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The Necessity of a Breakout Hit

January 16, 2009

Before The Beatles hit America they wanted a breakout hit. They knew the power that a crossover hit had, so they sat down and wrote I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Coldplay wrote Yellow, Radiohead wrote Creep and Nirvana wrote Smells Like Teen Sprit.

All of these bands needed that first big breakout hit. None of them could have accomplished what they have accomplished without that first massive song that got in the ears of everyone. Only then, did those bands become more then just a band with some good songs. The breakout hit caused the world to take notice.

Bleach, Nirvana’s first album, did not hit. Nevermind, with the help of the aforementioned Teen Spirit, helped launch Nirvana into the stratosphere of rock superstardom.

But here’s the trick. One breakout hit can quickly peg you into a one hit wonder. You need to have more songs of equal or greater quality then that first massive hit.

After Creep, Radiohead came out with Just on their next album, along with High and Dry, and Fake Plastic Trees, Coldplay hit again with Clocks, In My Place, and the Scientist, and we all know what the Beatles did after their first hit.

On the flipside there are countless bands who I believe deserve world wide acclaim but are still just niche bands. The Pixies, one of my favourite bands, never had that breakout hit and now are just playing to their hard core fan base. Pavement, another great band, also never got that breakout hit.

You could argue the point that those bands didn’t want that level of fame, but I think that’s bullshit. I saw Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) on his solo tour at a small club this fall, and wow, did he look angry, or sad, or something. I’m sure he would rather be revered (and paid!) like a Cobain, a Martin, or a McCartney.

You need that first breakout hit. Now turn off the computer and go write it.

Take Control of Your Music,


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2009 2:41 am

    I’m just gonna sum up what everyone’s thinking and be the first to say it.

    This is the best blog anyone ever made.

  2. January 17, 2009 9:08 am

    You cruel, cruel man, why must you mock me so!

  3. January 17, 2009 10:16 am

    he’s right.

    this is one of the most enjoyable sites to read on the whole internet.

  4. January 18, 2009 12:17 am

    Oh, I mock not.

  5. January 18, 2009 1:54 am

    Well then thank you sirs. Much appreciated.

  6. mikelmarion permalink
    January 19, 2009 9:50 am

    so tru, no sense in a whole album if people arent excited about a single song!

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