Listening to the Arcade Fire’s new grand orchestral record Reflektor has us wondering: What ever happened to the punchy, pithy 3 minute song? The album’s title track clocks in at at seven-plus minutes, a conservative number considering another, Supersymmetry, is an 11-minute opus. While we can’t certainly can’t get enough of that delicious Winn Butler (David Bowie on backing vocals don’t hurt either), the recent trend towards musical epics is either an exercise in artistry or just pure self-indulgence. It could very well be both. Here, we break down the recent string of drawn-out hits—and some old classics—to find out.
Giorgio by Moroder – Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
An education does take time, but it doesn’t need to take up a nine-minute song on a techno record. Daft Punk gives it a valiant effort with Giorgio, essentially a history lesson complete with a lecture by the prolific disco producer Giovanni Giorgio (he produced some of Donna Summer’s greatest hits). While kind of a snooze fest, we can get down to those sick synth beats.
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
In JT’s triumphant return to the mic, he doesn’t quite drop it as drag it out like musical molasses. Despite a myriad of expansive hits, some songs could rival any overwrought ’90s rock anthem. While we can do without the final chorus, the infectious eight-minute plus Mirrors is an excellent way to wrestle the R & B throne from Frank Ocean. Which reminds us…
Pyramids – Frank Ocean- Channel Orange
Ideal for both heartbreaking and baby-making, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange set the gold standard for drawn out jams. With the intricately complex Pyramids, the album’s longest track, it’s like he knew he was writing a song we just never wanted to end. Though a duet between Ocean and JT is on the wish list, do we really have time?
November Rain – Guns ‘N Roses – Use Your Illusion
Ah, ’90s rock anthems: Where orchestral arrangements and egos got just as big and as long as the hair. G ’N R’s sweeping nine-minute ballad November Rain, however, will always stand the test of time thanks to Stephanie Seymour’s trendsetting (and sexually-charged) wedding dress.
Paradise by the Dashboard Light – Meatloaf – Bat out of Hell
Maybe it’s because attention spans were longer in the ’70s that Meatloaf was able to get away with songs that went on and on and… on. With Paradise, the sweeping narrative warning against pre-marital sex (oh, Meatloaf!), he’s earned a rightful place in the karaoke duet hall of fame. (Seriously, though, try it.)
Can you think of an epic track that didn’t make the cut? Tweet us your suggestion using #FLAREepics and we might just add it to the list!
Find Tiyana on Twitter: @tiyanagrulovic