skyscraper

We’ve all spent a free evening or two sorting our vinyl or CD collection, whether it’s alphabetical order, by artist, by colour, by quality, by smell, haven’t we? (If not, what have you been doing with your life?!) When iTunes arrived, it opened a whole new range of possible categorisation, and I recently sorted my iTunes by length of song.

It is widely accepted that the best pop records are three to three and a half minutes long. However, there are some amazing songs that are much shorter than that. So I thought I’d share with you the ones that stood out.

Firstly, and before you do the same, these are the criteria you have to stick to: no ‘interludes’, no snippets, no ‘intros’, and no instrumentals. To make things extra geeky, I decided at first not to accept any song longer than 90 seconds, but soon changed my mind to include one or two amazing, and still short, songs.

So we start with the shortest ones, coming from Ooberman – they have two, Blink of an eye and Close your eyes and dream, at 39 seconds and 46 seconds, respectively. And the two with the most relevant song titles for this exercise! Both manage to be snapshots and fully rounded songs at the same time.

The next one of note is the shortest song, which manages to fit in two verses and two choruses (all in 1 min, 5 secs), and that’s Porcupine or Pineapple by Brakes. An amazing burst of energy – ‘spiky spiky’!

Other great shouty songs in this category include I want the drugs by Supersuckers (1min, 23 seconds) and ‘Teenage Lobotomy’ by The Ramones (the version I have just over the 90 second rule by 5 secs).

Then there are two catchy numbers: The Vaccines’ Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) – 1min, 22 secs – and the bouncy It hurts to see you dance so well (1min, 11 secs) by the 50s-styled Pipettes (are they still going?)

The Pipettes

British indie pop girl ‘The Pipettes’

 
And then there are the short bursts of uplifting doom, with David Sylvian’s stunning September (1min, 18 secs), and The way I feel inside by the Zombies (1 min, 28 secs). And just over the 90 second rule, is Deep Water by Portishead, one of the highlights of their 3rd album.

Finally, the 90 second rule had to be broken again, as there was one more great short song that I couldn’t leave out. At 1min, 44 secs, is What can I do by Antony and the Johnsons, sung by Rufus Wainwright. This is the song that sums up the magic of the ‘one-minute wonder’ – you never get bored of these songs. Whether it’s the shouty, fun or the morose ones, they’re just short enough never to outstay their welcome.

 


Jon Kudlick is a songwriter and keyboard player, and one half of the electronic duo Mother of Billions; their debut single, Universe, is out now. Jon is on twitter: @Kudlick_music