Revisiting AJR's overshadowed hit "Let the Games Begin"

The song was mainstream, but where is it today?
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In 2017, AJR released their second album The Click, which went on to be the band's breakout album with over 2 billion total streams on Spotify and numerous hits to name. But one of these mainstream successes, "Let the Games Begin", wasn't on the album at all. What happened there?

In early 2015, AJR released their first proper studio album, Living Room, which followed the independent (and now unpublished) 2010 albums Born and Bred and Venture. Later in 2015, they released "Let the Games Begin", a high-energy anthem that signaled a new era for the band.

The song was yet another viral hit for the band, getting usage in Hasbro gaming commercials while its fan popularity propelled them into the limelight for their EP that followed: What Everyone's Thinking. The single wasn't included, but was understandable given that the single "Call My Dad" was also missing.

AJR's song set the stage for future releases

Fast forward to June 2017, the album released 13 tracks long with 7 being released prior, and physically had an Urban Outfitters exclusive vinyl on January 19, 2018. But "Let the Games Begin" was still missing. It became questionable if the trio didn't like the song anymore, but it was performed live before and after the album, so it remained a mystery.

At the end of the month, The Click was released worldwide (yes, literally every country) through Black Butter Records, briefly using the opener "Overture" to announce it. The track samples every other song on the tracklist in an overture style, with the song "Drama" very briefly appearing at the end.

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"Drama" criticized having interest in feuds like Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift rather than politics, with Kendrick Lamar-inspired hip-hop beats and the band's signature spokestep (also featured in songs like "No Grass Today" and "I'm Not Famous"). However, where you'd once hear Jack singing "Drama" in "Overture", there was a line from "Let the Games Begin".

Due to the nature of "Overture", this means that this single was once on The Click, but got cut from the final tracklist. It seemed it would finally catch a break when a deluxe version of the album came out on September 21st, 2018, through S-Curve Records in America, Ultra Records in Canada, and Black Butter Records elsewhere, but it was cut once again.

"Let the Games Begin" wasn't the only song cut

AJR eventually revealed in an interview with Zach Sang that the band had five songs not included on the album. Only "Pretender" was specified, but it's easy to conclude that some of these other songs were "Normal" and "Let the Games Begin", as the other deluxe songs "Burn the House Down" and "Role Models" were written later.

A song that also fits this criterion is the charity single "It's On Us", which came out as a single in March 2017 to support the campaign of the same name. It's hard to predict what the fifth song could have been, but a possible choice is "Enjoy the Show", a sub-two-minute demo made for a 2016 creativity competition in New York City.

With AJR's newest album, The Maybe Man, there's been some of the same type of material, with the above upbeat snippet getting teased in late 2022 but remaining unpublished as of early 2024. Ryan Met recently announced on their The Maybe Man Tour that the album will have a deluxe edition however, so perhaps we'll get that later this year.

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