A while back, I put out a list of some of the best album openers. In the age of digital, albums as a whole are a dying art. Most music fans either stream or just download singles and because of that, many of today’s artists don’t put as much thought into the composition or track listing of an entire album.
But for those of us who still enjoy the full album experience, whether it be on vinyl or even digitally, there’s nothing like a closing track to an album that just leaves you with your mouth open and wanting more. Truly great albums throughout music history end with a song that will forever leave a lasting impression.
Today, I am going to touch upon album closers off of album released since 1990. This List will return with more great closers going even further back in time to touch upon some of the greats of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Let’s get to it!
23 by Jimmy Eat World
How do you follow up an amazing breakthrough album like Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American? Apparently by releasing an equally amazing follow-up, as Futures showed Jimmy Eat World weren’t a flash in the pan.
It wasn’t just the singles off the album that showed that. 23 is one of those songs that is actually better than the singles released off the album. In fact, I believe it is one of the best songs the band has ever written. Put this one on and drift off into its beauty.
Aerials by System of a Down
Toxicity is one of those albums you listen to straight through and the fact Aerials is the album’s closer just proves the greatness of the record and the song.
Fight The Power by Public Enemy
One of the most political and pulverizing albums of 1990 was Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy. It left a mark on hip-hop and on the world. No song made a statement more on the album than Fight the Power.
Spike Lee chose the song for his movie Do the Right Thing due to its message and how it pertained to his film. As the song brings their album to a close, Public Enemy leaves you with a message to think about as everything fades out.
We Float by PJ Harvey
I’ve been a fan of PJ Harvey forever. She’s not for everyone, but it I try and introduce her music to someone, I usually start in one of two places.
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is definitely an album that encapsulates PJ Harvey. Furthermore, the track We Float brings what may be Harvey’s best album to a close with a moody but beautiful song that takes you away for a little bit.
Road Trippin by Red Hot Chili Peppers
When John Frusciante returned to the Chili Peppers prior to recording Californication, they took a surfing trip together to bond again. This song is the soundtrack to that moment in time and captures the theme of old friends coming back together perfectly.
Especially considering how they were about to record one of their best albums. This track is rarely heard and it’s a sin as it is one of the most personal and beautiful songs the band has ever written and brings a phenomenal album to a close just the way you’d want it to.
Where the River Goes by Stone Temple Pilots
The last time I wrote about Stone Temple Pilots, I mentioned how they seem to end each of their albums with a killer track that at the same time are some of the best songs they'd written.
It was hard for me to narrow down just one album closer for STP, but I wound up picking Where The River Goes over the rest as this is definitely a song that more people need to play. Coming in at over 8 minutes in length, this song really takes you on a journey.
When you get to the chorus, it is so good you want to scream it at the top of your lungs. As the song fades out in a jam that’s in your face, this truly leaves you wanting more. Mainly to hear more of the jamming.
Scenario by Tribe Called Quest
How do you end one of the most important hip-hop records ever recorded? With the song that would become synonymous with that group. Nobody did east coast hip-hop/jazz fusion better than Tribe and along with their friends like Busta Rhymes, they created a closing track that people still walk around singing.
Pink Maggit by Deftones
When the Deftones released White Pony, they proved to the world that they were not just a nu-metal band but an innovative band that had a lot more in their bag of tricks than just being bunched in with their contemporaries.
Pink Maggit starts off dreamy and slow before building to a rocking chorus. Overall, the song marries the two sounds the Deftones have become known for. This sort of change really began on White Pony, which is by far one of the best rock albums to come out of the 2000s.
Now onto my top 6 (one extra today because two of them are too close).
Release by Pearl Jam
If you’ve read anything I’ve written about Pearl Jam, you know how I feel about Release. Closing one of the best debut albums of all time, Release is a spiritual journey for fans like myself.
After the ride you take through Ten, everything comes to a head with Release. My suggestion is to put the song on, close your eyes, and just listen. What you feel is the power of music.
Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead
For a band who we can honestly say have created a few masterpieces over their 25-year career, Radiohead is another band who have made album closers that are better than songs some bands put out over their whole career.
This was another hard choice to narrow down like STP, but I went with Street Spirit from The Bends. The Bends is my favorite Radiohead album and also one of my favorite albums to listen to on vinyl. Street Spirit, to me, ends the early stage of Radiohead’s career while hinting at what was about to come.
Champagne Supernova by Oasis
Oasis were responsible for the second wave of the British pop explosion in the mid-90s. They wrote anthem after anthem over the course of their first two albums, but none were more epic in scope than Champagne Supernova.
I still remember sitting around my friend’s apartment listening to this song on repeat because we were so amazed by it. The fact that it closes the biggest album they’ve ever released, What’s the Story Morning Glory, is a testament to just how great Oasis once was.
It Ain’t Hard to Tell by Nas
Many consider Illmatic the greatest debut album in hip hop history. At 20 years old, Nas released an album that has been the foundation for East Coast hip-hop and inspired just about every major rapper over the last 20+ years.
It Ain’t Hard to Tell was the most commercially accepted songs on the album as it showcases the storytelling style of Nas, and brings one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time to an incredible close.
All Apologies by Nirvana
While Nirvana’s Nevermind ends with the amazingly dark Something in the Way, it’s their follow-up album, In Utero, that really has the honor of finishing with one of the best songs they ever made.
All Apologies is one of the band’s most loved songs, and it took on a second life with their performance on MTV Unplugged gave the song a different feel. Nevertheless, it’s the full band track here that really makes you feel the Nirvana we love. “All in all, it’s all we are.”
Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral is perhaps the greatest Industrial Rock record ever recorded. If anything, this was when it really reached the masses. Trent Reznor’s masterpiece brings us down to the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves as we follow his journey into the abyss.
It all comes to a head with closing track Hurt, which sums up Reznor’s feelings of despair. To truly prove the impact and true greatness of this song, Johnny Cash covered Hurt near the end of his life and the song took on a new meaning and leaving many of us in tears.
From the opening line, “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel,” to the closing static noise, what is probably one of the most depressing songs of all time Reznor showed us how to close an album and forever leave an impression.