Anorak | The 20 Greatest Codas In Popular Music: The Song Goes From Average To Anthem

The 20 Greatest Codas In Popular Music: The Song Goes From Average To Anthem

by | 17th, June 2014



SONGS are composed of various different structures: the chorus, verse, bridge, etc. If they’re put together right, it sounds like one cohesive unit. Today, we’re looking at one section in particular that last piece, the coda . It’s basically a separate section which brings an end to a song. In popular music, it’s sometimes referred to as an “outro”; the opposite of an intro.

It’s not necessarily long- for instance, “cold outros” as in “What I Like About You” by the Romantics end abruptly (and are a DJ’s worst nightmare). I’m speaking more of the “fade-out coda.” The most well-known example in popular music is probably the “Na Na Na” ending of “Hey Jude”.

This is a subject that desperately deserves a list (after all, isn’t that what the Internet is for?). So, here are 20 of the greatest. But let’s be clear: we’re not talking about the quality of the entire song I’m only looking at this last bit. Lastly, please point out any glaring omissions in the comment section. Enjoy.



20. The End – The Beatles


The trouble with these music lists is that they always become over-Beatled. Nothing kills the diversity of a good list better than The Beatles. Indeed, get ready for a few more before this list is through. But how can you leave out the closing couplet of “The End”- the last words of the last song on the last record by the greatest band of all time? Can you think of a better denouement? A guitar solo just wouldn’t do. Yelling “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” would’ve been good for a laugh, but Paul ended things properly.



19. Ashes to Ashes David Bowie

“My mother said, to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom.” Haunting.



18. Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ Journey

The coda is where the song goes from average to anthem



17. Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd

A beer-guzzling, shit-kicking coda straight from the backwoods of Georgia. Its frenetic dueling guitars make the ending of “Hotel California” seem quaint.




16. All You Need Is Love The Beatles

It’s awesome in its own right, but made even better by a reference to an earlier song (“She Loves You”), which seemed oh, so very distant even though it had only been a few years. Artists referencing previous songs is another topic deserving of a list (Sting’s frequent use of “It’s a big enough umbrella but it’s always me that ends up getting wet” comes instantly to mind.)



15. I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) Grand Funk Railroad

The coda is so long, that it’s arguably not a coda at all just a second movement. But, as far as I know, no standardized ratio has been set to disqualify it; so it stays. The same principle applies to another great coda that starts halfway through Pulp’s sonic explosion that ends Sunrise ”.

Also note that you won’t see “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Stairway to Heaven” or Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” on this list due to disqualification. Their “outros” technically don’t end the songs; the very last part resumes the earlier verse. Suffice it to say, what is and what isn’t a coda can get hazy; it’s probably best not to analyze too closely.



14. Golden Brown The Stranglers

Short, but chilling especially when you know the song’s topic.



13. Star Collector The Monkees

One of the earliest uses of the moog; don’t let the band’s unbridled cheesiness detract from this psychedelic coda masterpiece.



12. I Am the Walrus The Beatles

The King Lear quotes among the cacophony and “Joob, joob, joob” make for a mind bending audio sendoff like no other. The Strawberry Fields outro is equally trippy, but not as dense, regardless of the much analyzed Cranberry Sauce/I Buried Paul bit.



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Posted: 17th, June 2014 | In: Key Posts, Music Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink