Top Pops: Opening Tracks on Début Albums

It takes a certain skill to dive straight into the music business and capture your audience, and not everyone pulls it off as well. Eminem is an excellent example of this; although the opener to his major-label début The Slim Shady LP is the unforgettable My Name Is, the majority of Mathers’ true first album, Infinite, is rather mediocre by comparison (although I’m sure I’ve probably written it off too soon). So today I’m looking at traditionally accepted début albums, not necessarily major label (but at the same time not mixtapes or EPs), that jumped straight into my head from the off and hooked me from then on. (For the record, I’m not counting skits or intros as opening tracks). These are only somewhat in order, and it’s certainly not an exhaustive list (so may produce a sequel some time in the future).

#6 Papercut (Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, 2001)

Linkin Park let everyone know who they are in the opening track to the best-selling début album of the 21st century, introducing the surprisingly fluent combination of Mike Shinoda’s rap vocals and Chester Bennington’s harder approach, a staple of their success.

#5 Nobody (Skindred, Babylon, 2002)

Nobody is right; nobody expected heavy metal and reggae to blend as well as they do in this opener from the so-called “ragga-metal” ensemble from Newport, Wales. Skindred are a band who I only discovered a few years ago, but I wish I’d heard this record when it first came out.

#4 We Don’t Care (Kanye West, The College Dropout, 2004)

They didn’t care in the industry about Kanye’s ambitions as a rapper for years, having viewed him as more of a producer, but when he finally persuaded them to give him a chance following a near-fatal road accident, he showed them why they should.

#3 Feels Like the First Time (Foreigner, Foreigner, 1977)

Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, and yet so easy to fall for; Foreigner have been showing everyone how the power ballad is really done ever since the aptly-named first track from 1977’s eponymous introduction.

#2 I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles, Please Please Me, 1963)

Among my favourite Beatles tracks, but then again, what isn’t (step forward Revolution 9); this was a strong contender for my first of the firsts of the firsts. Although unsurprisingly not the first Beatles song I heard, had you bought this LP upon release and stuck on side #1, track #1, I don’t know how you could ever have danced with another.

#1 Bombtrack (Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine, 1992)

This scrapes the top spot simply because I consider it such an appropriate introduction to Rage as a band – every Rage Against the Machine song is a Bombtrack in its own right, and if you hear this song and like it, as I did, then you know immediately that Rage are the band for you. The track introduces the trademarks of almost all RATM songs; Zack de la Rocha’s somewhat unnecessary yet endearing repetition of political-type mantras over Tom Morello’s punishing guitar riffs.


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