My Top 10 Favorite Song Intros

Harrison Control room

The Beatles in the control room, undoubtedly crafting another timeless song introduction.

Well, after an entire semester of no blog posts, I am making my triumphant blogging return with a post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. For whatever reason, even before I became a Beatles fan, I’ve always been really intrigued by what makes a good song intro. The Beatles have many of them, of course, but there’s something about a really well-crafted intro to a song that can truly elevate the content of the entire song. There’s a saying about not judging a book by its cover that could technically also apply to “not judging a song by its intro,” but I almost feel that you should judge a song by its intro in many cases. Just like with a job interview, if your first impression about a song in the first few seconds is negative, you probably won’t want to stick around and listen to the rest.

With some songs, I actually prefer the instrumental intro to the song itself, if only because it ends up being more memorable for me. I also believe that a really good song intro immediately grabs the listener’s attention and makes it extremely difficult to change the song. So here I’ve decided to return to one of my favorite blog post formats, the ten-item list, and explain my reasons for choosing these ten songs as containing some of my favorite introductions.

10. Ready to Go- Republica

Though this admittedly is the only song I know by Republica, I have always been a big fan of this song’s intro. I’m a sucker for a song that starts with an acoustic intro that then segues into a biting electric guitar, and that’s exactly how this song begins. Just as a minor side note, I love when songs directly juxtapose a softer acoustic guitar sound with a harder electric guitar sound, one right after the other. It makes both sounds more interesting to listen to, and adds to the overall musical depth of an already awesome song.

9. My My, Hey Hey- Neil Young

Though I’m not hugely well-versed in Neil Young’s catalog, I’ve always really liked this song, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the haunting guitar riff that opens the song and continues throughout the song. This is among the more musically simple song intros on this list, but it goes along with my logic that a really well-crafted, memorable song intro can be as simple as a strum of an acoustic guitar.

8. All The Way From Memphis- Mott the Hoople

This is one of my favorite “rock piano” songs, written by a very underrated band from the 70s. The beginning is simple enough musically, but the driving, pounding piano beat stands alone as a very worthy introduction to a wonderful song. It’s a great example of how an energetic song intro can get the listener excited about a song long before the lyrics and guitar kick in.

7. Beauty and the Beast- David Bowie

Originally when I came up with the idea for this post, I thought of this song mostly as a placeholder, an example of a song with a cool intro that I could theoretically put on this list. However, as soon as this song popped into my head, I started listening to it more and more, and I realized that I actually really do love its intro a lot. Like with “All The Way From Memphis,” this song makes great use of a driving piano/keyboard intro that gradually layers with guitar, drums, and vocals until it explodes into the first verse.

6. Desecration Smile- Red Hot Chili Peppers

Whenever this song comes up on shuffle, I always end up playing it on repeat just to hear the intro over and over again. It’s all acoustic guitar and drums, but this instrumental sequence manages to convey so much emotion and sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the song. The moment when the first acoustic riff in the intro segues into the second is just beautiful, and the song as a whole is one of my favorites by them. This is one of the more musically subtle Chili Peppers songs I know, but with that, it’s also one of their most heartfelt, soothing tracks. This intro reminds me that the Chili Peppers, despite their sometimes wild exterior, really are master craftsmen of emotionally touching melodies.

 

 

5. Drive It Like You Stole It- Sing Street

I’ve already mentioned this movie briefly on this blog I believe, so once again, it’s packed with wonderful 80s-inspired musical goodness like this song. This starts with an awesome synth-packed punch and only gets better from there as the rest of the instruments kick in. More than any other song on this list, the intro for this song instantly makes me want to get up and dance. It’s so infectious and upbeat, and it’s a perfect culmination of the kids’ musical efforts throughout the movie.

4. Blow Away- George Harrison

This song was my morning alarm for quite some time, mostly because of the absolutely gorgeous, soothing intro that helped me ease into the day (I later changed my alarm song because this song was too relaxing and I kept sleeping through it…). There’s something about how this song begins that just sweeps you away into another world. Like so many George songs, it exudes love for this world without saying a word. This is 100% one of George’s best solo songs, and its lilting, somewhat melancholy yet also hopeful intro has a lot to do with that.

3. Coming of Age- Foster the People

For whatever reason, the intro to this song makes me feel nostalgic, but for nothing in particular. Maybe it’s because of the 80s-vibe that this entire song projects, similar to though less bouncy than “Drive It Like You Stole It.” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I always feel strangely emotional whenever I hear the beginning of this song, and I feel that if the first 10 or 20 instrumental seconds of a song can make me feel something, that certainly bodes well for the rest of the song.

2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- The Beatles

Much like with “Coming of Age,” the fascinating intro to this song is definitely my favorite part of the song, and I often wish I could just play the very beginning over and over whenever I hear it. The melody of this synth riff, which repeats throughout the song, is beautifully and perfectly constructed so that it comes across as almost hypnotic, which relates well to the song’s themes of mysterious voyaging. The Beatles had a masterful way of imbuing many lyrical themes from their songs into the construction of their instrumental melodies, this being perhaps the best example I can think of. It’s haunting, addictive, and some of the Beatles’ best work.

In case anyone is curious about the link I attached, it is often extremely difficult to find original Beatles songs on YouTube, so to hear the intro to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” from this Anthology track I found, go to 0:33 in the video link.

And finally… Without further ado…

1. Warrant- Foster the People

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my favorite intro to any song ever because I genuinely think it could stand on its own without the rest of the song and still be amazing. I don’t quite know how the beginning to this song came about, but the way it begins with an echoing chorus and gradually adds in the other instruments is just stunning to listen to, and something that I’ve rarely heard other bands do in recent albums. I’ve seen it compared to Zelda and other video game soundtracks, but I also find the choral opening to be very Beatles and ELO-esque, which might be why I always respond so positively to it. It’s hard to describe why this intro is so amazing, but whenever I hear it, I feel like I’m being transported to a fantasy world and then in an action-adventure music video. It’s probably the most cinematic intro on this list, but for an alternative rock/pop band that normally doesn’t do “cinematic,” I think it’s an extraordinary achievement.

So there you have it. Creating this list, and including “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” certainly got the gears turning in my head about my favorite Beatles song intros, which could easily be a whole separate post that I’ll have to write in the future. But for now, enjoy listening to these fantastic songs!

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A Magical Mystery Post

Well it’s late at night and I’ve decided to do a post where I just talk about a few Beatles and music-related things that come to mind. In the past with blogging, I’ve found that my favorite posts are borne out of an utter lack of initial ideas that then becomes an uninterrupted stream of consciousness. So let’s just see where this goes!

It’s been 23 days since the news broke that David Bowie had died, and though some of the initial shock and disbelief has passed for me, I still find myself listening to his songs a lot more than I ever have before. I stand by my favorites that I posted last month, but as I’ve continued to dig deeper into his catalogue, I’ve discovered more songs of his that I absolutely love, including Hang On To Yourself. I had never heard of this song until about a month ago, but one day it came up on shuffle and I could not stop listening. I think it’s one of his catchiest and most fun songs, and certainly an underrated cut from the Ziggy Stardust album. It also sounds kind of punk-ish, yet another example of Bowie being musically ahead of his time. Definitely take a listen if you don’t know it already! (or even if you do, because it is a fantastic song)

This week also marks 52 years since the Beatles first landed in America to perform on the Ed Sullivan show, thus spurring the Beatlemania we all know and that I’ve posted about many, many times before on this blog. Once again, I continue to admire how strong of a presence the Beatles have in society today. They’ve even made it into children’s books!

Awwww this is just so cute!

Awwww this is just so cute!

My mom sent me this picture of a cute book she saw recently, which made me realize that the Beatles are truly at “textbook-status” now. They’re basically historical figures, synonymous with an era in history defined by revolutions in music, politics, fashion, and countless other things. The fact that books like this are being published to make the Beatles accessible to young children is truly heartwarming. It gives me continued confidence that the greatness and brilliance of the Beatles will never fade from the world.

Random Beatles Song I’ve Been Listening To A Lot Recently: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

For some reason I couldn’t find the original version of this on YouTube, nor could I find the clip with it from the Help movie. 😦

Anyway, one thing I’ve realized about this song as I’ve listened to it more and more is that it is, in my opinion, one of the Beatles songs that has aged the best. It really sounds like it could be released today, that’s how timeless it is, and I absolutely adore the melody. As much as I love the Beatles’ more experimental songs like I Am The Walrus, I also admire their simpler, more folksy songs that can be performed with just a guitar and a voice. This is one of my favorite Beatles songs to walk around singing to myself. I never get sick of it! If I one day learn how to play guitar, I will learn this song for sure.

That’s all for now folks. I’ll be back soon!

 

My Top 10 Favorite David Bowie Songs

bowie guitar

A master of his craft, David Bowie is certainly gone too soon ❤ 

I definitely was not expecting to blog quite so soon after my last post. When I woke up this morning to the horrible news that David Bowie had died of cancer, I immediately prayed that it was another celebrity death hoax, but when I saw the news on his official Facebook page I knew it had to be true. Though I have not listened to the majority of his astounding 25 studio albums, I do consider myself a big fan of his. His incredible, artistic music aside, David Bowie seemed like a musical and artistic genius to me with how he continually reinvented himself and refused to duplicate his past work.

He is also a musician whose existence I suppose I took for granted, in that I just assumed he’d be around forever to promote his album, musical, and various future projects. I sincerely wish I had listened to him more and fully appreciated his artistry while he was alive. But I suppose the best I can do now is to honor him by posting my ten favorite songs of his and why I love them. Again, these may be somewhat mainstream choices because I am not familiar with all of his extensive catalog, but I hope to remedy that in the near future. This list may change for me, but at this moment, these are my favorites, so that’s what I’m going with.

10. Ashes to Ashes

I forget when exactly I first heard this song, but I do recall being extremely intrigued by the opening. It has a really interesting sound that I can’t quite put my finger on, and I love how it brings back the Major Tom character from “Space Oddity.” One thing I’ve noticed about David Bowie’s songs is how they often have the same beat throughout the entire song, which you might think would make them eventually tedious but they somehow never are. This song is just magical and I love it!

9. The Man Who Sold The World

I actually first found out about this song from the Nirvana cover on their MTV Unplugged album. I’m very thankful for that, because the original version is so intricately arranged that each piece seems like a puzzle piece meant to perfectly fit in a whole. The guitar riff is also somewhat ominous and unresolved, which adds to this song’s mystique and strengthens its overall appeal for me.

8. The Jean Genie

My favorite part of this song is definitely the guitar throughout. I just cannot get enough of it, it’s so catchy! Beyond that, the lyrics are fun and the harmonica is awesome, also the bass at the end is pretty badass. I don’t have a ton else to say about this one, I’ve just always gotten very happy when it comes on the radio and it is one of my favorite Bowie songs!

7. Starman

This is an absolute gem off of the Ziggy Stardust album, which is filled with gems. I know it was kind of the point of the album, but I love how many songs on this album involve stars. It all seems so fantastical and otherworldly, which judging by Bowie’s look during this period was fully intentional. I also love the part of this song where the music stops except for some cool spacey star sounds, I honestly don’t know what instrument that is but I think it is pretty self explanatory. Also I’ve noticed the lyrics to this song take on an entirely different meaning in the context of Bowie’s death. Something to think about.

6. Under Pressure

This song is a true classic for both Queen and David Bowie, but I felt compelled to include it here because it is so brilliantly crafted to show Bowie’s talent. I love how it builds and builds to a triumphant climax and then tapers off again towards the end. It’s one of those songs that I have to listen to all the way through if it comes on the radio or anywhere because though it is an extremely popular song, it is not overrated in the slightest. Somewhere right now, I bet David Bowie and Freddie Mercury are singing it together. 🙂

5. Ziggy Stardust

I hope it’s not terrible to say that whenever I hear this song, I first think of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tebowie” skit that changed its lyrics to apply to Tim Tebow. That video always makes me laugh, but aside from that, this is yet another well-crafted rock song from David Bowie. The guitar here absolutely makes the song for me once again. In fact, this is probably one of my favorite guitar-heavy songs that I can think of by any artist. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Jimmy’s “Tebowie” character is certainly the highest form of flattery for this fantastic song.

4. Life on Mars

This may not be #1 on my favorites list, but musically this is an absolute masterpiece. It may well be his very best song ever. The piano here is stunning, it reminds me of “Rocket Man” by Elton John a bit with its complicated, unpredictable, majestic chord progressions. How funny that both songs are about outer space in some way. Anyway, for me this is up there with “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a truly perfect example of rock music at its finest and most artfully cinematic.

3. Suffragette City

This is probably one of the most fun, upbeat David Bowie songs out there, and I think it was also one of the first songs I heard by him. The chorus with its piano part reminds me a lot of the Beatles’ “Back In The USSR,” and in general it is just an awesome song. I get really excited whenever I hear it and could honestly play it on repeat for hours on end. It’s that good!

2. Fashion

To be honest, it was really hard for me to choose between the top three songs on this list. I basically like this song just as much as my #1 choice, but for different reasons, so I put it at #2 here. The whimsical lyrics here are fun and lovable, the guitar is percussive and slightly abrasive, and the whole song is, for lack of a better word, fantastic. I think I identify with this song on a spiritual level, it means that much to me!

And…

1. Heroes

I didn’t discover this song until I saw “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” a few years ago, which is a wonderful movie, but it quickly became my favorite David Bowie song and one of my favorite songs in general. “Heroes” is truly inspiring, empowering, and uplifting. The guitar is lush and magical, and as always, David Bowie’s distinctive voice soars above the instrumentation. This song touches me emotionally like very few songs do, even including Beatles songs. Whenever I hear it, I feel like I can become a hero and do anything. I, like Charlie in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” feel infinite.

Honorable Mentions: TVC 15, Space Oddity, Changes, DJ, Cat People (Putting Out Fire), Rebel Rebel

I did not really anticipate posting about David Bowie on this blog, but as a fan of the Beatles and all whom they inspired, which includes Bowie, I felt it was necessary. May David Bowie join John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and the ranks of rock stars whose legend only grows after their untimely death. Rock on, Starman.