The third quarter of 2015 was filled with record setting trend shifts in the Hot 100 Top 10. Trap, solo male lead vocals, and the use of a pre-chorus reached their highest level of popularity in years, while partying themed lyrics, solo female lead vocals, and the use of a bridge sunk to their lowest. These, among many other trend shifts, affected the state of the mainstream music scene.
Our latest Hit Songs Deconstructed Trend report takes a look at the compositional characteristics that defined the 23 songs that landed in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 from July to September, and how these characteristics differed from – or stayed the same as – what came before.
What follows are some key highlights taken from our Q3 Trend Report. For a full rundown and analysis, be sure to read the full report by clicking here.
[Header1 header=” The Top 10 Charting Hits Of Q3-2015″]
- 679: Fetty Wap featuring Remy Boyz
- Bad Blood: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
- Can’t Feel My Face: The Weeknd
- Cheerleader: OMI (Felix Jaehn Remix)
- Drag Me Down: One Direction
- Earned It: The Weeknd
- Fight Song: Rachel Platten
- Good For You: Selena Gomez featuring A$AP Rocky
- Hey Mama: David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack
- Honey, I’m Good: Andy Grammer
- Lean On: Major Lazer, DJ Snake, M0
- Locked Away: R. City featuring Adam Levine
- My Way: Fetty Wap featuring Monty
- Photograph: Ed Sheeran
- See You Again: Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
- Shut Up And Dance: Walk The Moon
- The Hills: The Weeknd
- Trap Queen: Fetty Wap
- Uptown Funk: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
- Want To Want Me: Jason Derulo
- Watch Me: Silento
- What Do You Mean: Justin Bieber
- Where Are U Now: Jack U (Skrillex, Diplo) & Justin Bieber
[Header4 header=”Below are a few of the categories that INCREASED in prominence in Q3:”]
[Header1 header=” Hip Hop/Rap (Sub-Genre )”]
Hip Hop/Rap’s influence as a sub-genre in the Top 10 reached its highest level in years. From a low of just 25% of songs in Q1, it jumped up to 48% in Q3, which tied it as the second most popular along with R&B/Soul. Its influence spanned all of the primary genre categories except for Rock, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Hey Mama), Pop (Good For You), R&B/Soul (The Hills), and of course all of the songs in the Hip Hop/Rap primary genre category.
[Header1 header=” Trap (Sub-Genre)”]
The sub-genre that REALLY took off during the last couple of quarters was Trap. Accounting for just 5% of songs back in Q1, it skyrocketed up to a multi-year high of 43% in Q3. Its influence spanned each primary genre category except for Rock, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Hey Mama), Hip Hop/Rap (My Way), Pop (Bad Blood), and R&B/Soul (The Hills).
[Header1 header=” Solo Male (Lead Vocal)”]
Men were in control of the mic in Q3. The solo male lead vocal category reached its highest level of prominence in years, accounting for 57% of songs by the end of the quarter. Additionally, this was the third quarter in a row where the vocal category was the most popular. Representative songs spanned each primary genre category, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Where Are U Now), Hip Hop/Rap (Watch Me), Pop (Photograph), R&B/Soul (The Hills), and Rock (Shut Up And Dance). Note that all of these songs were new to the Top 10 in Q3.
[Header1 header=” Love/Relationships (Lyrical Theme)”]
Love was certainly in the air in Q3. Surging from 74% of songs in Q2 up to 91% in Q3, this was the lyrical theme category’s highest level of prominence in over a year. Representative songs stemmed from each primary genre category, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Lean On), Hip Hop/Rap (See You Again), Pop (Bad Blood), R&B/Soul (Want To Want Me), and Rock (Shut Up And Dance).
[Header1 header=” Pre-Chorus (Inclusion Of)”]
The “optional” pre-chorus became mandatory in Q3. From a multi-quarter low of 68% of songs in Q2, the percentage of songs that feature a pre-chorus in their framework jumped up to 78% in Q3, which was the highest level in a year. Representative songs stemmed from each primary genre category except for Rock, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Lean On), Hip Hop/Rap (Watch Me), Pop (Drag Me Down), and R&B/Soul (Can’t Feel My Face). Note that all of these songs were new to the Top 10 in Q3.
[Header4 header=”Below are a few of the categories that DECREASED in prominence in Q3:”]
[Header1 header=” R&B/Soul (Sub-Genre)”]
R&B/Soul’s multi-quarter reign as the top sub-genre/influencer in the Top 10 came to an end in Q3-2015. Dropping from a high 0f 70% of songs back in Q1 down to just 48% in Q3, this was the sub-genres lowest level of popularity in over a year. Its influence spanned multiple primary genre categories, however, including Dance/Club/Electronic (Hey Mama), Hip Hop/Rap (Trap Queen), Pop (Good For You), and of course all the songs in the R&B/Soul primary genre category.
[Header1 header=” Solo Female (Lead Vocal)”]
Solo female lead vocals were a rare commodity in Q3. The vocal category has been steadily diminishing in prominence from a multi-year high of 42% of songs back in Q4-2014, down to a multi-year low of just 9% of songs in Q3-2015. Lean On and Fight Song were the two songs responsible for keeping the category alive in Q3.
[Header1 header=” Partying/Living It Up (Lyrical Theme)”]
There wasn’t a whole lot of partying going on in Q3. Dropping from 21% of songs in Q2 down to just 4% in Q3, this was the lyrical theme’s lowest level of popularity in well over a year. If not for Uptown Funk, the party would have been over.
[Header1 header=” Bridge (Inclusion Of)”]
The bridge traded places with the pre-chorus as the “optional” section to include in a song’s framework in Q3. Plummeting from 74% of songs in Q2 down to just 52% in Q3, this was the section’s lowest level of popularity in years. Interestingly, even less of the Q3 new arrivals, just 31%, utilize one in their framework. They include Good For You (Pop), Locked Away (Pop), Photograph (Pop), and The Hills (R&B/Soul).
Of the 48% of songs that don’t contain a bridge in their framework, most feature another section, such as an instrumental break, that provides a stringent departure relative to the other sections in the song in order to keep the engagement value at a high.
[Header1 header=” Late Hitting First Chorus (1:00+)”]
Prolonging the listener’s wait for the chorus went by the wayside in Q3. The Late (1:00+) First Chorus Occurrence category’s prominence plummeted from 22% of songs Q2, where it was tied as the most popular, down to just 9% of songs in Q3, where it was the least popular. Note that this was also the category’s lowest level in a year. Its two representative songs in Q3 were Photograph (Pop) and Earned It (R&B/Soul).
[Header4 header=”Below are a few noteworthy graphs illustrating how Hot 100 top 10 charting song characteristics have performed over the course of a year. Reference the full report for details:”]
[Header1 header=” Sub-Genres”]
[Header1 header=” Lead Vocal”]