Old Dogs, New Tricks — Vol. 4
Are you tired of hearing the same hits on the radio over and over again? After all, even the very best songs become annoying at some point (well, except Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, maybe).
If you’re searching for masterpieces that never made it into the charts and influential radio playlists, we’ve got a few suggestions for you. These are forgotten gems by famous bands; they may not have had the same success as their creator’s well-known hits, but they are certainly just as good and — in some cases — even better.
1. KT Tunstall
Old dog: “Suddenly I See” Current Spotify playcount: 27,638,221
New trick: “Saving My Face” Current Spotify playcount: 691,559
“Saving My Face” snuck by the radar on the album Drastic Fantastic, but it’s certainly a shame that it did. This track crescendos beautifully, discussing vulnerability and insecurity with some killer lyrics and the catchiest of choruses.
Old dog: “Cool Kids” Current Spotify playcount: 250,781551
New trick: “Tell Her You Love Her” Current Spotify playcount: 13,440,340
If you want to be one of the cool kids, check out this track from Echosmith. The quiet guitar number builds slowly, but once you hit the explosive chorus you know you’ve found a fantastic new jam. While giving you relationship this track will also give you a new addition to your playlists.
3. George Ezra
Old dog: “Budapest” Current Spotify playcount: 294,263,935
New trick: “Da Vinci Riot Police” Current Spotify playcount: n/a
While you can’t find this track on Spotify, it’s definitely worth the extra search. The lyrics are cryptic, but the melodies are so catchy and the chorus is lovely.
4. Taylor Swift
Old dog: “Shake It Off” Current Spotify playcount: n/a
New trick: “You Are In Love” Current Spotify playcount: n/a
“Shake It Off” may have taken the airwaves by storm, but “You Are In Love,” a bonus track off of 1989, is a subtly stunning love song. The lyrics are earnest, the melodies are simple and resonant, and the instrumentation is perfect. The best line — “One night he wakes — strange look on his face, / Pauses, then says, “You’re my best friend” / and you knew what it was — he is in love” — is punctuated by the pure emotion you can hear in Taylor’s voice. It’s one of the simplest tracks on 1989, but also one of the best.
5. Jess Glynne
Old dog: “Hold My Hand” Current Spotify playcount: 204,858,362
New trick: “Gave Me Something” Current Spotify playcount: 7,442,189
“Hold My Hand” is a fabulous track, but “Gave Me Something” is an unexpected jam. The rhythm is so fun and sassy, as Glynne sings a simple song about a unique kind of love that takes you by surprise.
6. Marina and the Diamonds
Old dog: “Primadonna” Current Spotify playcount: 60,482,117
New trick: “Obsessions” Current Spotify playcount: 4,398,207
Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds has an ethereal, entrancing voice, so anytime she sings I’m already interested. “Obsessions” however, blows her faster pop numbers like “Primadonna” out of the water. The track features amazing piano instrumentation, beautiful choral harmonies, and quick lyrics discussing the obsessions we all have and the hold they take on us.
7. Gabrielle Aplin
Old dog: “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” Current Spotify playcount: 31,053,132
New trick: “Panic Cord” Current Spotify playcount: 6,073,867
Aplin, hailing from Bath, UK, had a hit with 2011’s “Please Don’t Say You Love Me,” but “Panic Cord” is a glowing example of Aplin’s talent. “Panic Cord” is a quiet track ruminating on a disintegrated relationship and a fear of falling in love. This song is just as good, if not better, when performed live, so be sure to check out both versions.
Old dog: “Grace Kelly” Current Spotify playcount: 47,376,845
New trick: “Talk About You” Current Spotify playcount: 6,637,504
MIKA released a new album in 2015, and one of the tracks that slipped out of sight on this relatively unnoticed album was “Talk About You.” A light-hearted pop number about love, this track will make you smile as you bob along to the infectious rhythm and catchy choruses.
9. Arctic Monkeys
Old dog: “Do I Wanna Know” Current Spotify playcount: 305,246,594
New trick: “A Certain Romance” Current Spotify playcount: 15,877,031
This throwback takes us back from 2013’s AM to their first album, 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am. This final track on the album is a five-minute epic, opening on a heavy drum and guitar battle until a quiet guitar takes over and the vocals join in. The lyrics are especially quick and clever, and use a lot of British slang. My favorite line by far is “And it don’t take no Sherlock Holmes to see it’s a little different around here.” Then, with a minute and a half to go, the band jams again, the battle recommencing to close out this epic track.
10. Carolina Liar
Old dog: “Show Me What I’m Looking For” Current Spotify playcount: 10,938,875
New trick: “Done Stealin’” Current Spotify playcount: 500,379
This track describes an addictive relationship that seems to have been scarred by secrets and infidelity. “I can’t get away and you will never leave me,” lead singer Chad Wolf laments, backed up by beautiful instrumentation and harmonies, trying to figure out how to resuscitate a dying relationship.
11. Sara Bareilles
Old dog: “Brave” Current Spotify playcount: 83,564,264
New trick: “Breathe Again” Current Spotify playcount: 6,692,057
Sara Bareilles sings a meditative number, punctuated by deep piano and quiet strings. The narrator tries to figure out how to move on now that a break-up has knocked all the air out of her lungs, hoping that “someday I’ll breathe again.” The song crescendos beautifully, and the pure emotion on “and still I’m searching” at 3:53 may even take your own breath away.
12. Lewis Watson
Old dog: “into the wild” Current Spotify playcount: 12,796,857
New trick: “sink or swim” Current Spotify playcount: 971,736
Though relatively unknown in the US, British singer-songwriter Lewis Watson’s 2014 album the morning features some truly stunning tracks. “sink or swim” is one of these, with beautiful harmonies, honest lyrics, and lovely percussion.