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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Foster the People’s “Supermodel” is Super-Awesome!

Supermodel

Supermodel

As I’ve said before, before I became a Beatles freak I was a big fan of Foster the People. Torches was the first album I bought on iTunes, and I’ve probably listened to it over a hundred times. But that album came out almost 3 years ago, and for a while I sort of forgot about Foster the People. However, the release of Supermodel has completely renewed my interest and reminded my why I loved their music so much in the first place!

The first thing to do when listening to this album is accept right away that this is NOT Torches, The Sequel. It’s much more of a concept album, and once you get comfortable with the overall vibe, the songs will definitely grow on you. I love that this album is very psychedelic and rock-oriented. There was only one really guitar-heavy song on Torches, but here both acoustic and electric guitar are present on basically every song. The songs here primarily deal with Mark Foster’s apparent detestation of the idea that one must sell oneself to the public in order to be happy. There are no stereotypical “love songs” on this album, which shows me that while Foster definitely writes songs from the heart, he doesn’t write songs from a one-sided perspective. Though the entire album is inspiring and worth listening to, I’d definitely recommend “Coming of Age,” “Nevermind,” and “Fire Escape” as exceptional stand-alone tracks.

However, I must admit that my favorite song by far, “Best Friend,” truly captures the magical energy of Torches better than any other on this album. In an interview, Foster said that he wrote it while trying to get out of writer’s block. To be stuck in a rut and then come up with this exceptional song? That’s talent right there! Whenever I listen to this amazing song, I feel like doing the head-bopping thing that Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell, and Jim Carrey do in the SNL sketch. The song is just that catchy. There’s also a part in the middle that sounds a lot like Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. If there’s one song from this album that will be played at parties, it’s this one.

I’ve read many reviews of this album that have shocked me with their overt negativity. If anything, I thought this album would be lauded by critics, but it’s been almost the opposite. From what I’ve gathered, the #1 reason why critics don’t seem to love it is that it’s not as poppy, fun, and summery as Torches. People seem to have no patience with new albums these days. One critic’s review said flat-out, “The songs suck,” which is just incorrect.

I take issue with the idea that if music is not instantly accessible to the ears, it automatically sucks. If I want a poppy, fun, summery album, I’ll just listen to Torches. Supermodel is a completely different listening experience and should be appreciated in its own right. Just because the Beatles didn’t make an exact replica of Please Please Me the second time around doesn’t mean that With The Beatles wasn’t as good. For that matter, even Revolver, usually considered one of the Beatles’ best albums, didn’t strike me initially as being amazing. It took me more than a few listens to really get into it and figure out what the heck was going on half the time. I now love Revolver, but just because its brilliance didn’t strike me right away doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth another shot.

Anyway, if I have one major criticism of this album, it’s that I get the sense that Foster the People was trying really, really hard to make a fantastic, groundbreaking work of art. I definitely appreciate the artistry, but sometimes it feels a little forced. This is why I usually prefer more low-key albums like Rubber Soul and Madman Across The Water which don’t feel like they were supposed to be brilliant, as opposed to obvious masterpieces like Sgt. Pepper or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I love when the brilliance of an album seems to happen by accident, which doesn’t quite happen for me with this album.

Despite that one minor quibble, I think this album is fantastic. It’s insightful, introspective, and dares listeners to question things that they may never bother to think about. At least Foster the People is trying to evolve their sound, be interesting, and keep their fans guessing, even if they tried a little too hard here. But I can always forgive overachievers, and they deserve to stick around for a few more albums and grace us with more awesome, interesting, thoughtful music. And murals.

An actual mural of their album cover on a building in Los Angeles.

An actual mural of their album cover on a building in Los Angeles.

Buy Supermodel on iTunes today! You won’t regret it! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Life after a Paul McCartney concert: Other artists I’d love to see live

The Beatles at Shea Stadium... Oh, how I wish I could have been there!

The Beatles at Shea Stadium… Oh, how I wish I could have been there!

So before I get to the actual content of this post, I’d like to wish Dhani Harrison a happy belated birthday! His actual birthday was August 1st, but since I didn’t get around to blogging then, I figured “better late than never”! Thinking about Dhani made me think about how awesome it would be to see thenewno2 live, just so I could see George’s son in the flesh! That gorgeous Harrison face must look great close up… 🙂
But anyway, I’ve now decided to make a list of all the artists I’d absolutely love to see in concert someday. I highly doubt that seeing any of them would be quite as amazing and magical as seeing Paul McCartney, but since Paul seems to have set the standard for putting on a fantastic rock show, that’s to be expected. Nonetheless, here we go!

1. thenewno2
I figured I’d start with them, since I already mentioned Dhani in this post. I really love this band and though they definitely fly under the radar in today’s music industry, they are extremely innovative and creative. They also have George’s son in the band, which definitely helps their overall sound, but even if Dhani wasn’t George’s son, I think that he’d still be making a name for himself in the music business. Still, he seems to have inherited quite a bit of talent from his dad, and if George was still around, I’m sure he’d be very proud of what Dhani has done.

2. Foster The People
I’ve been following this band for a while, but they haven’t come out with any new music in over 2 years! What happened??? Although apparently they’ve finished their 2nd album, and as much as I love Torches, hearing some new songs would be nice. From the videos I’ve watched, they seem like a great live band who truly enjoys what they’re doing, and hopefully they’ll come to the New York area in the future!

3. Elton John
This one’s a no-brainer for me. Elton has always been known as a great live performer and a fantastic entertainer, not to mention an extremely talented singer, pianist, and songwriter, and I’d absolutely love the chance to see him do what he does best live! I think seeing him in concert would probably be a similar atmosphere and comparable to seeing Paul live, but the difference for me is that seeing Paul, while he is awesome and amazing, is not exactly the same thing as seeing the Beatles. On the contrary, while there were four Beatles, there is only one Elton John, and seeing him today is essentially the same experience as seeing him 40 years ago. That to me is a really cool thing. Hopefully an Elton concert is in my future!

4. Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band
I mean, come on. It’s Ringo! Of course I want to see him in concert! I’m still mad that I missed him coming to Jones Beach last year, but I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll come back next year!

5. Jeff Lynne/ELO
I don’t know when the last time he toured was, but with all of the ELO reissues that have come out this year, maybe he’ll do some commemorative concerts??? This one seems like a long shot to ever happen, but since I love ELO, I’ll remain hopeful.

6. Eric Clapton
How cool would it be to see the Guitar God live and in person?!?!? I think my jaw would be open the entire time, just in awe of his awesomeness. He did come to Madison Square Garden in April as part of his Crossroads Guitar Festival, but I think it sold out in about 5 seconds. Maybe next time…

7. The Rolling Stones
They have long been hailed as the greatest live rock band, and since my mom has actually seen them live before, I’ve always thought it would be really cool to see them in concert. Sadly, their 50th Anniversary tour didn’t make a stop in NY this year, although they did come to the Barclays Center last December. How Mick Jagger, at 70, is still running around the stage with boundless energy for an entire show is beyond me. Once again, I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Still, even if I never see another concert, I think I’ll be happy for the rest of my life knowing that I’ve seen Paul McCartney, who I consider to be the greatest living musical artist, live. Seeing him is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I surely won’t ever forget, no matter how many more concerts I attend!

Artists I listen to when I’m in various moods

Here it is, my second post of the day! I realize that I haven’t been posting much lately, even on the weekends. I apologize, but since it’s near the end of the school year, things are very hectic. I find that listening to my favorite musical artists like the Beatles really helps me get through stressful times, and this post is all about what artists I listen to in different life situations. This is more of a way for me to keep track of what musicians I like, but it’s also a list of artists that I’d recommend anyone to listen to when they’re stressed, happy, excited, or in any other mood. These aren’t the only artists I like, but they’re the ones whose music I can most easily categorize according to my various moods. Remember, music really does heal the soul!

Artists I listen to when I’m stressed and need to relax: George Harrison
Okay, so I don’t ONLY listen to George Harrison music when I’m stressed, but I’ve noticed that during the most stressful weeks of the year, George Harrison’s music is playing nonstop on my iPod or on the computer. His music is so soothing and calming, it really helps me take a deep breath and remember why I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing. Some of his songs like Isn’t It A Pity and Hear Me Lord help me fall asleep at night, and when I listen to his music, I can feel all of the stress and tension from the day just wash away. Sometimes, in the midst of a busy, hectic day, I need to take a breather and listen to George Harrison for 5 minutes, and it always helps.

Artists I listen to on the weekends or when it’s summer and I’m happy at not being at school: Eric Clapton, the Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney & Wings, The Rolling Stones, ELO, Queen, The Who
The music from these artists always puts me in a good mood, and generally, I listen to them when I just want to hear some good old fashioned classic rock. Eric Clapton’s music in particular is fantastic to listen to when you’re doing basically nothing on a Saturday afternoon and you just want to hear a good song with an awesome guitar part. In fact, I may do an entire Clapton-related post at some point, so be on the lookout for it! And the other artists I listed are also great for when you’re kicking back and enjoying life, like I try to do in between my endless weekend homework assignments. 🙂

Artists I listen to when I’m doing homework: Phillip Phillips, thenewno2, Paul McCartney, George Harrison
Yes, I’m differentiating Paul McCartney’s solo albums from his albums with Wings, and that’s because he has a few fairly mellow solo albums that are great to listen to while I’m doing something and want to listen to music. I also enjoy listening to Phillip Phillip’s debut album, The World From The Side Of The Moon, while I’m studying or working. It has a lot of great songs with some fantastic acoustic guitar work, and all in all, it’s a very impressive album. As I’ve said before on the blog, thenewno2 has some really amazing rock/alternative/electronica music that is inventive and cool to listen to, and a lot of it is very relaxing. And then there’s George Harrison… What more can I say about his music that I haven’t already said?

Artists I listen to when I’m feeling in an oddly great mood for a weeknight: Paul McCartney (with and without Wings), ELO, Foster The People, Talking Heads, Pearl Jam
This is a rather diverse group of artists, but before I go to sleep on a weeknight, I really enjoy all of their music, and somehow they all fit together into what I call my “weird weeknight” mood.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned Pearl Jam before on the blog, but let me just say that I LOVE Eddie Vedder’s voice! It is truly a gift from God, and I was blown away by his performance of Comfortably Numb with Roger Waters at the Concert for Sandy last December. Wow!
Also, Foster the People, while they only have 1 album out at the moment, has some truly outstanding songs that are extremely catchy and fun to dance to, while actually having an interesting meaning at the same time. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s an unusual combination for a 21st century musical artist!

Artists I listen to when I’m feeling down and need a boost of confidence: John Lennon
There are others, but I find that John Lennon’s music is so wonderfully empowering, especially songs like Imagine and Power to the People, that he’s all I need to feel better about life. His music really makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to if I try hard enough. Thanks John!

Artists I listen to when I realize I need to participate in the music from this generation: Maroon 5, Foster the People, Phillip Phillips, thenewno2, Adele
Not too much to say here that I didn’t already say in my post about the 50th anniversary of Please Please Me, but these are some of my favorite artists from this generation that I enjoy when I’m not in the mood for classic rock. Okay, so that never actually happens, but I still enjoy these artists nonetheless!

If you’ve read my blog before, then you may be wondering where the Beatles fit in on this list. Well, never fear, because I have a special category just for them…

Artists I listen to in any mood, at any time, anywhere: The Beatles
The Beatles are the one band that I can ALWAYS rely on to make me feel good. They’re there when I’m happy, sad, and everything in between. Beatles music soothes the soul in any situation, and that’s all there is to it. I gave them their own category because, well they’re the Beatles, and also because I realized that they fit into every single category I’ve mentioned above, except for maybe the one about music from this generation. Basically, in any situation, the Beatles rule!

That’s all for now. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!