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Kent Kotal // Forgotten Hits
Kent Kotal // Forgotten Hits

Why Is the Runtime On This Simon and Garfunkel Song Listed as "2:74"?

Kent Kotal // Forgotten Hits
Kent Kotal // Forgotten Hits

When Columbia Records sent copies of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Fakin’ It” to radio stations across America in the summer of 1967, the 45s' printed labels would have looked normal to DJs at first glance. It had the song’s title, its writing credit, and all the relevant copyright information. Had they looked closer, however, they would have noticed something funky with the runtime—it’s listed as “2:74,” not “3:14”:

Kent Kotal // Forgotten Hits

At the time, radio stations were wary of playing pop singles that exceeded three minutes. The label trickery on the three-minute, 14-second “Fakin’ It” made it look like the song lasted a brisk two minutes and change, and they banked on the fact that radio DJs weren't the closest readers in the world. (It likely worked—"Fakin' It" reached no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) 

The above photo comes from Kent Kotal’s Forgotten Hits blog, a compendium of ephemera from the golden age of pop radio. “I don't know that there was a written or hard-fast rule about records having to be under three minutes in length,” Kotal tells mental_floss via email, “it was just the accepted practice at the time.”

The “three-minute rule” has its origins in the technology itself. The 10-inch records pressed in the first half of the 20th century could only hold three-to-four minutes of recorded sound. "If it went longer than that, the grooves became too close together ... the sound quality went down," Sony Music archivist Thomas Tierney told Mashable.

Even though the technology improved in the 1940s and '50s, and 45 rpm extended-play "EPs" could handle longer songs, three minutes acted as a barrier for radio airplay well into the 1960s. “Nobody wanted to commit airtime to more than that,” Kotal says. “This way they could still get in all their sponsored ads, the then-typical two newscasts minimum per hour, weather, traffic, sports and even some fun deejay chatter back in the day when jocks were still allowed to talk on the air.”

Simon and Garfunkel weren’t the first artists to cleverly get around the three-minute rule. The Righteous Brothers’ 1964 smash hit “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” lasted a full three minutes and 45 seconds. Producer Phil Spector’s solution? Lie. He stamped “3:05” on the single and called it a day.

"Fakin' It" proved to be one of the last times artists exercised temporal gymnastics to get around the three-minute barrier, as, by 1967, the rule was already on its way out. The next year, Richard Harris’s seven-minute, 21-second “MacArthur Park” hit number one on the Billboard 100—and he didn’t even have to stamp “2:201” on the single's label to get it played.

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Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
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iStock

What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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