Beat This Summer-Brad Paisley (Arista)

It is a very good, very entertaining record. And I guess we’re on the start of a new trend here, using a choir for the “ohhhh,ohhhh,ohhh” accents in the arrangement. McGraw made excellent use of it in his new album. I expect a strong performance on the airplay charts and digital sales and all that. Still, there ain’t no reason it needs to be four minutes long. And that’s an edit. I’m barkin’ at the moon here, but lemme go way back for an example. Summer ’67, Light My Fire is a monster hit on the radio. It’s 2:57. On the album, it’s seven minutes. The single pushes demand for the album. Now it ain’t yet an album buying marketplace, but that song by The Doors did it’s part in pushing more and more consumers towards the big vinyl. There weren’t no “album” rock stations at the moment. The desire for “the long versions” of songs created first a cult, then a movement, then a whole new juiced up revenue stream for the record companies. Sgt. Pepper’s came that summer, too and the Beatles chose not to release any track as a single. Quite the dramatic, game-changing move. Still, for decades following, the three-minute single ruled, as it should. That is long enough. If it is a hit record, still a lot of people are ho-hum about it. It’s just part of the mix for them, a guest at the party. And there are always some who flat out don’t like it. This is true with every record. So, let’s figure: it’s a big record and maybe 40% of the audience is wild about it. That means 60% can either take-it or leave-it or else don’t care for it at all. Sitting through a three minute record they’re not in love with is asking 25% less of them than sitting through a four minute one. Look at it another way. A radio single is a Sales Tool. An Advertisement To Buy. I’m not a nazi about it, I give’em some leeway. 3:15, 3:20, fine. But four minutes mostly belongs in concert, not on the air. The notion that this position is from ancient times and no longer applies is head-in-sand thinking. The American attention span today is far FAR shorter than it was when the average radio single was under three minutes. What has changed is that smart record guys in the past realized shorter records got them more spins, more impressions on the radio.

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