14 March 2005
A quick one while he's here
What makes the perfect song? Rich Appel, in his monthly newsletter Hz So Good, proposes criteria:
To me, the perfect song is about 2:30, has a beginning, middle and end, and is easy to sing along with.
Hard to argue with that, though I'd stretch it out a few more seconds; seemingly every Motown hit up through 1967 or so ran somewhere between 2:40 and 3:00.
And not every song that extends beyond the three-minute mark is flirting with tedium, but there was for quite some time an unwritten law that said Thou Shalt Shut Up Already: Phil Spector "accidentally" misprinted the first batch of labels for the 3:40ish "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" as 3:05, so as not to discourage DJs of that era with its sheer length. And Billy Joel got in a barb with "The Entertainer":
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.
"The Entertainer" runs 3:38 on Streetlife Serenade; for the 45-rpm single, they cut it down to oh, never mind.
I mention in passing that Dawn Eden's biggest hit, a cover of Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know About Us" (on The Stiff Generation, released by Groove Disques) on which she's backed by the Anderson Council, checks in at a brisk 2:53, six seconds faster than Tracey Ullman's version, which was a US Top Ten hit.Posted at 7:13 AM to Tongue and Groove