The No-Singles
The best songs never released as a single

Warning : the word "certain" will be used a lot. For lack of a better word.

There are various reasons why a certain song by a certain artist gets picked to be the "lead-off single" of the new album. It has to be a snappy, attractive song that grabs the listener's attention, because the record label wants to sell as many albums as possible. After the first single, most bands release 2 of 3 more songs until the album become a mid-price catalogue item.

But once you become a fan of a certain band, you begin to discover the hidden gems : the album tracks. And, believe it or not, some of the best songs are never released as a single. When a director deletes his favourite part during the editing of a movie, the expression "Kill your darlings" is used. Because "the best song/scene" doesn't necessarily mean "suited to the general audience". Some people do prefer quick, short, happy songs instead of epic masterpieces.

Here are some underrated songs recommendations. Just because they were never released as a single, does not mean they do not deserve as much praise as the single. Or more praise, for that matter.

All That I Want by Stash
In 2004, Belgian band Stash released Sadness, a song that almost everybody enjoyed and bought. It's a fine song, OK, but the accompagnying album Rock N' Roll Show starts off with All That I Want.
It should have been a worldwide hit. It's up there with There Will Be No Next Time, The Way To Your Heart and My Heroics Part One as an example of how awesome our domestic songs can be. Just forget NME's mean comments about Das Pop and Belgian music in general, All That I Want should already be on your MiniDisc/iPod.
Go buy it right now. Right. Now.

Telegraph Road by Dire Straits
14:15 minutes full of epic storytelling, plus one of the best guitar solos ever to fill up the final five.

Morphine/Unbreakable by Michael Jackson
Morphine is Michael Jackson's second-best song. A full orchestra, a choir, a sample from The Elephant Man and a Slash. Enough said.
Unbreakable is the first track from what turned out to be his final album, Invincible. Sony opted for the run-of-the-mill You Rock My World as the first single, but that song could have been sung by anyone else. Unbreakable, however, is vintage MJ brilliance : a dangerous beat, a rap by Notorious B.I.G. and lyrics that fit perfectly. "You can't break me/Cause I'm unbreakable", how very apt after all the (legal) trouble he's been through.
Unbreakable is a stunning song.

Seperate Sense by Upright
Sweet sweet punk rock from Kontich, Belgium. Unfortunately, the band is rather lazy and refuses to be signed by a record label.

Scoundrel Days/The Bandstand by a-ha
Scoundrel Days is one of the best songs ever.
a-ha's second album spawned three sizeable hits : Cry Wolf, Manhattan Skyline and I've Been Losing You. But Scoundrel Days tops them all.
The Bandstand is the first and the best track on their 2009 album Foot Of The Mountain. Why it wasn't a single? Beats me.

Gimmie Shelter by The Rolling Stones
A killer song from a killer band. Why it never was a single, is beyond me. They have released far worse 7-inches. Scorsese agrees with me : he has used Gimmie Shelter is at least three of his movies.

Whenever by Sita
Dutch Sita sang some good pop ditties (e.g. Happy, Selfish), but Whenever is an underrated classic. The last song on her debut album and her best. Excellent.

Zar by Jean-Bosco Safari
Belgian musician Jean-Bosco Safari wrote this song for charity. It was sung by Andrea Croonenberghs, a Belgian actress. It's a heartchillingly, hauntingly beautiful song about a six-year old boy that discovers Zar, a small alien, in his backyard. But is it a real alien or does the boy make him up? Discover it today.

Breakdown/Estranged by Guns N' Roses
Breakdown and Estranged both feature on their 1991 album Use Your Illusion II. Breakdown's fantastic text, three different guitar solos from Slash and a voice like thunder all add up to an easy recommendation.
Estranged may be GN'R's best song. Slash's howling guitar that seems to scream "love hurts" will haunt you during your wild dreams of new beginnings.

I'm Still Here by Johnny Rzeznik
The Goo Goo Dolls' front man wrote this song for Disney's Treasure Planet. I remember a review in a Belgian magazine : "the one song on the soundtrack is instantly forgettable, just like the movie". Bollocks! I'm still listening to I'm Still Here, 7 years after the release of said (fantastic) movie.

Julian De Backer, 17 December 2009