Glaswegian music journalist Chris McCall talks us through his some of his favorite first singles and breakthrough hits from a number of new and established artists.
NOGA EREZ: DANCE WHILE YOU SHOOT
The first single by Israeli singer-songwriter and producer Noga Erez is strikingly self-assured and has already won attention from around the world. She’s secured support slots with the likes of Crystal Castles on the back of this track and we can expect to hear a lot more from her as the year progresses.
TAYLA: CALL ME DANGER
Hailed as an old-school “summer banger” on release, Call Me Danger was one of the most impressive debut tracks from a UK artist in 2016. The Birmingham singer, songwriter and performer blends pop, hip-hop and RNB to create something truly her own. This won’t be the last we hear from Tayla.
FORTH WANDERERS: KNOW BETTER
Hailing from New Jersey, Forth Wanderers may be not long out of high school but they already sound mature beyond their years. The title track from their first EP is a DIY delight – chiming guitars and lush vocals call to mind Pavement or Wheezer, but brought right up to date. It can’t be long before these Americans are festival favourites on the other side of the pond.
WILLOW: FEEL ME
This sub-heavy house number became a favourite among serious dance fans after ambient techno veteran Move D included it on his Fabric 74 mix. The first track to cause a stir by DJ Sophie Wilson – aka Willow – is certain to be followed-up by more agenda-setting releases. Willow is already booked for several clubs across Europe in the new year.
FRANZ FERDINAND: DARTS OF PLEASURE
Many people presume Franz Ferdinand’s first single was the smash hit Take Me Out, with its memorable tempo change and foot-stamping chorus. But the Glasgow art-pop stars announced their arrival in September 2003 with Darts of Pleasure, a song every bit as essential. It famously ends with several lines in German “Ich heiße Super Fantastisch!” (‘My name is Super-Fantastic!’), which Franz fans love to chant at shows.
BJORK: HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
Bjork first made a name for herself as the vocalist in The Sugarcubes, a pioneering alt-rock band from Iceland, but its as a solo artist she began to attract serious international attention. Her first solo album, the appropriately titled Debut, was an underground hit and sent her on the path to becoming major recording star. The stand-out track is Human Behaviour, a song inspired by David Attenborough’s famous nature documentaries.
THE DAMNED: NEW ROSE
A landmark record by any standard, New Rose was the first single to hit the charts by a British punk band. Its distinctive buzzsaw riff and frantic vocal has ensured it has remained popular since first being released in October 1976. The Damned, who were at the forefront of London’s celebrated punk scene, continue to tour and perform the song 40 years on.
ROXY MUSIC: VIRGINIA PLAIN
Borrowing the name of a painting by frontman Bryan Ferry – itself taken from a brand of tobacco – Virgina Plain was the first single and calling card of Roxy Music. Released in 1972, the song offered a more sophisticated and experimental take on the stomping glam rock that was hugely popular across the UK and US at the time. It remains a staple of indie club nights, radio stations and sports stadiums more than four decades on. Virgin Airways even named one of its Boeing 747s Virgina Plain in tribute.
OUTKAST: MS JACKSON
The second single from OutKast’s fourth album was the first to become an international hit for the alt-hip hop duo from Atlanta. The song famously sees Andre 3000 and Big Boi pleading for some understanding from the mother of an unnamed girlfriend in an on-going domestic dispute. For such a heavy subject matter, the song is lifted by OutKast’s trademark wit and a memorable promo video featuring a variety of wildlife.
QUAVIUS: MAGIC MAN
South Florida rapper and producer Quavius dropped his debut EP, All-Encompassing, last year. The dreamy Magic Man is the choice cut, highlighting his ability to manipulates samples to create euphoric moments of clarity. His rapping has been described as shapeshifing by making room in the mix in any way he sees it.