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An Open Letter Regarding Hidden Bonus Tracks

To All Musicians:

I'm fired up!

Recently, Soul Asylum, Boy Kill Boy and The Rewinds have chosen to raise my ire by tacking hidden "bonus" tracks onto the end of their respective albums. You know what I'm talking about? The last listed song ends, but then there's a period of silence - sometimes as short as a minute, sometimes as long as 30 - followed by an additional song.

I hate this practice absolutely. In the past, artists have tested my patience by tacking on a ridiculous amount of dead air only to be broken by studio chatter, a bit of acoustic strumming or some symphonic bullshit (The Rewinds, Robbie Williams, Ok Go and Jars Of Clay should all be guiltily avoiding eye contact right now).

Other artists give us real songs after our wait, artists like Atmosphere, Counting Crows and the above-mentioned Soul Asylum and Boy Kill Boy. I use these as examples because the bonus songs are actually somewhat worthwhile in each case. But let me make this clear: It has nothing to do with the quality of the song! You could put something wonderful like Dream Police by Cheap Trick as a bonus track and I'd still be pissed. As I see it, bonus tracks are indulgent and unnecessary and compromise the integrity of your album.

So here is my plea: STOP IT! The idea is played out and it was never a brilliant practice in the first place. I know Nirvana did it on some pressings of Nevermind and Alanis Morissette did it on Jagged Little Pill, and the Beatles invented it accidntally on Abbey Road, but I'm sorry, a bonus track is not going to get you multiplatinum sales. It just makes you seem kind of like a jerk.

If you want to add an extra song to your album, go to town! I don't even care if you choose to keep it unlisted on the album artwork, give it its own track number and let it play immediately after the "final" song (as The Clash did with Train In Vain on London Calling). Please! I implore you.

Thank You,
A Music Fan


Allen Lulu said…
nothing used to make me angrier than hidden fucking tracks. Especially when I just uplad a new album to my ipod and I am stuck with dead air for 45 seconds followed by bullshit while I am on the motorcycle.
I think the worst has to be on Queen's Made in Heaven. It feels like forever then followed by some ridiculously long meandering track that pays a disservice to the memory of a gret band.....hidden tracks suck.
wcdixon said…
hear hear...who ever thought this was a good idea? If you want to leave a present, stick it right after the last track, with track number...
DDay said…
I totally agree with you, Paul. But it's a fine line sometimes. I do understand artists when they wanna tack something extra at the end that does not really relate to their 'concept' of an album. Hell, I even make hidden bonus tracks on my own compilations. But a pause of 10-30 secs is already more than enough, I'd say.

Worst offender if you ask me: World Party's Kuwait City at the end of Bang. Sure, it's a wonderful dig at the Gulf War with glorious Beach Boys vocals. And of course it's sort of a throwaway joke that is truly an added extra to the album and could not really fit anywhere else, but come on: 20 minutes of silence before we can hear it??!!

Oh, and the hidden bonus track on Ash's 1977? The bass player throwing up. What was THAT all about?

On the other hand, did anyone find the hidden Nick Cave tracks on Songs In The Key of X? You had to rewind back from the first track to discover them. Again, a terrible nuisance to play them, but it did follow the X-files concept to hide certain things...
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tom.elko said…
I started a small record label a few years back and pleaded with an artist not to subscribe to this kind of chicanery. What a bunch of crap, especially for a debut album from an unknown. Never again.
Sornie said…
Even worse than the hidden track at the end of the CD after 20 minutes of silence is the sometimes hidden track in the middle of the disc that can only be accessed by playing through the entire song preceding it, it is the one that counts backwards into negative numbers on your CD player display but does NOT rip to your computer or show up on the old iPod. This is the biggest sham yet in the hidden track game.

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