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14 Songs that Took Minutes to Write

Some bands spend years perfecting their songwriting skills, working their fingers to the bone trying to write something people will respond to. These bands did it in minutes. Here are 14 songs written in minutes.

Phoenix – 1901: Thomas Mars says they wrote almost all of this song in just 10 minutes including the verse, chorus, bridge and rhythm. He does go on to say they had a really hard time finishing it and that took almost a year.


Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers: They were going through a stage where they were having a hard time writing anything good for Modern Vampires of the City. Ezra was at Rostams house, Rostam started playing piano and Ezra was writing lyrics on his laptop. Within a couple hours they had all the main parts finished.


The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army: Jack White wrote this at soundcheck before a show in Melbourne, Australia. He wrote the lyrics later on but he immediately named the music “Seven Nation Army” so he could remember it.


Mumford and Sons – The Cave: They wrote this during soundcheck at a small pub in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Lorde – Royals: This song just won the Grammy for Song of the Year. It was written in 30 minutes when she was only 15. She originally didn’t plan on putting it on Pure Heroine and even thought about giving it away.


Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Ohio: As the story goes they were all at a cabin writing music when Crosby showed Young a copy of Life magazine with the cover story of the Kent State Shootings. Young left with the magazine and his guitar and wrote this song within a few hours. It was release 10 days after the shootings and Neil Young has said it’s the best song he wrote for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.


Alabama Shakes – Hold On: This didn’t actually happen within a few minutes, the riff was already done so Britney Howard told them to just play it one night and she came up with lyrics on the spot. Obviously they were perfected since then but important lines like “I never thought I’d make it to 22 years old” came out of that night.


Beastie Boys – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party): 
There are few people in the world who haven’t heard this song. It’s off of Beastie Boys debut album License to Ill and they claim it was written in 5 minutes on napkins.


Beck – Loser: This song launched Beck’s career and it was written and recorded in a rap producer’s kitchen in just over 6 hours. The producer recorded the slide guitar riff, added a drumbeat, then Beck wrote some lyrics. He thought he was the worst rapper so he started singer “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me” and that became the chorus.


Oasis – Supersonic: They had most of Definitely Maybe written before this song was ever a thing. Noel Gallagher has said the music was written during a 10 minute jam session. He wrote the lyrics later and the whole thing was completely finished, never to be touched again within 11 hours. It became the lead single from their debut album.


Blur – Song 2: They wrote this during a time when Grunge was really popular in North America. Blur wrote it to make fun of Grunge music and it became their biggest hit in North America. They have said it took them 10 minutes to write.


The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction: This is either a lie or the reason why Keith Richards is the coolest man in the world. He was passed out at a hotel in Florida, woke up, quickly recorded the riff to “Satisfaction” and himself saying the title, then passed out again. When he woke up there was 40 minutes of snoring and 2 minutes of music on his recorder.


R.E.M – Losing My Religion: Peter Buck was teaching himself the mandolin and decided to record it. He went to bed and when he woke up the next day, he listened back to the recording and the riff for “Losing My Religion” was on there.


Queen – Under Pressure: David Bowie spent a long night songwriting with Queen in Switzerland and they pretty much finished this song. Some stories say the guitar riff was brought to the session and it was mixed at a later date but the meat of it was finished that night.

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