Some songs win you over gradually: slow-burners that build and build until you’re pulled in by the overwhelming gravity of the track. Others grasp you more quickly. Whether it’s the tone of an opening guitar riff, the clicking of drumsticks, or a simple disembodied yelp, there’s nothing more electrifying than a good intro. If you this sensation sounds unfamiliar to you, check out these 5 great intros that’ll have you feeling love at first sound.
Interpol – “Obstacle 1”
You don’t need to wait until Paul Banks starts singing about “stabbing yourself in the neck” to know that this is going to be a dark one. The way the second guitar jostles the listener into attention with explosive bursts of sound over the rhythm guitar’s menacing down strummed intro-chords says it all. Add that ferocious drumbeat and some fretwork from vampiric bass player Carlos D, and “Obstacle 1” may be the most infectious track from Interpol’s extensive catalogue.
Metric – “Monster Hospital”
Your appreciation of this intro is probably directly proportional to your feelings about Emily Haines’ delivery of the opening lines (evoking schoolyard chants or the movie Grease, age depending): “Bam shika bam shika boom boom boom / Sha wang sha wang boom, sha wang sha wang boom.” Listen closely though and you’ll see that there are actually quite a few other elements of note in the intro. The squealing feedback that starts the track, the monotonous distorted guitar strums, then more squealing to welcome the drums—this is a hard track by any standards.
Born Ruffians – “Hummingbird”
The ascending riffs. The wordless declarations of joy. To anyone who experiences it, “Hummingbird” flies out of the gate and doesn’t let up until it’s finished 190 seconds later. If you like your pop music brisk and effervescent, nobody does it better than Midland, Ontario’s finest.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps”
Is there any intro simpler or more iconic than this 2003 alt-smash? Nick Zinner’s chiming guitar (it’s actually just one note tremolo picked to eternity) and Brian Chase’s clobbering drum line is all it takes to set the table for one of the decade’s most graceful odes to love. Forget the bass guitar, “Maps” is the best, most efficient two-instrument intro you’re likely to find this side of Simon & Garfunkel.
Arctic Monkeys – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
Starting your debut single with what feels like several competing guitar solos may not have been the safest choice in 2005 during indie rock’s decade of solo-aversion, but Arctic Monkeys pull it off in style. Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode has described the hit track as “a bombardment of the most unsubtle, one-dimensional noise”. Alan, we have to agree… but isn’t that what makes it so good?
Honorable Mention: “Next Gold” by Dilly Dally, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National, anything from Vampire Weekend’s debut album (“A-Punk,” “Mansard Roof,” “Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa”), “Song 2” by Blur, and “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies.