a track-by-track guide to every album ever
Updated: May 21
Note to the reader: many of these track placements are fluid and approximate depending on the number of songs on the respective album. such examples have been indicated with an asterisk (*).
1. probably (although not necessarily) the title track of the album and likely single #2 (although sometimes #1) that winds up a classic staple for opening the live set
Examples: "American Idiot" by Green Day; "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye; "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
2. if the first track is an intro, this is where we get down to business and you'll find the lead single, which will absolutely rip and likely become the encore number at this artist's life shows forever and ever, amen.
Examples: "B.Y.O.B." by System of a Down; "Everything is Alright" by Motion City Soundtrack
3. likely the last single to be released, although a slot often reserved for title tracks and singles to be released once the album has already dropped
Examples: "Come As You Are" by Nirvana; "Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard
4. usually the place the label will mine for a single once the album is a hit. otherwise, look for a song you'll hear during the artist's live set as a means to get the crowd moving.
5. the lead single that proves the album as a concept and is destined for greatness. either either gets a killer video to be played over and over on MTV (if this particular album was released prior to 2008) or gets a sick lyric video posted on YouTube (if released after 2009). also a contender for lyrics referencing the title of the album.
Examples: "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance; "Thriller" by Michael Jackson*
6. the abrupt shift in tone following the first half of the record
Examples: "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles
7. packing material for everything else. you'll never hear this one live, unless on one of those anniversary tours where the artist plays the album front-to-back.
8. the deep cut on the album that's a fan favorite and gets played at every show from here until eternity. could perhaps wind up as an accidental and (rarely) career-making single.
Example: "All The Small Things" by blink-182; "Ohio is for Lovers" by Hawthorne Heights; "Sometime Around Midnight" by The Airborne Toxic Event*
9. more packing material. the only place you'll ever hear this one is on that mix your ex from college made you.
10. when the band realized they didn't quite have enough for a full album and they slapped something together in the studio at the last minute. either that or they wanted to get experimental but didn't have the balls to do it on more than one song.
11. the closing number that's usually either a ballad to wind things down or a sweeping orchestral epic to end on a high note. often a fan favorite and will likely serve as the closer to the main set at live shows. may occasionally make it to the encore, but it'll never be the last song of the night
Examples: "23" by Jimmy Eat World; "The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me" by The Wonder Years
(anything much beyond eleven songs and the artist is either trying really hard to prove something or they're a goddamn genius...)