Issue 36 playlist: first songs on first albums

words: marta bausells

First times are often idealised — but they can also be tremendously awkward, disappointing or just weird. We're not going to go into clichés about first loves, but will instead invite you to cherish first songs in all their glory and imperfection. For musicians, the first track of the first album is like their cover letter to all of us — these songs are not always the best in the albums they sit in, but they play the very tricky role of setting the mood.

These 24 tracks once introduced artists we now cherish to millions of listeners. They were at the same level as anyone starting out: they could go on to become stars, respected musicians, girl bands that would influence a generation; or they could just flop. From Blondie to Haim, via Alanis, Weezer, Christina Aguilera and more, we loved going back and listening to these artists as they first presented themselves to the world. Whatever they went on to do later, these songs are little time capsules of the 00s, 90s and 80s. What must it have felt like to scratch Madonna's first record? Join us in imagining. 

Listen to the playlist here.