Like cars, songs move at very different speeds. Some, like Adele’s ballad “Someone Like You,” unfold at a languid pace of 67 beats per minute (known as BPM in the music world), while others, such as Lady Gaga’s dance club hit “Born This Way,” zip along at 120 BPM. Very few, however, come anywhere close to being as fast as the fastest music ever recorded. Much like the innovative 2014 Spark EV, which goes from 0-60 in just 7.6 seconds, these songs live outside the boundaries and are truly unforgettable.
“Thousand” by Moby
Moby became a household name in 1999 when his electronica album, Play, sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, but seven years earlier he somehow scored a top-40 hit in the U.K. with this highly unusual song recorded in the electronic sub-genre of Gabber. While Gabber songs are characterized by incredibly fast tempos (typically 180-220 BPM), Moby’s lightning fast track is titled “Thousand” because that’s how many BPM it has! According to the Guinness Book of Records, it’s the fastest mainstream single ever released.
“Tokyo Style Speedcore” by M1dy
Impossible as it may seem, there’s a form of hardcore techno music called speedcore that has been known to exceed 1,000 BPM! Though speedcore can sound like one long, continuous beat to my pop music-loving ears, it has many enthusiasts in Germany, England, the Netherlands and Japan. The best-known and respected speedcore artist is arguably Japan’s M1dy, who has become a star of the genre by producing songs like “Tokyo Style Speedcore,” with intense, off-kilter beats so fast they’ll make your head spin.
“Giant Steps” by John Coltrane
As impressively fast as the previous tracks are, their accelerated BPM were achieved with the help of modern computer technology. This blisteringly fast track, on the other hand, was performed with traditional instruments, and it took jaw dropping musical dexterity and skill for legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and his accompanists to pull it off. Though more than 60 years have passed since its recording, “Giant Steps” is still widely regarded as one of the most challenging jazz songs ever created, not just because of its complex chord changes, but also because it tears along at a frenzied 292 BPM!
“Slow Jamz” by Twista
Experimenting with a song’s BPM isn’t the only way musicians satiate their need for speed. A popular style of hip hop known as “Chopper” is performed by spitting out lyrics in a rapid-fire manner, and the aptly named Twista is arguably the most famous rapper of the genre. In 1992 he set a record by pronouncing a whopping 598 syllables in just 55 seconds, and since then he’s lodged a number of hits including this chart topper. “Slow Jamz” jam starts out slow and smooth thanks to the crooning of guest vocalist Jamie Foxx but ends in a flurry as Twista spits out lyrics at such an accelerated clip it’s almost impossible to decipher what he’s saying!
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Heather Spohr blogs at the award-winning The Spohrs Are Multiplying.