Depeche Mode

Never Let Me Down Again

Song Review by

Depeche Mode had long blurred the line between pop and more experimental styles, but "Never Let Me Down Again" seemed to almost blur the edges of reality. What composer Martin Gore claimed was merely an ode to a plane ride, took on ever more preposterous proportions when fans and critics set to work interpreting the song for their own ends.

The confusion lay in the number's simple, straight-forward lyrics being thrown against a grandiose musical backdrop, giving the words much more weight than they'd otherwise merit, and thus egging listeners on to hypothesize ever more elaborate meanings to them.

Skipping over the themes of homo-erotica, drugs and the like which were many observers’ first guest, one of the more intriguing theories places the song as a tribute to Marc Almond, pointing out the coda’s strong resemblance to the finale of Soft Cell's "Torch". Or, perhaps, the band were leaving behind the factories of Germany to fly off to explore the mountains of Slovakia, as another enterprising critic drew parallels between that country's most famous sons Laibach and "Never Let Me Down"'s Wagnerian sense of musical proportion.

Even as critics and fans' flights of fancy soared, however, the single itself glided gracefully up the British chart and into the Top 25. In later years, the song would also provoke a cover from the Smashing Pumpkins. But that's another kettle of fish entirely!

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Music for the Masses 1987 Mute 4:48
Just Say Yes: Sire's Winter CD Music Sampler 1987
Various Artists
Sire 9:31
Never Let Me Down Again 1987 Mute
Une Nuit a La Mode, Vol. 1 1990 Antilles 7:00
X1 Disc 3: The Twelve Inches (Trois) 1991 Arista 9:31
No Image 1991 Arista 0:00
X1 [Box] 1991 Sire
No Image 1993 ADD Records 4:50
Lost Property 1996
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:19
The Singles 86>98 1998 Mute / Reprise
Videos 1986-1998 1998 Warner Bros.
The Singles 81>98 2001 EMI 4:22
Videos 86>98+ 2002 Mute
Singles Box, Vol. 4 2004 Reprise / Mute 9:36
Singles Box, Vol. 5 2004 Reprise / Mute 5:01
Remixes 81>04 2004 Reprise 9:31
The Best Of, Vol. 1 2006 Reprise / Sire / Mute
Top of the Pops 1987 2008
Various Artists
EMI 4:22
Top of the Pops Collection [43 CD] 2008
Various Artists
Epic, Vol. 2 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:20