Ten ridiculously captivating 'Valerie' songs

There was a recent list posted on the internet about "Mary" songs so we thought we would do one about Valeries.
Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson at the Brit wards
Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson at the Brit wards / JMEnternational/GettyImages
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I’m not too proud to steal an idea. You see, I had a different song in this spot, but it was bothering me. It’s a pretty well-known song by a titan of a singer, and it was a decent-sized hit back in the ‘80s. I initially had it around number five or six. But then I listened to it again and those ‘80s synths just bugged me to no end. I realized it’s an ok song, catchy and with a good vocal. But it’s not anything special.

So I slid it down the list. I liked the Adam Ant song more, but reasoned that since Valerie was just a supporting player in that one, it should go at 10. But I still felt like maybe there was something better for the ninth spot.

Then my editor casually mentioned the Decemberists' sophomoric ode to outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, and I had one of those head-smacking “I coulda had a V-8” moments. They released this little indie ditty as part of their Always the Bridesmaid singles collection in 2008, and were going to perform it just before the ’08 election on Conan O’Brien. But they changed plans for some unknown reason.

Nevertheless, it does a lot of what Colin Meloy does best. Catchy tune. Good story. An examination of history. Chris Funk’s banjo adds a nice down-homey touch. Then they go way too far with an overblown outro that drags on an extra two minutes. Without it, this Valerie might have crept up a bit higher.


From the second Roxy Music album – and the final one with Brian Eno. I always admired Roxy Music more than I liked listening to Roxy Music, but there were times when the two feelings merged into one. That’s true on the first two tracks of For Your Pleasure, where the opening track, “Do the Strand” applies a retro varnish atop proto EDM, and then transitions into the shimmering throwback soul of “Party Queen.”

Early Roxy was built on the skittish combination of Eno's electronic experimentation and frontman Bryan Ferry’s love of the past. “Party Queen” only mentions Valerie once, but the song is entirely directed toward her. It opens with “Valerie please believe – It never could work out.”

The remainder of the song is a list of all the wonderful things the singer finds in the girl to whom he is saying farewell. Ferry gives it an overly dramatic reading, while Eno creates a shimmering soundscape behind him and Phil Manzanera gets a spacy little guitar solo right in the middle that threatens to blow the song up – but only for a moment, like the relationship itself.