As a kid, there was no event in my life more important than the purchase of a new vinyl 45 single. Every time I bought one, I’d rush home and spin my latest favorite on the turntable of my blue and white portable record player. (As opposed to in my relatively jaded adulthood, when new CDs often sit unwrapped and unlistened to for months, years even.) I’d listen to the A-side over and over and then, reluctantly, flip it over, and see what else that particular artist had to offer. Aside from “Elaine,” on the other side of ABBA’s final Top 10 U.S. hit, 1980’s “The Winner Takes It All,” I don’t recall ever being impressed.
But somewhere along the line, as 45s and short-lived cassette singles were phased out and replaced by the CD single, artists seemed to take a little bit more pride in their flip-side tracks and even began offering more of them. I’m not sure if it was the attractiveness of the CD package that encouraged them to include beautiful music to match, or if they actually wanted to give buyers of the more expensive CD singles just a little bit more bang for their bucks.
Alas, since the mid ’00s, the CD single has been dying a slow agonizing death, and as we go deeper into the age of downloading — illegal and otherwise — it’s all about the hits (sometimes with a remix or four or a few live tracks tacked on). The UK is perhaps the site of the CD single’s last stand (barely standing, at this point), so it should be no surprise that my five favorite B-sides of the ’00s are all by acts that have their largest following there.
Kylie Minogue “B.P.M.” (B-side of “I Believe In You”) 2004
Texas “Like An Angel” (B-side of “Getaway”) 2005
Morrissey “Human Being” (B-side of “You Have Killed Me”) 2006
Keane “Let It Slide” (B-side of “Is It Any Wonder?”) 2006
Duffy “Tomorrow” (B-side of “Mercy”) 2008