Has Moby Made Anything Good Since “Play” in 1999?

Moby’s Play was THE album of 1999.

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.

Sure, he made six more albums (one as recent as 2013). But where was the Moby from Play – the original Moby we fell in love with?


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.

But if you miss Moby Play, here are 6 newer gems that might make you forget 16 years have passed:

“Extreme Ways” (2002), from 18

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.

 “Jam for the Ladies” (2002), from 18

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)?

“I Love to Move in Here” (2008), from Last Night

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.

“Study War” (2009), from Wait for Me

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.

“Lie Down in Darkness” (2011), from Destroyed

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!

“A Case for Shame” (2013), from Innocents

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.

What do you think; can any of Moby’s newer tracks compete with Play? Do you have a strange urge to read a classic book about a white whale?

Let me know in the comments…




Holly Richmond
Holly Richmond
Holly Richmond is a writer and tattooed cat lady in Portland, OR. Currently she slings syllables for DelMain Analytics. Follow her on Twitter.