Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne



FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4, 2019

DEAR JERRY: While playing my 45 of "If," by Timi Yuro, it got me wondering how many other charted records have two-letter titles, or less. I don't think I've ever seen a record titled with just one letter.
—Brenda Hammond, Clearwater, Fla.

DEAR BRENDA: To restrict the search to one or two letters, we would miss a few short titles with something other than a letter. So for our purpose we will count characters.

… and awaaay we go:

SINGLE CHARACTER TITLES (WITHOUT SUB-TITLES):

There are at least nine records with single-character titles. Six are a letter (mostly "I") and three are numerals.

First is "I" by Don Cornell, with Norman Leyden and His Orchestra (Coral 60860). Co-written by Milton Berle, this "I-tune" was a Top 10 pop hit in 1952.

Next came the Velvets with their doo-wop "I" (Red Robin 122), a 1954 R&B hit in some regions. This is not the same song as by Don Cornell.

In 1960, Johnny Flamingo masterfully updated the Velvets' "I" (Canton 1785). Though credited as a solo act, his version is every bit a doo-wop group sound. As with the Velvets' original, Flamingo's success was limited to a few east and west coast markets.

In 1987, Madhouse, with Prince on guitar, had great success with "6" (Paisley 28485); then Prince himself charted with "7" (Paisley Park 18824) in 1993.

"X" by Xzibit (Loud 1968) came along in 2000.

In 2001, Petey Pablo charted with "I" (Jive 42937).

Omarion's "O" (Epic 72769) reached the Top 30 in 2005.

Finally, there is "3" by Britney Spears in 2009, one of her all-time biggest hits. On the Jive label, but no selection number is shown.

Some may refer to Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" as just "I," but having a sub-title excludes it from the above list.

Ben E. King's original 1963 hit was the first of seven charted versions, and depending on the mood of the label designers, the title may also read "I Who Have Nothing" (no parenthesis).

The other six are:

1967: Terry Knight and the Pack - "I (Who Have Nothing)"
1969: Linda Jones - "I Who Have Nothing"
1970: Tom Jones - "I (Who Have Nothing)"
1982: Liquid Smoke - "I Who Have Nothing"
1979: Sylvester - "I (Who Have Nothing)"
2007: Jordin Sparks - "I Who Have Nothing"

TWO CHARACTER TITLES (WITHOUT SUB-TITLES):

Along the way, we found 46 charted titles with only two characters (meaning "Oh!" and "Up!" have one too many):

"As" - 1977: Stevie Wonder
"As" - 1982: Jean-Luc Ponty
"As" - 1999: George Michael & Mary J. Blige
"Be" - 1973: Neil Diamond
"Go" - 1986: Asia
"Ha" - 1999: Juvenile
"He" - 1955: Al Hibbler
"He" - 1955: McGuire Sisters
"He" - 1966: Righteous Brothers
"He" - 1973: Today's People
"If" - 1951: Perry Como
"If" - 1951: Dean Martin
"If" - 1951: Jo Stafford
"If" - 1951: Ink Spots
"If" - 1951: Billy Eckstine
"If" - 1951: Vic Damone
"If" - 1951: Guy Lombardo
"If" - 1951: Jan Garber
"If" - 1961: Paragons
"If" - 1964: Timi Yuro
"If" - 1969: Al Hirt
"If" - 1971: Bread
"If" - 1993: Janet Jackson
"Lu" - 1970: Peggy Lipton
"Ma" - 1973: Rare Earth
"Me" - 1964: Bill Anderson
"Me" - 1978: Sherry Grooms
"Me" - 1998: Paula Cole
"Ms" - 1978: David Oliver
"No" - 1960: Dodie Stevens
"No" - 1972: Bulldog
"No" - 1984: Amuzement Park Band
"No" - 1996: Chuck D
"Oh" - 2005: Ciara Featuring Ludacris
"OK" - 2003: Sheek Louch
"Op" - 1958: Honeycones
"Up" - 2011: Justin Bieber
"We" - 1973: Shawn Phillips
"#1" - 2001: Nelly
"17" - 1984: Rick James
"19" - 1985: Paul Hardcastle
"21" - 1955: Spiders
"22" - 2013: Taylor Swift
"69" - 1993: Father MC
"85" - 2000: Youngbloodz
"99" - 1980: Toto

THE LONGEST SONG TITLE EVER (In case you didn't know it):

Released in 1985 by Christine Lavin, this amusing tune has 93 words, or 450 characters, in the title. And though not in the count, there are three more words in the sub-title:

"Regretting What I Said to You When You Called Me at Eleven O'clock on a Friday Morning to Tell Me That at One O'clock Friday Afternoon You're Gonna Leave Your Office, Go Downstairs, Hail a Cab to Go Out to the Airport to Catch a Plane to Go Skiing in the Alps for Two Weeks. Not That I Wanted to Go With You, I Wasn't Able to Leave Town, I'm Not a Very Good Skier, I Couldn't Expect You to Pay My Way, But After Going Out With You for Three Years, I Don't Like Surprises (A Musical Apology)."


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