Nine best opening songs on debut albums from the 2000s

This list of the nine best first songs on first albums from the 2000s shows that some bands and artists get it right on the first track of their debut album.
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Debut albums are not easy. For every amazing debut that perfectly showcases an artist’s style and ethos, there’s another debut album that offers up half-baked songs and poorly thought-out musical decisions. Other debut albums are maddeningly inconsistent and, while they might be home to a strong song or two, they don’t deliver the goods like other future albums in an artist’s discography might.

However, some debut albums are close to flawless, and the opening songs on those albums are immediate classics that perfectly encapsulate a group or artist – or at least provide a template for triumphs that may await the group or artist in the future.

The new millennium was a period of major upheaval for the music industry thanks to the advent of the internet and the rise of digital consumption of music. However, that didn’t stop notable bands from debuting and delivering top-flight opening songs on their debut albums. Read on to explore the nine best opening songs on debut albums from the 2000s.

The 2000s were a time for change in the music industry, thanks to the rise of the internet

Note: This list does not include EPs or first singles, as it is strictly limited to the first song featured on the track list of the group or artist’s debut album – simple as that. As such, this list also doesn’t count first tracks on a group or artist’s first “major label” album, discounting their “independent” releases.

“Screaming Infidelities”– Dashboard Confessional – The Swiss Army Romance (2000)

The emo genre has experienced something of a resurgence in recent years, and I’m frankly ecstatic about it (a highly non-emo thing to say). Dashboard Confessional (aka Chris Carrabba) has long been the standard-bearer for “baring your mattress, baring your soul,” and his debut album, The Swiss Army Romance would deliver all of his trademarks: withering lyrics, strikingly well-written melodies, and finger-twisting guitar parts.

The album’s opening track, “Screaming Infidelities” would be rerecorded with a full band later on, but the solo acoustic version from Carrabba is just as searing – if not more so – than the later, fuller version.

“Is This It”– The Strokes – Is This It (2001)

A silken and slinky opening number featuring the sexy, chaotic croon of Julian Casablancas, this self-titled track is the absolute perfect way for The Strokes to kick off their debut album. While it lacks some of the guitar pyrotechnics of other Strokes tracks, one could argue that that benefits this song, as its minimalistic approach allows listeners to focus on the hooky melody and entrancing drum-and-bass combination.

As soon as the song really gets into gear, it ends, forcing listeners to go back and listen again and again – and that’s before even hearing the rest of this classic album, which is jammed full of notable songs from the era that holds up incredibly well.

“Caring Is Creepy”– The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001)

The band that changed Zach Braff’s life in the film Garden State also delivers a killer first song from their first album ever: “Caring Is Creepy” from Oh, Inverted World. Featuring witty, incisive lyrics about being something of a romantic misanthrope as well as beautifully sung, wry vocals – both of which are courtesy of band leader James Mercer – “Caring Is Creepy” capably introduced the world to The Shins’ acoustic-leaning indie rock.

“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”– Arcade Fire – Funeral (2003)

A striking opening salvo from one of the best albums of the early 2000s, lead singer Win Butler’s warbly, Springsteen-esque vocals on "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” imagines a world where his childhood can be remembered as traveling through tunnels between his friends’ houses – straying in and out of the real world as only a child can do. Butler and Arcade Fire would delve further into this territory with even more success on 2010’s The Suburbs, but the group’s debut album, and specifically, the debut album’s first song, sets the stage flawlessly for what was to come later for the group.

“Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”– The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)

A staggeringly powerful bass line kicks off the debut album for Las Vegas, Nevada’s best-ever band – and things only improve from there. This album features a bevy of major hits of the time, including Millennial wedding staple “Mr. Brightside.” The album begins with the urgent and groovy “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” which features all of the melodramatic romanticism and headlining choruses that the band would become known for throughout their careers. Let's just hope they're not done making music!

“Time Stands Still”– Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love (2004)

An underrated group that has delivered a steady string of engaging and well-constructed electronic/synth pop albums over their 20 years of existence, Cut Copy’s debut album features smooth, glistening soundscapes upon which lead creative force Dan Whitford can croon a plethora of hypnotic songs.

One such song is the opening track from the group’s debut album, which only features a total of 16 words – but you’d never know it from listening, as the dynamic rhythm part and swirling synth whooshes keep you engaged throughout. A severely underappreciated group with a terrific debut album. 

“Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”– LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005)

“Eminently danceable yet insular and nerdy” sounds like an apt description for the works of James Murphy aka LCD Soundsystem. Murphy’s first album under the LCD guise was extremely groovy and it opened with this rollicking statement of intent. The idea of LCD’s first album was “You will dance, and you will learn about some of my influences while you are dancing.” Somehow, it worked, probably due to Murphy’s inherent songcraft and knack for producing intensely danceable numbers that were also crackling with energy and humor.

“Time to Pretend”– MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (2008)

MGMT’s debut album was omnipresent if you were in college during the late 2000s and early 2010s, so much so that, at a certain point, one might get sick of hearing it. However, it was a big hit for a reason, as the album’s three biggest songs: “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” and “Kids,” all serve as major time capsules for “people of a certain age.”

The album’s opening track “Time to Pretend,” serves as something of a tongue-in-cheek anthem with lines like: “Let's make some music, make some money; Find some models for wives.” It’s catchy and fun and well-produced – and nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

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“In For The Kill”– La Roux – La Roux (2009)

Synth-pop continues to experience something of a resurgence, and that lineage can be traced back directly to La Roux’s eponymous debut album, which kicked off with the iconic “In For The Kill.” An eminently catchy song with surprising lyrical depth, “In For The Kill” was the perfect way to get La Roux’s debut album off and running. “I'm going in for the kill; I'm doing it for a thrill; Oh, I'm hoping you'll understand; And not let go of my hand.”

Also, Elly Jackson perfectly represented the archetypally androgynous lead singer – something that every self-respecting synth-pop act needs.

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