Top 10 Debut Singles

Sometimes you get it right the first time. As selected by the Songfacts community, these are the Top 10 Debut Singles.


#10 "More Than a Feeling" - Boston

Group leader Tom Scholz graduated from MIT and was working for Polaroid before releasing this song with Boston. We're not sure how good he was at engineering, but the slick brand of rock he created with Boston has a very long half-life. Fitting that it makes the bottom of our list - in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest songs of all time, it was #500. (More Than A Feeling Songfacts)
~ nominated by Mindcrime


#9 "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" - The Doors

The song that introduced us to The Doors, it was also the leadoff track on their debut album. The band didn't have enough juice to fight their record company when they censored the line "She gets high," so Jim Morrison's vocal sounds more like "She gets uuuuuuggghh." The song wasn't a hit, but stirred up plenty of interest in The Doors. (Break On Through (To The Other Side) Songfacts)
~ nominated by Dappled


#8 "My Sharona" - The Knack

The Knack faded away, but their debut single was a potent piece of power pop, and the best-selling song of 1979 in the United States. Of the songs on this list, "My Sharona" made the biggest impact on Pop Culture, appearing in the movies Pulp Fiction and Reality Bites, being sampled on Run-DMC's "It's Tricky," and forever ruining the life of anyone named "Sharona." Think about it: "Sharona" would have become a Yuppie favorite like "Ashley" or "Kaitlin" if it weren't for The Knack. Also, it put Weird Al Yankovic on the map when Dr. Demento played his parody "My Bologna." (My Sharona Songfacts)
~ nominated by Miamisammy


#7 "Take It Easy" - Eagles

Every legendary band starts somewhere, and for the Eagles it was a song that Jackson Browne just couldn't finish. Glenn Frey put in the line about standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona and stretched out that first "E," so it became "take it eeeeeeeeasy." And Country-Rock was born. (Take It Easy Songfacts)
~ nominated by Lucky


#6 "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" - Procol Harum

Procol Harum took their words so seriously that their lyricist Keith Reid was an official band member, even though he didn't perform on the songs. He told us that the song is about a relationship, and he thought of it like a film, with vivid images conjuring a mood. It's quite an ambitious debut, and the band knew that the original 10-minute version wasn't radio friendly, so two verses had to go. Concert-goers were treated to the bonus content. (A Whiter Shade Of Pale Songfacts)
~ nominated by Lea


#5 "Alive" - Pearl Jam

Do you remember the first time you heard this? It's a licorice song: you either love it or hate it. But you definitely knew what Pearl Jam was about. Eddie Vedder growling through his childhood traumas with a backing of pure Grunge made P.J. a defining band of the '90s. Vedder wasn't even part of the band when they recorded the instrumental demo of the song, but the lyrics and vocals he added made it obvious that he should be the face of Pearl Jam. (Alive Songfacts)
~ nominated by cs 1987


#4 "Brown Eyed Girl" - Van Morrison

A fun little Pop nugget that every girl with brown eyes thinks was written about her, this was clearly not the direction Van Morrison wanted to go. His next album was the very intricate Astral Weeks, which didn't sell like crazy, but seems to please music writers, who keep listing it as one of the greatest albums ever. But if you're hanging out, having fun, maybe enjoying your favorite adult beverage at a place with no dress code, you're not going to hear "Madame George." It is, however, entirely possible that "Brown Eyed Girl" will be added to the soundtrack of your evening, and it will become an even better night. (Brown-Eyed Girl Songfacts)
~ nominated by Bluesboy


#3 "American Pie" - Don McLean

When you write your first song, you have a lot of material to pull from, and Don McLean emptied out the contents of his childhood in "American Pie," which deals with his memories of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. It quickly became one of our most-discussed songs, as folks tried to figure out if the guy who read the "book of Marx" was John Lennon or Vladimir Lenin, and if the "Girl who sang the blues" was Janis Joplin. At 8 minutes and 38 seconds, it took up both sides of the 45, so you had to flip it over to hear the whole song. It's probably the most uncoverable song on this list: when Madonna tried it in 2000 with disastrous results. (American Pie Songfacts )
~ nominated by Cyberjudge


#2 "Hey Joe" - Jimi Hendrix

Like Jimi himself, "Hey Joe" is a very mysterious song. It's unclear who wrote it or where it came from, and if there really was a Joe who did something very bad. We do know that Jimi Hendrix made it his first single and recorded the definitive version. Jimi had a way of extracting everything a song had to offer in his brilliant, inaccurate way. He played it for the first time at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and used it to close out Woodstock in 1969. (Hey Joe Songfacts)
~ nominated by Lea


#1 "Sultans of Swing" - Dire Straits

If your fans are regular folks, it becomes a lot harder to find out what they're up to when you become famous. You can't just duck into a bar and check out the hapless band playing to a few drunks, which is what gave Mark Knopfler the idea for this song, which ended up on the demo tape that started a bidding war for Dire Straits. (Sultans Of Swing Songfacts)
~ nominated by Edna


More Song Writing

Comments: 31

  • George from Massachusettsdo it again by Steely Dan?
  • Michael from AustraliaWuthering heights
  • Stickhandle from Toronto, OnMariah Carey? Keisha? God help us. Great list though. Every song on it is a strong choice. Hard to argue against any of the picks and it's all subjective anyways.
  • Popstar64 from UsaTik Tok Ke$ha
  • Darling Nikk from MinneapolisYou forgot Jackson 5 I Want You Back
  • Hooey from Upstate NyDon't Take Me Alive was not Steely Dan's debut single. "Do It Again" was. What about "Who Can It Be Now" by Men At Work? That should be on here.
  • Kevin from Ontario,canadaTake It Easy,while a great song,was defifitely NOT the birth of country rock!Gram Parsons,The Byrds and Michael Nesmith and The First National band were all playing country rock before The Eagles showed up.
  • Graham from Chester, UkZombies - She's Not There. Velvet Underground - All Tomorrow's Parties. Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK. The Fall - Bingo Master's Breakout (EP). Pogues - Dark Streets of London. PJ Harvey - Dress.
    I don't think Van Morrison should be on here - he was already an established artist with Them before he went solo.
  • Kyler from Arkansasc'mon wheres system of a downs debut album
  • Tapertony"you ought to Know" by Alanis Morrisette. IT was a new sound, and a huge success. And alnis could never equall it!
  • Tomtsj from MdCome On!! VAN HALEN "Running With The Devil" isn't on the list?? When that song broke, EVERYONE was talking about that band. The debut of that song is stronger than a few of the ones on this list, although this list is pretty good. You oughta make these lists longer!
  • AnonymousOne vote for "That'll Be the Day" by Buddy Holly and the Crickets
  • Camille from Toronto, Oh"Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey should not only be on this list but should be #1. I also want to add that this list seems discriminatory towards women: none on the list. How about "Magic Man" by Heart. C'mon, that's a fab debut if I ever heard one, too.
  • Seyton from PlatueaYa'll wanna single by KoRn!!!
  • Richard Yanick from Leckrone, PaMy top 3 would be Brandy from looking glass. My sweet lord -George Harrison And Steely dan's Don't take me alive.
  • Steve from AustraliaCome on Eileen was a great single, but not Dexy's debut. That was Dance Stance.
    Forget I suggested Fast Car. Having done a little research, I've realised that the list sorely lacks Elvis's That's All Right and Chuck Berry's Maybellene. Among several other strong contenders are Gene Vincent's Be-Bop-a-Lula and The Box Tops' The Letter. Just because you weren't born then doesn't mean they never existed (sorry about the triple negative).
  • Dennis from Florida"C'mon Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners has to be one of the most original sounds to come out of music in years
  • Steve from AustraliaTracy Chapman's Fast Car would make list.
  • AnonymousHow About Tiptoe through the Tulips ? :-D
  • Josep from DubrovnikPretty good list, but can't be complete without "Breakdown," by Tom Petty.
  • Anonymousjust a thought- possibly my generation (the who), club foot (kasabian), or yellow (coldplay).
  • Kenne Mindcrime from PhoenixEmily, Dream On wasn't Aerosmith's first single. They had two released before that, Make It and Mama Kin.
  • Allen from New JerseyI need to clear up one fact about break on through by the doors Jim was going to sing she trips but then thought that trip was over used and soon nobody would be saying tripping any more so he just shortened it to she gets
  • Sara from AlabamaI agree with most, although "Hold my hand" from Hootie and the Blowfish, should on here.
  • Karenyukon from WhitehorseI love the fact that Sultans of Swing is number one on the list. I still remember exactly where I was when I first heard it. I was driving my car in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) at night, and I was hooked from the opening guitar chords. I actually pulled my car over to listen. I'm still digging Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler all these years later.
  • Archie from Wales UkAgree with Most, dont forget, it's Debut! so no beatles!
  • Emily from U.s.Dream On, anyone?
  • Evan from IllinoisLove Me Do?
  • Zeke from MissouriInteresting that all but 1 is at least 25 years old. But a nice solid list, no complaints.
  • Kenne from PhoenixVery nice list, but I would've had them in a slightly different order.

    A shame that Blitzkrieg Bop, Good Times - Bad Times, Petty's Breakdown, Piano Man, and Anarchy in the U.K. just missed out in voting, but 10 is such a small number when it comes to the very best.
  • ZhivkoPerfect! And I was able to listen all of them with just one click! I love this!
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