It's the shortest day of the year. Ain't nobody got time for epic jams.
Lengthy, seemingly never-ending epic tracks are a thing of beauty, of course – and if you aren’t convinced, then listen to Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ and bow down to its sheer majesty – but sometimes, there’s nothing better than a quick blast of a tune to disperse those cobwebs. So today, the scribes in the NME office have picked their favourite tracks which clock in at under two-minutes: those short, snappy and succinct songs which, despite going on for no longer than 120 seconds, rattle around in your skull for aeons afterwards.
Wild Beasts – ‘Underbelly’
Encapsulates everything that makes me clasp Wild Beast’s ‘Two Dancers’ so closely to my chest: Hayden Thorpe’s gorgeous but seedy vocal, caught somewhere betwixt tenderness and testosterone, which ends with a dash of twinkling, starry-eyed melody.
Lasts: 1m, 56 secs
Ramones – ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’
How could we not plump for The Ramones on a list that’s all about brevity? One friend of mine’s convinced the lyrics are sagging with symbolism, a comment about teenage ennui and whatnot; another one insists it’s just brainless, knuckle-headed fun. Either way, it’s still fast-and-furious fun.
Lasts: 1m, 36 secs
David Bowie – ‘Breaking Glass’
Doff your caps to The Thin White Duke, ladies and gents, for ‘Breaking Glass’ is one of the finest, fragmented missives you’re ever likely to hear: a wonderfully weird mish-mash of walloping drums, limb-jerking rhythms and occult-referencing lyrics. Stupendously good black magic, this one.
Lasts: 1m, 53 secs
Wire – ‘Outdoor Miner’
If I were King, my subjects would be forced to spend one Sabbath every month listening to Wire – a bit like the aural equivalent of that scene from A Clockwork Orange – until they realize that they are unequivocally brilliant. And ‘Outdoor Miner’ is one of their finest – breezy, angular pop at its zenith.
Lasts: 1m, 45 secs
Elastica – ‘Vaseline’
Elastica’s self-titled debut is manor of heaven for all fans of the sub-120 second song, but to these ears, ‘Vaseline’ takes top billing due to that opening ringing squall of feedback, those chugging guitars and Justine Frischmann’s nifty trick of sounding stern yet poptastic simultaneously.
Lasts: 1m, 22 secs
The Libertines – ‘Mayday’
60-seconds of Pete ‘n’ Carl causing carnage as glass breaks, boozed-up boys prepare to kick lumps out of each other and The Libs hammer the living daylights of their instruments. “My poor head feels like a smashed window”, yells Pete at the end – you will, too.
Lasts: 1m, 4 secs
Guided By Voices – ‘Gold Star For Robot Boy’
Guided By Voices could fill this list all by their lonesome. And picking one lo-fi gem from their vast canon is nigh-on impossible, especially with the added pressure of inevitably angering pitchfork-wielding GBV enthusiasts. But ‘Gold Star For Robot Boy’ is Bob Pollard at his best, summoning fuzzy melodies out of the ether that mere mortals could only dream of.
Lasts: 1m, 39 secs
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The White Stripes – ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’
Utterly scorching stuff from our favourite Detroit-based, ex-spouses-masquerading-as-siblings duo, here, as Jack howled cautionary warnings about being led astray by a flighty temptress while he and Meg blistered the skin with a garage pop masterpiece.
Lasts: 1m, 50 secs
The Smiths – ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’
“Writing ‘Please Please…’ one Friday night in ’84 is one of the best memories of my life,” said Johnny Marr after The Smiths’ seminal track was used to soundtrack the mawkish John Lewis advert in which that creepy devil child bought his parents an unrealistically expensive Christmas present. “This ad has not sullied that memory one bit.” His words go for the rest of us, too: Marr’s gentle, lilting score is all subtle lip-quivering, eyes-streaming heartbreak, while Morrissey plays it simple, too with his heart-trodden confessional. Spellbinding.
Lasts: 1m, 52 secs