May 31, 2024 6 min read

And Finally! PinkPantheress wants to keep it short

PinkPantheress says there’s no point writing songs that last more than two and a half minutes, and there’s just no need for bridges. Dionne Warwick doesn’t agree, but TikTok users might just prove her wrong. Read all about this and more of the week’s funniest music news

And Finally! PinkPantheress wants to keep it short

PinkPantheress has generated a lot of talk online this week with comments about how long she thinks pop songs should be. And in the spirit of that, I’ll let you know right now that the answer is ‘Not long’.

Speaking to ABC News in the US, she said that originally, “making short songs was just a result of me experimenting” and finding out what she liked. But as she did this, that brevity became an integral part of what she enjoyed about the music she was creating.

“A song doesn’t need to be longer than two minutes 30 [seconds], in my opinion”, she said. “We don’t need to repeat a verse, we don’t need to have a bridge, we don’t need it. We don’t need a long outro”.

The perfect length of a pop song is not a new debate. Not even for PinkPanthress, who has been answering questions about her refusal to let songs linger for a long time. Her debut album in 2021, ‘To Hell With It’, was done and dusted in eighteen and a half minutes. She went relatively prog on last year’s ‘Heaven Knows’, with one song coming in at almost four minutes, and nothing under two. Still, the album’s duration was less than 35 minutes. 

“Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” is a quote famously attributed to Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. So even back in the 1960s, there was a recognition that people don’t want to be hanging around to hear their favourite bits of big hits. 

The question is, does PinkPantheress take it too far? Her massive popularity would suggest no. But she has come up through TikTok, where brevity is key and no one wants to be waiting around for anything. It’s there that the trend for speeding up songs to fit them into shorter run times emerged, after all. 

But what do you lose when you try to only include the bits of a song that immediately grab people in your recordings? One person with thoughts on this is Dionne Warwick, who has become quite the pop culture critic on Twitter in recent times. 

Initially she reposted PinkPantheress’s quote, simply adding a suitably brief question mark by way of comment. People took this to mean she was making a dig at the young musician, requiring her to return to provide more context.

“Artists are allowed to create their art in any way they choose”, she wrote in response to those replies. “However, I do believe a bridge is important”.

Is it though? I wonder how many of your favourite songs don’t have a bridge. It’s probably more than you think. And while you may believe that two and a half minutes is a bit short as a maximum length, I bet you’ve extolled the virtues of a three minute pop song before. It’s possible to create great art from very little. 

Still, that whole TikTok thing does hang over this conversation. Spotify has been accused of forcing musicians to write songs that fit a formula that works to keep people listening and not skip to the next track. TikTok, going even further, has been accused of simply destroying young people’s attention spans altogether. They’re not in it to hear a song, they’re just there for that bit they like before they move on.

This is a theory somewhat backed up by Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer this week, when he made a presentation to investors. He argued that services like TikTok must begin to pay out greater royalties to rightsholders because “more and more, these are primary consumption sources”.

“The expansion of short clip content has been rapid, driving total audio streaming consumption growth”, he said. “We see similar commercial potential as with full track streaming, but some of the leading platforms must deliver greater value”.

“Our premium quality artistry drives the appeal of these services, with music being central to approximately 70% of videos created on them”, he went on. “These companies play a larger and larger role in music discovery and engagement amongst young listeners. More and more, these are primary consumption sources, and they need to be valued accordingly”.

So, trends are shifting. Time was, tracks got big because people heard them on TikTok and then rushed off to Spotify to listen to them in full. Now they’re increasingly just staying on TikTok and moving on to the next thing. 

Should artists lean into that or kick against it? Is it worth crafting a four minute song, if your audience only really wants 20 seconds of it? Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty. After all, there are different types of music consumers and always have been. 

Once upon a time the world was split into people who bought all the music they liked and those who only really listened to it on the radio. Those lines still exist somewhat, although spread across a greater variety of ways to access the music you want to hear. 

The number of people who paid for a lot of music was always far smaller than the number of more mainstream listeners, who might fork out for one or two CDs a year, if that. Now perhaps the world is split up between those who can be arsed listening to a whole song and those who can’t. In fact, maybe Berry Gordy was onto something the whole time and that’s always where the dividing line has fallen.

You can’t really go around policing how people listen to things, anyway. No one’s going to start listening to longer songs because you tell them they’re doing it wrong. So this is how it is. PinkPantheress says that her love of brevity comes from a place of experimentation. So she seems to have found a way to balance artistry with commercial results. 

The proof is in the pudding though. She released her new single ‘Turn It Up’ last week. True to form, it clocks in at two minutes and 27 seconds. Although it does spend that time not really going anywhere before fading out, so I don’t know what that tells us. 

Anyway, here are some of the other funny, silly and generally amusing music news stories we found this week…

Sole copy of Wu-Tang Clan album to be played to the public for first time at Mona
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the ‘world’s rarest album’ once sold for $2m to Martin Shkreli, will be loaned to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art
Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes explains how Billie Eilish collab rumours came about
Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes has explained how rumours of a collaboration with Billie Eilish came about
Fans confused as Nicki Minaj asks for moment of silence for “dear friend” Princess Diana
Nicki Minaj confused fans at a show in Birmingham by asking for a moment of silence for “dear friend” Princess Diana.
Amy Poehler Finally Explains Creepy Yo La Tengo Cover Art
Amy Poehler explains her photo on the cover of Yo La Tengo’s “You Can Have It All” CD single, citing Upright Citizens Brigade’s “Spaghetti Jesus.”
Harry Styles fans sign up to guided tours of star’s Cheshire village
Pop star once described small village as ‘quite boring’ but it has now become a source of excitement for his legions of fans
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to CMU.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.
Privacy Policy