Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

09/22/2009

The Concept of the Perfect Pop Song Being Two Minutes, Forty Two Seconds

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Hunter @ 7:12 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Many tongue-in-cheek posts and comments make reference to the ideal pop song length. That length is a very short, brisk, and concise 2 minutes and 42 seconds as pointed out by Josh Allen and John Scalzi in a much earlier entry.

I’m just as happy as the next guy to listen to a Metallica song go roaring for over 5 minutes or throw in a jazz piece by Miles Davis that seemingly transcends time forever. But let’s face facts, many songs are arguably just too long to be appreciated. An artist just has to repeat a refrain six times or throw in a bridge, an extended break down, and then repeat the verse/chorus one final time as if the listener didn’t already hear this and its impact will be that much more than the first two times.

The La’s – There She Goes is often argued as the perfect pop song. The video itself stretches out to 2:48 and it’s hard to not see the greatness of that song. Infectious, memorable, and short to the point that you can listen to it twice in the span of time it takes for other songs to finish.

Just take note of the following list of songs around the 2:42 mark. I’ll bet you’re already humming half of these.

Note that all song lengths are taken from All Music.

1959 – Chuck Berry: Johnny B. Goode – 2:38
1963 – The Beatles: Money (That’s What I Want) – 2:51
1963 – The Beach Boys: Surfin’ USA – 2:31
1964 – The Beach Boys: I Get Around (Live Concert Version) – 2:42
1965 – The Temptations: My Girl – 2:42
1966 – Nancy Sinatra: These Boots Are Made For Walking – 2:42
1966 – The Beatles: Taxman – 2:38
1966 – The Mamas and The Papas: California Dreamin’ – 2:32
1966 – The Troggs: Wild Thing – 2:37
1967 – Cream: Strange Brew – 2:50
1967 – Cream: Tales of Brave Ulysses – 2:49
1967 – Jimi Hendrix: Fire – 2:45
1967 – Sandie Shaw: (There’s) Always Something To Remind Me – 2:40
1968 – Equals: Baby Come Back – 2:39
1968 – The Beatles: Happiness Is A Warm Gun – 2:44
1969 – The Archies: Sugar, Sugar – 2:48
1971 – Black Sabbath: Paranoid – 2:50
1978 – Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love? – 2:42
1980 – Motorhead: Ace of Spades – 2:49
1989 – Nirvana: About A Girl – 2:48
1990 – The La’s: There She Goes – 2:42
1993 – The Breeders: Divine Hammer – 2:42
1994 – Weezer: Buddy Holly – 2:40
1997 – Green Day: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – 2:34
1999 – Blink 182: All The Small Things – 2:48
2005 – Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up To Boston – 2:33

That’s a really strong list of songs that range from roughly 2:30 to 2:50 in song length. Also note that several classic pop songs come in at exactly 2:42 on the nose.

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