UK Residents Think Three-Minute Pop Songs Are, Like, So Long, You Guys

Jun 16th, 2008 // 11 Comments

iStock_000006002693XSmall.jpgLast week, Sony Ericsson–in an effort to figure out just how long the snippets of songs they sell as ringtones should be, I guess–surveyed “British music fans” and found that 44% of people they talked to would only give songs a 30-second shake before hitting the “skip” button. (Women aged 18-24 were particularly rabbity, with one in five of them giving pop songs less than 20 seconds to sort themselves out.) A marketing honcho at the company is theorizing that “a quick music fix on the way to work, in between phone calls, between classes, is what we are looking for,” but Guardian guest-blogger Will Byers is taking it a step further and wondering if this means the end of the “intro” in the pop song, which makes me envision a world where every song is structured not dissimilar to the way “Crank That” is–in other words, full of terrifying, terrifying, terrifying, repetition, repetition, repetition. Talk about scenarios that make me want to scream “YAHH TRICK YAHHH!” [InTheNews / Guardian]

  1. Christopher R. Weingarten

    The American Residents have a whole album of one minute songs!

  2. KikoJones

    @Christopher R. Weingarten:

    Yeah, that was The Residents’ very prescient snipe at Madison Ave. Maybe artists should forget about songcraft and just write disposable jingle-length ditties. Sheesh.

  3. Chris Molanphy

    Death Cab for Cutie are fucked – that 20-second limit would barely cover the false start on “I Will Possess Your Heart.”

  4. Anonymous

    So…no “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” in Britain? Well, I won’t be going there anytime soon then!

  5. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    @Chris Molanphy: I seriously hate that 3-minute intro. I like DCFC, but seriously, I don’t need to hear that. If you want to write an instrumental, that’s fine, write an instrumental, but it annoys me when one is tacked on to the beginning of a song. That intro is longer than 2:42 or whatever time that post from a few weeks again said was the perfect length for a pop song. Get to the point!

    /end annoying rant by random, talentless internet commenter

  6. RaptorAvatar

    I’d love it if songs started getting really dense. Look at the new Los Campesinos! record, plenty of songs under the 3 minute mark that also manage to feel like a novella rendered as a pixie stick rush.

    Also, even though I like a really satisfying 40 minute album, I could see digital making the 5-song EP more of a standard. (closer in time to a city commute, time to kill between classes, catching up on the dishes, folding the laundry etc.) Time is a commodity like anything else and since most records reduce easily to 3 or 4 songs, why not just trim the fat at the beginning and make the leftovers fans-only? If you want the band’s answer to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” have at it. However, it’s absurd to take as an underlying assumption that the paradigms that gave rise to songwriting as we know it are any more or less valid as determinants than ringtones, licesning for Outback Steakhouse, or getting past a radio programmer/onto someone’s crowded ipod.

  7. bburl

    WTF, you can’t go 2:42 without hearing lyrics?

  8. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    @bburl: I assume you’re responding to my comment, so to answer your’s — not in an 8+ minute long song. Or more accurately, not in that song.

    Look, I’m perfectly happy to listen to an instrumental from rock bands. The REM ones from the 90s were fine, and who doesn’t love “Oscillate Wildly” by The Smiths. But if your song is over 8 minutes long and starts with a 3 minute instrumental, it better be pretty compelling, and the intro to “I Will Possess Your Heart” is far from compelling. Its just kinda there.

  9. cassidy2099

    @How do I say this … THROWDINI!: I have to agree. I didn’t give that Death Cab track much of a chance until I saw the edited video on MTV Hits. Unlike some songs with long intros, “I Will Possess Your Heart” is just padding the running time.

  10. Lax Danja House

    ‘I Will Possess…’ is one of the few DCFC songs I really enjoy, in part because of the intro. I think it’s perfect the way it is.

  11. BakerStreetSaxSolo

    I don’t think people understand that you have to give a song several full listens before you get the pattern-recognition endorphins. why don’t stupid people understand this? why are people stupid?

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