Tuesday Ten: Coolest Song Endings

By | July 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

It’s easy to close a song by repeating the chorus or slowly fading the music out, but every once in a while a song comes along whose ending takes you somewhere completely unexpected. Rather than allowing the end to simply arrive, these songs explore new ground till their very last seconds, grabbing your attention and refusing to let it waver until the moment the silence takes over. In this week’s Tuesday Ten, our writers pay tribute to some of their favorite song endings of all time – and this is one article you’ll want to read till the end.

A Day To Remember – I Remember

Take one look at the length of this song. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you–it really is over nine minutes long. So before even listening to a single second, you know that “I Remember” has a cool ending. It has to, because what listener is really going to stick around for nine minutes otherwise? The first four minutes are solid A Day To Remember pop mosh music that encompasses all the vibrant memories encountered in a life on the road. From the first time I heard this song I was struck by the all the feeling conveyed through the simple phrase “I remember.” While the song half of this track is great in itself, the following five minutes are even more memorable. The music fades out and the distinct voices of the band members arise in simple conversation. They tell poignant stories and narrate some of the crazy events they have experienced over the years as a band. I can’t help but smile hearing about the first time the Florida natives saw snow, and I’m touched by their memory of the awe they felt seeing New York City and Ground Zero. These are the stories that help connect the band to their fans. A Day To Remember already have a seriously strong fan base, so maybe the small commentaries at the end of a handful of songs on their most recent album are a kind of thank you to the listeners. If so, it’s the best ending they could have given us. The fact that “I Remember” is the final song on Common Courtesy means the commentary not only marks the end of a song, but the end of a record that was extremely personal to the band. The greatest songs are those that invoke emotion in the listener, and even though I’ve never even met the people telling those stories, I feel like those experiences are as important to me as a fan as they are to the band members. (Hannah Pierangelo)

Anberlin – Dance, Dance Christa Päffgen

Anberlin seem to have mastered the art of impeccably crafted 7-10 minute album closers, but it was one of their first – “Dance, Dance Christa Päffgen” from Never Take Friendship Personal – that may be their best. Spanning seven minutes and seven seconds it’s an electric-charged blast of energy from the moment it starts up through its last moments. It builds from being almost solely Stephen Christian’s entrancing vocals and an ominous (but slightly groovy) bass line before exploding into one of the catchiest melodies the band has written at a minute and a half in, and builds layer after layer through the song’s epic climax. The final moments of the song, where the anonymous female vocalist whispers a few last words, offers a brief moment of calm before you hit the “play” button and start the album all over again. With the band ending their career at the tail end of 2014 (following the release of lowborn and their final tour), one could say it’s a perfect metaphor for their decade-plus long career – never once stopping to take a breath and always keeping you on your toes. (Tarynn Law)

blink-182 – Feeling This

Summer is the season of pop punk, and Blink-182 are part of any pop punk kid’s essential diet–that and ice cream. Blink are known for their dual vocals, one half of which is so heavily-accented it’s a whole new language for you to learn–“Delongian” (and it’s an unwritten law you must sing along like this). This contrasts perfectly with Mark Hoppus’s warm, lower (and more understandable) tones that give the song its brazen charm. If you listen closely, you can tell there are two different songs happening at once–in fact, the choruses were written separately by Hoppus, and the verses by Tom Delonge, and the best part about this is you get to hear them come together at the end in a stroke of pure genius. The polarity in vocal pitch from the pair gives the melody highs and lows more exhilarating than a roller coaster, only getting faster and more pronounced as the song reaches its peak. And, of course, you can’t write off Travis Barker–his skippy beat develops into endless crescendos you can’t help but bounce along to. After the relatively quiet bridge, the pounding bass line really kicks in, giving the song a resounding pulse, and those winding, scratchy guitars spiral into complete chaos–so be ready to bust out that air guitar and jump around. By closing the short three minutes repeating the simple but beautiful chorus, “Fate fell short this time / Your smile fades in the summer / Place your hand in mine / I’ll leave when I wanna”, it becomes a kind of mantra you’ll never be able to forget, allowing Delonge to chime in over the top for an extra layer of sweetness. The explosion of music highlights the beauty of the vocals, before fading out completely to leave the pair singing their different parts in harmony. Since 1992, Blink-182 have been proving to music lovers everywhere you only need three people to produce one of the most layered, chaotically organised songs in pop punk history. “Feeling This” is a sensory overload of summer lovin’, leaving you exhilarated, out of breath, and utterly confused from trying to sing both of their parts at once. (Alex Bear)

Cage The Elephant – Tiny Little Robots

Cage the Elephant’s “Tiny Little Robots” discusses deception, money, weapons, and social captivation in addition to other issues people sometimes tend to abuse and allow to consume them. All the while, the band blare their recognizable rock beats and hooks into your ears. On the surface, the music is obviously good. It’s a typical Cage the Elephant anthem about non-conformity fronted by the boisterous voice of their fearless leader Matthew Shultz. And while I am supposed to focus on the music, this song’s ending in itself holds much more power in the ending, where Shultz makes a chilling proclamation:

Our sidewalks are broken, our minds have been twisted.

The billboards are lying; the line has been made.

The streets are all empty, we paved them with zombies.

A lost generation genetically made.

When amidst all the madness I saw a flower.

A dream that was creepin’ I kept in my sight and then it turned and it took me, an explosion, it shook me.

Beauty that screams, “I’m alive.”

Behind the actual music, Cage the Elephant is telling us we are all just “tiny little robots,” and recognizing the power behind Shultz’s spoken end of this track could easily be overlooked. But once you hear it, and really hear it–it just gets you. The ending of “Tiny Little Robots” transitions seamlessly into the next track, “Lotus”, and on a first listen, may actually seem like the same song. The interesting part is that Shultz says, “Amidst all the madness I saw a flower.” A lotus flower is known for growing in deep mud, away from the sun. But, eventually, the lotus reaches the light and becomes one of the most beautiful flowers. The end of “Tiny Little Robots” is telling us to rise from the mud and shine our own light in a generation full of people who may seem like a carbon copy of one another. Be beautiful. Be alive. (Alyson Stokes)

Copeland – Love Affair

Copeland’s “Love Affair” is as smooth and cool as it gets. What begins as a melodic ballad evolves into two minutes of pure jazz swing with piano, horns, and a whole lotta ride cymbal. Copeland have always had a lot of jazz undertones in their music and vocalist Aaron Marsh is a seasoned horn player himself, so it was inevitable that they would eventually pay direct homage to the genre in a song. In fact, it suits their sound so perfectly that Copeland could play 30s style jazz in the 2000s and no one would think twice about it. If anything, it would be an excuse to snap our fingers and feel classy for a few minutes. But regardless, the one thing I really respect about this “twist” of a song ending is the intentional appropriation of one of the most important and influential musical genres. “Love Affair” not only has a sweet ending, but it clearly highlights Copeland’s musicianship, as well as the key role jazz plays in modern music. And let’s face it–jazz is pretty cool. (Ethan Rose)

Green Day – Jesus Of Suburbia

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the songs that didn’t make the final cut of your favorite album? Well, Green Day decided that because they’re punker than everyone, it was time they made the ultimate song mashup. “Jesus Of Suburbia” is Green Day’s “antihero” of their American Idiot extravaganza, and this track just personifies how epic the entire album is–and not just in length. The song is over nine minutes long and contains no less than five different songs, all culminating in “Tales Of Another Broken Home”. By the time you’ve reached the final chapter in this beloved story, you’ll no doubt be in full rocking mode, probably wearing eyeliner and a red tie to match. The entire song is a headbang-fest, only getting more deliciously decadent with a powerful solo to end all solos. But then something happens that you’re not expecting–all of a sudden, the bridge cuts off all anarchy and transforms into a soft piano ballad, with an open confession: “I don’t feel any shame, I won’t apologize”. This is a simple, wonderful line that only Green Day can pull off–collectively they are the Jesus of Suburbia, the antihero of us all. But when Billie Joe Armstrong croons the final line of the bridge, you’ll find yourself holding your breath without realizing…because the grand finale is about to occur. I challenge you not to yell “You’re leaving!” over and over again while you pump your fist high in the air in time to the heavy, staccato beat. The band’s trademark chugging riffs are in their element, powering away underneath a long harmony between the final throes of the bridge and the chanting that ensues. Songs are supposed to tell a story, and while Green Day have taken that quite literally, “Jesus Of Suburbia” will have you feeling a whirlwind of emotions, and you’ll have absolutely no choice but to march to the beat of their drums. (Alex Bear)

Into It. Over It. – A Curse Worth Believing

Within the context of indie/pop/rock music, “A Curse Worth Believing” off Into It. Over It.’s latest album Intersections is probably one of the most interesting songs you’ll find. It begins with a minute-long intro sure to alienate half of the people that hear it, and from there the song moves on a constant flow, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact time when the ending starts. For the purposes of this column, however, I would say the ending begins around 2:50 when Weiss launches into a layered experiment of combining dissonance and consonance. The lead vocals sing the chorus while the backing vocals alternate, “Fucking careless, I’m / Fucking selfish, you’re,” between your ears. While the vocals are all harmonious, the guitars are a tangle of melodic lines and jarring feedback. Listening to all the layers intertwine together, it leaves the listener unsure for the rest of the song whether the tension will continue to increase with the feedback or give in to the melodies and resolve. Weiss instead decides to resolve the song via the tension, allowing the dissonant guitar to slowly occupy the forefront of the mix. The song ends in one final cluster of feedback, refusing to release the continuously mounting tension until the very last second of the song. “A Curse Worth Believing” is an incredibly intriguing track in how it intends to induce sonic discomfort for the listener, and yet when the song finishes you’ll find yourself wanting to repeat the experience. (Catherine Yi)

Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor

Jimmy Eat World are the undisputed kings of epic song endings (in fact, I’m fairly confident that we could host a Tuesday Ten on the coolest Jimmy Eat World endings and still have trouble narrowing the list down). But the incredible thirteen-minute close of “Goodbye Sky Harbor” – taken from the band’s most expansive album to date, 1999’s Clarity – easily wins the title of my personal favorite song ending of all time. The song flows effortlessly from its first three minutes, which sound like your average 90’s-era Jimmy track, into the beginnings of the end; what begins with sparse and simple guitar builds ever so gradually, slowly adding layers until you’re so completely lost in the music you’ll have no idea where the past ten minutes have gone. Eventually, the instrumentals fade and the song settles into gentle layered vocals before being rejoined by percussion, synths, and the dancing notes of a glockenspiel for its stunning finale. Throughout its sixteen minute duration, there is one constant: the line “I am but one small instrument,” made incredibly powerful by the layers of music building around it. This glimpse of Jim Adkins’ voice may be one small instrument, but it comes together with every other tiny element of the song to become something absolutely beautiful. This is not just a song; this is an immersive listening experience. Dive in. (Eleanor Grace)

My Chemical Romance – Mama

“Mama, we all go to hell.”

On that happy note, My Chemical Romance’s “Mama” kicks off. It’s an interesting piece of art through and through, but if you think it reaches its peak during the chorus or bridge as most songs do, you are terribly mistaken. The closing moments aren’t just art–they’re a masterpiece. “Mama”‘s entire duration is theatrical, but its final minute and fifteen seconds are something broadway writers would find themselves envious of. The end begins with the pleading of a desperate mother, begging her son for a call, which then falls into an angry refusal brought to you by vocalist Gerard Way. With that, the closing festivities are underway. Choir vocals kick in and the saddened mother continues her sorrow. The music surrounding all the vocal action is complete and utter madness, in the best of ways. MCR crank the creepy scale to high, delivering the kind of soundtrack that would feel at home as the theme song for Oddities. Another notable factor is Way’s well-timed yelling, something that can stir up emotions in any faithful My Chemical Romance fan – and possibly in those that hadn’t yet heard the band, as well. You’ll find yourself having a difficult time picking exactly which attribute shines the most, and figuring out how they’ve cranked out such frighteningly great notes quickly becomes an impossible task. The song eventually fades out with “mama”‘s brokenhearted tears, reaffirming that the end of this track is more than just a few notes on a sheet of paper; it’s a freaking play, and you’ll undoubtedly have an epic story playing out in your head while listening. (Emillie Marvel)

This Love – Motions

This Love’s “Motions” comes from their only full-length, the concept album At War. The band lies somewhere along the pop rock spectrum, but the album deals with much heavier themes and has a more shadowed sound than other lighthearted members of the genre. “Motions” begins as gently as it ends, but aside from those few moments, the song is a full-force call to arms. The chorus is a wave of intensity that slams you first with a battalion of crying guitar and drums, then with the distraught vocals of a worn soldier. There’s even an interlude featuring a stunning guitar solo–if this were a war movie, this would be the part where the hero fights against his enemy with a sudden and unexpected burst of strength, stamina, and courage and miraculously saves the day against all odds. The final, climactic chorus is thrust forward once more (“And this one’s for the dream, everybody’s dream/ And we will never sleep as long as everybody sings…”) and then the full energy of the song is released in intricate layers that come together as swiftly and strongly as an army of warriors. The song cools down from its high quickly, and fades out piece by piece until all that stands are a few somber chords from a piano. The track ends finally with a small, echoing guitar melody that concludes the song so simply and beautifully, I almost wish there were more silence embedded in the end to fully grasp the gravity of the song. Sometimes the most striking song endings aren’t that extravagant. This one just happens to give listeners exactly what needs to be heard. (Hannah Pierangelo)

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