Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain
Did you ever wonder about the length of a song? When did it go from super short to longer? I went on a journey to find the shortest and longest popular song. Below is what I found.
“Good Vibrations” and “Kokomo” are about 3:30 minutes. Older Beach Boys songs are shorter. For instance, “I Get Around” is only 2:13. “Barbara Ann” is 2:12. I’ve got to mention this one because it was in The Big Bang Theory: “Darlin’” is 2:14. That was the earworm that Sheldon had and it was about Amy. They were broken up at the time. This particular episode was the one where they got back together. Tangent over.
When did it change? When did we go from short songs to long songs and back again? Queen went both ways. In this case, that is not a comment on Freddie Mercury. “We Will Rock You” clocked in at 2:02 while their longest hit was “Bohemian Rhapsody” at 5:54. I remember from the 2018 Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody that they fought for the entire song to be on the album. I believe it was the label head who said the song was too long. Longer than that was “American Pie” at 8:36. After some digging and searching, I found the longest song. This blows “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “American Pie” away as far as song length. Jethro Tull’s 70’s song “Thick As A Brick”(part 1 and 2) came in at a mind-boggling 43 minutes. (www.legit.ng) I’m certain nobody is ever touching that. Artists often play longer versions of their hits in concerts but that’s just impromptu jamming.
In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, songs averaged 2:30 minutes. Between the ‘60’s and ‘80’s, songs started getting longer. Perhaps the length of a song because of attention spans and the need for the song to be radio friendly. Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer” addressed the topic:
“I am the entertainer. I come to do my show. You’ve heard my latest record. It’s been on the radio. Ah, it took me years to write it. They were the best years of my life. It was a beautiful song but it ran too long. If you’re gonna have a hit you gotta make it fit so they cut it down to 3:05”. (www.quora.com)
There you have it: a little behind the scenes of song length. I hope you enjoyed and maybe this even prompts you to go back and listen to these songs. Just make sure you have plenty of time.
Enjoy podcasts? Below are the links to my podcast, Blendertainment. I’m about to start season 3 in a few weeks.