These days, there are countless dance club hits that feature just a couple of words - typically, sampled dialogue from an unknown source - repeated endlessly. Fatboy Slim ("The Rockafeller Skank") and Duck Sauce ("Barbra Streisand") are just two examples that leap quickly to mind. But those tracks are a dime a dozen, and so this list isn't about them. We're going back in time a bit, for the biggest songs with the fewest lyrics that I could find.
- "OH YEAH," Yello. This Swiss duo's campy new wave groovefest from 1985 went nowhere as a single (peaking at #51 on the Billboard charts two years after its release, thanks to its inclusion on the Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack), but everybody sure knows it now. Only ten unique words appear in these lyrics: "Oh yeah. The moon - beautiful. The sun - even more beautiful. Oh yeah. Beautiful. Oh yeah. Good time."
- "SHORT SHORTS," The Royal Teens. Not counting the brief spoken word intro - "Ooh man, dig that crazy chick" - this 1958 one hit wonder by a bunch of Jersey boys 'n' girls goes like this: "Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts. They're such short shorts. We like short shorts." (Or "shoat shoats," if you want to sing it like a New Jersey native.) That amounts to nine unique words, including plurals. Fifteen words counting the intro.
- "TEQUILA," The Champs. Another 1958 novelty hit, this is, of course, essentially an instrumental track. But it does feature exactly one word: "tequila", lustily spoken three times.
- "WIPE OUT," The Surfaris. This 1963 beachside standard is pure instrumental, save for the opening line, "Ha ha ha ha ha, wipe out." Do you count "ha" as a word"? If so, three unique words in these lyrics.
- "FLY ROBIN FLY," Silver Convention. This 1975 disco smash contains the following lyrics, repeated several times: "Fly, robin, fly. Up, up to the sky." According to legend, the German band didn't speak English very well, which is why they limited the song's lyrics to just six unique words.
- "GET UP AND BOOGIE," Silver Convention. The band's 1976 follow-up reveals that the songwriters' English skills underwent no development in the year since "Fly Robin Fly". The lyrics, in their entirety: "(That's right) get up and boogie." Once again, just six unique words.
- "THE HUSTLE," Van McVoy and the Soul City Symphony. Not to be outdone by Silver Convention, here's a rare example of a song that has fewer words in its lyrics than in the name of the band that recorded it! In case you forget, "The Hustle" goes like this: "Ohhhhh... Do it! Do the Hustle!" Five words that, in 1975, kicked off one of the decade's biggest dance crazes.
- "PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000," Glenn Miller. Let's reach way back to 1940 for this one, the "Tequila" of its day. The song's title makes up the sole three lyrics - which, by the way, is allegedly the oldest phone number in New York that has been in continuous use by the same customer: the Pennsylvania Hotel.
- "WHY DON'T WE DO IT IN THE ROAD," The Beatles. During their last couple of years together, the Fab Four cranked out several songs that were relatively light on the lyrics. This one ties with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", with 14 unique words. In this case, it's "Why don't we do it in the road? No one will be watching us." Stay classy, lads!