So a few days ago I was writing about EPIC! song beginnings that didn’t quite work. Not because they were bad, but because they set up the song to fail by hyping it too much.
I’ve got a couple of examples of songs where the band actually managed to make it work.
Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast
The band starts out with the riff and basically the first verse, punctuated by Bruce Dickinson’s YEAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhh. The drums kick and they go right into the song from there. There’s no new musical movement added, maybe that’s the key. You hold back the rhythm section and SCREAM REAL LOUD, but don’t try to top the melody or the riff you’ve already introduced.
This song is also a great example of what I call Springsteening– writing a song you know will be taken one way, rake in the bucks and then claim that everyone is misinterpreting the song and point to the lyrics in the verses, knowing full well that most people only pay attention to the chorus. The best example ever was Born the USA, but this is a close second for the 80s.
Iron Maiden says they are not devil-worshippers and I believe them. Based on what their other songs are about, they strike me as the type of guys who are more likely to nerd out on war documentaries on the History Channel than attend black masses. But they also must have known a song with the chorus 666 the number of the beast would give them exactly the kind of bad publicity that would sell tons of records in the Satan-obsessed 80s. If a band could have made I worship the Devil into a catchy hook they would have drowned in money.
Sweet Ballroom Blitz
This song takes the opposite tack- no guitar, just rhythm and… LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO! This is one of my favorite songs ever, it’s about as perfect as a rock and roll song could be.
The Who Won’t Get Fooled Again
OK, so the best part of this song isn’t anywhere near the beginning. In fact, it’s about 7 minutes in to the song. But it’s absolutely the best part of the song. I have to admit, I don’t even find the rest of the song all that interesting, and it’s not because I disagree with the message (I agree that violent revolutions are almost always a bad idea), it’s just a little too long, and doesn’t really grab me the way some of their other songs do. But the scream and then meet the new boss, same as the old boss is so satisfying I’ll listen to the whole song.