What Amazon singles should I get?
February 7, 2012 9:54 AM   Subscribe

What Amazon singles should I get? Help me find great individual tracks.

Every now and then I buy a CD at Amazon and get one of their promotional credits for a free mp3.

I never know what to get - mostly because I figure, if I like an artist or album, I'll probably want the whole album at some point, so buying a single track would be a waste.

So I'm looking for individual tracks I would like that are not ALSO part of a full album I'd probably like to own. So good candidates would include:

* individual tracks not released as part of an album
* tracks that are only available as part of an album I probably wouldn't like - for example, one great song on a compilation by multiple artists

Things I like include:

* rock-folk singer-songwriters like Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, Holcombe Waller, and Dar Williams
* 70s R&B like "You're Still a Young Man" (Tower of Power), "I'll Be Around" (Spinners), "Oh Girl" (Chi-Lites), "I'll Be There" (Jackson 5)
* vocals-plus-piano torch songs and jazz, like Wesla Whitfield and Nat King Cole
* intelligent power pop, like Crowded House, Jonathan Coulton, and They Might Be Giants

I am a total fan of intelligent lyrics, especially if there's the kind of word play that doesn't get old. I tend to be turned off by sexist lyrics.

Extra bonus points for female artists and for avoiding Sony releases. (I don't like companies that install evil rootkits.)

posted by kristi to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Well, here is a fun little song I love that I would never in a million years buy the full album and it kind of fits your third bullet point):
Monsters Lead Such Interesting Lives by Mel Torme
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2012

Re: your first and fourth bullet points, here's a characteristically catchy/sad Elliott Smith A-side that's still only available as a single:

Elliott Smith - Division Day

Primal Scream started out doing jangle-pop songs. They released a perfect and very brief one called Velocity Girl (there's an old Sub Pop band named after this song; now that I think of it, there's an LA band that might be named after that Elliott Smith song, too) that appears to be available only in an alternate mix on a multi-act compilation.

Primal Scream - Velocity Girl

This was harder than I thought it would be. There are a bunch of good power pop compilations from 10 or 15 years ago that aren't available anywhere in digital form, and even a relatively well-known act like Elliott Smith whose work (mostly) just predates iTunes has quite a few songs you can't get without buying the out-of-print physical single.
posted by Adventurer at 1:12 PM on February 7, 2012

I vote for "You Blink" by Elizabeth Elmore, one half of a split single with another artist I don't know much about. If you really dig it, you'll just have to go buy everything Sarge (terrific female-fronted power pop) and The Reputation (even better female-fronted power pop) ever did, which isn't so many records in the grand scheme.
posted by Joey Bagels at 2:49 PM on February 7, 2012

Bruno Mars - It Will Rain (also available on a Twilight movie soundtrack, but I don't think you'd buy that). It's a pop song (full track/video on YouTube), but not bad pop.

You can also look for Amazon exclusive tracks, especially if you prefer to own complete albums on CD. Here's a Google search of Wikipedia for amazon bonus, and from my quick check, the exclusive tracks are available as single purchases. You can also search directly on Amazon for amazon exclusive and find some Amazon-only tracks.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:56 PM on February 7, 2012

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