We’re all fans of music, and most of us would agree that the quality of the songs is more important than awards and chart success. And yet many of us do also care about the success, at least to a degree. One of the biggest factors in an album’s sales and recognition is its singles. The singles are usually what the general public hears first, and that’s how they discover new music. So the songs chosen to be singles need to represent the album and artist in the best way possible. First impressions matter.
In popular music, fans often debate what songs would make the best singles. Sometimes they think the wrong songs were chosen, yet sometimes they are happy with the singles. What songs became singles at all is an argument for another day, though. Today, let’s look at songs that had a limited release but deserved more.
There are so many great songs that were kind of singles… but not really. Here are seven songs that should have been proper singles, complete with music videos and radio airplay around the world.
Avril Lavigne – “Fall To Pieces”
Avril Lavigne’s sophomore album, Under My Skin, got off to a good start. After debuting “Don’t Tell Me” as the lead single, “My Happy Ending” and “Nobody’s Home” were moody hits that showed Avril’s evolution from Let Go. However, the album’s final single situation was a bit messy. While European markets got “He Wasn’t” (along with a fun video), the United States got “Fall To Pieces” instead. The decidedly softer song was sent to radios in the US, but its music video shoot was canceled for reasons unknown. “Fall To Pieces” likely would have become a decent hit with better promotion and a video. It would have been the perfect single to end the Under My Skin era.
Kelly Clarkson – “Sober”
In June 2007, Kelly Clarkson released her third and most personal album, My December. It remains the only album on which she co-wrote all the songs, and it expressed the dark feelings Kelly was struggling through. The song she was proudest of was a heart-wrenching balled called “Sober.” Though it was meant to be the second single following “Never Again,” it got no radio support and was swiftly pulled by the label. The song also got no music video. This is just one example of RCA’s sabotage of My December, and had they properly promoted the album – including giving “Sober” the full single treatment – the album would have performed much better than it did.
Green Day – “East Jesus Nowhere”
Back in 2009, Green Day fans anxiously awaited Green Day’s first new album since 2004’s American Idiot. But when the world first heard “Know Your Enemy,” some fans worried 21st Century Breakdown would be much simpler in comparison. Rest assured, the rest of the album was better and more dynamic. Still, the album could have had a stronger start. The obvious choice is “East Jesus Nowhere,” a song that was released as a third single around the same time as the title track. “East Jesus Nowhere” did well enough on rock radio, though its music video was a basic live montage that didn’t do the song justice. Unfortunately, it’s not remembered as one of Green Day’s iconic singles, but it could have been had it rightfully been the lead single.
Green Day – “Kill The DJ”
Green Day’s followup to 21st Century Breakdown was an ambitious, under-appreciated trilogy of albums in 2012. A combination of Billie Joe’s addiction problems and a fan base overwhelmed by 37 (!) new songs resulted in the whole project performing worse than it deserved, both commercially and critically. Following their anthemic lead “Oh Love,” “Kill The DJ” was chosen as the second single ahead of ¡Uno!. The song appeared on charts in the UK, Belgium, and South Korea, but doesn’t seem to have been sent to US radio. And although it did get a music video, the first half isn’t all that good. Nonetheless, “Kill The DJ” could have done better with a proper release.
Avril Lavigne – “Give You What You Like”
Like Goodby Lullaby in 2011, Avril Lavigne’s self-titled 5th album had its problems from the get-go. Poor single choices led a misinformed public to anticipate more of the same-old brat-pop Avril switched to in 2007, yet her 4th and 5th albums were so much more than that. Among the very best songs on 2013’s Avril Lavigne was “Give You What You Like,” a song Avril herself cited as a favorite. In a perfect world, this would have been the lead single to introduce the general public to Avril’s exciting new musical direction. Avril said it would be a single in early 2014, but it was all but forgotten until the following year, when Avril finally released a music video for it. However, half the video was marred by clips of a Lifetime film. Furthermore, the song was not sent to radio. “Give You What You Like” is the acclaimed ballad hit that got away.
Muse – “Reapers”
In June 2015, Muse released their seventh album, Drones. The record signaled a welcome return to the band’s more straightforward rock roots, all guitar, bass, drums, and energy. Aside from their exciting announcement via “Psycho,” the only legit singles were the safer “Dead Inside” and “Mercy.” However, one gem on the album was “Reapers.” The song got a lyric video and was released on 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day, but was never released as a proper single and got no music video. Even so, it’s a highlight on Drones.
Ellie Goulding – “Lost And Found”
Before Ellie Goulding released her third album, Delirium, in 2015, she shared a promotional track called “Lost And Found.” It was one of the best-received songs she released before the album, and ultimately it could have done great as a proper single, complete with the video treatment. Delirium had a ton of potential, and it’s a shame the 25-song record didn’t get more than three actual singles (not counting “Love Me Like You Do,” which came out nearly a year before its release).
Do you think these songs should have been given the full single treatment? Or do you think they got it right by promoting other songs instead? What other songs do you think should have been proper singles? Let us know in the comments below!
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