Pop music index | Source: Harper's BAZAARPop music index | Source: Harper's BAZAAR

Did you know that the longest pop song ever recorded was 76 minutes long? The song is called “Apparente Libertà”, and while not many people would have the patience to listen to a song that long, recently pop songs have become shorter. According to the Washington Post, “Since 1990, the average length of a song on the Billboard Hot 100 has decreased from over four minutes to around three, regardless of genre.” Songs began increasing in length, like The Beatles’, “Hey Jude” and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” being seven and six minutes respectively. As we look at more recent songs, we see that their lengths have decreased significantly compared to their length previously.

Trends show a decrease in pop song lengths over time. | Source: IMA

A reason for this may be due to the decreased attention span of the young generation. With the popular rise of TikTok, and short-form content seen in Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, users’ attention span has decreased from consuming short-form content. According to NewsWeek, “Studies have shown that people spend only around 47 seconds, on average, focusing on any given screen before their attention wanders elsewhere. This finding is among several that have emerged from the research of psychologist Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine.”. As our attention spans have decreased from what they once were, our attention to lengthier songs has gone down, and this is evident in the length of the songs being released now. Popular artist, Taylor Swift, seems to have gotten this message, seeing as “Her 2010 album, “Speak Now,” has an average song length of 4:47. The shortest track on it, “Better Than Revenge,” comes in at 3:37. Fast-forward nine years, and the average song on 2019’s “Lover” is down to 3:26.”(Chen). This subtle shift in the length of pop songs follows the trends of our society today, but what will come of pop songs in the future? Will we see the length of pop songs increase, or possibly decrease even more? All these hypothetical questions will be answered in a few years. 3…2…1…0?

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