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Pure Pop for Now People

Is it a good day for song memes when Your Humble Blogger attacks two of them, or a bad one? This is from the inimitable John Scalzi, who asks whether the three-minute songs in our collections are perfect pop songs. So, the songs that come in at 180 seconds.

A Smooth One, Mel Torme & Meltones (Back In Town): No. No, no no.

Across The Blues, Duke Ellington (The Blanton-Webster Band (Disc 2)): No.

Alexander's Ragtime Band, Bessie Smith (The Essential Bessie Smith (Disc 2)): Yes. Of course, if your definition of pop is very narrow, I can’t help you, and you may as well stop reading now.

Ave Maria, Bing Crosby (Swinging On A Star): No, just no.

Carried Away, Leonard Bernstein (On The Town): This isn’t the perfect pop song from that show.

Celia, Bud Powell (The Verve Story 1944-1994 (Disc 1)): No.

Clementine, Duke Ellington (The Blanton-Webster Band (Disc 2)): No, but close

Clowntime Is Over, Elvis Costello (Get Happy!!): No, and y’all would make fun of me if I said yes.

Coloratura, Duke Ellington, (Black, Brown & Beige (disk two)): I’m going to say no on this one, too.

Days Of Old, Eric Clapton & B.B. King (Riding With The King): Not perfect, no.

Dick's Maggot, Bare Necessities (English Country Dances): Pop, but not perfect.

Doina Un Sirba, (Klezmer Pioneers: European And American Recordings, 1905-1952): Not.

Far Away Places, Bing Crosby (Sounds of the 20th Century (Disc 1)): Um, well, no.

Frankie and Albert, Leadbelly (Goodnight Irene): I think this is one part of the two-part track, split in two to fit on the two sides of a 45. In other words, no.

House of Fun, Madness (Madness): Yes. Yes. Yes.

I'll Never Read Trollope Again, Dave's True Story (Sex Without Bodies): Great song, but a trifle to articulate for Pure Pop

I'm In Love Again, Paul McCartney (Choba B CCCP - The Russian Album): Yep.

I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket, Ella Fitzgerald (The Irving Berlin Songbook Volume 2): Yes.

I've Got My Eyes On You, Fred Astaire: (Astaire Story (disc 1)): Naah.

I've Never Been In Love Before, Mel Torme & Meltones (Back In Town): Can down-tempo tunes be perfect pop? Anyway, no.

I Cover The Waterfront, Billie Holiday (My Man): No.

I Hope You're Happy Now, Elvis Costello (Goodbye Cruel World): Way no.

In A Sentimental Mood, Django Reinhardt (The Complete Django Reinhardt and Quintet of the Hot Club of France): You know, in a better world than this, Django would play in elevators instead of muzak, and we’d be in really good moods when we reached our floors. Still, no.

In Dulci Jubilo, Maddy Prior with The Carnival Band (A Tapestry Of Carols): Um, no.

Jack Haggerty, Touchstone (Steal This (Disc 2)): I can’t remember this track from the compilation at all.

Just A Touch, R.E.M. (Life's Rich Pageant): Not really, no.

Lazy River, Benny Goodman: (Stealin' Apples (Small Groups)): Yes, I think.

Let's Pretend There's A Moon, Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem (Cocktail Swing): No, I think not.

Meet Me In Uptown, Mighty Blue Kings (Meet Me In Uptown): Yes, I’ll say so.

My Funny Valentine, Sarah Vaughan (We'll Have Manhattan: The Rogers & Hart Songbook): I actually don’t much like this version.

Ol' MacDonald, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (This Beautiful Life): not sure. It’s catchy, sure, but is it art?

Oliver's Army, Elvis Costello (Armed Forces): Yes. Totally yes.

Parfum, Django Reinhardt (The Complete Django Reinhardt and Quintet of the Hot Club of France): Have I ever mentioned my idea about elevators?

Payday, Elvis Costello (Kojak Variety): No, not really.

Pinball Wizard, The Who (Tommy): Oh my Lord, Yes.

S'posin', Bing Crosby (Sounds of the 20th Century (Disc 2)): No.

Saint Louis Blues, Benny Goodman (Small Groups: 1941-1945): I’ll say Yes, and I’d like to see the person how says no.

Someone Else's Heart, Squeeze (East Side Story): Yes? It’s scarcely their most perfect, but it’s a heckova earworm, innit?

Sophisticated Lady, Duke Ellington (...and His Great Vocalists): No, too poignant to be pop

Southbound Again, Dire Straits (Dire Straits): I don’t think so, no.

The Dream Police (Cha Cha Cha), David Byrne (Rei Momo): Not accessible enough to be pure pop

The Elephant in Aisle Four, Lisa Atkinson (The Elephant In Aisle Four And Other Whimsical Animal Songs): No.

The Great Unknown, Elvis Costello (Goodbye Cruel World): Too angsty to be pure pop

The Gypsy, Dinah Shore (Hits Of The Thirties And Forties (Disc 2)): Too, um, what’s the word I’m looking for, oh yes, awful

The Mood That I'm In, Billie Holiday (All Of Me): No.

The Skeleton Song, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Pay Attention): Pretty close, but I don’t think so.

The Sun, Whose Rays Are All Ablaze, (The Mikado): No, no, no.

The Way You Look Tonight, Fred Astaire (Astaire Story (disc 1)): You’d think so, but no

Time Never Forgets, Scruffy the Cat (Tiny Days): Strangely enough, no; their perfect pop song is Shadow Boy at 192 seconds.

Undecided, Benny Goodman (Jazz Tribune 65: The Indispensible Benny Goodman, Vol 5/6 (1938-1939) (Disc 1)): No.

Watch Your Step, Elvis Costello (Trust): Um, maybe.

Winter's Song, Cowboy Junkies (Black-Eyed Man): Not really, no.

Wishin' And Hopin', The Jody Grind (One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure): Too honky-tonk for pure pop.

You Showed Me The Way, Billie Holiday (All Of Me): No.

What is that, a dozen out of fifty-five? Now, out of those, what’s the poppiest? It’s pretty much between “Pinball Wizard”, “House of Fun” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, I think. They’re all toe-tappers, but songs about bizarre religious cults and about prophylactics, poppy as they may be, can’t be as poppy as a song about a pop band making pop music, right?

Anyway, that’s about enough of that. We now return you to your irregularly unscheduled ramblings.

Thank you,


A Little Rain, Tom Waits (Bone Machine) ... oh absolutely. absolutely.

Accidents Will Happen, E.C. (Armed Forces)... must not come in at 3:00 for OHB... not only perfect, a punk bacharach.

Cherry Oh Baby, Eric Donaldson... damn good R&B reggae! imperfect pop, too much jam.

Many Rivers To Cross, Jimmy Cliff (The Harder They Come)... gospel pop, nice build up.

Miss World, Hole (Live Through This)... i am the girl you know can't look you in the eye... pop for the p!ssed

Mustapha, Queen (Jazz)... this is just nutso...

This Old Town, Nanci Griffith (Other Voices, Other Rooms)... nah but an excellent folk anthem.

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley & The Wailers (Exodus) - every little thing gonna be all right. an excellent thing to hear on the radio, whenever, isn't that a recommendation?

Wendell Gee, R.E.M. (Fables of the Reconstruction), well, no.

The version of "Accidents Will Happen" in my collection is 3:02. Evidently there are some versions of the Go-Gos "Vacation" that are 3:00, which would make it a pretty darned could contender for perfect pop song. Of course, the point of the thing is its arbritrariness, so that sort of confusion just adds to the entertainment, right?


oh i love the 3-oh version of vacation, it's just right

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