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Best Paolo Nutini Songs: 20 Pop-Rock Gems To Funk Your Life Up
List & Guides

Best Paolo Nutini Songs: 20 Pop-Rock Gems To Funk Your Life Up

Bolstered by his soulful voice and indie-hipster looks, the best Paolo Nutini songs ensure the Scottish singer-songwriter’s timeless appeal.

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Ever since emerging on the music scene in his late teens, in 2006, Paolo Nutini has successfully straddled the line between mainstream pop appeal and post-Strokes indie cool. With all the hunger of a musical prodigy, Nutini took his cues from 60s and 70s soul artists, flexing his songwriting chops to pick up the baton from iconic tunesmiths such as Elton John, Van Morrison and Marvin Gaye. From his debut single, Last Request, to the raunchy funk-rock of Scream (Funk My Life Up), the Paisley-born songwriter has ventured beyond his humble origins in Scotland to become one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, producing four critically-acclaimed albums which have sold over 4.5 million copies in total. The best Paolo Nutini songs reveal how that happened.

Listen to the best of Paolo Nutini here, and check out our best Paolo Nutini songs, below.

20: Lose It (from ‘Late Night In The Bittersweet’, 2022)

Nobody expected Paolo Nutini to drop a half-spoken indie freakout with a motorik groove after his eight-year absence from the music scene, but that’s exactly what he did with Lose It. Released in May 2022, on the same day as its companion single, Through The Echoes, Lose It was said to be inspired by Italian post-punk group Chrisma’s 1977 album, Chinese Restaurant, and it amped up Nutini’s heavily Glaswegian drawl amid waves of atonal guitar distortion. “I’m not sure what led me down that path,” the singer later said. “It was a quick song to come together and a lot of what you hear came from the exceptional players that were able to add to it.”

19: Growing Up Beside You (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2009)

Like many early efforts among the best Paolo Nutini songs, Growing Up Beside You was inspired by the singer’s relationship with his high-school sweetheart, Teri Brogan, and it found a home on his second album, Sunny Side Up. “A lot of the songs have parallels with what I’m doing,” Nutini told The Sunday Times in 2009, “but I also take a lot from other people’s situations.” Growing Up Beside You’s deeply personal lyrics suggest the song bore a message close to Nutini’s heart, while the use of accordion lends a folky, sepia-tinged touch to an affecting ballad about two young lovers growing up together (“Sitting beside you in school/While we’d paint I’d make you laugh”).

18: Radio (from ‘Late Night In The Bittersweet’, 2022)

Turning up the dial on drive-time balladry, Radio was a soft-rock gem that shone brighter than the chassis of a VW camper van. Given that Nutini went backpacking during his prolonged break from the music business, it’s easy to imagine Radio stemming from a cynicism that took hold when hearing insipid love songs on his travels (“There’s nothing on the radio/They’re all talking like they’re falling in love”). As one of the best Paolo Nutini songs, Radio quite frankly deserved far more airtime than got it.

17: One Day (from ‘Caustic Love’, 2014)

Deeply soulful and atmospheric, Nutini’s incomparable voice rings out loud and clear on his 2014 single One Day. Aided by a creepy music video inspired by Italian giallo films and starring Joanna Lumley as a jazz lounge singer, the song’s neo-gothic air of mystery was inspired by a trip Nutini took to his father’s homeland. “I went to a little village in Italy where my family’s from, in Tuscany,” Nutini later said. “It’s a little medieval town nestled into the mountains.” With a soaring vocal performance, One Day earns its place among the best Paolo Nutini songs for letting the ghosts of his ancestral lineage loose on the timeless sound of 70s soul.

16: Acid Eyes (from ‘Late Night In The Bittersweet’, 2022)

Released in June 2022 as a single from Late Night In The Bittersweet, Acid Eyes offers a fascinating what-if. “I wrote Acid Eyes in my living room,” Nutini told The Sun newspaper. “I wanted to try and write a song that maybe Danielle from the Haim girls would sing with me.” As it happened, he was too nervous to ask, but the end result proves Nutini was more than capable of handling the song on his own. Described by its creator as “a personal song”, Acid Eyes aches with hopefulness and longing, serving up yet another mournful love ballad among the best Paolo Nutini songs.

15: No Other Way (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2009)

Though it was never released as a single, the album track No Other Way, from Sunny Side Up, brilliantly showcases Nutini’s ability to mine past genres for inspiration. Built around 50s doo-wop chords, the song has a bluesy feel with a vocal delivery any Brill Building hopeful would have ben proud of. “Hearing The Drifters with Ben E King was really when I thought I could do this,” Nutini once said. “I love that 50s group or gang vibe – singing with a smile on your face.” As one of the many highlights on his sophomore record, No Other Way shows how Nutini has learnt the best tricks from the masters of the hit parade’s golden era.

14: Let Me Down Easy (from ‘Caustic Love’, 2014)

Sharing its title with a 1965 single by Bettye LaVette, Let Me Down Easy sees Nutini sample the soul legend’s vocal hook to craft a wholly modern take on heart-tugging R&B. Originally written for his debut album, it wasn’t until Paolo began work on his third record, Caustic Love, that Let Me Down Easy found its natural home. “At that time there wasn’t enough of me in it, it was just an idea,” Nutini reflected in an interview with Jam! Music. However, with the help of producer Rollo – co-founder of the electronic duo Faithless – Let Me Down Easy took shape, earning a spot in our list of best Paolo Nutini songs for the way it tantalises listeners with a trip-hop-flavoured spin on one of the best soul songs of the 60s.

13: Through The Echoes (from ‘Late Night In The Bittersweet’, 2022)

With its bleak lyrical subject matter and Nutini’s impassioned roar, the 2022 comeback single Through The Echoes peaked at No.46 in the UK and saw the Scottish soulster channel Otis Redding during a live performance on Later… With Jools Holland. Hinting at past battles with depression (“I’m always wondering what it would be like to die/She asks me why”), it’s a song that sees Nutini wear his vulnerability on his sleeve. “When you’re on a stage you find yourself opening yourself up in that way,” he later told Rolling Stone. “The more vulnerable the better, too, when you’re trying to give your audience a piece of you and you’re hoping to get something back.”

12: 10/10 (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2010)

As the fourth single from Sunny Side Up, 10/10 is a full-on ska party bop with a groove inspired by Toots And The Maytals’ Monkey Man. With The Roots’ main man ?uestlove on drums and British 2 Tone legend Rico Rodriguez playing trombone, the track is about as galvanising as a sunrise on a Jamaican beach. “One of my favourite songs is A Message To You Rudy, which was done by The Specials,” Nutini told Vancouver newspaper The Georgia Straight. “[Rodriguez] played on the old, original version. So for him to come and play on my song was just incredible.” Peaking at No.51 in the UK, 10/10 deserves top marks among the best Paolo Nutini songs.

11: These Streets (from ‘These Streets’, 2006)

Imbued with all the sincerity of acoustic folkies and 70s singer-songwriters, These Streets, the title track from Nutini’s debut album, sees him pay a loving tribute to his hometown of Paisley, in Scotland. Referencing old haunts such as Glenfield Road and the valley of Glen Orchy, it’s a magical and nostalgic trip down the avenues of Nutini’s upbringing. “I’ve never written a song that was hypothetical,” Nutini admitted in a press statement issued around the album’s release. “They’re all real and about my life.” As one of the finest moments on These Streets, the song proves why Paolo Nutini truly belongs in the annals of the best Scottish musicians and songwriters.

10: Rewind (from ‘These Streets’, 2006)

Making a dent in the UK Top 30, Nutini’s third single, Rewind, well and truly announced his arrival. Written about his relationship with then girlfriend Teri Brogan, Nutini has admitted that Rewind was his attempt to emulate Elton John, after having been inspired by hearing Your Song. “I’m a sucker for a love song, I must say,” Nutini told Interview magazine. “I used to get a bit of stick for liking Elton John in high school. I never understood that. I think Elton John’s great.” By capturing the magic of the Rocket Man’s heart-rending songcraft, Rewind easily comes in to land among the best Paolo Nutini songs.

9: Scream (Funk My Life Up) (from ‘Caustic Love’, 2014)

Released in January 2014 as the lead single for Caustic Love, Scream (Funk My Life Up) is a lustful mix of alt-rock swagger and funk-rock bravado that peaked at No.12 in the UK. Knowing of his love of 70s music, director Nez shot the music video in Los Angeles, stuffing it with a cavalcade of eccentric Hollywood dancers. “What a pleasure it was to make… all of those interesting, beautiful people,” Nutini said. “I loved every second of it. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.” By matching his gruff, lascivious desires to a delectable funk-laced groove, Scream (Funk My Life Up) not only became one of Nutini’s biggest hits, but it also saw him cross genres every bit as effortlessly as he had tackled folk, ska and R&B.

8: Coming Up Easy (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2009)

A hazy mixture of folk and blue-eyed soul, Coming Up Easy was released in August 2009 as the second single from Sunny Side Up. To avoid pigeonholing its creator as a pure-hearted balladeer, however, the song isn’t about a love interest – in fact, it’s actually an ode to Mary Jane. “It’s about my own conflict I had about marijuana,” Nutini admitted, “but you can hear it as a song about relationships, compromising, having to deal with someone else’s emotions.” Produced by Ethan Johns (Kings Of Leon, The Staves), Coming Up Easy breezes its way into our list of best Paolo Nutini songs and never fails to leave listeners in a dewy-eyed daze.

7: Better Man (from ‘Caustic Love’, 2014)

Better Man is a masterclass which proves Nutini has an aptitude for penning love songs. Despite never being released as a single, it peaked at No.40 in the UK on the strength of digital downloads alone, and saw the Scottish songwriter expound on the idea that self-betterment can be enhanced by the love of a good partner. “That song is about appreciating being with somebody, rather than feeling restrictive and tied down,” Nutini told The Sun. “But it’s just my perspective.” Since it was written following a breakup, Better Man could also be seen as a post-rebound musing, but it still hits home as a touching reflection on how self-worth sometimes goes hand in hand with romance.

6: Pencil Full Of Lead (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2009)

The spirit of swing jazz comes alive on Pencil Full Of Lead, an uptempo, ragtime-flavoured boogie with joyously cartoony blasts of trumpet. After scoring a Top 20 UK hit with the song, Nutini spoke of how the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book inspired him, in particular I Wan’na Be like You (The Monkey Song). “I was a big Louis Prima fan,” Nutini told Interview magazine, “and Louis Prima was the performer of the song. He was the trumpet player as well. They called [the character] King Louis after him. I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney.” While aping the Baloo-baiting antics of King Louis may not seem like obvious hit material, Pencil Full Of Lead once again demonstrated Nutini’s magpie-like instincts, turning his love of a diverse array of genres into radio-ready gold.

5: Jenny Don’t Be Hasty (from ‘These Streets’, 2006)

Reportedly based on an ill-fated romantic encounter, Jenny Don’t Be Hasty found its way to No.20 in the UK in September 2006, thanks to its loping indie-rock guitar riff and Nutini’s undeniable charm. Apparently, Jenny actually exists – she was a girl in her mid-20s whom the singer had met when he was 18. Upon discovering that Nutini had lied to her about his age, Jenny slapped him around the face. (“I’m sure most guys have lied about their age to get an older girl,” Nutini shrugged to The Daily Mail.) One mustn’t condone violence, but the world is a far better place with Jenny Don’t Be Hasty in it – we’re sure Nutini would agree it was worth the slap!

4: Candy (from ‘Sunny Side Up’, 2009)

A sublime and understated way to launch the campaign for Sunny Side Up, lead single Candy was an easy-going folk-rock ballad with lyrics once again inspired by Nutini’s longtime girlfriend, Teri Brogan. “I sometimes worry that my songs are too personal,” the singer told The Daily Mail. “I wasn’t sure whether to put this on the album.” He made the right call, as Candy would go on to peak at No.19 in the UK after selling over 600,000 copies. Like the sweetest of confections, it enhanced Nutini’s burgeoning repertoire, leaving no doubt that he was leagues ahead of his songwriting peers.

3: Iron Sky (from ‘Caustic Love’, 2014)

Ostensibly a protest song written in response to war-torn news reports and political unease, Nutini’s masterful soul ballad Iron Sky was released as a single in August 2014 and made an immediate impact. “The world throws up new meanings for that one every day,” he later said of the song, “but it’s mainly that man-versus-machine thing.” With soul-stirring lyrics pitting the power of love against the forces of hate, not only does Iron Sky make fantastic use of Nutini’s commanding voice, but it memorably samples Charlie Chaplin’s anti-racism speech from the 1940 film The Great Dictator (“You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men!”). “To have Charlie Chaplin on your side certainly helps!” Nutini told Q, explaining them how supportive the Chaplin family were at approving his use of the sample. Easily one of the best Paolo Nutini songs, Iron Sky received glowing praise from none other than pop sensation Adele, who called Nutini’s live performance in Abbey Road Studios “one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life”.

2: New Shoes (from ‘These Streets’, 2006)

Peaking at No.21 in the UK, New Shoes was the third single to be released from Nutini’s debut album – a sunny and upbeat pop-rock number that proved a mainstream act could wear indie credibility well. The song made a particularly strong impression on the legendary Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, the man who had signed the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin. “I first met Ahmet in 2005, when I played The Mercury Lounge in New York, supporting The Zutons,” Nutini said. “He loved New Shoes. He walked over and said: ‘Hey, kid, that shoes song… it’s a hit, it’s a hit.’” As if passing the torch to a new generation, Ertegun’s endorsement gave ample proof of Nutini’s undeniable talent, so it was hardly surprising when its parent album, These Streets, went on to sell 1.5 million copies in the UK, earning Nutini more than enough money to buy a new pair of shoes.

1: Last Request (from ‘These Streets’, 2006)

Only 19 years old at the time of its release, Paolo Nutini sounded well beyond his years on his debut single, the tender ballad Last Request. In a throaty drawl that effortlessly embodied the best soul singers of all time, Nutini delivered a remarkably mature slice of impeccable songcraft, with lyrics inspired by his breakup from his girlfriend Teri Brogan. Yet the split was short-lived, as the pair soon rekindled their relationship shortly after the song was written. “Recording all those songs about kind of longing for someone when they just came back into your life was very strange!”, Nutini admitted. Proving to be his biggest hit, Last Request peaked at No.5 in the UK, marking the arrival of a songwriting prodigy well on his way to becoming one of Britain’s finest musicians. Without a doubt, Last Request owes its success to a timeless vibe that evokes the earnestness of 70s singer-songwriters, and that’s why it tops our list of the best Paolo Nutini songs.

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