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Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig | © chriszak/Flickr
Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig | © chriszak/Flickr
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An Introduction To NYC's Vampire Weekend In 10 Songs

Picture of Rachelle Eason
Updated: 29 June 2016
Discovering new music and acquainting yourself with a new band can be overwhelming, but it’s also the gateway to a potential new favorite. With a Grammy Award-wining band like Vampire Weekend, it’s hard to narrow down to ten essentials. From their heavily African and Ska-influenced albums Vampire Weekend and Contra, to the darker, more emotional Modern Vampires of the City, we have put together a list of ten must-listen songs to get you going on your Vampire Weekend binge.

‘Oxford Comma’

Use of the Oxford comma often leads to heated debates amongst grammar enthusiasts. For Vampire Weekend, it led to an instant hit on their self-titled album, Vampire Weekend. Written after lead singer Ezra Koenig discovered a Facebook group called ‘Students for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma’, the song received high praise from the likes of Pitchfork and Rolling Stones. This simple yet catchy tune isn’t necessarily about giving a ‘f***k about the oxford comma’, but rather about life itself, Koneig relayed in an interview with Vanity Fair.

‘A-Punk’

You can’t help but feel a little bit happier when listening to ‘A-Punk’. This is a little bit different from their other songs on the album with its upbeat melody, but it contains their signature lyrical originality. Although this song received mixed reviews from critics, it did make it to number 12 on the UK Indie Charts when it came out. This was the first song they performed on live television on the Late Show with David Letterman.

‘Step’

From their 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City, ‘Step’, like the rest of the songs on this album, is more mellow. The melody is reminiscent of a psychedelic 1970s band, filled with melancholic lyrics. ‘Step’ represents the influences of the band and even uses Souls of Mischief’s ‘Step to my Girl’ chorus.

‘Ya Hey’

Like many Vampire Weekend songs, ‘Ya Hey’ has a deeper meaning than it lets on. This song is laced with religious imagery, with the title itself being a play on words with the Hebrew word for God (Yahweh). In an interview with Spin Magazine, Koenig expressed that this album did have some religious themes tied into it, but, above all, it was about what’s ‘bigger than yourself.’

‘Hanna Hunt’

There is so much raw emotion throughout this song. What seems to be a continuation of their song ‘Run’ from their second album Contra, about two lovers running away, this song explores the darker sides of relationships and how things can go awry. What starts off as a simple, soft beat explodes into anguish as Koenig sings about how the success of the relationship lies in trust, and if there is none, ‘there’s no future, there’s no answer.’

‘Walcott’

One of Vampire Weekend’s lesser-known songs, ‘Walcott’ is still a favorite amongst fans. Based off of a horror movie that the group made together (which subsequently inspired the band’s name), this song is basically a condensed version of the plot.

‘Don’t Lie’

Off of their third album, ‘Don’t Lie’ is a reminder of how little time we have. Throughout the song, imagery of fading youth intertwines with the impeding notion that time will eventually run out. In the same manner of the other songs on this album, the melody manages to be both upbeat and melancholic. The sound of the organ playing softly in the background is a chilling calling card to what lies ahead.

‘White Sky’

It is only fitting to put ‘White Sky’ on our list. It’s one of those songs that showcases not only the control Koenig has with his voice, but also his different ranges. But, more importantly, it is a beautiful tribute to Manhattan life. You can’t help but feel cheerful when listening to this song.

‘Unbelievers’

Even the beat of ‘Unbelievers’ is cheerful. This energetic, upbeat song distracts listeners from the more dismal undertones of the lyrics, which describe how ‘the fire awaits unbelievers’, amongst other things. Despite the darker lyrics, this is a catchy song worth listening to this summer.

‘Horchata’

The first song on their second album, Contra, ‘Horchata’ is a fan favorite. In keeping with their classic style (which they strayed from in Modern Vampires of the City), Horchata is filled with African musical influences and peppy beats, which some say are reminiscent of Paul Simon’s iconic album, Graceland.