A collection of stand out tracks off of debut albums.
First impressions are important. Doubly important in the billion dollar music industry. On average, musical artists have about fifteen seconds to capture a listener’s attention – so what an artist chooses to do with that first crucial quarter of a minute can be imperative to either gaining or losing a listener forever.
Granted the music industry has changed drastically in the past two decades, furthering itself from full album format, realizing it can make just as much, if not more, on a hot single without the multimillion dollar risk investment of sending a band into a recording studio for months but ultimately, the same truth remains: First impressions are critical.
This upcoming list of best opening tracks on debut albums is by no means an authoritative account. I am not a music critic or music writer by any means. I used to play music in bands but found no real mainstream success. This entire project is only a product of my undying love for the witchcraft that is music. The original time traveling device. The invisible muse.
The rankings are not based on the commercial or critical success of the song or band but it does seem to reflect that higher on the list. Some of these bands are even one hit wonders – with such good opening tracks, that are still impossible to ignore. I hope you enjoy this list and would like to know your favorite opening track of a debut album in the comments.
70.) The Sleeping – “Don’t Hold Back”
Origin: Long Island, NY (2003)
Labels: Victoty / One Day Savior
Active: 2003-2012 // 2016 // 2020
Long Island rockers, The Sleeping were a three year overnight success thanks to their relentless work ethic and drive. They booked their own tour before having a full length album to support it but it garnered the attention of small label One Day Savior which ultimately led to a contract from Victory Records. They would work themselves nearly to death and be screwed like every other band that was on Victory Records and disband by 2012.
69.) Rooney – “Blueside”
Origin: Los Angeles, California (1999)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Power Pop / Indie
Labels: California Dreamin’ / Geffen
Acting as the primary vessel for singer Robert Schwartzman‘s songwriting, Rooney’s self titled debut was pure pop magic. Despite opening slots for both Weezer and The Strokes, Geffen’s delayed album release hurt sales and while they would get a bump of popularity being featured on T.V. show, “The O.C.” it wouldn’t be enough to really take the back off into the stratosphere. Left in its wake is a power pop album so sugary sweet it’ll leave you with cavities.
68.) Creed – “Torn”
Origin: Tallahassee, Florida (1994)
Genres: Post Grunge / Hard Rock / Alternative Rock
Active: 1994-2004 // 2009-2012
Before being considered one of Christianity’s worst creations, Creed wasn’t all that bad. In fact, their debut album is actually really fucking good. Starting with the fantastic mood-setter, “Torn”. And while the band would go on to have massive success they would spend a decade or so being ridiculed until finally the band would split and create Christianity’s second worst creation, Alter Bridge.
67.) The Reverend Horton Heat – “Bullet”
Origin: Dallas, Texas (1985)
Genres: Pyschobilly / Rockabilly
Labels: Four Dots / Sub Pop / Interscope / Time Bomb / Artemis / Yep Roc / Victory
Known as, “The Godfather of modern Rockabilly and Psychobilly” The Reverend Horton Heat aka Jim Heath is a punishing guitarist who strives to combine all things desert oddity with punk a as d blues. Crooning from a lounge somewhere in the depths of hell, The Rev declares his mission statement quickly on his debut with “Bullet”.
66.) Taking Back Sunday – “You Know How I Do”
Origin: Long Island, NY (1999)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Emo / Post Hardcore
Labels: Victory / Warner Bros / Sire / Hopeless
Originally founded by guitarist Eddie Reyes and Brand New frontman, Jesse Lacey, Taking Back Sunday would quickly take off with their infectious blend of emotional screamo and witty back and forth vocals. After a recording label bidding war, the group agreed to sign to Victory and released their first two critically acclaimed albums on the label before reaching second spot on the United States Billboard 200 with their most successful release, Louder Now.
65.) The Postal Service – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
Origin: Seattle, Washington (2001)
Genres: Indietronica / Synth Pop
Labels: Sub Pop
Active: 2001-2005 // 2013
Death Cab For Cutie lead singer, Ben Gibbard has no shortage of side projects and even less of a limited supply of fantastic lyrics which are underscored on the first track of debut album, “Give Up”. While the novelty of electro-emo wears off later on in the album it’s hard not to feel something as Gibbard self-defiantly declares, “I was the one worth leaving.”
64.) The Police – “Next to You“
Origin: London, England (1977)
Genres: New Wave / Reggae Rock / Pop Rock
Labels: Illegal / A&M
Active: 1977-1986 // 2003 // 2007-2008
Although Outlandos d’Amour (Frenglish combination of the words Outlaws and Commandos and d’Amour directly translates to: “of love”) was panned by critics initially the opinion nearly fifty years later has changed quite a bit with Rolling Stone Magazine putting it at #38 on its “Greatest Debut Albums of All Time” list. The power struggle in the ill fated Police reared its ugly head almost immediately. Concerning opening track, “Next To You” drummer Stuart Copeland considered the songs lyrical content much too soft for the hard edged Punk influence he envisioned. Lead singer, Sting and Copeland would battle over everything for the rest of eternity. But managed to put out some kick ass albums while they did.
63.) Cord – “Go Either Way”
Origin: Norfolk, England (2006)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Indie Rock
Labels: Island / NRone
Active: 2006-2008 // 2011
Cord split with record label
Norwich band Cord have parted with their record label Island, three years after signing a five-album worldwide deal. The group hit the top 40 in June with their first record, but only one more single was released afterwards from their debut album. (Another fantastic band ruined by a label.)
62.) Black Crowes – “Twice as Hard”
Origin: Atlanta, Georgia (1984)
Genres: Southern Rock / Blues Rock / Hard Rock
Labels: Def American / Colombia / V2 / Silver Arrow
Active: 1984-2002 // 2005-2015 // 2019-Present
Listed as 92nd greatest band of all time by VH1 – The Crowes have sold over 30 Million records. Also voted most, “Rock n’ Roll Rock n’ Roll Band” of all time by this website. The Robinson brothers may hate each other but it’s hard to hate them.
61.) No Doubt – “BND”
Origin: Anaheim, California (1986)
Genres: Pop Rock / Ska Rock / Alternative Rock
Labels: Trauma / Interscope / Beacon Street / Hollywood
Active: 1986-2004 // 2009-2015
I love No Doubt. I love Gwen Stefani. I love Tony Kanal. I love Tom Dumont. I love Adrian Young. But I still think that the Band Hero lawsuit was the lamest fucking thing on earth. But long before that, these bright eyed ska kids churned out one of the funkiest opening tracks ever played by white kids in Anaheim.