The 10 Best Songs Less Than 30 Seconds Long

Look, I'm a very busy man, and by that I mean that someone put the ENTIRE run of Seventh Doctor stories online for free, and I can't be bothered talking to you people about music all the dingalong day when that's waiting for my rapt attention.

Unfortunately, the editor was all like, "Write or you don't get paid," and I was all like, "You're not my real mom," and, well, it didn't get any better from that point. [Ummmm... -- ed.]

So music journalism, let's see... a pop song is three minutes long and it goes ABABCAB. That's what Mr. Radio taught me, at any rate. The truth is, some folks can do more in a few seconds than a prog-rock anthem can do in ten minutes. Today we salute the tweet-level tunes, songs just long enough to cleanse the artistic palate while you wait for the next episode to cue.

10. Stormtroopers of Death, "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" Any discussion about short songs must begin with S.O.D.'s "tribute" to the one and only Jimi Hendrix. You can't sum up reality better than "You're dead," which makes me think this song was actually a musical attempt to contact the restless spirit of Hendrix and assure him it was time to ascend to glory and not haunt the living. Yeah... that's totally it.

9. Descendents, "Eunuch Boy" There may be no greater masters of the under-30-seconds song than the Descendents, and picking just one was a true chore of love. In the end, I feel that the story of a boy that loses his genitals in a lawnmower is the best representative of their best album, Everything Sucks, so I went with that.

8. They Might be Giants, "Decisions Makers" Between the "Fingertips" suites from Apollo 18 and 2006's Nanobots, TMBG has made incalculable contributions to the short-song form. Since there are so few in that form that feel truly epic, I singled out the operatic brilliance of "Decision Makers," for its grandiose pretentions as well as a subtle dig on how often higher-ups in the record industry have decided for bands the length of their songs.

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7. Anal Cunt, "You're Old (Fuck You)"] What can I say about Anal Cunt that hasn't been said before?

6. The Legend of Zelda, "Treasure Chest Theme" I firmly believe that it should be legally required for this song to play whenever you achieve major accomplishments in life. Accepted to the school of your choice? Yep. Got a raise? Double yep. I actually played the tune in my head as my daughter was being born. That's probably the saddest confession I've ever made.

5. The Dead Kennedys, "Short Songs" I like short songs, and the Dead Kennedys like short songs. You know because they say it 13 times. I counted. I personally think it would be hilarious if someone on YouTube uploaded a ten-hour version of this.

4. Wire, "Field Day For the Sundays" You really can't overstate the importance of Wire's debut album Pink Flag. Pretty much every band you liked in the '80s and '90s owned it, and this song shows why. In just 28 seconds the band makes more of an in-depth, heartfelt statement about the pointlessness of tabloid fame than most could ever aspire to in ten times more tape.

3. The Beatles, "Her Majesty" Among other things, the Beatles invented (or at least popularized) the concept of a hidden track by throwing this brief little love song onto the end of Abbey Road without any mention on the album's official track listing. It's an odd song in that it's clearly missing the final resolving chord, but it's actually not.

"Her Majesty" was supposed to be sandwiched between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam," but Paul McCartney didn't think it worked and the song was cut. The final chord is actually the first note of "Polythene Pam" and Harmonix somehow got permission to add the chord back in for the Beatles: Rock Band.. Beatles fans bitched about that because... well, you know.

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2. Guided by Voices, "Hit" Definitely a band known for their brevity, our Guided by Voices are. 1995's Alien Lanes is one of their best works ever, and "Hit" is definitely a clever little piece. The liner notes of the album seem to hint that the song was about Bob Pollard's frustration with the music industry and how bad songs become popular. You'll have to decided that for yourselves though.

1. Phantom of the Paradise, "Never Thought I'd Get to Meet the Devil" If you haven't seen Brian DePalma's macabre musical masterpiece that places the classic Phantom story in the funky, groovy '70s, then you are missing out. Paul Williams did the score, and actually got nominated for an Academy Award because of it. This brief tune doesn't appear on the official soundtrack, but is a neat little composition that follows composer Winslow Leech as he decides to crash the man who stole his music's house.

BONUS SONG: Anything Box, "45" A 45-second running time is the only thing that kept this bit of genius by Anything Box from being our No. 1 song. It's still one of my favorite videos of all time, and the song itself is a desperate gambit of a thing that showed a different side to AB. I couldn't let the subject go without a nod to its excellence.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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