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.
60.) Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why”
Origin: Manhattan, New York (2000)
Genre: Pop / Jazz / Folk / Country
Labels: Blue Note
Born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar. she is the daughter of Indian Sitarist and Composer, Ravi Shankar but it did not take Norah long to surpass her father’s own musical legacy with her debut album, Come Away With Me. Led off by hit single, “Don’t Know Why” the album would go on to be certified Diamond- selling over 27 million copies.
59.) The Stills – “Lola Stars and Stripes”
Origin: Montreal. Quebec (2000)
Genres: Indie Rock / Post Punk Revival
Labels: Vice Recordings / 679 Recordings / Drowned in Sound / Arts & Crafts
Brooding, sunken cheek vamp-punks, The Stills made a splash with their awesome debut, Logic Will Break Your Heart. Critically acclaimed and conjuring up comparisons to Interpol and Echo and the Bunnymen, the Montreal and with their two following albums, brightened up a bit. Even taking home a Juno Award for their third and final release, Oceans Will Rise.
58.) Motion City Soundtrack – “Cambridge”
Origin: Minneapolis, Minnesota (1997)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Pop Rock / Emo
Labels: Epitaph / Colombia / The Boombox Generation / Modern Radio
Active: 1997-2016 // 2019-Present
Motion City Soundtrack accomplished what few bands can but all set out to do: capture the energy of a live performance in the studio. Led by neurotic genius, Justin Pierre these nerds may have been freaked out by the future but they no problem rocking into it.
57.) MewithoutYou- “Bullet to Binary”
Origin: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2001)
Genres: Indie Rock / Art Rock / Spoken Word
Labels: Tooth & Nail / Pine Street / Run For Cover / Big Scary Monster
Tortured Christian art rock doesn’t sound like it would work but it really, really did. Philly based, mWy could turn on a dime from acoustic sadness to driving metal – based on the desperation of singer, Aaron Weiss. A treat to see live but also an experience to be had alone with headphones.
56.) Metallica – “Hit The Lights”
Origin: Los Angeles, California (1981)
Genres: Heavy Metal / Thrash Metal / Hard Rock
Labels: Megaforce / Elektra / Vertigo / Warner Bros / Blackened
It’s Metallica. Of course I put them on the list.
55.) Living Colour – “Cult of Personality”
Origin: New York City, New York (1984)
Genres: Hard Rock / Funk Metal
Labels: Megaforce / Sanctuary/ Epic
Active: 1984-1995 // 2000-Present
First song off of their first album won them a Grammy and has been their signature tune for over three decades. Biting social commentary, especially concerning racism in the United States makes a Vivid a worthy listen.
54.) Manchester Orchestra – “Wolves At Night”
Origin: Atlanta, Georgia (2004)
Genres: Indie / Alternative Rock / Indie Folk
Labels: Favorite Gentlemen / Sony / Loma Vista / Concord
Written and recorded while he was a senior in high school, Andy Hull rejected his southern, Christian school roots to make a rock album and the world is a better place for it. Now six albums on, Manchester has perfected their sound and matured into honest, painfully self critical, introspective fathers and husbands.
53.) Linkin Park – “Papercut”
Origin: Agoura Hills, California (1996)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Nu Metal / Alternative Metal
Labels: Warner / Machine Shop
Not much can be said about Linkin Park that hasn’t already been said. Their debut album, is an absolute Nu Metal masterpiece that plays more like a greatest hits record than a new band and they would go on to collect more awards, hits and fame until lead singer Chester Bennington’s untimely death.
52.) Thrice – “Identity Crisis”
Origin: Irvine, California (1999)
Genres: Post-Hardcore / Alternative Rock / Pop Punk
Labels: Sub City / Hopeless / Island / Vagrant / Epitaph
Active: 1999-2012 // 2015-Present
Considered the, “Radiohead of Post-Hardcore” Thrice has always set themselves apart from their contemporaries. Quite easily the most well read of all of the Post-Hardcore wave bands, between their advanced lyrical compositions to a progressive metal style approach to album long concepts, Thrice has always been a thinking man’s metal band.
51.) Korn – “Blind”
Origin: Bakersfield, California (1993)
Genres: Nu Metal / Alternative Metal
Labels: Loma Vista / Concord / Prospect Park / Caroline / Roadrunner / Elektra / Virgin / Epic / Immortal
As of 2021, Korn had sold more than 40 million records worldwide. Twelve of the band’s official releases have peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200, eight of which have peaked in the top five. Seven official releases are certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), two are certified double platinum, one is certified triple platinum, one is certified five times platinum and two are certified Gold.