"Short People" is a song by Randy Newman from his 1977 album Little Criminals. The verses and chorus seem to be a pointed attack on the short. The bridge (sung by Glenn Frey), in contrast, states "short people are just the same as you and I." Newman confirms that the song is 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 the performer's personal viewpoint. This caused some to find Newman's sarcasm to be offensive, with one music critic comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
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 would end up being included in 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 Top 150, "Short People" soon gained attention as a novelty song. The song consequently became a major hit on radio, staying at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and being only kept from reaching number one by the Bee Gees's "Stayin' Alive". It follows a basic musical formula, with bass and drums centering on Newman's catchy pop piano line in the key of A. A small brass section and an electric guitar occasionally rise into the mix.
In 1978, legislation was introduced in the state of Maryland to make it illegal to play "Short People" on the radio. Contrary to popular myth, the bill did not pass.
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