Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Recent Hit Songs Have In Common

The Future Hit DNA website just did a great summary of the characteristics that make up the recent 2010 hits. Jay Frank does an excellent job of looking at the Top 50 biggest selling downloads, which amounts to 75 million download sales and over $100 million in revenue. He's also written a great book on the subject called FutureHit.DNA.

I'm not suggesting that you write a song like you'll find outlined below, because that's just going to take a tired genre and make it even more so. But it is interesting to look at what makes up a hit these days. You can read the article for yourself, but allow me to summarize.
  • The average intro length is 7.76 seconds. It's always been about getting to the point, and that never seems to change.
  • The average song length is 3 minutes 47 seconds. This is a lot longer than it used to be, when 3 minute songs were the norm.
  • Most songs have an ending. In fact only 10% of the songs have a traditional fade. Now that's refreshing, and apparently practical. According to the article, hard endings play better in the digital world, where a fade is more likely to make the listener skip on to the next song.
  • Most songs are upbeat. In fact, only one song was a ballad. There were some songs with slower tempos, but for the most part, higher bpm songs played better with the listener.
  • More songs by each artist. Most top artists now release more songs more often. Lady Gaga had 4 titles, Black Eyed Peas and Ke$ha had 3 and B.O.B had two in the top 10.
  • The song's about "me." Where once upon a time, most songs were about "you," that's changed in today's hits. You see a lot more "I," "I'm," and "me" lyrics than "you' and "you're." Today's songwriters are a selfish bunch, it seems.
Check out this article and website. It focus on songs in a way that you won't find anywhere else.

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Chris Boardman said...

great post! I would have to imagine that "the song's about me" is more about self-empowerment than selfishness in a bad way. If you think about it...identification with a lyric helps retention. hence, personal growth, success, etc in these trying times could very well be what the doctor ordered.
If you look back to the depression it is quite similar: "Get Happy", "Happy Days Are Here Again", "Sunny Side Of The Street".
Helping listeners through hard times is nothing new. Today's circumstances, while different are very similar.

Anonymous said...

I think "me" has a lot more to do with the listener (buyer) than the songwriter. With all the songs that are available today, the listeners have voted with their pocketbooks for songs about "them."


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