Short People

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Short People"
cover art
UK cover
Single by Randy Newman
from the album Little Criminals
B-side"Old Man on the Farm"
ReleasedNovember 1977
GenreNovelty rock[1]
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Randy Newman
Producer(s)Lenny Waronker, Russ Titelman
Randy Newman singles chronology
"Short People"
"The Blues"
Official video
"Short People" on YouTube

"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."; "A fool such as I" and "All men are brothers (...) It's a wonderful world." Many listeners thought that the song reflected Newman's sincere beliefs. However, Newman intended the song to be a satire about prejudice more broadly: "The guy in that song is crazy. He was not to be believed."[2] As with many of his songs such as "Rednecks", Newman wrote the song from the point of view of a biased narrator.

Production and reception[edit]

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.[3] 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.

Although Newman had never charted a single before, and his preceding album, Good Old Boys, had been the first to reach the Top 150 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart, "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 for three weeks; it was kept from reaching No. 1 by Player's "Baby Come Back" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive". It became a gold record.

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.[4] He said, "I had no idea that there was any sensitivity, I mean, that anyone could believe that anyone was as crazy as that character. To have that kind of animus against short people, and then to sing it and put it all in song and have a philosophy on it."[5] However, it ended up being included on almost every one of his greatest hits albums.[6][failed verification]

Record World said the single was "one of the funniest of any year."[7]

In 1978, Maryland State Delegate Isaiah Dixon attempted to introduce legislation making it illegal to play "Short People" on the radio. He was advised by Maryland Attorney General Bill Burch that such a law would be a violation of the First Amendment.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Randy Newman: still biting, still brilliant | Arts & Culture | Music | spiked". November 6, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. ^ Fricke, David (September 15, 2017). "Randy Newman: My Life in 15 Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  3. ^ "Short People : Sheet Music". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Zitz, Michael (September 18, 2003). "Songwriter Randy Newman hates his 'Short People'". The Free Lance–Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  5. ^ Lydia Hutchinson. "Happy Birthday, Randy Newman". Performing Songwriter.
  6. ^ "Best of Randy Newman: Randy Newman: Music". Amazon. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  7. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. November 12, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  8. ^ Thompson, M. Dion (March 17, 2001). "They're smart, fast, usually right". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum – 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "Randy Newman – Short People" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  11. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". July 17, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  13. ^ "Randy Newman – Short People". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 174.
  15. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 1/28/78". Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  16. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". July 17, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1978". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – Randy Newman – Short People". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 1, 2023.

External links[edit]