Showing posts with label Randy Newman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Randy Newman. Show all posts

Randy Newman - Short People (1977)

Randy Newman - Short People (1977)
'70s One-Hit Wonders on WLCY Radio




"Short People" is a song by Randy Newman from his 1977 album, Little Criminals. The verses and chorus are lyrically constructed as a prejudiced attack on short people. In contrast, the bridge states that "short people are just the same as you and I." Newman interprets the song to be about "prejudice" as was widely thought, but added that it was "about a lunatic". As with many of his songs such as "Rednecks", Newman wrote the song from the point of view of a biased narrator. Like Dire Straits' 1985 hit single, "Money for Nothing", which used the same lyrical technique, the song was misunderstood by many listeners who wrongly assumed that it reflected Newman's personal viewpoint.

Newman would later grow to dislike the song and its success, eventually calling it a "bad break", a "novelty record like The Chipmunks", and said it caused him to receive several threats regarding its misinterpreted message. However, it ended up being included on almost every one of his greatest hits albums.

Although Newman had never charted a single before, and his previous album, Good Old Boys, had been his first to reach the Billboard 200, "Short People" soon gained attention as a novelty song. The song consequently became a major hit on radio peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100; it was kept from reaching No. 1 by Player's "Baby Come Back" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive". It became a Gold record.

The song follows a basic musical formula with bass and drums centering on Newman's catchy pop piano line in the key of A major. A small brass section and an electric guitar occasionally rise into the mix and conga drums (played by Los Angeles-based session musician Milt Holland) also feature prominently in the song.

In 1978, legislation was introduced in the state of Maryland to make it illegal to play "Short People" on the radio. Contrary to urban legend, the bill did not obtain enough votes to pass.