366TAS: 2:42 – Art Brut – Emily Kane

Curating this list, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at song lengths and some of the idiosyncrasies thereof. But one question still lingers: what is the perfect length for a pop song? Joshua Allen of The Morning News has pondered this exact question and come to the conclusion that 2:42 is the exact optimal time. Not a second more, not a second less. 2:42.

[T]he perfect song length had to be closer to three minutes than two, but definitely shorter than three minutes. Three minutes is where bloat starts to set in. Where the band thinks: Hey, let’s do the chorus seven times. Hey, let’s give the saxophone guy a real moment to shine on this one. Hey, let’s add another bridge.

Okay, y’know what? This is a completely arbitrary rationale and I don’t think I can sign on with his assessment. I’d guess that this guy just took a look at his iTunes playlist sorted by time and saw a bunch of songs he liked together. Guess what? I do that just about every single day when I’m picking a song at each time. Granted, some times are stronger than others; maybe I’ll pick a few times to be contenders for the best time as I go through. If anyone else has any ‘best time’ nominees, leave ’em in the comments when that particular time rolls around. I’m entirely certain we can do better than 2:42. In the meantime, I’m sure the guys in Art Brut would be amused to learn that they’re being held up as the exemplar of the perfect pop song…

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5 Responses to 366TAS: 2:42 – Art Brut – Emily Kane

  1. John says:

    I dunno about perfect song length, but two of my contenders for “favorite pop song of all time” will show up at 2:44 and 2:49, so he might be close. And Art Brut once vowed, tongue-in-cheek, to write a song more popular than “Happy Birthday,” so maybe they’d be alright with this distinction.

    I’ll go with “Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings, doo wop from a group of Air Force enlisted people stationed in Pittsburgh in the mid-’50s, so I feel a bit of affinity with it:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmU-BcvHIZE&w=420&h=315%5D

  2. John says:

    Check that–I’m seeing the same track of “Come Go With Me” show up as 2:42 or 2:41, depending on what computer I use (it’s an iTunes Match issue, I think). So, I’ll go with My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers”:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6EQAOmJrbw&w=420&h=315%5D

    • Captain Easychord says:

      I have a bunch of songs that will show up at one time in the iTunes library on my computer and show up a second shorter on my iPod. From what I can tell, it’s due to the way that the software involved rounds the exact times of songs. If you look at the options tab in the song info window (in iTunes), you’ll see a song like “Emily Kane” has an end time of exactly 2:41.609.

      iTunes will round this up to 2:42 while my iPod truncates it to 2:41. I’ve been working off the iTunes list exclusively because a) it’s easier to sort and b) it’s a common standard baseline that I can use for everything.

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