View Full Version : First Song = Best Song

01-15-2010, 04:55 PM
It always worries me when I'm listening to an album and I really, really like the first song. On the one hand, yeah, I'm glad it's a good song (and to be fair, on almost every single album I like, the first song is one of the best, if not the best). But it always seems that the first song is so much better than the rest of the album, save for a few gems. Not that the rest of the album is bad, per se, but....I guess I mean that if the first one is the best, it's all downhill from there.

Not that this is always true, of course. But I noticed on the new Collective Soul album (tentatively known as "Rabbit"), the first song, "Welcome All Again," is the most stylistic on the album, and has the most paced diversity. Almost every other song on the album is pretty straightforward, and while I like all of them ("Love" is a favorite, and "Staring Down" reminds me of their earlier work, songs like "After All" and "Turn Around"), Welcome All Again still stands out as the most unique song on that album. Even the last song --- the only one that's not straight-up pop rock --- is just a piano ballad. They used to have songs like "Needs" and "Compliment" that were like some weird fusion of piano/orchestra ballad and rock song. Now it's usually just one or the other --- rock or pop, none of the in-between.

But I digress....some examples of albums that do this, IMO (although I do still like them):

-NOFX, The War On Errorism (alright album, but Separation of Church and Skate just seems like more work went into it than Irrationality of Rationality or Franco-Un-American)
-Green Day, Insomniac (really, every song on here is stylistically similar, but the first one just stands out more. I guess 'cause it comes before the rest of them and therefore feels "more original"*)
-The Descendents, Cool To Be You (The first two songs on here are two of my favorites by this band ever, but everything after that -- except for a few gems like 'Merican -- just kind of bore me)

*=I think this may be part of it; any time you pop in a new album, the first song is going to sound the most original, because with each subsequent track you hear, you have one more previous track to compare it to....so later tracks are going to be compared with earlier ones, and if two tracks sound similar, whichever one came first gets the BOD and the second one gets blamed for being a "soundalike" or a "rehash." So it could be that two or three songs are stylistically diverse, but in the same way, so "if you've heard one, you've heard 'em all," and the first track just gets an unfair advantage.

Some albums have a wider-scale version of this same problem, I've noticed --- instead of one song being "unique" and the rest being kinda "meh," the album starts off really strong and stays that way for 1/4th or 1/3 of the way, then suddenly has a drastic change that interrupts the flow of the album. Some guilty parties (IMO) would include:

-The Offspring, Rise And Fall (love the album and most songs off of it, but I still think ALLM was in a weird place....one of the slowest songs on the album coming right after one of the fastest, most manic ones, kind of disrupts the energy built up by those first few songs...it's like having tons and tons of foreplay and then kicking back and watching a movie instead of directing all that energy into having sex...all that energy is kinda wasted 0.0)
-Green Day, American Idiot (the first like, 1/3 is gold on this one, and while I like the rest of it, the second half -- save Homecoming and Whatsername, and maybe MAYBE September -- just isn't as remarkable to me. I usually only listen to Boulevard because it sets the mood for Are We The Waiting [which sets the mood for St. Jimmy and makes it sound a bit more climactic], and after St. Jimmy finishes, I usually pop in something else)
-Bad Religion, The Empire Strikes First (it's the very beginning and very end of this album that stand out to me; the first song is very, very experimental for BR, being a gothic chorus leading into a superfast punk song....we get several gems to build steam, up until about Let Them Eat War....shortly after that, the mood kind of tapers off and the second half just feels weird. It's all good material, don't get me wrong, but the flow is kind of distorted. It's hard for me to listen to this album in one go, same with American Idiot and Rise and Fall)

Thoughts? Opinions? Don't-Give-A-Shits? :D

01-16-2010, 01:08 AM
Try listening to albums backwards (from the last song) and see if it does justice to the first song.

01-19-2010, 06:07 AM
For me it is similar, but not quite the same. On many albums I like the first 5-6 songs and don't care much for the rest of the songs. Probably it's caused by the fact that I usually listen music in the train, which is about 30 minutes travelling time. That way I end up listening the first songs of an album much more often than the later songs and somehow end up liking those first songs a lot more.

Examples include:
Muse - Origin of Symmetry: Always listen until Citizen Erased and from then on the album bores me.
The Offspring - RAFRAG: Upto and including Takes Me Nowhere I can easily keep my attention, but afterwards I hardly like any song anymore.
Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet: Losing its touch after Jigsaw Puzzle.

01-19-2010, 08:07 AM
I'm a somewhat picky listener. I find myself not liking a lot of the songs other people like, and if I like half of an album, it's a success. The Offspring is my favorite band because they're the only band I've found who can consistently make me like an entire album or close to it. like, Stone Temple Pilots, for example. Core and Purple had around eight or nine songs a piece I really enjoyed. They're works of art. Then the next three albums just had two or three songs I liked, but STP is still one of my favorite bands.

So, I guess my problem isn't that the first song is too good, it's just that I dont feel most albums have enough good songs period. Another problem is that some bands include weird, experimental tracks or minute-long instrumentals take up space on some albums (looking at you, Vitalogy. And what the fuck is the Offspring's Blurb? That track is lame), and these songs really shouldn't be on here. I'd prefer a b-side to that any day.

01-19-2010, 09:00 AM
I think I know what you mean. It's always weird to have songs destroying the flow of an album while all of them are actually very good as individual songs.
I think Americana is one of those albums for me. I rarely listen through the whole album.
If I put the songs in the right order I really fucking love it, though.

01-19-2010, 10:38 AM
That's exactly how it is for TSOL's latest album - Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Free Downloads. The first song is good, the others are meh.