There is a bit of irony in the fact that “No Surrender”, the song containing the lyric in the title of this post, clocks in at 4:02. God knows how long it would last if the Boss did it in concert – at least 10 minutes, I’d guess.
But we’ll leave the Springsteen to Chris Christie. Let’s talk three minute songs. As a kid who grew up on bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols, I like short, hard-driving songs. As someone who appreciates brevity, I think a good short pop song is an underrated and difficult art form. So let me name a few three minute songs that are from the last 10 years or so. None of them are masterpieces. I think they’re all pretty good. And, shit, they’re under three minutes long — it’s not like you’re making a major investment in time listening to them.
I’ll start with Cuffing Season by Beach Bunny (2:58 on the album, the YouTube version has a few seconds of silent padding). It’s the song that made me think of this post. It also introduced me to the concept of cuffing season, and the lyrics are a great commentary on the ambivalence of an affair that may be just be a convenience to ward off the cold. I also really like the phrasing.
Strawberry Blond from the cleverly titled album “Retired from Sad, New Career in Business” by Mitski is a fun little song, and at 1:58 is under two minutes of your precious life. What a beautiful voice she has, and this little piece showcases it.
I’ll finish up with a live version of the song “Love Doesn’t Just Stop” (2:41) from a group called Standard Fare, long dissolved, performed in a studio in Austin when they were there for South by Southwest ten years ago. You can feel the band’s excitement, the lyrics are simple but smart, and the lead singer, Emma Kupa, just belts it out (her delivery makes the song, in my view). That drummer is having the time of his life.
(Another track from the same lead singer that’s longer that 3 minutes but still fun is Boy Look at What You Can’t Have Now (3:42). It’s about a girl who broke up with her boyfriend, “put a stone on her hips became size 12” and makes sure her ex knows how hot she is, and that he can’t have her. )
Drop your favorite 3 minute or less song in the comments.