The top 20 best song intros of all time

What’s the most incredible introduction to a song you’ve ever had the honour of hearing? See if it’s made the RouteNote team’s picks of the most iconic song intros of all time.

Writing music and want to start your track with a bang? From the bizarre to the fiendishly catchy, we’ve compiled twenty songs that the RouteNote team have decreed contain the best song beginnings of all time. Expect killer basslines and pure cheesy pop genius.

In the cut-throat world of digital music streaming, standing out means everything. Trigger-happy listeners on Spotify are just waiting to hit the skip button, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. Listen to these iconic song introductions and get inspired to write a killer intro to your own song.

Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”

Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love”

Charles Mingus – “Moanin'”

Thundercat – “Them Changes”

Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir”

Screaming Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”

Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”

The Beatles – “Come Together”

Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.”

Muse – “Uprising”

Pink Floyd – “Money”

Hall & Oates – “You Make My Dreams (Come True)”

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Europe – “The Final Countdown”

Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”

Men At Work – “Down Under”

Gwen Stefani – “Rich Girl”

Meat Loaf – “Bat Out of Hell”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “The Zephyr Song”

My Chemical Romance – “Welcome to the Black Parade”

There you have it, the RouteNote team have spoken. But what would you say is best beginning to a track? Let us know your favourite song intro in the comments.

Vegan Grime Artists Create Music From Plant Vibrations

Image credit: Subway

Vegan grime artists P Money and Star.One have teamed up with Subway to create plant based music, sampled from plant vibrations.

Plant-based beats are now officially a thing thanks to the partnership between P Money, Star.One and, Subway. The partnership is in celebration of the recent Earth Day

The pair went into one of Subways urban farms and collected sounds from plants used in Subway‘s menus, remixing the plant’s vibrations into a track called ‘Vegang’. 

The track was created using PlantWave technology that involves placing electrodes on the leaves to detect each individual plants vibrations. Naturally, the lyrics are also heavily plant based with rapper P Money creating lyrics about his experiences as a vegan. 

The song is part of the campaign ‘Plant-Based Beats’ that aims to appeal to the rising veganism among people, particularly Gen Z. The campaign follows the announcement of Subways two new vegan items TLC (Tastes Like Chicken) and a Vegan Double Choc Cookie. 

Angie Gosal, Marketing Director of Subway Uk & Ireland, commented on the campaign: 

“As more people champion plant-based lifestyles, we’re excited to be involved in the release of the first-ever grime track made from plant sounds. With our ever-expanding vegan range, Earth Day felt like the perfect opportunity to celebrate Subway now having one of the biggest and tastiest plant-based menus on the high street, to offer you even more choice.”

Although it is clever marketing from a food company it would be great to see more earthy based sound in our music, imagine the beat a cabbage could make!

You can watch the process of recording and making ‘Vegang’ here:

Spotify’s songs to get vaccinated to

Image Credit: Spotify

Soundtrack your vaccine with Spotify’s pick of which songs to listen to as you get your shot. Yes, you read that right.

With more Americans getting the vaccine each day, Spotify has put together its very own vaccination playlist. As the world waits for COVID-19 vaccines to roll in their direction, luckily there’s something vaccine-related that music lovers can control – the tracks they play in anticipation of getting their shot.

Spotify noticed the number of playlists on the platform with a vaccine theme had jumped by 350% over the past 90 days, as users made light of their vaccination appointments. Lots of users have even named their playlists after whichever brand of vaccine they were given. In response Spotify has assembled its own greatest hits inspired by the kind of songs users have been adding to their vaccination soundtracks.

A year ago Covid vaccines were still a distant dream, and now here we are, picking the perfect tunes to get jabbed to. Spotify’s songs, plucked from user’s playlists, aim to encourage listeners to think optimistically about getting the vaccine, with tracks like “Do It” by Chloe x Halle and ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” spreading positive vibes. Dolly Parton gets a feature in honour of her help in funding the Moderna vaccine.

The tongue-in-cheek playlist is accompanied by a link to information on the US vaccine rollout, so Americans can stay informed before getting their shot.

Check out the vaccination playlist below. One thing is immediately obvious – Spotify completely missed a trick by not including The Vaccines.

Pause for these soothing ambient loops made by an acoustic guitar and the Microcosm effects pedal (Video)

Image Credit: Hologram Electronics

Sit back and just breathe for a mindful few minutes whilst Chords of Orion plays around beautifully with an acoustic guitar and the Hologram Microcosm effects pedal.

Over on YouTube, Chords of Orion recorded a few minutes of acoustic guitar and had a play around with the various settings on the Hologram Microcosm effects pedal. The result is a deeply relaxing few minutes of layer upon layer of murmuring repeated loops.

Hologram’s Microcosm is a granular processor, a looper and glitch pedal with a reverb unit, modulation section, and resonant lowpass filter to sculpt all manner of tones. It has 11 effects and 44 present variations.

As Engadget say, it can make almost anything sound gorgeous. Reviews say that it doesn’t take much twiddling to transform chords and loops into a beautiful kaleidoscope of ambient sounds.

If you’re interested in buying the Hologram Microcosm have a look here, but be warned it doesn’t come cheap at $449 a pre-order. But there’s no denying it’s extremely tempting if you’re a musician or producer who loves to create ambient music. It might be the only pedal you ever need.

Got a few ambient tracks you think are perfect to bring a bit of calm to the waiting world? Sign up with RouteNote to get your music on all the major streaming sites, for free.

This incredible tool turns recordings into authentic saxophone, flute, violin and more

Ever wished you could add a powerful sax solo into your mix? With this amazing tool from Google you can transform anything from your voice to other instruments into authentic sounding recordings.

Are you ready to have your world of musical synthesis opened up? Prepare to discover the incredible potential of music in a world with AI. From the powerful minds in Google’s Magenta team, Tone Transfer is an experiment in transform any sound into a recording that is as though it had come from these iconic instruments themselves.

The team went about training their AI by making it listen to authentic audio from instruments. They gave it 10 minute recordings of instruments, for example a violin, and told it to understand how the instrument creates it sound by measuring its pitch and loudness.

They show on their website how the AI slowly wrapped its head around the unique sound of each instrument. After one hour of training the results were still quite clearly synthesised sounds. After three hours the unique tone began to come through and then after 10 hours of training the AI was able to replicate an incredibly accurate violin sound.

It is taught to understand what makes these instruments unique beyond simply the sound is creating. This is where the output of this machine-learned tool is different to a lot of synthesised versions of instruments. It picks up elements like the bow scratching and the breath coming through a brass instrument and integrates them into the overall sound – making for a truly authentic model.

With the powerful understanding of how an instrument works, you can then give it any sound recording and the AI will transform it into how it would sound coming out of an array of instruments. Want to know something great? You can do it yourself!

The Tone Transfer website allows you to play around with their stock samples including birds tweeting, pans crashing, and a cello playing. But much more fun, you can record your own audio into it through a microphone or from an instrument. Who doesn’t want to sing along to a melody and turn themselves into a saxophone piece!

One thing I have noticed, and this may be solely an issue for me, is the tool stops recognising pitch about 10 seconds into the recording and you can only record for a maximum of 15 seconds. As you can hear below, in the very melancholy outcome of my attempt at recreating Giant Steps, the pitch trails off onto one note at the end – but it is still just as impressive before that point.

John Coltrane, Giants Wept

Head to their website and have some fun with it yourself and don’t blame me if you end up procrastinating all afternoon because of it!

Explore the history of electronic music from synths to club culture with Google Arts and Culture virtual exhibition

Image Credit: Google

Learn about the origins of clubbing and play around with fun AR tools in the Music, Makers and Machines online exhibition.

A new permanent virtual exhibit from Google Arts & Culture and YouTube has launched online, and it celebrates the history of electronic music. Music, Makers & Machines explores its original inventors, iconic artists, sounds and technology.

The exhibition is the culmination of the work of 50 international institutions, festivals, record labels and experts from the industry, joining forces to explore the culture of electronic music. There’s a huge range of 250 online exhibitions, photos, videos, 3D scans and 360° tours to explore.

The exhibit features educational content highlighting the titans from electronic music history who helped to shape the scene through the 126 years from inventor Thaddeus Cahill’s world-first electromechanical musical instrument to the bedroom beatmakers of today. There’s in depth nostalgic details about the most important studios, instruments and clubs, and a welcome spotlight on the often overlooked work of Black, female and queer figures from electronic music history.

Google Arts & Culture said: “Electronic music brings people together from all walks of life and from all over the world. Its community has always been one of creativity and shared experiences. And while it may take a while until club doors open again, fans and musicians keep connected through new online forums and formats. We hope that Music, Makers & Machines will let you explore and appreciate the stories of electronic music and celebrate the creativity of its makers.”

Augmented reality tools let users have a go with sequencers and synths to create patterns and play with loops, inspired by iconic machines like the Memorymoog and Fairlight CMI Music Station.

Like previous tool ‘Play a Kandinsky’, Google Arts & Culture again shows a talent for laying out complicated information in an immersive, exciting way.

Get lost in electronic music with Music, Makers & Machines here.

Discover Bardcore: The viral trend transforming modern hits into medieval bangers

You’ve heard Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie, but have you ever sat down with a cup of mead and put on ‘Mine Hips Do Not Bear False Witness’ for a jig around the chamber?

We’ve all been a little more bored than usual in the last year, haven’t we? Many of us have been stuck at home and that has helped bring out the best of madcap inspiration in some. In a trend that transcends a throwback to the music of old that the Wellerman trend did for sea shanties, Bardcore blends the music of today with the vibes of a millennia ago.

One of 2020’s most iconic songs, like never before. I wonder what Middle Age audiences would have thought of the original…

The concept is simple really. Take a modern track that we all know and (not necessarily) love and re-imagine with the instruments of old. Lyres, flutes, harps, and the odd violin set to a simple pulsing drumbeat and you have medieval magic.

It all started when YouTube user Stantough came up with the original idea – probably just for a laugh – of turning Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie into an 11th century work of art. The fruition of their lockdown boredom quickly gained traction eventually amassing millions of views and spiralling into a viral trend that saw hundreds of videos from different users being spawned – medieval-ifying everything from hip-hop, pop, and rock.

The video which started it all

The viral trend, although having extended beyond the grasp of the original creator, has even gained its own aesthetic. It would be poor manners to upload your brand new Bardcore remix of a track and not feature some medieval imagery, specifically images that can be related to the track itself.

For example, this re-imagining of the famous Coffin Dance song – Astronomia – features ‘artwork’ taken directly from the authentic Bayeux Tapestry. And of course, it’s absolutely perfect… Almost as though one of the embroiders commissioned by Bishop Odo knew that their depiction of men carrying a coffin with a megaphone (indicating music, not orders… surely!) would be relevant beyond their time.

Whilst working out the science behind a viral trend is a fool’s game, there are certainly some key features to Bardcore which make it so enticing to audiences all over the world.

First of all, it appeals to our love of recognition. We recognise the music it is emulating so we can empathise with it and – even more importantly in this case – we have a reference frame that makes it so funny when we hear it transformed.

Secondly, it’s surreal. If there’s one thing we know about where internet humour has been heading, the weirder the better. Whilst this is certainly on the light-hearted, subtle side of surreality in comparison to some of the memes out there, it’s an undeniably strange concept that is executed to such a quality degree that even the fact it sounds great and legitimate is surreal.

But perhaps more importantly than anything, the internet has been a haven for entertainment more than ever in the last year. Viral trends are nothing new but 2020 has been a breeding ground for getting people behind a joke.

Speaking to The Straits Times, one of Bardcore’s many proponents and creators Hildegard von Blingin’ said: “We’re seeing an unprecedented number of creative trends on the internet, and I think it absolutely has something to do with the lockdown. That, and a global sense of ennui and loneliness.”

Hildegard, whose name is a play on the 12th Century saint Hildegard von Bingen, even says there is perhaps a deeper link to the trend. “There is of course the unavoidable comparison between our situation and the Black Death,” she says.

She also explains how she would have never had the time to create these were it not for the lockdown. Her creations take it to the next level, with classic folk-style singing transforming the original lyrics into a piece of majesty. Just hear her rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, I beg of thee, pray take not my lord

Of course, as with all good things today the trend escaped YouTube and took to TikTok. What do they do with them on TikTok? They do what everyone does with anything on TikTok of course… they dance along! Some even put the effort in to dress in their best peasant garb, though sadly with the lack of archaic royal attire it seems no-one got the memo about the class who would really be listening to these full, lush arrangements.

What will be next? What comes after Bardcore? How do we enliven the senses as we move out of lockdowns and look for the next viral trend whilst also actually spending time with friends and family. Only time – and the force of the internet – will tell.

The world’s first AI rapper FN Meka has released a new single

Image Credit: FN Meka

Listen to “Speed Demon”, a trap track created by a robot rapper.

We’ve had AI creating music videos and judging our Spotify preferences – now meet FN Meka, the first AI-powered rapper. The robot has released a new single “Speed Demon” via Factory New.

As seen over on his TikTok, FN Meka likes sneakers, Lamborghinis, PlayStation 5s, and shooting Apple AirPods at turkeys, and can be seen driving around with an owl in his passenger seat.

The robot rapper also has a deep love for Travis Scott, who was himself the inspiration for (or victim of) AI experimentation when US-based tech company Space150 used AI to faithfully recreate a Travis Scott song.

“Speed Demon”, meanwhile, mostly features FN Meka rapping incomprehensibly over a generic trap beat and shouting the title of the song. Experience it yourself below:

A self-proclaimed “hypebeast”, FN Meka generally uses social media to promote random brands and Pokémon. It’s both terrifying and hilarious. His previous songs “Moonwalkin'” and “Internet” each have over 75,000 and 45,000 plays on Spotify.

The release is light on details of exactly how the rapper writes and records his beats and makes TikToks. Who knows, perhaps one day soon we won’t need musicians at all, just robot rappers.

New Balancing Channels challenge on Ultimate Producer platform puts your mixing skills to the test

Image Credit: Ultimate Producer

Just how good are you at mixing music? Challenge yourself with Balancing Channels and Mastering the Mix.

Work on your producing skills with Tom Frampton from Mastering the Mix, learning mixing techniques using Ultimate Producer’s new Balancing Channels challenge. It’s a fun way to try playing around with mixing a song outside a DAW, to learn skills and practise until you can produce like a pro.

The interactive music production challenge helps to train your ear, ultimately improving your ability to achieve a pro-sounding balance in your own mixes. Balancing a mix is all about fiddling with the volume of the individual tracks’ faders, finding the sweet spot before even considering moving onto the next stage of applying effects like EQ and compressors.

Within Balancing Channels you can test your ability to balance a song, adjusting and soloing the bass, drum tops, kick, music and effects, and vocals faders until you think the mix sounds perfect. Hit “submit” and you’ll be judged out of 100 – pass and you can move onto the next level. Get stuck and you’ll be offered a preview of Tom Frampton’s balanced mix for reference, and further guidance if you still can’t match it.

Ultimate Producer offers interactive music production challenges that test and train your studio skills. Balancing Channels is a fun way to practise working on a mix that isn’t yours. The program has a series of levels, getting steadily more difficult as you progress, covering 12 songs from pop, hip-hop, rock, and house genres.

Tom Frampton, founder of Mastering the Mix, said: “The volume of a channel has a huge effect on its overall sound, especially when adjusted in the context of the whole mix… This is an important skill to work on, but it’s not really possible to use your own mixes or even professionally mixed stems in your DAW as focused practice with measurable results and actionable feedback. Balancing Channels on Ultimate Producer is a smart, fast, and fun way to improve this skill.”

It’s easier to be more objective in your decision-making when it’s not your own carefully crafted beats. All you need to play is an internet connection and ideally a pair of headphones or external speakers.

You can try out the challenge for free here. The full Balancing Channels challenge is $37 for access to the full 12 songs and unique personalised feedback. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee too.

Rock out with Queen’s first ever official mobile game

Image Credit: Queen

The rock legends celebrate their Golden Jubilee with the launch of free “Queen: Rock Tour” game.

Having pushed back their European tour to 2022, rock legends Queen have developed a fun Covid-safe alternative for their concerts – Queen: Rock Tour, the first-ever official mobile game launched by the band.

Queen: Rock Tour is a free “play-along rhythm game” similar to Guitar Hero. Players play along with the riffs, drum solos from 20 songs from the band’s back catalogue by tapping tiles along to the beats. Performances are at 10 of the world’s most historic concert venues and fully customisable with iconic costumes from Queen’s past. High scores unlock exclusive archive images and trivia.

The game was created in association with Universal Music Group. It’s a joyful way for Queen to celebrate their Golden Jubilee, 50 years since the band’s classic line-up was completed with the addition of bassist John Deacon.

Andrew Kronfeld, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Universal Music Group said: “Today, Queen are globally recognised as one of the most iconic and important bands in history. Decades after their first live shows together and following on from the huge worldwide box office success of the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic, their popularity continues to grow every year. 

We hope the launch of Rock Tour will introduce their inimitable rock legacy and catalogue to a new generation of fans, through this unique new gaming experience.”

Brian May, meanwhile, reportedly said: “Be a Lockdown Rock Star! No turning back!!!” The guitarist’s solo in Bohemian Rhapsody was recently named the greatest of all time. May’s response was delightfully classy. He’s no stranger to mobile apps, regularly posting guitar tutorials on Instagram.

The Queen: Rock Tour game is available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.