There's Nothing Like a Great Intro to a Song!
There's something about a great song introduction that just can't be ignored. Many songs just get right into it, and before you know it, you’re listening to the second verse already. But some songs are written with introductions that make you excited to keep listening, in anticipation of what's to come. Never mind the fact you've already heard the song ten, twenty, or 100 times. The fact is, a well written song introduction will grab your interest, and hold on to it tightly.
In this article, I will discuss what comes to my mind when I think of great examples of an introduction to a song. I'm not going to try in any way to be loyal to one specific genre, because that's just not how I roll.
1. Bon Jovi's "Lay Your Hands On Me"
With a nearly two minute long build before the meat and potatoes of the song "Lay Your Hands On Me" kicks in, Jon Bon Jovi and his band mates are experts at knowing how to hype up the crowd, build excitement, and draw you into the song. Never mind that the song was released 25 years ago (where did all that time go?) it's still a thrill to listen to, and even more fun to watch. The pyrotechnics, the lights, the organ and guitar riffs that keep building and building, it all works together to form a great intro to a fantastic rock song. I especially like the part where Jon punctuates the intro by popping out of the floor, and onto the stage. Check it.
2. Sarah Brightman's "Fleurs du Mal"
Among other things, Sarah Brightman is first and foremost a classical crossover, light lyric soprano, and oh my goodness! Can she SING! Never mind the fact that she is the world's most wealth female classical performer, or the fact that she is currently training to travel to the International Space Station in 2015. I'm will to bet that when she was performing her song "Fleurs du Mal" for these folks live in Vienna, every single person sitting there listening probably felt their hair stand on end as a reaction to such an incredible performance.
In a way, that performance is a lot like a framed painting. A great painting requires a frame crafted specifically for it. It becomes part of the artwork. Likewise, Sarah's “Fleurs du Mal” has an expertly designed intro lasting a minute and a half which builds the audience interest, and sets the stage for Sarah to do her thing. The album version features a track called 'Gothica' which leads seamlessly into 'Fleurs du Mal', and that adds another minute and twenty seconds to the entire experience. Watch the video below and imagine yourself sitting along the isle listening to the band play, the choir perform, and Sarah sing. I think it would be unreal.
3. Nightwish's "Ghost Love Score"
Nightwish's song "Ghost Love Score" is epic. At just over ten minutes long, it takes the listener on a journey through a number of various musical themes, complete with symphonic elements, keyboards, fantastic drumming, and the three octave capable voice of light lyric soprano Tarja Turunen.
The first verse of this musical short story begins at a minute and eighteen seconds in, and it doesn't let up from there. Below I've linked Nightwish performing the song from the Tarja Turunen era, but it has been performed since then by two other women at the microphone: Floor Jansen, and just before her by Anette Olzon. They are both amazing singers, but still just not the same as Tarja.
4. Deadmau5's "Ghosts n Stuff" (Hard intro version)
Joel Zimmerman, (a.k.a. Deadmau5), may very well be one of the pioneers of the long song introduction for Electronic Dance Music (EDM). He is already credited with helping develop the genre, and has had a roll in inventing some of the instruments and sounds (hardware & software) he uses in his music. In the video below, Deadmau5 is performing at HARD Haunted Mansion, and an 'imposter' Deadmau5 takes to the stage, starts fooling around with the equipment. The music sounds awful. Then the REAL Deadmau5 enters, kicks out the imposter, and the intro develops further, and goes on until about the two minute mark before the crowd really starts jumping.
What I think makes Deadmau5's music cool is that he brings the intro element back frequently during the whole performance. For example, listen starting at position 7:20 and you'll hear him using all kinds of sounds building up to another transition in the song. He does it again at position 8:40.
5. Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do"
Ah yes, I'm going back a few years here, back to the mid-1970's, but for good reason. Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel like We Do", I think is another great song with a fantastic intro. Except in this case the into goes on for about a minute at the song's start, but then the more interesting 're-introduction' happens mid-song at the 4 minutes mark, and marches on for 6 more minutes. It's basically a really cool jam session tacked onto the end of the radio-length song that wrapped up after the 4 minute mark. He even breaks out a vocoder! I'm calling it a ’reintroduction' because during this 6 minute jam session, he's slowly (really slowly) building back up to the song's chorus.