Stage Dive: Best “Odd Favorite Song” on an Album?

Generally speaking, it’s easy to pick out and gravitate toward an album’s strongest songs. Take Metallica’s “Creeping Death,” for example–while it may not be everyone’s favorite song on Ride the Lightning, it’s not unreasonable to assume most people would at least have it in their top two or three from the album, right?

But for today’s Stage Dive post, we’re going to delve into cases where one’s personal tastes run counter to popular opinion–where one’s favorite song on an album turns just about every head it comes across in discussion. Like someone saying their favorite song on Master of Reality is “Orchid” (not guilty!) or, in a non metal example, picking “Quiet” from Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream (guilty!). We’ve all got cases like that, so for this week’s edition of Stage Dive, I ask you this:



For those of you that couldn’t put two and two together based on the picture above, my pick is Iron Maiden’s “Stranger in a Strange Land,” off 1986’s Somewhere in Time.

I don’t know that anyone doesn’t at least like this song, but given the top-to-bottom strength of the material at play here, it often gets left behind in conversation. I mean, think about it: from “Caught Somewhere in Time” straight through to “Alexander the Great,” there really isn’t anything less than “really good” here. You’ve got live mainstays like “Wasted Years” and “Heaven Can Wait,” deep-cut classics like “Sea of Madness” and “Déjà Vu”–pretty much everything you could ask for in an ’80s heavy metal album.

And then…you have “Stranger in a Strange Land,” the album’s Adrian Smith-penned second single. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a weird one–particularly from a compositional standpoint. The intro riff is, admittedly, kind of bizarre. The song doesn’t have the kind of conventional structure–“verse” or “chorus” sections, or progression between said sections–that we’ve grown to love from Maiden over the years. It is, to sum up, not a leading contender in the “best song” game for most people. But it’s always been my favorite–not just on Somewhere in Time, but maybe even from Maiden, period. I love Smith’s terrific slow-paced-then-overdriven guitar solo. I love Steve Harris’s dun–da-da-dun–da-da bass groove at the beginning. Possibly my favorite part, though, is the…I guess you’d call it a “B-section,” if anything? Maybe a pre-chorus? Whatever–the part where Bruce Dickinson sings “What became of the man that started? / All are gone and their souls departed.” It’s just epic as all hell.

I realize it’s a weird favorite here, but that’s the point–and it’s always been mine. So there you have it. Now share out yours! Leave your responses in the comments and keep this conversation going!


Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

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