Six best opening songs on debut albums from the 2010s

This list of the six best first songs on first albums from the 2010s 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. For every classic that flawlessly encapsulates a band or artist’s ethos and style, there’s another that delivers half-baked song ideas and uncharacteristic musical decisions. Other debut albums are sketchy and, while they might have a handful of good songs, don’t deliver consistently high quality like later albums in a group’s discography.

However, other debut albums are close to perfect, and the opening songs on those albums are true masterpieces that represent the group or artist with ease – or at least foreshadow future triumphs the group will achieve. Read on to explore the six best opening tracks on debut albums from the 2010s!

The 2010s continued the rise of digital music and saw the exponential growth of streaming services, which became the go-to method for consuming music. As such, artists began to focus more on bite-sized releases and include short songs that could be maximized for streaming numbers. Still, there were a handful of classic albums released in the '10s with top-tier opening tracks.

Six great opening songs from debut albums in the 2010s

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.

“The Gaudy Side of Town”– Gayngs – Relayted (2010)

A massive “supergroup” of Midwest bands featuring 22 members with the main players consisting of Polica’s Ryan Olson (the group’s founder), Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Solid Gold’s Zack Coulter, Doomtree’s Dessa and P.O.S. and The Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard, Gayngs produced an entire album with a BPM of 69 – in honor of the 10CC classic “I’m Not In Love.”

While that song is great, the album that Gayngs delivered blew it out of the water, and nowhere is that more apparent than on its first track: “The Gaudy Side of Town.” An intoxicating combination of reverb-heavy saxophone, oodles of multi-tracked vocals, crispy slap bass, and swinging, smooth drumming, “Gaudy” is an incredible piece of music that kicks off a severely underrated album. Mr. Olson, when are we going to get a sequel?!

“Get Away”– Yuck – Yuck (2011)

1990s alternative music throwbacks Yuck only released one album with band founder Daniel Blumberg, but what an album it is. Kicking off with the melodic yet sneering “Get Away,” the self-titled album is littered with highlights. Just wait for that outro, when Blumberg screams “Oh I can’t get away” repeatedly and the song rattles to a close around him. Chills.

“The Mother We Share”– CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe (2013)

Synth-pop revivalists par excellence, CHVRCHES delivered maybe the best song of the past 15 years with the first track from their debut album. Ambiguous lyrics are delivered with wide-eyed intensity from gifted lead singer Lauren Mayberry, and a sprightly, shimmering backing track features a powerful blend of synth pads, drum machines, and sampled vocals layered atop one another to create an indelible atmosphere. An amazing track that leads into what will hopefully be remembered as a seminal album from the 2010s.

“Elevator Operator”– Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. (2015)

A delightfully retro-sounding rock song from Australia’s Courtney Barnett, this is an immediately enjoyable track that reveals more and more layers the more you listen to it. A simple arrangement and standard rock instrumentation are augmented by Barnett’s cooly unfazed monotone singing and keen observational lyrics (which thankfully mentions Australian culinary staple Vegemite). A great start to an amusingly titled and consistently terrific debut album.

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“Supermodel”– SZA – Ctrl (2017)

Though her earlier EPs showed plenty of promise with their dreamy, woozy textures and knack for catchy hooks, SZA (née Solana Rowe) put it all together on 2017’s Ctrl, which led off with this thrillingly delivered track that serves as a commentary on relationships, beauty, and self-worth. This track is amazing, but it only serves as the tip of the iceberg for what is a terrific album.

“Smoke Signals”– Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps (2017)

Phoebe Bridgers is a singular modern talent, and her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, introduced the world at large to her minimalist, smoky solo efforts. Introspective lyrics abound touching on subjects of loss, heartache, fading memory, nostalgia, and much more, and her warbly, soothing voice guides listeners through songs about painful memories, which would feel like intrusions if her voice wasn’t so inviting. An entrancing and beguiling listen.

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