The 50 Best Debut Singles in Music History

Apropos of not a great deal, the music nerd contingent at Flavorwire central recently got a-talking about our favorite debut single. The list is nearly endless, but once you start to think about it, picking out the best isn’t quite as easy as you might think — “Alison” wasn’t Elvis Costello’s first single, for instance, nor was “Take Me Out” Franz Ferdinand’s debut or “Unfinished Sympathy” Massive Attack’s. Of course, this discussion inevitably led to list-making, and here’s the result: our picks for the 50 best debut singles the world of music has to offer. (One caveat: we’ve generally avoided one-hit wonders, who are a category of their own, although a couple did sneak in.)

Bad Brains — Pay to Cum”

Punk accelerated to hyperspeed. Into the course of precisely 86 seconds, Bad Brains managed to cram two verses that delivered a strongly worded critique of consumer society, a brief instrumental break, and coda that manages to strike some note of hope (“A peace together/ A piece apart/ A piece of wisdom from our hearts”). The experience of listening is not unlike having your head put into a blender.