Eskimo Joe's Top 10 Songs Ranked

6 July 2023 | 3:15 pm | Mary Varvaris

We’ve gone back in time and tracked down the ten most popular Eskimo Joe songs to celebrate one of Australia's finest rock bands.

Eskimo Joe

Eskimo Joe (Credit: Jarrad Seng)

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Eskimo Joe have dominated the Australian radio landscape since 2001, delivering deliriously catchy, ambitious indie rock tunes that connected with triple j and Triple M listeners alike. 

They’re one of those bands that are now embedded in the Australian cultural consciousness, but how often does anyone talk about the magic created by singer, bassist and keyboardist Kav Temperley, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Stuart MacLeod and drummer, guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist Joel Quartermain

We’ve gone back in time and tracked down the ten most popular Eskimo Joe songs, from Black Fingernails, Red Wine to Foreign Land, to celebrate one of Australia’s finest rock bands.

10. Say Something (2020)

Eskimo Joe’s first song in seven years should have felt like a moment, and it did. A growing, poppier number (particularly on the keyboards), Say Something channelled a more optimistic side of the band when we really needed them. 

The follow-up to 2013’s Wastelands, Eskimo Joe sounds more polished than ever when they command listeners to take a call to arms to address the horrific 2019/2020 bushfires, floods and famine across the world and more intimate issues. “The song is about hope and what it means to be a humanitarian,” they said. It’s hard not to feel hopeful when you listen to Say Something.

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9. Love Is A Drug (2011)

Kav Temperley’s lower register is gorgeous, and to hear it on Love Is A Drug is a real treat. Love Is A Drug, from 2011’s Ghosts Of The Past, is the closest Eskimo Joe have ever come to sounding like U2 – not a bad thing. The song saw the band receive a nomination for Best Video at the 2011 ARIA Awards and peaked at #38 on the ARIA Singles Chart, extending the band’s commercial domination with another banger.

8. Who Sold Her Out (2001)

Who Sold Her Out, from Eskimo Joe’s debut album, Girl, saw the band hit the ARIA Singles Chart at #94. Not quite a sign of grandiose proportions like other songs on this list, the pop-punk side of the band – with a Tom Morello-esque guitar solo for fun – is satisfying to listen to.

7. Older Than You (2004)

A Song Is A City is a banging album. As much as we adore From The Sea at The Music, Older Than You is this heart-on-your-sleeve pop-rock tune that’s just a joy to listen to. Any song that features Temperley’s vocal cracks just makes it sweeter. The music video was directed by Nash Edgerton, who went on to direct the excellent Australian black comedy series, Mr Inbetween. Older Than You peaked at #46 on the ARIA Singles Chart and brought home the ARIA Award for Best Group, with the band receiving further nominations.

6. Sweater (1998)

Let’s go back in time to a rocking single that doesn’t get talked about enough. Receiving significant airplay on triple j, Sweater (from the band’s debut EP of the same name) landed at #33 on the triple j Hottest 100 of 1998, bringing Eskimo Joe to national attention on Australia’s youth broadcaster. It’s fun, punky, super energetic, and worlds away from some of the other songs on this list. Check out the 2022 version below. 

Who would’ve thought that the band that wrote Sweater would go on to sample traditional Turkish music? 

5. Sarah (2006)

The first song we’ll share from Black Fingernails, Red Wine, Sarah is another awesome rock song where each band member shares centre stage. Quartermain, in particular, gets to crush, tinker and experiment with the drums. How can you not love another great Eskimo Joe song?

4. New York (2006)

There’s a reason why three out of the top five Eskimo Joe songs on Spotify come from Black Fingernails, Red Wine: because the album is that good and was that ubiquitous in Australia at the time. Anchored by pulsing keyboards and Temperley’s emotive vocals, the band crafted a luscious, dreamy soundscape on New York; the track was more than worthy of hitting #26 on the ARIA Charts and a premiere on Rage.

3. Foreign Land (2009)

Perhaps the most epic-sounding song Eskimo Joe have ever released, Foreign Land from their Inshalla album, comes from a poignant place. Temperley was walking in New York City when he discovered that Heath Ledger had passed away and recalled, “He'd died two blocks from where I was walking, and at the time I was walking, and it started snowing. He was from Perth, and we were in New York City, this big foreign city and I felt this immense loneliness of this kid from my hometown dying by himself there.”

Looping an eight-second sample of traditional Turkish music and adding drums and guitars, Foreign Land is Eskimo Joe at their most otherworldly and ambitious. The song saw the band earn second place in the 2009 Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition, peaked at #13 on the ARIA Charts, and was named the Most Played Australian Work and Rock Work of the Year at the 2010 APRA Music Awards.

2. From The Sea (2004)

One of 12 songs Temperley wrote about Fremantle and his loved ones living in the city, From The Sea is another top-tier Eskimo Joe track. The lead single from their second studio album, A Song Is a City, From The Sea only hinted at the kind of success the band would find with their brand of dramatic, mesmerising rock music, reaching #33 on the ARIA Singles Chart. From The Sea was #3 on the triple j Hottest 100 of 2004, behind Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out and Missy HigginsScar. It’s one of those songs Chris Martin probably wishes he had written.

1. Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006)

Who doesn’t remember that keyboard stroke next to a pounding drum that opens Black Fingernails, Red Wine? The title track from their June 2006 album is irresistible, peak Eskimo Joe. It saw the East Fremantle trio reach the ARIA Top 10 Singles chart, peaking at #6. The song won the ARIA Award for Single Of The Year and came second on the triple j Hottest 100 of 2006, losing to Augie March’s One Crowded Hour. A hypnotic, philosophical track that finds Temperley musing, “The argument over God continues in this house,” it’s no wonder the band stole the imagination and hearts of Australian listeners.

Honourable Mention: Sydney Song (2001)

Not only is Sydney Song a fun rock tune that finds Eskimo Joe sounding far ahead of their years, but a surprising collaboration with Kit Kat also catapulted the single and album 2001’s Girl to gain further sales. Sydney Song was featured in a television advertisement for Kit Kat which saw a man carrying an enormous Kit Kat in promotion of the Kit Kat Chunky. Girl went on to land at #29 on the ARIA Albums Chart – who else feels like a chocolate bar and listening to Eskimo Joe?