The record for shortest #1 single has stood for close to sixty years

Written by Nathan Jolly on 14th May, 2018
The record for shortest #1 single has stood for close to sixty years

With the Post Malones and Ed Sheerans of the world smashing long-standing chart records, rendering such things largely redundant in the process, it was pleasing to discover a pair of records that have held steady since 1960.

The record for the shortest chart topper in both of the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 hasn’t been broken for over half a century.

Adam Faith’s ‘What Do You Want’ runs for just 98 seconds, and spent three weeks at the top of the UK charts in late 1959, starting from December 4.

Close to a year later, ‘Stay’ by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs hit #1 on November 21, 1960. It runs for 96 seconds.

I couldn’t dig up similar records for Australia — although Spiderbait’s ‘Buy Me A Pony’ did take out #1 in the 1996 Hottest 100 clocking in at a paltry 101 seconds — but it’s surprising that both US and UK records have held for so long.

One obvious reason would be that during the late ’50s/early ’60s the 7 inch vinyl format used for singles had space limitations, therefore shaping the format of the three-minute pop single.

As pressing and compression techniques both became better during the ’60s, longer songs could fit on a single side of a 45 (the six-minute ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ pushed the limits of the format in 1965; the 7min 11sec ‘Hey Jude’ stretched it further in 1968) without compromising the audio quality too much.

Although three-to-four minute singles remain the norm even in 2018, we are yet to see a #1 single to sneak under the 90 second mark.

Until I am confronted with evidence to the contrary, I am going to declare these the long-standing records on either chart.

Adam Faith – What Do You Want

The article was originally published on The Industry Observer