Now that the new year is on its fourth day, and the champagne has all been guzzled, and your resolutions have started making that satisfying snapping sound as you break them one by one — and, perhaps most importantly, your sorrowful ass is back in the office after an all-too-brief holiday break — your pals at Popdose have gotten together to celebrate 2010’s arrival in our own special way. The last year — heck, the last decade — has had its share of dark and troubling moments, but there’s always something refreshing about hanging up a new calendar, and we decided to celebrate that spirit of optimism by submitting some of our favorite pop culture beginnings for your enjoyment. Sure, there’s something to be said for a strong finish, but there’s nothing quite like the rush of a song, book, or movie that fires on all cylinders from the get-go, is there?

January can be an awfully cold month. Here’s a collection that just might do a little to help keep you warm.

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
“I am born.” –Bob Cashill

The Beach Boys, “Our Prayer”, 20/20
It was meant as the opener for Smile, and whether viewed as an opening to an album or as an a capella piece unto itself, it’s one of the most sublime moments ever created by human voices. –Michael Fortes

Disney Films
Does anything return us to our childhoods quite like the sound of “When You Wish Upon A Star” playing as fireworks illuminate the Magic Kingdom? It’s an opening that speaks of tradition, quality, and well, magic. –Ken Shane

Elvis Costello, “No Action,” This Year’s Model
“IdontwannakissyouIdontwannatouch…KERRANG!” –Dave Lifton

The Replacements, “Anywhere’s Better Than Here“, Don’t Tell a Soul
If it had opened the album, it would have been called bait and switch, but the combo of the guitar downstrokes and Paul Westerberg’s howl remind you that, yeah, this is supposed to be a Replacements album. –Dw. Dunphy

The Ronettes, “Be My Baby
Brian Wilson thinks it’s the greatest pop record of all time, and although I’m not quite willing to climb out on that limb with him — nor would I wish to listen to it at full volume every single morning for years, as Wilson’s said to have done — when I think of song openings that get everything just right, and can instantly embed themselves in your memory forever, this one is always at the top of the list. –Jeff Giles

The Crystal Method, “Trip Like I Do,” Vegas
The sense that something is building begins from the very first moments of the song — it’s like a crescendo that goes on for more than three full minutes, with a progression of swooping sounds that make me imagine that a series of portals are being opened. Lines of dialogue stolen from Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal are delivered with delicious foreboding before the sweetly seductive, obviously delirious voice of a woman is mixed in — an answering message left for Crystal Method member Scott Kirkland from a woman he met at a club. This introduction to both a song and an album has never failed to make my spine tingle in anticipation of the auditory delights that await. –Zack Dennis

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo
After the Saul Bass credits, you hear Bernard Herrmann’s score and see the rails of a fire escape ladder off the edge of a roof, then two hands clasping to climb up. Soon it’s Jimmy Stewart and the perp in a rooftop chase scene. –Dw. Dunphy

Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Call Me Ishmael.” –Scott Malchus

The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night,” A Hard Day’s Night
Doesn’t this song have the most recognizable opening in rock history? The chord is a Gm7 add 11, in case you’ve never tried it at home. –Jon Cummings

The Voot Warnings, “Dance Motherfucker Dance”
“When I say ‘dance,’ you best dance, muthafucka!” Haven’t heard that song in over a decade, but that intro sings loud and clear in my head. –David Medsker

Big Mama Thornton, “Hound Dog
It’s startling, yet immediately sets you up for what she’s going to tell you during the rest of the song. I’ve put it on many a mix for people and those who had never heard her version before have told me that it scared the crap out of them because they weren’t expecting it. –Kelly Stitzel

Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy“, Purple Rain
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…” That single line changed my world. –Michael Parr

Madness, “One Step Beyond,” One Step Beyond
“Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this!” –Ann Logue

The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Women,” Through the Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)
Cuz it gets the ladies’ hips shaking. And I could write 600 words about THAT. –Rob Smith

Don DeLillo, Underworld
Most of the acclaim for this novel pointed to the first 50 pages of the book. DeLillo paints a prose picture so vivid that you can smell the hot dogs and hear the roar of the crowd as young Cotter Martin sneaks into the 1951 playoff game between the Giants and the Dodgers. American fiction writing at its finest. –Ken Shane

The Shangri-Las, “Give Him a Great Big Kiss,” Leader of the Pack
“When I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in LOVE, l-u-v!” –Cory Frye

Star Wars
What about “A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” (Cue loud-as-shit horns) –Jason Hare

Funkadelic, “Maggot Brain,” Maggot Brain
“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time…for y’all have knocked her up.” –Cory Frye

Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble“, Graceland
The dissonant accordion playing by itself for eight seconds or so, then suddenly, four of the loudest floor toms you’ve ever heard, and then the songs gets started with that incredible walking bass line. –Matthew Bolin

Mountain, “Mississippi Queen,” Climbing!
So it’s more cowbell you want? When it comes to massive guitar riffage, other songs pale before this sludge monster from Leslie West. The cowbell provides the perfect cherry on the top of this rock behemoth. –Ken Shane

Vampire Hunter D
After a brief voiceover intro which informs us that we’re in a future world populated by monsters and mutants, we find ourselves stalking through tall, moonlit grass with a young woman carrying a big gun, which she uses to blast the freaky-ass creatures hiding everywhere. She makes short work of one, loses her horse to another, and finally comes up against the enemy she can’t destroy — a giant, impassive vampire lord who opens his mouth to show enormous fangs glistening with saliva. As the music swells, the girl tries fruitlessly to blast the undead foe away, but is forced at last to lower her gun and prepare to be claimed. Fade to black. Roll credits. –Monica Robin Alexander

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