I’m going to attempt something completely different with this list, and this will undoubtedly end up being my most controversial list of them all – I’ll talk about a few of my favourite albums (twelve, in total) and what my pick for favourite song on the album is.
That’s simple, you might be thinking, what could possibly be so controversial about that? Well, these twelve albums all have one thing in common (other than the fact they’re all great) – the best song on the record isn’t what you think it is!
This is obviously very subjective, but also a little speculative. I have no idea what the general consensus is for “best song” on each album, but I can take a pretty good guess … but the general consensus is wrong! Prepare to be offended to your core, as I explain what the ACTUAL best songs on each of these famous albums are.
If you want some tamer, less offensive lists, you can check out some of my other blog posts below:
AM (Arctic Monkeys)
NOT – Do I Wanna Know?
“Do I Wanna Know” was a mega-hit when it came out, and I think that single was where Arctic Monkeys peaked commercially. I heard that track everywhere, and the album itself became iconic directly because of it.
It’s close, but it isn’t my favourite track from “AM”. Even though it’s probably my second favourite Arctic Monkeys song ever, there’s still one more from the same album that I love just a bit more.
Honourable mentions have to go to “Arabella” and “R U Mine?”, as well as a whole host of underrated bangers, but there’s one track that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
ACTUALLY – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
A smooth bassline, introspective and relatable lyrics, and a finale that brings it all together perfectly – “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” is quite comfortably my favourite Arctic Monkeys track.
Alex Turner’s vocals are some of the best they’ve ever been, and the story he weaves isn’t a conventional one yet one that fits the vibe of the band perfectly. A lot of the songs from “AM” have a big build up to the climax, but this song was where they executed it the best.
Rumours (Fleetwood Mac)
NOT – Go Your Own Way
It’s really 50/50 with “Go Your Own Way” and the other track as to which is considered the best – hell, even I flop back and forth between the two from time to time.
There’s no denying the staying power of “Go Your Own Way”, one of the best rock tracks from the 70’s – and that’s saying something. Again, it’s hard to pick between the two, but I think I like the other just a little bit more (and “The Chain” was fairly close, but it was never going to truly compete with these two titans of 70’s rock).
ACTUALLY – Dreams
I’m pretty sure most people just consider “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams” to be joint-best track on “Rumours”, but the former is probably the one I’ve heard most on radios (and I have to pick a “conventional favourite” somehow).
Both tracks were Lindsay Buckingham’s and Stevie Nicks’s attempts respectively at turning their brutal break-up into art, but I think I enjoy Nicks’s interpretation a little bit more. It’s soft, vulnerable, and lyrically the best track on the album – and it somehow accomplishes this with just two chords!
Imagine (John Lennon)
NOT – Imagine
I can already hear the furious uproar I’ve caused by including “Imagine”, one of the greatest songs of all time, in this list.
Am I saying it’s a bad song? No! Of course not! It’s one of my favourites of all time, and it deserves all of the praise it’s gotten … but I’m a little surprised it ended up being John Lennon’s most iconic song, even in comparison to tracks from his Beatles days.
It’s very simple, with only a few chord changes here and there, and the lyrics are incredibly broad (and possibly recite the Communist Manifesto as well … so that’s something). I love this track to bits, but I don’t think it’s the best on the record.
ACTUALLY – Jealous Guy
Yep, I’m actually declaring “Jealous Guy” to be a better song than the titan of a track “Imagine”.
It’s Lennon at his most vulnerable and emotive, and the lyrics feels like they actually mean something more specific this time around.
This is also very subjective, but I feel that “Imagine” is very overplayed while “Jealous Guy” hardly gets radio time at all, so that factors massively into my enjoyment of the tracks. Would I like this track less if the radio play was overbearing? Probably, but luckily I’m still in the honeymoon phase of pure bliss.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
NOT – Starman (or Ziggy Stardust)
I’ve worn my love of Bowie on my sleeve throughout all of my blog posts dedicated to the great man, so I was bound to have a few controversial opinions here and there.
Funnily enough, it was his most famous album that ended up being included on my list – “Starman” is intensely overplayed to the point where I almost groan whenever I hear it, and “Ziggy Stardust” is less so but still played too much. They’re obviously both great tracks, but they wouldn’t make my top three on the album.
The only other contenders were “Moonage Daydream” and “Suffragette City”, two belters of tracks that I’ll never grow tired of hearing. It was a close one between the top three, but there’s one track I love the most.
ACTUALLY – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
One of the best closing songs in music history, and with one of Bowie’s most energetic and impactful vocals as well.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” is perfection, both thematically and melodically, and it always hits me in the feels whenever Bowie screams “Give me your hands!“. Time will tell if it remains my favourite from the album, but for now it’s certainly the one I go back to most.
Demon Days (Gorillaz)
NOT – Feel Good Inc.
Much like with “Rumours”, I think people know which two tracks are the best on the album … but unlike that album, however, I reckon the split would be less 50/50 and more weighted in favour of “Feel Good Inc.”
It’s one of the most iconic basslines of all time (being a bassist myself, it pains me to put it at second place!), and it’s the track that got a whole generation of fans into Gorillaz, but it only just misses out as being my favourite from “Demon Days”.
ACTUALLY – Dirty Harry
Never has a war protest song sounded so catchy.
That beat drop near the start is one of my favourite drops in music history, and the electronic goodness that follows is nothing short of sensational. Once the aggressive and spiteful rap verse comes in, “Dirty Harry” has cemented itself as Gorillaz’s best.
Moving Pictures (Rush)
NOT – Tom Sawyer
“Tom Sawyer” is an absolute banger of a track, and every member of the band gets their chance to prove how insanely talented they are.
I’m not surprised this ended up being one of Rush’s greatest hits, as it’s both extremely catchy and engagingly complex. But, as I’m sure you’ve guessed from the pattern so far, it isn’t my favourite from “Moving Pictures”.
ACTUALLY – YYZ
“YYZ” has no vocals to be found, so that means Rush can instead focus on making the instrumentals as insane as possible – and they knocked it out of the park.
The bassline is absolutely bonkers, and it doesn’t even seem humanly possible to play. Above all else, this is just a killer track that you can head-bang to.
Origin of Symmetry (Muse)
NOT – Plug In Baby (or New Born)
It’s a little bit tricky to figure out what the popular track from “Origin of Symmetry” is – is it “Plug In Baby” for that killer riff? Or perhaps “New Born”? Even “Citizen Erased” has had a recent revival in the fandom (and yes, their cover of “Feeling Good” might be the most famous from the album, but I don’t think anyone considers it to be the best).
From what I gather, people tend to swap between “Plug In Baby” and “New Born” as their favourites for this album, and I have no complaints for those choices. They’re both excellent for different reasons, and make up my second and third favourite tracks from the album, but there’s one other I’ve always liked just a tad more.
ACTUALLY – Bliss
People have lots of good things to say about “Bliss”, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say it was their favourite … apart from lead singer Matt Bellamy of all people.
Those arpeggiating synths pretty much came to define the Muse sound, and Bellamy’s belting vocals on top of the thumping instruments make it such a powerhouse track that never fails to get me pumped.
Plastic Beach (Gorillaz)
NOT – On Melancholy Hill (or Rhinestone Eyes … or Stylo)
In most of the “NOT” entries, the song is still second or third place in my estimations on each album, but in the case of “On Melancholy Hill” I don’t think it even cracks the top 5.
It’s a lovely track, reminiscent of a cool Summer’s day, but it’s too one-note for me to really sink my teeth in it. Songs like “Rhinestone Eyes” or “Stylo” have a much better shout at being the best on the album, and even though those songs are great they pale in comparison to my favourite track.
ACTUALLY – Empire Ants
I must have listened to “Empire Ants” a thousand times by now, and yet it still gets better with each listen.
It’s Gorillaz’s masterpiece, and they so expertly weave together the slow and fast sections that I’m amazed their heads didn’t explode listening to it back in the studio. Along with “Dirty Harry”, it’s the best beat drop Gorillaz ever did (maybe a good beat drop ends up making that song my favourite from the album?).
Ram (Paul McCartney)
NOT – Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey
I’ve thrown “Imagine” under the bus, so it only seems fair to give McCartney the same treatment that I gave to Lennon.
I didn’t realise “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” was such a hit for McCartney, as it even reached the number one spot on the chart. I’d always thought “Ram” was a bit of a sleeper hit, but apparently more people liked it at the time than I realised.
This is a good medley, full of all the fun whimsy that you’d expect from the man that wrote “Yellow Submarine” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Dah”, but it doesn’t get me going quite as much as another track.
ACTUALLY – Back Seat Of My Car
The final track on “Ram” is a gorgeous way to end the album, and it doesn’t get much more underrated than “Back Seat Of My Car”.
It has all the hallmarks of a McCartney classic, from the rousing horns to the anthemic choruses, and yet it still didn’t make a dent in music history. I get goose-bumps whenever I hear it, and I may even go as far as saying it’s McCartney’s best solo song (top three, at least).
The Resistance (Muse)
NOT – Uprising
It’s a bit of a push to say that “The Resistance” is up with some of the best albums of all time, but since I’m a massive Muse fan I’ve always considered it to be one of my favourites.
The clear stand-out from the album is “Uprising”, one of the band’s most successful and catchy tracks, and you’d be crazy to think another trumps it … right?
While I do really like “Uprising” for the rousing rebellion song it is, I can’t help but feel like it’s a little overplayed. Something so simple yet so catchy was bound to be a hit, but there are definitely others from the album that I like more, including …
ACTUALLY – Undisclosed Desires
As soon as that slap bass comes in, I’m hooked.
“Undisclosed Desires” builds up the sonic textures and ideas with each verse and chorus, until the last section brings it all together splendidly. I’m sure if it wasn’t for the incredible bassline I wouldn’t rate it so highly, but even on its own the track slaps (pun very much intended).
Travelling Without Moving (Jamiroquai)
NOT – Virtual Insanity
It’s extremely close, but “Virtual Insanity” just misses out on being my favourite track from my favourite Jamiroquai album – but it’s still my second favourite song in their whole discography.
Other than the fact the music video is iconic, the chorus is up there as maybe Jamiroquai’s catchiest ever. The small piano parts are what make this track so great, as well as the awesome vocals and rhythm section (as always).
ACTUALLY – Cosmic Girl
Their best bassline, their best synth work, overall the best instrumentation and vocals of the lot … Yeah, this is Jamiroquai’s best song.
Everything comes together so perfectly in the choruses, as the background vocals blend so nicely with the synths and strings to fortify an already strong rhythm section. One of the funkiest, feel-good songs ever – there can be no doubt about it.
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (Oasis)
NOT – Wonderwall
I don’t think it’s a particularly edgy stance to say that “Wonderwall” is insanely overplayed to the point where it’s almost mind-numbing, but I can still appreciate the track for how anthemic it is.
Strangely enough, it feels like it’s gotten to the point where I just turn my ears off whenever it plays on the album (as if my brain naturally skips through it), and as such there are countless other tracks from “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” that I’d rather listen to.
ACTUALLY – Champagne Supernova
I had a tough time choosing between “Champagne Supernova” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, but I decided to go with the former – most of the times I’ve ever played this album, it’s purely so that I could listen to this epic closing track again.
Even though it’s the longest track on the album, it goes by in a flash. All of the instruments and vocals are phenomenal, and the non-sensical lyrics actually work really well in creating that semi-psychedelic atmosphere. It all culminates in one of the most satisfying, uproarious climaxes to a song ever, where every instrument just goes crazy to end things off.
Aaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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