On his breakout album, the DJ fused dance and techno beats with soul and gospel samples. The result was a gripping sound that grabbed your heart and moved your feet. Play sold 12 million copies, went platinum twice, and was one of Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.
The third track, “Porcelain,” was everywhere. (It’s still his most popular song on Spotify, with 22 million listens.) Gwen Stefani joined in on “South Side” after it became a radio hit. “Body Rock” and “Run On” were killer dance tunes. Two songs were in episodes of The X-Files, back when David Duchovny was still cool. Moby’s managers pimped out the album to advertisers, and songs from Play were in commercials for at least 13 major brands.
And then Moby vanished.
The internet can’t even tell you. A confused Yahoo! Answers thread asks, “Whatever happened to Moby?” (The harsh answers include “He fell into a bottomless cavern of infinite suckdom” and “NOBODY listens to techno.”)
Here’s the answer. Moby kept making music, just on his own terms. He kept busy with vegan activism and dabbled in photography. The bald, bespectacled Richard Melville Hall doesn’t care what you think of him. He’s turning 50 this year, and he’s doing just fine.
Reminiscent of: “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad”
Featured at the end of the Bourne movies, this is the song to play while you’re speeding down the interstate at night, contemplating the inevitability of betrayal, the failures of capitalism, etc.
Reminiscent of: “Bodyrock”
Moby’s not a BAD singer, but this is proof he’s at his best featuring other people’s vocals. I mean, how can anyone compete with MC Lyte (of “Cold Rock a Party” fame)?
Reminiscent of: “Run On”
This chill, dancey number is improved by a rap by Grandmaster Caz in the middle. It’s nothing groundbreaking for Moby, but it’s catchy and sexy by any standard.
Reminiscent of: “Rushing”
Pitchfork called this the “requisite breakbeat-plus-bluesy-African-American-sample track,” and they weren’t wrong. It’s a bit repetitious; the only lyrics are “Finally, brother, after a while the battle will be over / For that day when we shall lay down our burden and study war no more.” But you get the gist. It’s classic wistful Moby, longing for a better future without war or KFC.
Reminiscent of: “Natural Blues”
Moby’s back! Featuring the vocals of Joy Malcolm, “Lie Down in Darkness” actually sounds like it could’ve been on Play. Thirtysomethings everywhere, rejoice!
Reminiscent of: “Inside”
Al Spx sings on this mournful, pretty tune, with simple piano and swelling strings also similar to Moby circa Play. Like so many of his songs, this one’s perfect for staring out the window as your tears drip into your vegan mac & cheese.