100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #27: “First” by Cold War Kids

The song at #27 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “First” by Los Angeles-based alt-rock band Cold War Kids. The dramatic and stunning anthem is their second song on this list, the other being “So Tied Up”, which appeared at #64. Released in February 2015 as the second single from their fifth album Hold My Home, “First” was my introduction to the band, even though they’d been putting out music since 2006. It’s their most successful single, spending an incredible 64 weeks on the Billboard Alternative chart, seven of them at #1.

“First” is about a troubled relationship in which both parties are deeply unhappy, and wracked with both guilt and anger toward each other. The intelligent lyrics are particularly compelling: “Flying like a cannonball, falling to the earth / Heavy as a feather when you hit the dirt / How am I the lucky one? / I do not deserve to wait around forever when you were there first / First you get hurt, then you feel sorry.” Musically, the song features a gorgeous chiming guitar line over explosive drumbeats and bold hand claps, creating a magnificent wall of sound for lead singer Nathan Willett’s emotionally-charged vocals. The song brings chills every time I hear it.