Influenced by this thread. A search shows that this hasn’t been done before, which is surprising, so let’s give it a shot.
B-sides are usually unfinished filler tracks for padding out a single, but as Cece said, some artists are “incapable of writing a second-rate song.” So let’s name off some of our favorite hidden gems.
The Beatles—“Rain” (B-side to “Paperback Writer”)
I like this more than the A-side. The drowsy vocals on top of the swirling bass works perfectly, and it has some of Ringo’s best drumming.
U2—“The Three Sunrises” (B-side to "The Unforgettable Fire)
Well, about everything from this period in the band’s history sounds improvised (which sounds bizarrely beautiful with the atmospheric Eno/Lanois production), and this is no different. It’s bursting with energy.
Pearl Jam—“Dead Man” (B-side to “Off He Goes”)
A very dark song. The bass is like a heavy fog that the echoey guitar cuts through and that envelops the murky vocals and string section. Nice, simple lyrical imagery too.
John Lennon—“Move Over, Ms. L” (B-side to “Stand By Me”)
A wild, horn-filled affair with off-key vocals singing odd lyrics. Quite a contrast to the polished flipside.
Radiohead—“Cuttooth” (B-side to “Knives Out”)
A tense song, with worrisome lyrics like “a little bit of knowledge will destroy you” and “as the tanks roll into town” being chanted over a calm keyboard part. It culminates into Thom screaming “I don’t know why I feel so skinned alive” and then modulating a cry into something melodic.
Oasis—“Round Are Way” (B-side to “Wonderwall”)
I think I like any rock song with horns. This one has a couple harmonica solos too, which is even better. The music seems to ascend infinitely, especially when it hits the chorus.
Coldplay—“One I Love” (B-side to “In My Place”)
A screaming guitar riff in between the verses and bass interludes. Throwaway lyrics, but the howled out chorus makes up for it.