What makes a hit single?

The LA Times just released an interesting article about a team of scientist who have developed a method to measure the hit potential of a song.

Naturally this method is not 100% accurate, they actually talk about 60%. From a musician’s perspective it basically doesn’t matter which song could be a hit but why. So the team has some rather obvious results for today’s hit music:

Nowadays [since the late ’80s ], simple binary rhythms tend to give a better guarantee to success than complex rhythms, and before it was generally the other way around. Loudness is increasing, on average, for all songs on the chart. And it is relatively higher near the top compared with the bottom.

Not exactly a news flash here. Loud dance songs with simple melodies, yes, that’s about 80% of music charts today.

Putting in my own two cents, I’ve discovered that you don’t need a scientific method to measure hit potential. Simply play a song to kids (3-10 year olds). If a song is simple enough and danceable and loud you will instantly know by the kids’ reaction. And if kids love the song it is catchy enough to have hit potential.

Read the full article in the LA Times

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