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.
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.
This track basically sounds like Lifesavas were able to have some fun jamming once they were done actually cutting the record.
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.
A quieter and more somber interlude between two of Cease to Begin’s upbeat songs.
Coldplay eventually expanded upon this quick interlude with some vocals, but we prefer the simplicity of this instrumental track.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frank Ocean’s emotionally weighty debut also has a terrific sense of humor, which is evident on this loose, anti-bullshitting rant.
Andrew Bird’s interlude sounds like he’s dragging a guitar pick along violin strings, creating beauty from his unconventional exploration of sound.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.