11 best opening songs from debut albums

Some bands and artists get it right on the first track of their first album.
Manic Street Preachers London 1991
Manic Street Preachers London 1991 / Martyn Goodacre/GettyImages
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“Slash ‘n’ Burn” – Manic Street Preachers – Generation Terrorists (1992)

The Manic Street Preachers are among the most interesting music groups of all time. Their career has lasted far longer than any critic – or likely the band themselves – would have ever expected, and the group has a litany of classic songs and albums to their name. The opening song from their debut album is not necessarily one of those classics.

The track does introduce the band’s sloganeering lyrics (which have been ratcheted way down over the years), the incredible vocal and guitar talents of frontman James Dean Bradfield as well as a general zeal for music that is frankly contagious. An auspicious opening track for one of the best bands ever.

“Mysterons” – Portishead – Dummy (1994)

Trip-hop was a short-lived “genre” of music in the U.K. (and a term that the artists involved in utterly despised) that included such groups as Massive Attack, Groove Armada, DJ Shadow, and Portishead – who delivered the magnum opus of the genre with 1994’s Dummy. A thrilling, sprawling album that’s equal parts menacing and sensual, Dummy delivers the goods right away on its first track, “Mysterons,” which features the group’s signature sampling and the dramatic, stark vocal stylings of Beth Gibbons. Spooky, sparkling stuff.

“Somewhere Only We Know” – Keane – Hopes & Fears (2004)

A truly transcendent achievement from England’s Keane, and if this was the only song the group ever recorded and produced, they would still be lauded as a notable group from the 2000s. Luckily for us, however, the band has continued to write and record powerfully emotional and heartfelt tracks for the better part of 20 years, but perhaps they concisely captured everything they stood for with the opening track from their 2004 debut album Hopes & Fears.

Recently rediscovered by a new generation thanks to usage in viral TikTok videos, “Somewhere Only We Know” is one of the best songs of the 2000s – and easily one of the best opening tracks on a debut album ever.