20 Best 2 Minute (or Less) Songs

Iron Maiden has a badass song called “Two Minutes to Midnight.” It clocks in at six minutes and thirteen seconds. Fall Out Boy has a shitty song called “7 Minutes in Heaven.” It’s three minutes and three seconds. Pantera has a song called “5 Minutes Alone.” Getting warmer… this one is five minutes and fifty-eight seconds. It’s a good song, but a little carries on a little longer than it should. Fifty-eight seconds too long perhaps? The song has a very choppy, staccato hook, and probably should end on a sharp cut, rather than slowly fade out.

Time’s a tricky thing in music. Sometimes shortening and focusing a band’s sound can cut out what people loved about it the first place. Trying to make achieve a more radio-friendly sound in studio turned Metallica’s hardcore fans against them after the Black album. It made Phish’s studio efforts pointless abbreviated versions of their rambling live performances. It turned Dave Matthews Band’s jazzy jam sessions into the instantly forgettable ultra-bland albums Everyday and Stand Up.

Other times though, you really have to respect the songs that can get in, get the job done, and get out in no time at all. Songs that know exactly the length they should be, and wrap things before they’ve worn out their welcome. With that in mind, I present to you my 20 favorite songs under two minutes, accompanied by an appropriately short (no more than two sentences) review of each song.

20. AFI – Prelude 12/21 (1:34)
AFI’s drift from complex but furious punk into emo poster children was a little painful, but the heavy beat and vocal hook of this opening track is one of their few recent songs to get everything right.

19. Reel Big Fish – S.R. (1:27)
This song manages to be a loose jumble of punk, ska, and white-boy reggae while remaining cohesive and catchy. And does it all in less than 90 seconds.

18. The Vines – Highly Evolved (1:34)
A decent band that got lost among countless other garage rock revival acts at the beginning of this decade. They had a couple fairly catchy singles, but this incredibly brief album opener packs more punch than anything else they ever did.

17. Spoon – You Gotta Feel It (1:29)
In a list dominated by punk rock, this alternative tune sounds a little out of place. But like all Spoon songs, it’s a perfectly crafted balance of catchy rhythm and light touches of guitar, keyboards, and vocals.

16. The Hives – A Get Together to Tear it Apart (1:53)
The song opens with quick drum roll and blasts into guitar and lyrics a second later. It’s fast, tightly wound, and doesn’t waste a second.

15. Catch 22 – 9mm and a 3 Piece Suit (1:57)
The second ska tune to make the list, this one comes at you fast, poppy, and catchy. Songs don’t get much more fun than this.

14. The Pixies – Tame (1:55)
The raw juxtaposition of Black Francis’ whispers and growls, with Kim Deal’s soft “Na na na”s in the background. Amazing song.

13. Bad Brains – Pay to Cum (1:25)
Forget Blue Oyster Cult. This is some serious cowbell.

12. The Replacements – Fuck School (1:26)
What high school student doesn’t love this song? It makes you want to throw together a band and play loud, trashy rock.

11. The Jam – But I’m Different Now (1:50)

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what I love about this song so much. So simple, but so much fun.

10. Operation Ivy – Knowledge (1:44)
You’d be hard pressed to find a catchy, more concise anthem for punk rock than “All I know is that I don’t know nothing.”

9. The Beatles – Her Majesty (0:23)
Abbey Road has plenty of short tracks, but they all feed off each other, working best as a whole. This ending track is like the cherry on top of the album, just an extra little taste that’s completely self-contained.

8. They Might be Giants – Particle Man (1:59)
They Might be Giants deserve a special honorary award for making awesome short songs, like the experiment of random song fragments that is “Fingertips.” If you have to highlight one though, it has to be the song that once appeared on “Tiny Toon Adventures,” which is just as catchy and sing-a-long-able now as it’s ever been.

7. Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna – Embryonic Journey (1:58 )
A beautifully transcendent acoustic instrumental. While the version under 2 minutes is attributed to Jefferson Airplane, this is all guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s doing, so you can hear a number of other equally fantastic versions from his spin-off act Hot Tuna.

6. The Ramones – Judy is a Punk (1:32)
A toss up between this and “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” “Judy” wins out for simply being more fun. (“Second verse, same as the first!”)

5. Rancid – Maxwell Murder (1:28 )
Opens and sets a very high bar for the modern punk classic album, “…And Out Come the Wolves.” The bass solo in this song is insane.

4. Van Halen – Eruption (1:42)
An unbelievable solo is served up without all the filler of a song around it. It’s not so much a song as it is an isolated shot of awesome.

3. Sublime – Pool Shark (acoustic) (1:26)
So many of the other songs on this list use their length to deliver speedy, light-hearted doses of rock. But Brad Nowell’s slow and haunting acoustic verse about heroin addiction stays with you long after the song’s runtime.

2. The White Stripes – Fell in Love With a Girl (1:50)
The song that brought the White Stripes into public view should be taught in schools as a flawless example of a rock single.

1. The Clash – White Riot (2:00)
Simply put, one of the best punk songs ever written. Fun, furious, and iconic.

Well, there’s my list, but there’s no way it’s completely comprehensive… any glaring omissions?


5 Comments on “20 Best 2 Minute (or Less) Songs”

  1. i did not realize that “particle man” was under two minutes. again, i am oblivious.

  2. psycholarry says:

    Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a song called 365 days that doesn’t even come close to that length.

  3. Attractive component to content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to claim that I acquire in fact loved account your weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing in your feeds and even I success you get right of entry to consistently rapidly.

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