop gem, Love undercuts any hint of pretention, singing “There’s a side of me unknown…big deal”.

HANG ON (Thirteen, 1993)

Thirteen proved less popular than its classic predecessor Bandwagonesque, it still contained a number of high points. A grungey play on the riff from T-Rex’s ‘20th Century Boy’ leads into some of the band’s loveliest harmonies. After ‘The Concept’, this continued the group’s record of outstanding album openers.

SPARKY’S DREAM (Grand Prix, 1995)

Released by Creation in the same year as the label put out Oasis’ ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’, Grand Prix is equally deserving of a place among the greatest Britpop-era records. In a just world, Sparky’s Dream would have been given endless radio rotation in the summer of 1995. Maybe mid-90s programmers just weren’t into catchy verses and singalong choruses.

YOUR LOVE IS THE PLACE WHERE I COME FROM (Songs From Northern Britain, 1997)

2002 book ‘31 songs’ was a collection of essays from ‘High Fidelity’ author Nick Hornby about the music that meant the most to him. That the book begins with McGinley’s ‘Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From’ tells you everything about its emotional resonance. A sweet, affecting love song, it’s the Teenage Fanclub tune you’re most likely to hear as a first dance at a wedding (their 1990 cover of ‘Like a Virgin’ aside).

MY UPTIGHT LIFE (Howdy!, 2000)

Another McGinley composition, this is one of the band’s most reflective efforts. His repeated “All my life I’ve felt so uptight, now it’s all alright” lyric is the aural equivalent of a comfort blanket.

CELLS (Man-Made, 2006)

“I can feel the slow decay” sings Blake, but there’s none of that evident in his songwriting. Starting with just an acoustic guitar, the song builds towards a mesmerising solo around the 1:40 mark. Long after receiving the Kurt Cobain seal of approval, the Fannies received recognition from the Nirvana frontman’s peers as Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield of the Lemonheads covered this underrated jewel.

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BABY LEE (Shadows, 2010)

This upbeat single proved that Blake’s talent for creating earworms was as strong as ever on the Fannies’ ninth album. While lyrics like “They had me in mind oh yeah when they designed you” suggest a straightforward love song, one user on claimed that “this song is about being in love with a robot-witch”.

I LEFT A LIGHT ON (I Left A Light On, 2022)

Written by Blake during the mixing sessions for 2021’s ‘Endless Arcade’, this stand-alone single begins with piano that briefly evokes ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ by former labelmates Oasis, before blossoming into a beautiful ballad containing some of the warmest harmonies in the band’s history.



Blake was a co-writer alongside BMX Bandits frontman Duglas T Stewart and Joe McAlinden. Another Bellshill band, another memorable ballad and another classic opening couplet in the vein of The Concept: “I said I don’t think I can take it much longer, she said maybe your tablets should be stronger”.

TEENAGE FANCLUB & DE LA SOUL - FALLIN’ (Judgment Night: Music From The Motion Picture, 1993)

Charlize Theron’s ‘Young Adult’ singalong wasn’t the band’s first brush with Hollywood. They teamed up with legendary hip hop act De La Soul on this cut from the soundtrack for Emilio Estevez thriller Judgment Night. Featuring a sample of ‘Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, the Scottish band’s melodic instincts help to provide a fitting platform for the laidback raps of the New Yorkers.

TEENAGE FANCLUB & JAD FAIR - CRUSH ON YOU (Words of Wisdom and Hope, 2002)

Norman Blake picked The Modern Lovers’ self-titled debut album as one of his all-time favourites in a 2021 interview with The Quietus, and there are shades of Jonathan Richman’s influential band on this unconventional collaboration with Jad Fair of cult American group Half Japanese.

ALVVAYS - IN UNDERTOW (Antisocialites, 2017)

The likes of Big Star, the Byrds and the Velvet Underground can be counted among the band’s influences, but the Fannies have in turn had a significant impact on numerous modern acts. Blake sang backing vocals on the opening track from Canadian indie group Alvvays’ excellent second album, and in 2017 frontwoman Molly Rankin told Under The Radar “We’re huge Teenage Fanclub fans…We sang ‘Alcoholiday’ with him and that was sort of a foggy dream that I didn’t think would ever occur”. 

TEENAGE FANCLUB - ALCOHOLIDAY (Bandwagoneseque, 1991)

Ah, go on then.