It’s getting so we don’t even have time for a song anymore.
That’s what a new study from the Ohio State University tells us. A doctoral student with the improbable name of Hubert Leveille Gauvin analyzed Billboard magazine’s top-10 pop hits from 1986 to 2015.
I think Hubie needs some fresh air, but what do I know?
He found that instrumental intro music of hit records averaged 23 seconds in 1986, when I was “talking up” Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” on the old WXLO-FM (“Worcester’s Best Music!”), but was down to a measly five seconds in 2015.
As a D.J., I loved having twenty-three seconds to rap, or even fourteen. Five was tough, any less was pretty useless. Some of those station slogans were clunky.
Radio solved that problem by pretty much muzzling or getting rid of the D.J.s.
Now, though it seems your song has to get to the vocals faster, and say something meaningful (“I’m hurting baby!”) or millennials on Spotify are skipping to the next thing.
I should note that Hubert only looked at pop, not indie rock or EDM, and it seems very unlikely that songwriters are actually thinking of this stuff when they cook up a tune.
But it’s one more indication that our attention spans are getting shorter.
Wait, are you still reading this?