Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Years ago you proclaimed “Little Boxes,” by the Womenfolk, as the shortest song to make the record charts.

I lived in Palm Springs in 1964, and I clearly remember it being played that summer, along with a few dozen Beatles' hits.

I think they came along about a year too late, as the 1963 folk boom went bust in the midst of the British Invasion.

Has anything come along to challenge the Womenfolk, or is the under two minute song a thing of the past?
—Donnie Morgan, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DONNIE: Yes, and yes.

From the UK comes the current shortest song champ, and thanks to the internet it is just as available stateside as beyond our borders.

Two-minute recordings are no longer common, but even if it were this haunting little earworm would still be newsworthy.

Issued in the summer of 2007, “The Ladies' Bra,” by Jonny Trunk and Wisbey (the vocalist), is about half the length of “Little Boxes” — just a mere 35 seconds!

This is not a chopped down edit, or some studio gimmick. Simply a :35 song, from beginning to end.

On his web site, Jonny Trunk explains more about “The Ladies' Bra”:

“When compiling the sampler CD, “Now We Are Ten,” I realised I needed some exclusive tracks to make it more appealing to those who already had many of the recordings we planned.

“My mind went back to the days of “Dirty Fan Male” and the last studio recording we made. Right at the end of the session we recorded [Duncan] Wisbey singing a song we invented in Edinburgh.

“I suggested he set the bra ditty he sang to the tune of “The Gonk,” the first track on our “Dawn of the Dead” soundtrack album. Thus “The Ladies' Bra” tune was born. Instantly addictive, we sang it every day both to and from the theatre and for months afterwards. We eventually recorded it though it just sat around for about two years.

“However, it was just the track I'd been looking for, so I put it on “Now We Are Ten,” then thought no more about it.

“As the sampler was being released, Duncan Wisbey got called to join Danny Baker on his All Day Breakfast podcast. I went with him and handed Baker a copy of “Now We Are Ten,” explaining that Track 20 (“The Ladies' Bras”) was right up his street.

“A week later, Danny's producer said Mr. Baker wanted to try and get “The Ladies' Bras” on the charts as a download and make it the shortest track ever on the hit parade. I thought they were having a laugh, but I made a special download of the track, complete with unique Ladies' Bras artwork.

“Released three weeks later, the tune hit the charts at an impressive No. 71. Wisbey and I thought, that's the end of that and we carried on with our everyday lives.

“A few weeks later we found other dee jays were playing it, particularly Scott Mills of Radio One.

“A good mate of mine e-mailed the track to Scott's producer, and Mills picked up on both the inane catchiness of it, and the possibility of it making the charts.

“The all-powerful Mr. Mills was now on a mission, playing “The Ladies' Bras” about seven times an hour on Radio One, and telling listeners to download it and get it into the top 40.

“Sure enough, by the weekend it was at an impressive No. 27.

“Wisbey was an invited guest on BBC News 24, and Lorraine Kelly even sang it to the Sugababes on her GM-TV show.

“The Ladies' Bras,” at just 35 seconds, now stands as the shortest track ever to chart, and certainly the shortest track ever to reach the Top 30. Apparently it also holds the record for the most number of plays in any week on Radio One.

“Oh yes, Wisbey donated all download proceeds to the Breast Cancer Care charity.”

IZ ZAT SO? On BBC News 24, Duncan Wisbey added a bit to “The Ladies' Bras” story:

“We were at the end of a recording session and the engineer said you've got one minute, what do you want to do? Well, I didn't want the time to go to waste.

“Jonny [Trunk] said do that stupid song you used to sing when we were washing up, in Edinburgh. So I just sung it for about 30 seconds, just the same thing over and over again. It has something like seven words in it.

“Then about three-and-a-half years later Danny Baker starts playing it on his podcast, then a few months later Scott Mills began playing it on Radio One.

“And now … I'm on News 24!”

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