Rock songs with intensity crescendos

  • The randomization of my playlist put Supertramp's "Hide In Your Shell" (from the album Crime of the Century) and Radiohead's "Let Down" (from the album Ok Computer) one after the other. Those two tracks are in my playlist because of their intensity crescendo.

    The structure of these songs goes from a timid/shy start to a powerful musical finale. It's noteworthy that both have their intensity resetted at some point, only to go further in intensity. Also, the notes that gain intensity are mostly the same, round after round.

    Are there other rock songs with such a similar sound structure? Which ones?


    • I listen to music, I'm not a musician and I don't know the musical terminology. If you can put a name on what I call "intensity" based on the examples I gave, I welcome it.
    • Rock is vast and the songs must be related one way or another to rock. This is mostly to exclude electronic/pop/rap-only songs.
    • The song doesn't have to have been released as a single. For instance, I couldn't find any evidence that Radiohead's "Let Down" was released as a single (even though there was an unreleased video, yup, I did my search).
    • This asks specifically for songs (not tracks), as the voice brings an important part of the melody.
    • If a limit is needed, let's stick to the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (no matter which year's).

    I know this question is probably going against the rule "Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer". I don't know if it actually is. I only hope the list is still rather small and manageable. ;)

  • I've a feeling this might get closed as a "list request" so I'm only starting up half an answer here, I'll put more effort in if it stays open ;-)

    Ones I can think of immediately are :-

    • Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride
      Easy feel start, to heavy instrumental motif, long extemporising solo section [different in studio & live versions - personally, the live version from "The Road Goes Ever On" is the best, though at nearly 18 minutes, you need to be enjoying it] a drop to a sea shanty;) last verse back down again, then the big motif to the end.

    • Pretty much anything from U2 at their best -
      With or Without You would be a fine example, constant build from beginning to end.

    • Supertramp - Crime of the Century [the title track itself]
      Quiet start, build then big drop to the end motif, which then builds again - though I'm not sure it fully qualifies as it runs to a fade.

    • David Bowie - Five Years and Rock n' Roll Suicide
      Opening & closing tracks from the same album, The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars.
      I think we can just say "iconic".

    • Procol Harum - Conquistador
      [Must be the live orchestral version, which was the hit single, not the studio band-only version which was only an album track]
      From the quiet orchestral start to the manic thrashing of the drummer towards the close, a superb example of dynamic at its best.

    • Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
      Fine example of lift & drop dynamic, helped by cleverly making each chorus longer than the last. Run, from the earlier Final Straw album would probably qualify too [though you'd have to make your own mind up as to whether the Leona Lewis cover qualifies]

    • Cockney Rebel - Sebastian
      A band probably better-known in the UK than US, but not hugely famous even there - this is an exercise in dynamic, from barely audible to pounding orchestra & furious vocals, then drop & repeat, over a 7-minute masterpiece of early 70s pomp. Death Trip from the same album, The Human Menagerie, has a similar construction, but overall doesn't carry quite as well.

    • Icehouse - Icehouse
      An odd little tune from the Aussie 80s band. Probably wasn't a hit because people find it difficult to feel where the beat is for the first half of the song, but a nice dynamic from top to bottom.

    "Green Grass and High Tides" by the Southern rock guitar band The Outlaws, from 1975.

    +1 for the Bowie songs!

  • I think I have a few...

    • "Tyrants" by Catfish and the Bottlemen
      Has an ominous beginning that ends up being a large, stadium-rock ending with quite the emotional "ooh"s and "ah"s. (You'd think that after 8 years of being involved in music, I'd know how to put this into proper terminology... Nah.)
    • "Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon
      Starts off with only voice and synth, but eventually builds up to have guitar, drums, and bass. Ends up in a large we're-all-in-this-together kind of vibe.
    • "Goner" by twenty one pilots
      Starts very timidly with defeated-sounding vocals and distant piano. The ending is really just something that you have to listen to.
    • "Catch You On My Way Out" by Finish Ticket
      I'd say this is in the same category as "Chasing Cars", except it gets to the intensity faster. Starts with defeated[ish] vocals, ends with another large, stadium rock sound.
    • "Franklin" by Paramore
      It's a song about how their hometown has changed while they were gone. Has quite the dynamic.
  • A few pretty famous songs with that kind of intensity crescendo:

    • "Exit Music (For a Film)" - Radiohead:

    this song from the beautiful and successful album "Ok Computer" begins in an intimate, folk atmosphere and then bursts into a haunting crescendo of emotion.

    • "Glosoli" - Sigur Ros:

    just like other songs of the icelandic band, it starts slow, delicate and atmospheric and then constantly increases the dynamic structure, achieving its emotional zenith at the end (the music video is a highly cinematographic complement of the song...)

    • "Five Years" - David Bowie:

    the song from the well known album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" is characterized by a languid ballad at the beginning and then lift in a beatiful crescendo, ending with the hysterical Bowie's screams...

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