Following up on Wednesday’s Three Minute Perfect Pop entry, Chad Orzel observes on his site: “Of course, the real test is to see whether 3:00 is a more ‘pop’ song length than some other, so we need a control list to compare to.” His control list is for songs that run four minutes and thirty three seconds, which aside from being 93 seconds longer than three minutes is a crafty little in-joke for music geeks. This time pops up some interesting songs for Chad, including “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan and “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow, and a number of other people pitch in with their on Cage matches (as it were) including me. It’s a good sampling, although based on what I see there I would have to say that for pure pop satisfaction, three minutes has 4’33” beat.
But let’s approach the “perfect length for perfect pop” question from another angle — let’s start with a song that embodies perfect pop, figure out how long it is, and then see if other perfect pop songs are also that length.
As it happens, I have a fine candidate for pop perfection: “There She Goes” by The La’s, which most people know better by its fairly recent remake by Sixpence None the Richer. For my money, “There She Goes” is nearly impossible to beat in its pop perfection: from the tips of its chiming guitars to the bottom of its blissful lyrics, it simply doesn’t get any better than this. If aliens came down and said that we had just shade under three minutes to justify our existence or we’d be evaporated — well, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest playing this song, but I might suggest someone put it on in the background while we boot up Stephen Hawking’s voice synthesizer.
“There She Goes” — both The La’s and SNTR versions — clocks in at 2:42. We go to the iTunes again, and ladies and gentlemen, we strike gold:
* “Johnny B Goode” by Chuck Berry
* “Michelle” by The Beatles
* “Don’t Do Me Like That” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
* “Breakdown,” ibid
* “Help Me” by Concrete Blonde
* “Crazy” by Patsy Cline
* “Tears of a Clown” the version by The (English) Beat
* “Sunday’s Coming On” by Marc Teamaker (no, you don’t know who he is. Trust me, it’s good)
Check it yourself — 2:42 has got the perfect pop goods. I await your verification.