Last year we counted down 20 of our favorite songs under two minutes. Well, that proved too easy. We decided to push it a step further and see if we could find some hidden gems clocking in under 60 seconds. Most of the sub-one-minute tracks in our collective iTunes were either hip-hop skits or spoken-word interludes, we only included entries that held up on their own as singular pieces of music. Did we miss any? Add yours to the comments below.
20. “Austral Opithecus” – Modest Mouse
At the height of Modest Mouse’s creative output, the band released Sad Sappy Sucker, a bizarre collection of four-track snippets that were recorded long before their first proper record. The song lengths on the album average about 1:26 each, and Isaac Brock’s gravelly vocals on tracks like “Austral Opithecus” offer hints at what the band might’ve accomplished if they had mastered a few of these rough sketches.
19. “Spirit and Stone Outro” – Lifesavas
This track basically sounds like Lifesavas were able to have some fun jamming once they were done actually cutting the record.
18. “Pnoom” – Can
Released more than two decades after the band intended it as their debut, Delay 1968 included this improvized saxophone one-off. Perhaps not surprisingly, record labels found the tracks within—particularly this simple 27-second instrumental—a bit tough for even the era’s highbrow, prog-rock audiences to swallow.
17. “Lamb on the Lam (In the City)” – Band of Horses
A quieter and more somber interlude between two of Cease to Begin’s upbeat songs.
16. “Postcards from Far Away (Instrumental)” – Coldplay
eventually expanded upon this quick interlude with some vocals, but we prefer the simplicity of this instrumental track.
15. “5D” – Death Grips
Always playing the parts of wise guys, Death Grips snuck this 44-second snippet into their industrial hip-hop debut to pay tribute to, yes, “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys.
14. “Why Hip-Hop Sucks in ’96” – DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow’s gripe with the state of hip-hop as an art form was and remains the genre’s perennial sticking point. He’d probably have plenty of material to work with if he made a “Why Hip-Hop Sucks in ’13” follow-up.
13. “The New” – J Dilla
J Dilla’s brief, brass-infused beat shouts out “Whatcha Gonna Wear Tomorrow” by the Detroit Emeralds by flipping Ad-Rock’s a cappella introduction to “The New Style” over the soulful fanfare.
12. “College” – Animal Collective
A fatigued Avey Tare groans his way through the sole lyric “You don’t have to go to college,” which, by the way, was an attempt to contradicting the pom-pom waving sentiments of the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School.”
11. “Pyrex Vision” – Raekwon
Raekwon’s ability to paint visual raps was on full display on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, and this track shows off the seedy imagery of his hidden crack spot. This is a perfect example of an interlude that is simply too good to last only a minute.
10. ”. Let’s Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don’t Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell ” – Sufjan Stevens
For a time, Sufjan Stevens’ prolific output of highly-produced concept albums made everybody think it was just a matter of time until their own state was going to get the 50 States treatment. Though it might’ve been an overzealous pipe dream to begin with, this 40-second pause is just one of many excellent, quick tracks on Illinois.
9. “Dude We’re Finally Landing” – Rivers Cuomo
This almost a cappella track shows Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo as a student of the Beach Boys school, crafting off-kilter harmonies and proclaiming “Good news! Good news! Good news!” Quick, catchy and playful, this track shows how much fun it can be to be alone in a studio with a single microphone.
8. “Straight Edge” – Minor Threat
These 46 seconds, with the lyric “I’ve got better things to do / Than sit around and fuck my head,” started a hardcore punk revolution. Brevity aside, Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge” contains within it a lasting legacy and positive message for an audience so often troubled with drugs and alcohol.
7. “Fertilizer” – Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s emotionally weighty debut also has a terrific sense of humor, which is evident on this loose, anti-bullshitting rant.
6. “Unfolding Fans” – Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird’s interlude sounds like he’s dragging a guitar pick along violin strings, creating beauty from his unconventional exploration of sound.
5. “Spray Paint” – Black Flag
No one does fast and angry like Black Flag, and Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn and co. are at their most maniacal on “Spray Paint” from Damaged. After a single guitar strum to set the tone, there’s zero filler in this track that’s done before you can properly brush your teeth.
4. “Stylewild” – Lootpack
Lootpack only put out one album, 1999’s Soundpieces: Da Antidote!, but the record still holds up as a terrific throwback to old-school boom-bap braggadocio. “Stylewild” might as well be crib notes to early ‘80s hip-hop.
3. “Demons Are Real” – Guided by Voices
For a band that made a career off of energetic sub-minute jams, “Demons Are Real” is far and away their most potent example of raw DIY/lo-fi force. A staple at Guided by Voices shows, Robert Pollard’s power stance usually comes standard when they play this one.
2. “A Little Bit of Soap” – De La Soul
De La’s infectious track samples the Jarmels 1961 one-hit wonder of the same name. Best line? “Now I’m not all about dissin’ someone else personnel/But there’s no quota on your odor—that’s right, you smell.”
1. “Her Majesty” – The Beatles
Paul McCartney’s fingerpicked billet-doux for Queen Elizabeth II is more than just a one-off album cut. The song also made history: clocking in at just 23 seconds, it’s the shortest song in the Beatles’ catalogue as well as one of rock’s first ever hidden tracks.