Walt Disney once said: ‘Always leave them wanting more.’ When it comes to music, it can be no bad thing to keep a song short and snappy, to capture the exuberance and electric energy of a band. Sometimes, however, it’s downright unfair. Of course, the song can just be played again – but when a track’s hit-upon something that’s infectious or innovative or simply brilliant, you want to see it manipulated and built-upon – not just cut short. Here’s ten tracks that we really wish were longer:
David Bowie – ‘Breaking Glass’ (1:52)
Forming part of Low’s erratic, but equally beautiful A-Side, ‘Breaking Glass’ fizzes with an eerie madness, with Bowie quipping: “Don’t look at the carpet / I drew something awful on it”. It’s got the same infectious stomping beat that would later be exploited on tracks such as ‘Fashion’, but without the polished sheen, instead smothered in a caustic grime. At less than two minutes long it’s far too short, but fortunately has been extended in recorded live versions.
The xx – ‘Intro’ (2:07)
The moment ‘Intro’ opens The xx’s debut album, it’s clear you’re going to be in for something special. It’s a builder that’s melodic and cinematic in equal measures and wrapped in a pensiveness hard to capture in such a short time. All killer, no filler, but it’s a shame it’s so ridiculously short.
The Smiths – ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ (1:53)
Before being cannibalised and sieved of all genuine emotion in the name of a John Lewis advert, ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ was incredibly released as a B-side to ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’. It’s one of the most quintessential and harmonious pairings of Mozza and Marr – with the former’s deflated vocals bleeding raw desperation.
The Vaccines – ‘Norgaard’ (1:39)
Yes, it uses the three-chord rule. Yes, it’s nonsensical and creepy gibberish about a Danish model. But there’s a reason the indie-rockers bash this one out at encores; it makes people go absolutely mental. Closing their set at Ally Pally in 2012 it became a battle-cry for middle-aged men to whip off their England shirts and let their long-gone hair down for 90 seconds of absolute pandemonium.
Tame Impala – ‘She Just Won’t Believe Me’ (0:58)
The third-to-last track of ‘Lonerism’ has a twenty second introduction, even though the whole thing’s only 58 seconds itself. It begins tamely, matching Kevin Parker’s woozy vocals with echoey organ chords. But with only ten seconds to go, it somehow manages to craft a cacophony of distorted guitar and echo into a beautiful-sounding climax to the track, that’s over before it’s properly begun.
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The Libertines – ‘Mayday’ (1:04)
‘Mayday’’s frothing suckerpunch of snarling, screaming vocals and relentless earful of seething guitar packs as much high-voltage energy into 64 seconds as is humanly possible. With its Clockwork Orange approach to lyrics about the Mayday riots it bubbles with more scathing anger than Liam Gallagher playing Flappy Bird.
Jay Z – ‘Versus’ (0:50)
Hearing snippets of tracks off ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ for the first time in the album’s trailer was like a miniature religious experience, yet, somehow, the rattlesnake-bass backdrop used on ‘Versus’ didn’t make the cut. Sharper than the edges of a nu-metal band’s guitar, its brimming with ingenious wordplay (“The truth of my verses, versus / your metaphors about what your net worth is”) with enough swag to take down a small goat.
Radiohead – ‘I Will’ (1:59)
With the sparsest of instrumentation, soul-stirring vocal harmonies and less than two minutes of playing time, ‘I Will’ takes you through a chilling story about the horrors of war and paternal protection. Evanescent, but hard to forget.
The Velvet Underground – ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ (2:08)
Undoubtedly the most successful collaboration between The Velvet Underground and Nico, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ is the epitome of the band’s favouring simple guitar lines and percussion. It’s tarnished with the brilliant vintage polish found throughout their debut record, and creates clever breathing space between some of the more intense tracks; but a few more minutes with a longer guitar solo may give it a bit more oomph.
The Beatles – ‘The End’ (2:19)
It seems fitting to end this list with the end of the medley of the end of The Beatles’ eleventh album and end of their recording career entitled: ‘The End’. It’s a swansong to the Fab Four recording together, featuring a snippet of excellence from each member; starting with Ringo’s drum solo before boasting a respective guitar solo from Paul, George and John. A potpourri of everything Beatles, it culminates in an epic guitar ascension that closes the band’s recording career, forever immortalised in one hundred and thirty nine seconds of vinyl.
Which tracks do you wish were longer? Join the discussion in the comments below or on Twitter with #TooShortTracks.