Wednesday, May 24, 2006

List #2 - Top 5 Album Openers in the Last 15 Years

I think this list has only one solution. This is not preference, but rather the best Track #1s... in the last 15 years (1991-2006). These are the songs that best set the pace for the album they are opening, the most memorable opening tracks, and the most influencial opening tracks.

Let's assemble this list together. Feel free to add names/tracks.

12 Openers for Your Consideration (in no particular order):

  1. The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002).
  2. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana, Nevermind (1991).
  3. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes, Elephant (2003).
  4. My Name Is Jonas - Weezer, S/T (1994).
  5. Leave Me Alone - Razorlight, Up All Night (2005).
  6. Everything In Its' Right Place - Radiohead, Kid A (2000).
  7. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart - Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002).
  8. Small Stakes - Spoon, Kill The Moonlight (2002).
  9. Untitled - Interpol, Turn On The Bright Lights (2002).
  10. Break - Fugazi, End Hits (1998).
  11. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces - Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen (1997).
  12. Devil's Haircut - Beck, Odelay (1996).


danszombathy said...

"Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana from Nevermind. No one can dispute how influential this song is. It has to top the list. Although corporate rock still sucks.

"Beautiful Day", U2 from All That You Can't Leave Behind. U2's best comeback single ever! It's about Noah or something.

"Seven Nation Army", White Stripes from Elephant. The first massively played White Stripes song. Represents the whole new rock movement. Plus Jack White is a total nut.

"Summer Babe", Pavement from Slanted and Enchanted. Started indie rock. Hyper-influential. There would not be a Weezer if there was no Summer Babe.

"Parklife", Blur from Parklife. A picture of the whole white-men-dancing, rave, cocaine, Manchester-influenced thing of the 90s.

If we are going to put Radiohead on this list (which is unfortunate and inevitable) why not go with "Airbag" from OK Computer. Yes, I understand the importance of Kid A, but OK Computer was equally as important. And "Everything In Its' Right Place" isn't as memorable as "Airbag" in my opinion.

If we put Johnny Cash on this list, I quit.

"Why not Beethoven? Why not track one side one of the Fifth Symphony?"

danszombathy said...

Whoops. I meant "Boys and Girls" from Parklife.

Another consideration: "Bittersweet Symphony" from the Verve's Urban Hymns. It might be a better picture of Britpop than Blur.

Tim said...
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Tim said...

I agree about Smells like teen spirit. It has to be #1 (whomever started the list started it at 1991 because of this song...the ONLY musical watershed moment of our (late20somethings) lives)

I'll concede on Airbag, though I could sing bars of Everything...before I could remember anything but the first three tones of Airbag. Everything is a better song.

I'll even concede on U2, because that's just a solid written and performed song and a good album opener (although U2 is the embodyment of "corporate rock," and they are really annoying all the time)

I have to dissent regarding Pavement and anything Brit-pop. Pavement is unquestionably one of the more influencial bands of our time, but that doesn't make them good, and it definitely doesn't qualify a song that EVEN YOU had to look up to find the track name and listen to hear if it was any good before adding it to this list. "Jonas" is a BETTER SONG.

Blur is and always was a joke. Britpop was a joke too, but I never got it. If Blur is on this list of the BEST ALBUM OPENERS then somethings isn't right. Their songs are not worthy.

If we look at all of Britpop, Bittersweet is the best song, and it so happens to be an album opener...but since it's one of two listenable songs on that album (Lucky Man)and that Ashcroft has written, it cannot be included.

If we're adding songs solely because of their genre (thinking Britpop and indie-rock) then we better have a rap track on the list (Countdown To Armageddon - Public Enemy from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back) or a dance track (All That She Wants - Ace of Base from The Sign) or a Sting song (A Thousand Years from Brand New Day) so what if I had to look all of those up.

Tim said...

And another thing.
Remember the 1st time you heard American IV? Yeah, me too. That's because Rick Rubin is a genious and that album opener does it's job better than any other album opener ever.

It's actually a better opening track than smells like teen spirit because it has "content" and grabs the listener from the first raspy syllable.

danszombathy said...

I definitely did not have to look up "Summer Babe". I love Pavement and know their catalog inside and out. Typing "Parklife" instead of "Boys and Girls" was just a brain fart. I know what I meant; you don't.

And, no, I don't think we have to have a list that represents every genre, just the genres that are relevant to us.

It seems, Tim, that you are just picking tracks ones from good albums, while I am picking albums where track one is the best song/most memorable song. Which standard are we gonna go with?

Blur is a joke? And the drugs, adultery and bankrupt spirituality of Johnny Cash songs aren't??? C'mon!

Anyway...what do we have so far...two we can agree on?

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Beautiful Day

What did you think about Seven Nation Army?

Tim said...

Ok, here's what I think:
1. we need more input
2. An album opener has a couple of tasks...the 5 greatest album openers in the last 15 years should be the 5 songs that most completely/impressively accomplish these tasks: a)Being a good song, b)setting the standard for the rest of the album, c)being memorable and recognizable immediately.

1.Smells like teen spirit
2.Seven Nation Army
3.Airbag or Everything in its right place (still needs debate, no question that ok computer is a better album, more influential, and less annoying, but isn't "everything" a better album opener?)
4.Beautiful Day (ugh)

I'm not saying that I like Johnny Cash (though I still do, even after struggling through Walk the Line, which was boooring AND a shameful recollection of the FALL of Johnny Cash), but "The man comes around" is a stellar album opener all things considered.

danszombathy said...

Yeah, we need some other Alien Corpse readers to jump on top of this one.

Samuel Bills said...

"Blur is and always was a joke. Britpop was a joke too, but I never got it. If Blur is on this list of the BEST ALBUM OPENERS then somethings isn't right. Their songs are not worthy."
Are you kidding???? Regardless of where the britpop project ended up - it was the most interesting and innovative thing happening in music in the mid-90's - you may have not "gotten it" but don't blame the music.
Here are some others for consideration:
Pulp - "Mis-Shapes" from A Different Class (this album is epic and this track perfectly sets the tone)
Sleeper - "Feeling Peaky" from The It Girl
Oasis - I'm a Rock'n'Roll Star from Definitely Maybe (regardless of how you feel about this album - it is important and this track would eb something of a mantra in the days when Oasis mattered)
I agree with Bittersweet Symphony
I agree with Smells Like Teen Spirit
I think Annie Waits from Rockin the Suburbs is a better song
I like Beautiful Day being on the list
I don't know enough to argue about Pavement
still thinking...

Samuel Bills said...

One more -
If we include Beck let's make it "Golden Age" from Sea Change...that seems to me to get an A+ based on Tim's criteria

danszombathy said...
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danszombathy said...

Yes! Sam Bills to Britpop's rescue! I love it!

I kinda like the idea of Oasis being on the list, although I don't know that album very well. I just have their big American radio hit album!

I'll look into Definitely Maybe, Sam, if you will do some research on Pavement. Here's something to get you started: Pavement lead man Stephen Malkmus and Damon Albarn were good buds during that mid-90s britpop thing. Graham Coxon definitely influenced by Pavement's guitar work. I recommend Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain to get started, but Wowee Zowee is my personal favorite!

Tim said...

Ok, I figured the brit-pop rant would bring some criticism, but it feels good to stand against something every once in a while. I knew you (Sam) would come to Blur's defense, but you kinda didn' Blur suggestions, then?

Furthermore, I'll admit I was in the throes of brit-love while "Champagne Supernova" was blasting from Carmin Hall dorm rooms...I always just WISHED I didn't like it. I guess I never took it seriously because it had POP in the title.

Tim said...

I would also like to talk about Beck. Why is it that I own ALL of Beck's albums with the exception of "Mellow Gold" and "Sea Change" when, critically, those are his BEST? I would be all for having "Golden Age" on the list, but I need to hear the whole album through again first.

Dan, I've tried and tried to listen to Pavement, and I just can't get it. Maybe I'll download "slanted and enchanted" and I'll get it the way that "Daydream Nation" helped me "get" Sonic Youth.

P.S. U2 sucks.
(hee hee)

danszombathy said...

Getting into Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain should be yr #1 album download then.

And I'm OK with Blur and Pavement not being on the list, but I've decided that Bittersweet Symphony is a must.

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Beautiful Day
3. Bittersweet Symphony
4. Seven Nation Army
5. ??? (Not Beck, please)