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Grammys 2023: Harry Styles or Doja Cat Could Have the Shortest Record of the Year Winner in 55 Years

todayJanuary 3, 2023

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If Harry Styles’ “As It Was” or Doja Cat’s “Woman” wins record of the year at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 5, it would become the single with the shortest playing time to win in that marquee category since The 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away,” which won at the Grammy ceremony in 1968. “Woman” runs 2:52. “As It Was” is even shorter – a brisk 2:47. The 5th Dimension’s sunshine-pop classic ran just 2:40.

A third record of the year nominee at next month’s Grammy telecast run less than three minutes. Mary J. Blige’s “Good Morning Gorgeous” runs 2:54 and would be the shortest record of the year winner since Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me (Darkchild Mix),” the winner eight years ago, which also ran 2:54.

The first record of the year winner, Domenico Modugno’s lounge staple “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” (which won at the ceremony in May 1959) ran 3:29. The second, Bobby Darin’s suave “Mack the Knife” (which won at the ceremony in November 1959 — yep, there were two ceremonies that year) ran 3:03.

The next eight record of the year winners in a row clocked in at less than three minutes. The shortest of them all – and the shortest winner in Grammy history – was Henry Mancini’s recording of his classic film title song “Days of Wine and Roses,” which won in 1964. The melancholy ballad ran just 2:05.

The other winners in that eight-single streak that proved that you can be concise and still make a big impact were Percy Faith and His Orchestra’s “Theme From ‘A Summer Place’” (1961, 2:24), Mancini’s “Moon River” (1962, 2:41), Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (1963, 2:51), Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto’s “The Girl from Ipanema” (1965, 2:44), Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ “A Taste of Honey” (1966, 2:42), Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” (1967, 2:36) and the 5th Dimensions aforementioned “Up, Up and Away” (1968, 2:40).

The first record of the year winner to crack the four-minute barrier was Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” (1969, 4:00). Its status as the longest-running record of the year winner in history lasted just one year. The 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1970), a sleek coupling of two songs from Hair, ran 4:49. It also held the record as the lengthiest winner for just one year. Simon & Garfunkel’s power ballad “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the winner in 1971, ran 4:52.

The first record of the year winner to top both five and six minutes was Eagles’ “Hotel California” (1978, 6:08), which was also the first rock (as opposed to pop) track to win for record of the year. The longest winner ever was a special case, USA for Africa’s star-studded “We Are the World” (1986, 6:22).

In recent years, the music industry has rediscovered the virtues of brevity. Norah Jones’ jazzy ballad “Don’t Know Why,” the winner in 2003, ran just 3:01, the shortest playing time for a record of the year winner since “Up, Up and Away.” Smith’s “Stay With Me (Darkchild Mix),” the winner in 2005, was even shorter than Jones’ hit — as noted above, it ran just 2:54. (The primary version of Smith’s hit ran 2:51, but the Grammy specifically went to the Darkchild Mix.)

You could play both of “As It Was” and “Woman” in 5:39, which is less time that it would take you to get through not only “We Are the World” (6:22) and “Hotel California” (6:08), but also Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ “Please Read the Letter,” the winner in 2009 (5:57).

Eight of this year’s 10 record of the year nominees run four minutes or less. The only songs to exceed that time are Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” (4:38) and Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5” (5:32).

Here are the 15 shortest and longest record of the year winners in Grammy history.

The 15 shortest record of the year winners:

(counting down from the shortest)

Henry Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses,” 1964 (2:05)

Percy Faith and his Orchestra’s “Theme from A Summer Place,” 1961 (2:24)

Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” 1967 (2:36)

The 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away,” 1968 (2:40)

Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” 1962 (2:41)

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, “A Taste of Honey,” 1966 (2:42)

Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, “The Girl From Ipanema,” 1965 (2:44)

Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” 1963 (2:51)

Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me (Darkchild Mix),” 2015 (2:54)

Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why,” 2003 (3:01)

Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” 1959 (3:03)

Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” 2020 (3:14)

George Benson’s “This Masquerade,” 1977 (3:17)

Natalie Cole featuring Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” 1992 (3:23)

Captain & Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” 1976 (3:24)

The 15 longest record of the year winners:

(counting down from the longest)

USA for Africa’s “We Are the World,” 1986 (6:22)

Eagles’ “Hotel California,” 1978 (6:08)

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ “Please Read the Letter,” 2009 (5:57)

Adele’s “Hello,” 2017 (4:55)

Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” 1990 (4:52)

Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” 1971 (4:52)

The 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” 1970 (4:49)

Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise,” 1991 (4:48)

Paul Simon, “Graceland,” 1988 (4:48)

Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” 1974 (4:46)

Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose,” 1996 (4:43)

Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” 1999 (4:36)

Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” 1994 (4:32)

U2’s “Walk On,” 2002 (4:30)

Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” 1993 (4:29)

Notes: All the years shown here refer to the year of the Grammy ceremony (or, starting in 1971, live telecast) in which the record was honored. We took the singles’ running times from Joel Whitburn’s Pop Annual 1955-2016, which lists every single that made the Billboard Hot 100 by year, in ranked order. We took the running times on more recent singles from Wikipedia.  

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todayJanuary 3, 2023

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