You’ve probably heard a song off an album – you’ve heard the album, maybe a few times, but it’s just kind of washed over you, not really made much of an impression – you hear a song, maybe on the radio, maybe some random or curated playlist, and you go. ‘Wow! What a great song!’ And then you realise it’s from that album, the one that washed over you.
That’s what singles were for. Still are for, since they’re still released, though it’s not quite the same.
I just had that experience with Radiohead. Kid A never made much of an impact on me, but when I turned BBC 6 Music on tonight, a killer track was playing. Steve Lamacq back-announced it. He was playing the whole album, and the track was ‘The National Anthem.’ I knew Kid A had a track of that name, but it had never really got to me. But there, now, tonight, it was just amazing.
A similar, if inverted, effect is when the album is so good that it kind of drowns out a brillant single. I can only think of one example of that at the moment. If you cast your mind back (assuming it goes that far) to when The Jam released ‘The Eton Rifles,’ it was an incredible song.
But Setting Sons is such a good album that I hardly notice ‘The Eton Rifles’ on it.
Anyway. Singles. Yes.