In the field of recorded music, a hidden track (sometimes called a secret track) is a piece of music that has been placed on a CD, audio cassette, LP record or other recorded medium in such a way as to avoid detection by the casual listener. In some cases, the piece of music may simply have been left off the track listing, while in other cases more elaborate methods are used. In rare cases a "hidden track" is actually the result of an error that occurred during the mastering stage of the record's production.
Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical, mechanical, electronic, or digital inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording.
The LP is an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format characterized by a speed of 331⁄3 rpm, a 12- or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification. Introduced by Columbia in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.
A multisided record is a type of vinyl record which has more than one groove per side. This technique allows hidden tracks to be encoded on LPs, 45 rpms and 78 rpms. On a disc that has a multi-groove, whether the listener plays the main track or the hidden track depends on where the stylus is cued.
Monty Python are a British surreal comedy group who created the sketch comedy television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, including touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books, and musicals. The Pythons' influence on comedy has been compared to the Beatles' influence on music. Regarded as enduring icons of 1970s pop culture, their sketch show has been referred to as being “an important moment in the evolution of television comedy".
The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief is the fourth album by the comedy group Monty Python, released in 1973. Most of the material was newly written for the album along with a handful of sketches from the third series of Flying Circus, one from the second ("Bruces") and another from the first. The team were once again joined by Neil Innes, who provided a trio of rock music parodies for "The Background To History". The album was famously mixed and edited in a garden shed belonging to the father of producer Andre Jacquemin.
On indexed media such as compact discs, double-grooving cannot be used, but there are additional methods of hiding tracks, such as:
Similar to the above example, having the song as a separate unlisted track with its own index point.
Placing the song after another track (usually, but not necessarily, the last track on the album), following a long period of silence. For example, Nirvana's song "Endless, Nameless" was included as a hidden track in this way on their 1991 CD Nevermind, after 10 minutes of complete silence. Although it was not the first hidden track to use this technique, this hidden song gained significant attention.
Placing the song in the pregap of the first track, so that the CD must first be cued to the track, and then manually back-scanned; these are often referred to as Track 0 or Hidden Track One Audio (HTOA). A CD player will not play these tracks without manual intervention, and some models (including computers) are unable to read such content. On Super Furry Animals third album, Guerrilla, "The Citizens Band" is found in the pre-gap approximately 5 minutes before the beginning of track 1. The song's lyrics are printed on the interior of the cardboard outer sleeve of the CD - essentially rendering them inaccessible without taking the sleeve apart. See List of albums with tracks hidden in the pregap.
Placing the song in pregaps on other tracks on the album.
Using many short tracks of silence before the hidden track. On Lazlo Bane's debut album 11 Transistor the eleventh song "Miday Train" is followed by 57 silent tracks 4 seconds each, with "Prada Wallet" (sometimes referred to as "The Birthday Song") being the 69th track on the album. The total length of silence between two songs is 3:48.
Hide the song in a mixed or distorted way which must be undone to play it. For example, on a DVD included with the deluxe and "ultra-deluxe" editions of Nine Inch Nails's Ghosts I–IV, two hidden bonus tracks ("37 Ghosts" and "38 Ghosts") are included as digital multitrack files, from which the songs may be reconstructed.
Silence is the absence of ambient audible sound, the emission of sounds of such low intensity that they do not draw attention to themselves, or the state of having ceased to produce sounds; this latter sense can be extended to apply to the cessation or absence of any form of communication, whether through speech or other medium.
Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.
Nevermind is the second studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991 by DGC Records. A number of labels courted the band, but Nirvana ultimately signed with Geffen Records imprint DGC Records based upon repeated recommendations from Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and their management company. Produced by Butch Vig, it was the band's first release on the label, as well as the first to feature drummer Dave Grohl.
It is occasionally unclear whether a piece of music is "hidden." For example, "Her Majesty", which is preceded by fourteen seconds of silence, was originally unlisted on The Beatles' Abbey Road but is listed on current versions of the album. This is one of the first instances of a hidden track. The song snippet at the end of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered by some to be a hidden track, by others to be noise not worthy of such a designation, and by others to be part of "A Day in the Life".
"Her Majesty" is a song by English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, it is a brief tongue-in-cheek acoustic track. Although credited to the band, McCartney is the only Beatle to appear on the track. "Her Majesty" is the final song of the album and appears 14 seconds after the previous song "The End", but was not listed on the original sleeve. As such, it is considered one of the first examples of a hidden track in rock music.
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.
Abbey Road is the eleventh studio album by English rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. The recording sessions were the last in which all four Beatles participated. Let It Be was the final album that the Beatles completed and released before the band's dissolution in April 1970, but most of the album had been recorded before the Abbey Road sessions began. The two-sided hit single from the album, "Something" backed with "Come Together", was released in October and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
Aaliyah's self-titled album Aaliyah features the hidden song "Messed Up" on track 15. During the stages of the album creation Aaliyah had no desire to put this song on the album but after numerous inquiries from different labels and colleagues she decided on making it a hidden track.
In some rare cases, it is used to avoid legal issues. An example is Ramones' Loco Live American version, which has the song "Carbona Not Glue" hidden after "Pet Sematary" on track 17. It was originally recorded on their album Leave Home, but the makers of the spot remover Carbona, a registered trademark, objected. Therefore, reference to the song was removed from the album and cover.
"Freedom" by Paul McCartney was a hidden track on the original release of Driving Rain. It was later added as a track on the re-release. The track was not meant to be hidden; it was a tribute to 9/11 victims and McCartney wanted it on the album. The artwork was already done, so it was a hidden track.
"Train in Vain" by The Clash, which appears at the end of London Calling, was left out of the vinyl's track listing simply because it was a last-minute addition to the album, when the sleeves were already printed. It is thus not a real hidden track. It was originally intended as a promotional giveaway for NME. The later CD versions list the track on the sleeve.
Green Day's "All By Myself" (by drummer Tré Cool) was added as a secret song to Dookie due to the low sound quality of the original live recording.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's "Bite Me" from the album Off the Deep End was put on after ten minutes of silence to scare listeners who had forgotten to turn off the CD player. In fact if you play the song backwards and slow it down by 800 percent, a distorted clip of the song Tears of the Earth by David Hallyday can be heard. It was also a loose parody of "Endless, Nameless" by Nirvana. The cover of Off the Deep End is also a parody of the album containing that track, Nevermind, and its first track is a parody of that album's first track, "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
The X-Files: The Album, features a hidden track at 10 minutes and 13 seconds into the final track. The track consists of series creator Chris Carter explaining the series mythology and meaning behind the alien conspiracy. The hidden track even includes spoilers and minute details in the show's overall plot that had not yet been resolved on the show itself when the album was released. This track was included as both a surprise to devoted fans who would seek out answers in cross-promotional merchandise and as a mystery to new fans who would need to watch the show more closely to better understand the track.
The Jam's All Mod Cons does not list the song "English Rose" and its lyrics on original vinyl copies because Paul Weller believed the title and song lose meaning without accompanying music. They have been added to re-releases of the album.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton was an American singer, actress, and model. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, she first gained recognition at the age of 10, when she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At the age of 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records. Hankerson introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. The album sold 3 million copies in the United States and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed with Atlantic Records.
Aaliyah is the self-titled third and final studio album by American R&B singer Aaliyah. It was released on July 7, 2001, by Blackground Records and Virgin Records America.
The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success initially, the band was highly influential in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Notable hidden tracks
Sometimes hidden tracks have become well known and received radio airplay, and occasionally climbed the charts.
The Beatles' track "Her Majesty" off their 1969 album Abbey Road is considered the first hidden track in recording history[by whom?]. The original pressings of Abbey Road did not list "Her Majesty" on the back cover song title listing, nor the record label; subsequent LP pressings and then CD issues were issued revealing the track. However, two years prior, in 1967, on the UK version of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, there was the "inner groove" that appeared after "A Day in the Life" at the end of side 2. It was an unexpected, untitled, and uncredited Beatles recording – so this might be deemed a precursor to the hidden track. A potential hidden track on yet another Beatles album is on The Beatles (also known popularly as The White Album) 1968 double album. The hidden track is an unlisted, untitled and uncredited outro to "Cry Baby Cry" – more popularly known as "Can You Take Me Back", the primary lyrics of the song.
The Rembrandts had a sudden radio hit in 1995 with "I'll Be There For You", the theme song to Friends, so it was added at the last minute to their third album LP. As a result, the song was a hidden track on the early printing since the CD packaging had already been completed by the time the song was added. A sticker was however added to the outer shrink wrap advertising the song's inclusion.
"Skin (Sarabeth)" by Rascal Flatts, a hidden track from their 2004 album Feels Like Today, received enough airplay to chart in the Top 40 on the country charts, peaking at #2 in late 2005. In mid-2005, the album was re-issued with the song officially listed as a track, coinciding with the song's release as a single.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2 June 1967 in the United States, it spent 27 weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. It was lauded by critics for its innovations in production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.
The Beatles, also known as "The White Album", is the ninth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. A double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band's name embossed, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band's previous LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968. The album's songs range in style from British blues and ska to pastiches of Chuck Berry and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. A prominent figure in popular culture, she is known for sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, and elaborate stage shows.