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In the era of digital music, album song order still matters

Kai Ryssdal Dec 10, 2012
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In the era of digital music, album song order still matters

Kai Ryssdal Dec 10, 2012
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What was the last full length album you bought and listened to from beginning to end? Can you even remember?

Since the invention of the iPod and the rise of streaming music services like Pandora, the idea that what order songs appear on an album has any kind of signifcance has begun to seem counterintuitive. But, according to a recent feature by Billboard Magazine’s Gary Trust, the earlier a song appears on an album, the more likely it is to be listened to.

“The best lesson to take from studying albums’ track sequences may be that even in an era of streaming, in which listener behavior seemingly reflects a tendency to sample only portions of releases, the album format appears to have a bright future,” writes Trust. He advises bands to put their best material up front — where a public with an ever-shortening attention span might hear it.


So if Gary’s theory that the best song on an album should be played first holds true, then there really shouldn’t be any last-track hits, right? Not really. There are too many great last tracks on albums to count. Last week we asked for your favorite album closer on our Facebook wall, and we used some of your responses to program the music in today’s show.

Here’s what we played:

“Sprawl II” by Arcade Fire
“The End” by the Beatles
“Gouge Away” by the Pixies
“Champagne Supernova” by Oasis
“Find the River” by R.E.M.
“Purple Rain” by Prince

You can follow the music playlists for our shows here.

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