Here at Billboard, we tend to emphasize the big: The major hit singles, the best-selling albums, the headline-grabbing statements. At times, it's only natural to overlook the small: the in-between musical moments that tie the big ones together, the tiny songs whose impact still ends up being mighty.
In fact, even though it's rarely talked about, we're currently in something of a golden age for the interlude -- the half-songs that provide the connective tissue for the marquee pop albums of our time. Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Kanye West, SZA, Kendrick Lamar and so many of the other star artists of the '10s have made the interlude a fixture of their work -- though as you'll see below, from our list of our all-time favorite interludes, they were hardly the first to do so.
So what do we count as an interlude, then? Well, it doesn't literally have to have the word "interlude" in its title, though many of course do. But it has to have a sense of being not quite a full song -- if it's a song that feels like it could've been pulled as a standalone single (or indeed, one that actually was), it doesn't fit here. That said, it still has to be a song, to at least some extent -- much as we love skits like Dr. Dre's "$20 Sack Pyramid" and spoken-word interludes like those found on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, they're not what we're talking about here.