4 best opening songs on debut albums from the 2020s

This list of the four best first songs on first albums from the 2020s shows that some bands and artists get it right on the first track of their debut album.
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Debut albums are difficult to pull off. For every classic that perfectly dovetails with a band or artist’s ethos and style, there’s another that delivers unfinished song ideas and strange musical choices. Other debut albums are patchy and, while they might have a handful of great tracks, they don’t consistently deliver top-tier bangers like future releases might.

However, some debut albums are amazing right out of the gate, and the opening songs on those albums are instant classics that represent the group or artist perfectly – or foreshadow future successes in the group’s discography.

With streaming services dominant and almost infinite ways to consume music, the 2020s has seen a vastly postmodern musical landscape dominated by hip-hop, radio pop, and tuneful female singer-songwriters. Read on to explore the four best first songs on first albums from the 2020s!

The 2020s continued the vast splintering of music that has occurred over the past few decades

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.

“Brutal”Olivia Rodrigo – Sour (2021)

With a riff that sounds strikingly similar to both Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” and Elastica’s “Connection,” Olivia Rodrigo announced herself with this first track from her debut album Sour. Many of the tracks are heartfelt and powerfully delivered breakup anthems, but this one is more of a raucous rocker that comments on the state of modern life. Impressively prescient for a teenager (at the time of this album’s release), Rodrigo began the 2020s as a potent new voice for the new generation, and it will be fascinating to see where her career goes from here.

“Family Tree (Intro)”– Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter (2022)

A somewhat subdued beginning to the widescreen epic that is Ethel Cain’s debut album, “Family Tree (Intro)” nonetheless sets the scene for the atmospheric – and stirring – sonics found within, all tied together by Cain’s often heartbreaking lyrics and consistently stunning vocals. Featuring lyrical commentary on the state of modern American life and a cornucopia of memorable melodies, Cain delivers an incredible opening statement for what will hopefully be a thrilling and fruitful career.

"I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a 'Rap' Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time"– André 3000 – New Blue Sun (2023)

Surprisingly one of the only instrumental tracks across this series of articles, Three Stacks’ first-ever solo album was certainly not what his rabid fans (myself included) expected when it was released in 2023. Even if it is a new age, ambient, instrumental album featuring Andre’s flute above all other instruments, it is still an absolutely striking achievement that begins with a terrific mission statement as its first track (and one of the longest songs ever in the Billboard Top 100).

The title says it all, frankly, and it will be fascinating to see how one-half of the legendary Outkast follows up his surprising and rewarding debut album.

Next. Overlooked 1980s. Overlooked albums from the 1980s. dark

“Where We’ve Been”– Friko – Where We’ve Been, Where We Go From Here (2024)

Rock still lives in 2024! Chicago’s Friko deliver a terrific opening track from their February 2024 debut album, which combines Modest Mouse-esque singing with a White Album-era Beatles-esque finger-style guitar part playing classic major-to-minor rock chords. This song begins innocently enough and then reaches a massive, cathartic climax – ushering in a varied and intriguing inaugural album that is sure to appeal to fans of 1990s indie and alternative rock.

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