It's been a week now since it dropped, but we still have "Mercy"—the first single from the G.O.O.D. Music compilation album featuring Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, and, of course, Kanye West West—on repeat. And, these days, that's saying a lot. Usually, we'll play a song for a few hours, maybe an entire day, before allowing it to collect dust in our iTunes library. But, in this case, "Mercy" is actually causing everything else in our iTunes library to get dusty, because we haven't played anything else from it—save for Kanye's other new song, "Theraflu"—since it dropped last Friday. We're huge fans of the song and can't wait to see what else the G.O.O.D. Music album has on it as a result of hearing it.
But, where does "Mercy" rank amongst all of the other lead singles that 'Ye has dropped from his albums? At this point in his career, he's got five solo albums, a collaborative effort with Jay-Z, and this G.O.O.D. Music project. And, now that we've had a week to digest "Mercy," we decided to take a look at how all of his first singles stack up to one another. Take a look at where "Mercy" falls in the pecking order of Kanye West's first singles. You might be surprised.—Chris Yuscavage
The Single: "Love Lockdown"
The Album: 2008's 808s & Heartbreak
The Reaction: Let's just say that when 'Ye released this, it wasn't what everyone was expecting from him. Instead of him rapping, he was singing…and using Autotune…and singing in Autotune about love. WTF? Granted, some people out there were really into this. But, it's easily the one Kanye West single that doesn't belong when you compare it to his other first singles.
The Single: "H*A*M," featuring Jay-Z
The Album: 2011's Watch the Throne
The Reaction: Is this what WTT is going to sound like? That's what we were all thinking when we heard this. And while we do have to admit that this song grew us on in the last year or so, we're glad that nothing on WTT sounded anything like this. Thanks for reconsidering your approach, guys.
The Single: "Through the Wire"
The Album: 2004's The College Dropout
The Reaction: Initially, there wasn't much reaction to this one. But, once folks found out he was rapping with his mouth wired shut and that he'd been in a horrible car accident right before recording this, they liked it. The Chaka Khan sample obviously did wonders for 'Ye, too, and got people interested in him as a solo artist.
The Single: "Diamonds From Sierra Leone"
The Album: 2005's Late Registration
The Reaction: Looking back, we realize just how much of a risk this song was for Kanye. Sure, most people were hooked once the Shirley Bassey sample started up at the beginning of this track. But, this single was super conscious, especially for a first single. But it turned out to be proof that 'Ye wasn't going to suffer from the sophomore slump.
The Single: "Power"
The Album: 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The Reaction: After 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye knew he had to deliver a solid first single that featured him doing one thing and one thing only: Rapping! And that's what he did on this track that was as powerful as its title suggested.
The Single: "Mercy," featuring Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz
The Album: 2012's G.O.O.D. Music
The Reaction: Repeat…repeat…repeat…repeat…repeat…re…Okay, you get the point. We're still pressing repeat on this one. This G.O.O.D. Music album might be one of the best label compilations of all-time if this song is any indication of what's to come.
The Single: "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
The Album: 2007's Graduation
The Reaction: We could have put any of the top four "first singles" listed here in this position. But, is there another song out there that encapsulates Kanye West as well as this one? You can't tell him nothing (apparently, not even that the title of his first single includes a double negative!). On his third album, it was clear that he was an artist who was here to stay. And this song let us all know that, which is why we loved it so much.