New Songs on "Greatest Hits" Albums: 10 Home Runs and Strikeouts

Unless you're a hopeless completist, what's the point of buying your favorite band's greatest hits record when you've already got all of their studio albums? The record companies have started giving fans a reason or two over the past couple decades, in the form of exclusive songs tacked onto the end of the disc.

Both sides win with this shrewd marketing tactic - the band and label sell more copies, while the fan base gets some new material to geek out over. The new songs featured on greatest hits albums occasionally become bonafide hits themselves, but sometimes their inclusion on a record celebrating an artists' commercial conquests is a real head-scratcher.

Let's take a look at how 10 high-profile rock artists have fared with the new material they offered up on their self-proclaimed "greatest hits."

10. Green Day, "Poprocks & Coke," 2001
The kings of '90s pop-punk appeared to be dead in the water when this single from International Superhits! charted in precisely zero countries. Cue a few years of radio silence from the band, who of course rebounded swimmingly with American Idiot and became the biggest rock band on the planet.

Greatest hit?: This slice of '60s-esque pop-rock fizzed out like its titular ingredients.

9. The Killers, "Shot at the Night," 2013
Nevada's finest took a shot at the charts with this shimmery pop tune from their cleverly-titled 2013 compilation, Direct Hits. Produced by M83's Anthony Gonzalez, the '80s-indebted synthpop track imagines what The Killers might've become had they never discovered Springsteen. "Shot at the Night" didn't make much of a dent in the charts, though, topping out at #20 on Billboard's Alternative chart and failing to reach the Hot 100.

Greatest hit?: You could argue for its inclusion on a best-of, but it's a hard sell as a legitimate chart-topper.

8. The Cure, "Cut Here," 2001
This previously-unheard song wasn't just a throwaway dusted off for The Cure's 2001 hits collection. "Cut Here" was written as an ode to a friend of frontman Robert Smith that had committed suicide. Unfortunately, the overlooked gem didn't chart in the U.S. and only hit #54 in the band's British homeland. "I'm happy this single means something to me," said Smith, for whom the tune's commercial success seemed secondary. "Most of the time, singles are just made for radio."

Greatest hit?: No, but The Cure has "Just Like Heaven" and "Boys Don't Cry" for that. Good on Smith for pouring his heart into this one.

7. The Rolling Stones, "Don't Stop," 2002
The Stones are no strangers to the career retrospective, having released no less than a dozen hits collections in their half-century together. The last couple of compilations, 2002's Forty Licks and 2012's GRRR!, include a combined six new songs. The former's "Don't Stop" was the biggest success as a single, peaking at #21 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Greatest hit?: Not quite, but this song and the other three new Licks served their purpose, boosting the compilation to #2 on the U.S. charts.


6. Bruce Springsteen, "Murder Incorporated," 1995
The Year of Our Lord 1995 marked the return of our savior and his legendary backing musicians, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. The Boss' 1995 Greatest Hits album, his first of the sort, featured four songs recorded especially for the disc. "Murder Incorporated" was the single, accompanied by a music video of the group unveiling the rocker at a small club packed with diehards. The first new Springsteen material to make full use of the E Street Band in 11 years, it hit #14 on the U.S. Rock chart and #5 on the Canadian list (the highest Bruce has reached on either since).

Greatest hit?: We'll give this one to the Boss, especially since he occasionally busts it out in concert.

5. R.E.M., "Bad Day," 2003
There's a reason that this selection from In Time sounds similar to one of R.E.M.'s signature hits, "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." Both tunes originated from the mid '80s demo "PSA," but then branched off in different directions. One of two singles taken off In Time (a document of the band's Warner Brothers years), "Bad Day" peaked at #8 in the U.K. and appeared in the Top 40 in six other countries.

Greatest hit?: R.E.M. had a good day with this one, so feel free to take Michael Stipe's picture.

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Fortune Faded," 2003
Contrary to its title, Anthony Kiedis & co. kept up their lucky streak with this Greatest Hits single, reaching #8 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart and #1 across the pond. The Chili Peppers could write smashes in their sleep around the turn of the millennium. When are we getting John Frusciante back, again?

Greatest hit?: The band has hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart four times since "Fortune Faded," but this one can sit comfortably alongside any other popular RHCP song from the past 30 years.


3. Foo Fighters, "Wheels," 2009
Dave Grohl was almost the full-time drummer for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers after Nirvana dissolved, so it couldn't have been that big of a surprise when this Greatest Hits exclusive turned out sounding like "Learning to Fly." This song catches flack from some Foo fans for being too poppy, but it was better than anything on the album that preceded it. "Wheels" rolled its way to the Top 5 on the U.S. Alternative, Rock and Mainstream Rock charts.

Greatest hit?: It was Foo Fighters' eighth straight single to peak inside the Top 10 of the Alternative and Mainstream Rock charts, so yes.

2. U2, "Electrical Storm," 2002
It's one thing to find chart success with a new "greatest hits" song, but it's another to have that tune be one of the greatest you've ever written. U2 did just that with "Electrical Storm," which was included as one of two newbies on The Best of 1990-2000. Bono's tender lyrics about a strained relationship ride a wave of The Edge's chiming guitar that majestically crashes into Larry Mullen Jr.'s forceful drumming.

Greatest hit?: "Electrical Storm" struck down in the Top 10 of 13 different countries, making it one of U2's most successful singles of the new millennium.

1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, "Mary Jane's Last Dance," 1993
If Tom Petty ever releases a follow-up to 1993's Greatest Hits, "Mary Jane's Last Dance" will be on that compilation, too. It's one of the signature songs from a career full of classic rock favorites. The stoner anthem blazed its way to #14 on the Hot 100 and got to the top spot on the Album Rock Tracks chart.

Greatest hit?: It's only the standard by which all new "greatest hits" songs operate.

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