Skip to main content

Not-Quite Title Cuts

Not every album is like Michael Jackson's "Bad" - sometimes an album's name is tucked within a song that's not technically a title cut.

A recent listen to Daughtry‘s latest single, “September,” revealed a lyrical treasure that’s always fun to discover: an album’s title within a song that’s technically not quite a set’s title track.

The bridge to “September” sports the lyric that contains the name of Daughtry’s second album, “Leave This Town”:

“We knew we had to leave this town /
But we never knew when and we never knew how /
We would end up here the way we are


The band’s Chris Daughtry wrote the song, with guitarist Josh Steely, as a reflection of his childhood in a North Carolina town of 103 residents (per the 2000 census).

“‘September’ reminds me of my life in Lasker,” Daughtry has said. “I loved living there – it built my character – but, I knew I’d have to leave to make something of my life.”

Sometimes an album title is as obvious as it is catchy. From Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” and Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the U.S.A.” to Taylor Swift‘s “Fearless” and Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream,” a set’s name can be dizzyingly repetitious in its namesake song.

Other times, a phrase offers a nuance significant and artistically fitting enough to spur its writer to employ it as an album’s title, even if the lyric doesn’t serve as the name of any song on the set.

There’s simply something rewarding about hearing such a line and feeling a sense of insight into an album’s creative process.

As “September” soars up multiple charts in the month that bears its name – the track climbs 5-4 as the Greatest Gainer on Adult Pop Songs and 23-20 on Adult Contemporary – Chart Beat looks at five other songs bearing an album’s title despite its lyrics not doubling as an individual song’s title.

(Feel free to add other examples in the comments section below).

Song: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Album: “Nevermind”
Artist: Nirvana

Title lyric: “And I forget just why I taste / Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile / I found it hard, it’s hard to find / Oh well, whatever, nevermind”

Perhaps the names of both the song, which reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992, and its landmark album have been overshadowed by the track’s chorus – “Here we are now, entertain us” – and the band’s central role in launching the grunge era.

Song: “You Learn”
Album: “Jagged Little Pill”
Artist: Alanis Morissette

Title lyric: “Swallow it down, what a jagged little pill / It feels so good, swimming in your stomach / Wait until the dust settles”

Following this No. 6 Hot 100 hit in 1996, Morissette similarly camouflaged the titles of three subsequent albums: “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” (in the song “So Pure”), “Under Rug Swept” (“Hands Clean”) and “Flavors of Entanglement” (“Moratorium”).

Song: “Walk On”
Album: “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”
Artist: U2

Title lyric: “Love is not the easy thing / The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind”

Though this single didn’t grace the Hot 100, it claimed coveted Song of the Year honors at the 2002 Grammy Awards. The album’s lead single, the No. 21-peaking “Beautiful Day,” had earned the title the previous year.

Song: “Me Against the Music”
Album: “In the Zone”
Artist: Britney Spears

Title lyric: “It’s like a competition, me against the beat / I wanna get in the zone”

The song stalled at No. 35 on the Hot 100 in 2003, though its parent album became Spears’ fourth to top the Billboard 200 from the outset of her career. The track is due to receive a makeover thanks to Spears and Heather Morris in the upcoming Britney/”Brittany”-centric episode of Fox’s “Glee.”

Song: “Why I Am”
Album: “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King”
Artist: Dave Matthews Band

Title lyric: “We’ll be drinking Big Whiskey while we dance and sing / And, when my story ends, it’s gonna end with him / Heaven or hell, I’m going there with the GrooGrux King”

Matthews had likewise nestled the title of the act’s breakthrough album, “Under the Table and Dreaming,” in its 1995 No. 11 Alternative Songs hit “Ants Marching.” “Why I Am,” which rose to No. 2 on the Triple A adult alternative radio airplay chart last year, is a tribute to the group’s late saxophonist LeRoi Moore, and his regal nickname.