Losing A Whole Year - Third Eye Blind (from their s/t): I think the transition from the slightly eerie riff at the beginning to the full blast and the angry lyrics is the best definition of how to introduce that album. It's just so raw, passionate, yet vulnerable. Whenever I think of great album openers, this is the first thing to pop into my mind.
Starstruck - Yellowcard (from One for the kids): first song I ever heard from this band, and while I didn't realize it at the time, changed me forever. The opening riff is just awesome (I remember repeatedly trying to learn the song with my band, and not one of the three guitarists ever got it right), and how the chorus is executed touches my soft spot.
The Boat Dreams From The Hill - Jawbreaker (from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy): just amazing. Even if the vivid imaginery from the poetic lyrics hadn't already drawn me into the song, his voice would have for sure. This is the first time in the history of the band that Blake dropped that raw, raspy texture, and started going in a more delicate, softer direction vocally. Didn't think I would, but I liked that a lot.
Carousel - Blink-182 (from Cheshire Cat): so many memories built around this song. Good and bad, I miss all those moments. I really think it has encapsulated a part of my life like no other song ever has.
You Know How I Do - Taking Back Sunday (from Tell All Your Friends): I fear I might have overlooked this song in the past (no wonder, that album is a total killer). I started paying more attention to it recently, and it just clicked. The build-up at the end with John screaming his lungs out brings a tear to my eye.
Just a few I think are great; I wouldn't go as far as to say they're the best. I know I'm missing a ton.
"Feeling This" - blink-182, (self-titled)
Blink opens off their best album with a song that has all the melody of their previous work, plus so much innovation in production and structure. An amazing drum intro, unique verse guitar, and that proclamation -- "Get ready for action." There's so much to this song that's unique, from the chorus Tom sings to Mark's vocally distorted bridge, and my favorite, the four-part harmony on the outro. The song has so much energy & lets you know that all lot has changed with Blink, but the songwriting is as strong as ever.
"Alex English" - Dance Gavin Dance, (self-titled)
Two guitars bring us in, darkly. Then Jon Mess comes in screaming full force over blaring, rhythmic guitars and drums. The music stops except one guitar, and we get our introduction to Kurt Travis as the new singer for DGD. This is a just a strong track. The chorus is lead with the bold statement "Well don't it feel good? / You got what you paid for." I always loved the backing vocals on that. Then when the music slows at the bridge, Kurt shows off his emotive aptitude, with his voice dripping with feeling. The subsequent outro is ecstatic. I remember seeing Zac Garren go crazy playing the guitar solo at the end, it was so exciting. The song itself takes you through so many emotions. Whenever I hear it I get an adrenaline rush.
"In Regards To Myself" - Underoath, Define the Great Line
Someone already mentioned the rolling film effect and opening guitar riff... When that hits the full band and Spencer comes out: "Wake up wake up wake up, this is not a test!" it's just immediate energy and power. The listener was quickly made aware that this is a heavier, darker, and more aggressive Underoath than he was used to. They did not sacrifice melody either; Aaron Gillespie comes in loud and powerful. It's an energetic track to start a great album that took Underoath in a brand new direction.
"Be (Intro)" - Common, Be
How many hip-hop songs do you know that start with an upright bass playing a jazz riff? It starts slow, then progressively builds speed. A buzzing keyboard comes in, followed by the beat. When the music is all accounted for, Common comes in, with optimistic lyrics that mirror the upbeat major key of the music. This as an opening track tells you Be is a thoughtful hip-hop album that stays close to its musical roots. I view it as the perfect song to listen to around sunrise.
"The Prelude" - Jay-Z, Kingdom Come
Jay-Z always has strong starters on his albums, but this one stands out to me. His first solo recording since his supposed retirement in 2003, this track is refreshingly calm, both musically and vocally. Known for his impressive lyricism, Jay shows how much he's matured on this one (much to the chagrin of un-matured fans), laying out what separates him from the legions of rappers seeking to emulate his style. This serves as an introduction to a new advanced Jay-Z, who doesn't need the trappings of a typical rap artist.
"Kill You" - Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
This track, capable of offending so many people, is one of the greatest exercises in anger release you'll ever find on a song. It's so graphic; Em gets your attention right off the bat for an album filled with anger and contempt. Still doesn't quite prepare you for the brutal "Kim," though.
"Such Small Hands" - La Dispute, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River between Vega and Altair
I love this album in its entirety. This track, the simplest on the album musically, is a great summation of the pain expressed throughout the album. I don't think I've ever heard so much sorrow in a vocal piece. I also like how they were able to more or less invert the drum and guitar parts for the outro track.
"One Day" - UGK, Ridin' Dirty
Just a great song from a classic rap album. Love the flows.