Friday Top 5: Top Five Song Spots

In a conversation with one of our local blogger friend’s, Sonic Itch Mike, I decided that I really needed to take a close look at which spots on any given album are the killer spots to put your hits.  Some people think that the immediacy really makes Track 1 the best, but I’m going to look a little closer at this idea.  I mean, there are hundreds of classic albums out there, and surely they ascribe to this great song placement formula.


5. Last Track (Number Varies)

Personally, one of my all time favorite tracks comes from The Get Up Kids “I’ll Catch You” off of Something to Write Home About.  It’s hard to recall all the classic numbers that come at the end besides that, though there are surely other great closing numbers.  The reason this is so low on the list is that occasionally a band sort of phones this one in, thinking they’ve made it this far, so why worry about that final touch.  But, for others, it’s the closing statement in their artwork, the final say for listeners. It deserves consideration, though modern listening habits, those people who only listen to tracks on shuffle, have ruined the impact of the great closer…yet another reason it comes so low. Then again, Wire used this spot for “1 2 X U,” so it can’t be all bad, right?


4. Track 1

What? The #4 spot?  Yes. Okay, so as soon as your little fingers press play, you get a nice kick in the face, or that perfect opening aesthtetic, but then its over.  You have, in all likelihood, at least another 8 tracks to jam out to on any given album, so usually you don’t want to get too excited over this one.  Still, this spot does help establish the mood for each listener, and for each record you purchase, so there has to be some importance.  Personally, a lot of bands have put too much emphasis on this spot, then the rest of the record fades, damaging our lasting impression, so it loses points.


3. Track 3

This is the spot for those great singles.  You know you love this spot, as it’s likely the first song you heard from the album.  Take, for instance, “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend or “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” by the Flaming Lips.  These are the songs that made you immediately think you could fall in love with this record. Often times, it does just that; it gets you to go out there and buy the album, so these are most traditionally considered the “hits.”  That’s all well and good, but these aren’t always the songs that live with you in secret, that you put on all your mixtapes. I mean come on, The Pixies put “Wave of Mutilation” here.


2. Track 7

This is the new black.  Track 7 is where it’s been at for the last several years, and honestly, if you look back in time, this might be where it’s always been at. You can go back to The Pixes with “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Where Is My Mind?” tracks, or even farther back with Beach Boys “Sloop John B.”  These are those hits that a lot of people know, but usually they are pretty stand up tracks in the great scheme of things.  This is where Spoon put “The Underdog” and Weezer jammed with “Say It Ain’t So.”  Sometimes, these make the later singles, if these are big acts, but regardless, we all know the words to most Track 7 songs.


1. Track 2

This is it, the money shot. You get past the opener, and you find this gem of a track.  Arcade Fire through “Neighborhood #2” in this spot, which we all know is great.  Pavement threw “Shady Lane” at you on Brighten the Corners.  Even the punk rockers knew this spot was where it was at: The Descendents put “I’m the One” here, giving me a lasting impression of the greatness of this spot.  Now, while recent moves have shown seven making a move for this spot, it still deserves the recognition as the Number 1 place to put a really memorable track.  Let’s see how long it can hold on.


Care to argue? I’d love to hear which tracks you think are the best, or even which ones you think are the worst spots.  Drop us a line, and let us know what you think.


  • Man, I’m torn on this.

    You can’t go anywhere without Track 1. It’s the foundation, the rock, and the first impression.

    The last track is the culmination and gives you either the good/bad after taste. Spin again or toss?

    Tracks 2-3 are already into the heart of an album, so I think most minds are made up at that point. Though I’ll admit most of the best songs are in this position.

    Therefore, I gotta go with #1. Not out of immediacy, but because without it, where’s no 2 and so on?

  • While I agree you have to start the record out right, putting your best song in track one only leaves the album to go one way….down. While the same theory should pretty much hold true for choosing track 2, it doesn’t.

    Track 2 does seems to be the ticket for many albums. Track one gets you listening, track 2 gets you hooked, and from them on it’s smooth sailing.

    I do however often find myself many times skipping straight to the second half of the album for that track 7 hit.

    @Nathan – good choice for a FT5.

  • Phoenix – hits on tracks one and two and meh… That album was worshiped, makes me think you are on to something here… but then it goes off the tracks for me.

    I think the latter half is the place to put the hit. The listener wades through the murky first half of the album, gets the big payoff around track 7, and then coasts to the end high as a kite. Bonus points if #1 and/or #last treat you right.

    as you can see, the real calculus starts when you have multiple hits. Then the rule has to be… put em anywhere, but not too close!

    excellent topic.

  • If you don’t like the 8 spot, then you’re an idiot.

  • Honorable Mention goes to the Hidden Track obviously!

    I think you are right in 7 is where it has ALWAYS been, but the “money shot” like you said, is all in the second track and it can follow a great/weak opener.

    Too close for me to decide (between 7 & 2). Glad you guys chose for us.

    Great FT5!!

  • 3 and 7. 3 has to be solid. If I’m not feeling it by 3, I check out for the album. Same for 7, a good 7 track will lift the tail end of an album.

    Wasn’t impressed when I saw the topic. Honestly thought about it skipping it. Glad I didn’t. Good stuff, Nathan.

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