10 Best Jessie Ware Songs

The United Kingdom’s most likeable pop star, Jessie Ware is charming where other mainstream acts leave me cold. She has a gorgeous voice, but she’s closer to the sophisticated poise of Sade than the vocal histrionics of Celine Dion. Ware’s body of work – dance-pop and blue-eyed soul – is tuneful and heartfelt.

Ware is from a prominent family – her father is a BBC reporter and her sister is an actor. Ware’s appeal, however, comes from a down-to-earth charm. She worked as a sports journalist before launching a music career. Her songs reflect a settled domestic life, while she hosts a cooking podcast with her mother in her spare time.

I usually refrain from making best song lists for artists who are still in their prime. It creates work for myself, as I have to go back and change them later as they release more material. But in this case, it feels right – Ware already has a killer ten best songs. Although Ware’s a successful album artist in the UK, where all four of her albums have reached the top ten, she’s only enjoyed one top 30 single.

10 Best Jessie Ware Songs

#10 Spotlight

from What’s Your Pleasure?, 2020
‘Spotlight’ is a great introduction to Jessie Ware’s reinvention as a dance artist. There’s a soulful opening before it settles into its sleek and sophisticated disco groove, and it’s the perfect first single for What’s Your Pleasure?. It was difficult to select songs from Ware’s acclaimed What’s Your Pleasure from this list – it’s so even, ,and it didn’t take me many listens to decide it was one of the year’s best records.

#9 Taking In Water

from Devotion, 2012
The chorus payoff on ‘Taking In Water’ a little disappointing, but the verses and pre-chorus are stellar. It’s written about Ware’s relationship with her brother – she told The Sun that “I am quite hard on him a lot of the time and I wanted to write a really heartfelt song to him”.

#8 Save A Kiss

from What’s Your Pleasure?, 2020
‘Save A Kiss’ was the fourth single taken from What’s Your Pleasure? Released during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ware released ‘Save A Kiss’ with the statement “I know I’ve got plenty of kisses I’m saving up for everyone when this is all over.” It’s a great summation of what Ware does well, blending disco with blue-eyed soul.

#7 Running

from Devotion, 2012
‘Running’ was the lead single from Ware’s debut album. It’s a great launchpad for her career with its classy guitar licks and a rhythm based on Prince’s ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’. Despite the smoothness of the music, the video shoot was eventful. Ware fell down the stairs during the shoot, after having a calming whiskey beforehand.

#6 Ooh La La

from What’s Your Pleasure?, 2020
‘Ooh La La’ is Ware at her quirkiest and sassiest. The funky, off-kilter sound reminds me of ‘Breaking Glass’ from David Bowie’s Low. Ware’s a totally different persona though, more sassy wife than decadent thin white duke. It’s fun hearing her deliver one-liners like “you can stay overnight, if you ask politely”.

#5 Alone

from Glasshouse, 2017
Ware’s third album Glasshouse is her weakest to date, her good taste lapsing into predictability. But ‘Alone’ is a strong single, its blue-eyed soul feel suiting Ware’s warm voice. It’s unusual subject matter for a pop song, new parents looking forward to alone time without their child. “Cause I want you on my skin and my bones” works in the context of the song, but it’s an awkward line on paper.

#4 Wildest Moments

from Devotion, 2012
‘Wildest Moments’ is about a fight Ware had with her best friend – Ware found it easier to communicate in a song than in conversation. She later told The Observer that “It was drunken and it ended up with a mudcake I’d made being thrown in my face and a trifle being thrown at her”. Even though the song was inspired by a platonic relationship, it was later used in a Durex commercial. There’s an acoustic version that’s lovely too – it’s just a gorgeous tune.

#3 Night Light

from Devotion, 2012
The cello is an unusual texture in pop music, but it’s the opening sound on ‘Night Light’, played by Israeli cellist Hadas Kleinman. The big vibrant chorus, with its staccato delivery, recalls 1980s pop. Ware dedicated the song to her boyfriend, but later confessed that he “really doesn’t like the song.”

#2 Champagne Kisses

from Tough Love, 2014
Taken from Ware’s sophomore album, Tough Love, ‘Champagne Kisses’ is all about the huge chorus payoff. Ware hits the top of her falsetto range on “When there’s nothing left/Except you and this” and it’s exhilarating. The guitar in the verses is reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’, and the simmering bridge is also gorgeous.

#1 Remember Where You Are

from What’s Your Pleasure?, 2020
‘Remember Where You Are’ wasn’t originally planned as a single until Barack Obama included it on his top tunes of 2020. A performance of the song on The Graham Norton Show returned the album to the charts after an eight-month absence. The producers have acknowledged the song’s debt to Minnie Riperton’s ‘Les Fleurs’. It juxtaposes Ware’s despair at the political situation in the UK with Boris Johnson’s Conservatives returning to power, and her own happy family life.

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    • Her last record got a bunch of critical acclaim, but she’s generally in the mainstream zone where music nerds won’t notice her.

  1. I’ve heard of Jessie Ware, but like my fellow American bloggers who’ve chimed in thus far, am not very familiar with her music. After listening to several songs on your ten best playlist, I think it’s our loss. I especially like “Remember Where You Are”, “Champagne Kisses”, “Alone” and “Running”.

  2. Can’t say I’ve heard a single song, but “closer to the sophisticated poise of Sade than the vocal histrionics of Celine Dion” makes me think that if I do, it won’t go so badly.

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