The 13 most amazing music world records 

Featuring the most, the biggest, the longest, the oldest and the sweariest achievements in pop, rock and metal

This week, 598 people at Camp Bestival helped Sophie Ellis-Bextor set a new world record for the largest ever disco. It wasn’t the first time the festival had made it into the history books though – since the mass dance-off took place under world’s largest disco ball (33ft 10in in diameter), built in 2014 for Nile Rogers as part of his rider.

Breaking records is what popstars do, of course, but getting a new No.1 or a biggest selling whatever is boring next to the most amazing feats of size and length and endurance. Here, then, is the real myth-making of the music world – the achievements that earn a place in the pages of The Guinness Book Of Records alongside the world’s tallest man, the guy with all the pegs on his face and the woman with the disgustingly long fingernails. 

Fastest viral video 

BTS (방탄소년단) 'Butter' Official MV

Depressingly, the most viewed music video of all time is ‘Baby Shark Dance’ (sorry for putting that back in your head). The most viewed in 24 hours list is far more interesting though, showing just how quickly a song can explode. Of the top 10 music videos, five are all from BTS – with ‘Butter’ topping the list at 108.2 million views on day one.

Most words in hit single

Eminem - Rap God (Explicit)

It would be easy enough for someone else to break Eminem’s record of 1,560 words in ‘Rap God’ here if they just made a really, really long song – but as most people don’t like listening to really, really long songs, that would be unlikely to ever be classified a “hit single”. Instead, Eminem crammed all of his words into six minutes, getting through 97 in just 15 seconds. 

Most swear words in a song

NSFW by Psychostick w/lyrics

Making sure their 2014 song, ‘N.S.F.W.’ could never be played on any radio station anywhere in the world, Psychostick crafted a track that repeats the word “f*ck” over 500 times (and then ends, charmingly, on a single use of “sh*t”). Still the best track to play loud when you want to annoy the neighbours, and still the funniest to put on at a family karaoke party. 

Shortest song

Napalm Death - You Suffer

Yeah yeah, attention spans are getting shorter all the time. But people were probably saying the same thing back in 1986 when Napalm Death released ‘You Suffer’, the shortest commercially released song ever made at just 1.316 seconds long. Somehow fitting in the lyrics “you suffer, but why?”, the band even released the song as side one of a 7” single that was given away free with copies of the 1989 Grindcrusher compilation. 

Longest song

Symphony of the Crown, Pt. 1

When The Flaming Lips released the 24-hour cut of ‘7 Skies H3’ in 2011, they probably thought they had the longest song world record all sewn up. Unluckily for them, Canadian New Age singer Earthena topped it with ‘Sympathy For The Crown’, which runs to 48 hours, 39 minutes and seconds. That’s the weekend sorted then. 

Most live shows in 24 hours

Leonard Patton Group - Straighten Up & Fly Right

Not just beaten on “Longest song”, The Flaming Lips also lost their 2012 record for the most gigs played in a single day (eight). The same year, Norwegian singer Helge Toft played a whopping 65 different shows around the city of Haugesund, and seven years later a San Diego jazz quartet called the Leonard Patton Group played 70 different shows and venues between 10am on August 8, and 10am on August 9. “Who doesn’t like a bit of challenge every now and then?” said pianist Ed Kornhauser.

Loudest band

KISS - Gene Simmons Bass Solo / I Love It Loud - Rock Am Ring 2010 - Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour

Technically, The Guinness Book Of Records no longer recognises the “loudest band” for fear of promoting hearing loss. When it was still tracking the record though, highlights included Iron Maiden at Monsters Of Rock (124 dB), Motörhead in Cleveland (130 dB), Leftfield at Brixton Academy (135 dB, reportedly shaking the plaster off the ceiling) and Kiss in Ottawa (peaking at 136 dB, which is approximately the threshold of pain). 

Longest tour

Ed Sheeran is never home. Now halfway through his + – = ÷ x tour, he’s making a bid to top his current record for the highest grossing tour of all time, with the 2017-2019’s ÷ tour beating U2’s previous record at $776,200,000. That tour, though, only featured 255 shows, which ranks Sheeran someway behind Garth Brooks who played 390 dates between 2014-2017, earning him the record for the longest running tour. 

Biggest audience

Vasco Rossi - Colpa D'Alfredo (Live Modena Park 2017)

The city of Moderna, in Italy, is home to 185,000 people. Imagine what it felt like when 225,173 people showed up to watch Vasco Rossi play the city’s Enzo Ferrari Park in 2017. 35 special trains were laid on. 900 speakers were set up. One fan camped out for an entire month before the gig started to make sure they had a good spot. Unsurprisingly, no contemporary accounts of the show make any mention of the toilet queues. 

Youngest artist to have a UK No.1 single

Teletubbies say "Eh-oh!" - HD Music Video Videos For Kids

Nine-year-old Jimmy Osmond was the youngest ever chart topper in 1972 with the oddly inappropriate ‘Long Haired Lover From Liverpool’, and he was until 1997 when he was beaten by an actual baby. Jessica Smith was just seven months old when she voiced the scary sun god on The Teletubbies’ No.1 ‘Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh’. Clearly a high-point for the entire nation. 

Oldest artist to have a UK No.1 single

You'll Never Walk Alone - Captain Tom Moore, Michael Ball & The NHS Voices of Care Choir

Garden-walking fundraiser “Captain Tom” topped the charts in April 2020 with his duet with Michael Ball on ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – getting himself at No.1 for his 100th birthday. Tom Jones must have been annoyed, since he was the previous record holder aged 68 in 2009 for ‘(Barry) Islands In The Stream’, but he’s still got another 18 years to plan his comeback.

Longest time to reach No.1

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill - Official Music Video

Stranger Things has done wonders for Dungeons & Dragons, Eggo sales and ringer neck T-shirts, but it’s done the most for Kate Bush – helping her break three separate world records after ‘Running Up That Hill’ was featured heavily in Season 4. As the 1985 track shot back up the charts, Bush became the oldest female artist to reach No.1 with the longest gap between hits (her last was ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1978), but she now also holds the record for the longest time for a track to reach No.1, some 36 years and 10 days after she first released it.

Coldest concert

Jägermeister Ice Cold Gig 2013 - Charlie Simpson

Busted and Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson travelled to Oymyakon in Siberia in 2013 to set the record for the coldest ever gig, playing songs from his debut solo album in -96.16 degrees Fahrenheit. “It was unbearably cold and playing with gloves on wasn’t an option,” Simpson later admitted, worried at the time about frostbite, and that the glue holding his guitar together might disintegrate in the cold.