Ghost’s latest album “Prequelle” opens with 1:21 long ‘intro track’ entitled “Ashes”. Great start to the album that leads into the first single off the album “Rats”. Some of my favorite albums have ‘intro tracks’ that are essential parts of the album as a whole. The album just wouldn’t sound the same if it didn’t start with it’s respective ‘Intro track’.
Motley Crue’s “TNT (Terror N’ Tinseltown)” off “Dr. Feelgood” or on Anthrax’s “Disregard For Time Keeping” “Intro To Reality” are a couple examples of ‘intro tracks’ that I can’t imagine the album without. These opening intro tracks are key parts of the album. They’re part of the ‘story’ being told. When done correctly they help build anticipation and can set the mood and a feeling for the entire album. In some cases they become part of the song they are leading up to. There are even some songs that I don’t feel right hearing without the ‘intro’ to kick the song off. Anthrax’s “Belly Of the Beast” just doesn’t feel right if I don’t hear the “Intro To Reality” first.
While enjoying the “Ashes” to “Rats” intro combination, I had an epiphany. Prior to the release of the album I had been listening to “Rats” on it’s own without an intro. If I hadn’t bought the album, would I even be aware of the “Ashes” to “Rats” intro combination? How many people are missing out on this combination because they’re only listening to music via streaming and haven’t purchased the album?
Even if “Ashes” came up randomly while streaming, chances are I would’ve skipped it or at least wouldn’t have felt the intended impact of the ‘intro” as “Rats” likely wouldn’t be the song that followed “Ashes” while streaming.
Does this mean that the growing popularity of streaming and playlists will lead to the end of “intro” tracks? What about Outros, Musical interludes, or the little talking bits or ‘routines’ some artists put in between tracks?
Every single Star Wars movie starts with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” followed by scrolling text, with one exception “Rogue One”. The spin off movie cuts straight to the movie after the all too familiar phrase. Did anyone complain about the lack of scrolling text? Did anyone actually notice it wasn’t there? It technically doesn’t exist so is there anything really to miss?
What will happen to the short tracks sometimes used to kick off an album? Another casualty due to streaming? The market has shifted from an album format to a singles market. A single doesn’t need a track to introduce it. If it did, that would be two tracks not one, and that’s not a single. Will one of the ramifications of this shift be the death of these short pieces used to introduce and album or track? Will people even notice? Looking at iTunes the majority of ‘intro tracks’ have a significantly lower “popularity” rating compared to the other tracks on the album. Is this the end of the beginning?You don’t know something exists if you don’t hear it.