The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Noteworthy Findings From Our Q1 Trend Report



Solo male vocals dominate, late hitting choruses are on the rise, the synth is in decline and one word titles reign supreme. These are just some of the findings from our Q1 Hit Songs Deconstructed Trend Report. The full report provides you with detailed information on the key characteristics shaping the songs that chart within the Hot 100 top 10 each quarter.

Here are a few of our most intriguing findings:

Hip Hop/Rap -The Least AND Most Popular Genre With in the Top 10!
One of the most interesting findings of the quarter concerned Hip Hop/Rap. It was the least popular primary genre within the top 10. (In fact, Eminem’s “The Monster” was the sole representative during Q1.) However, Hip Hop/Rap was the most popular sub-genre/influencer of the quarter, helping to shape the sound of 35% of songs within the top 10 (in conjunction within other influences).

This includes Juicy J’s appearance within Katy Perry’s Dark Pop/Trap-influenced “Dark Horse”; Pitbull’s Rap-infused delivery within the Country/Dance fusion hit “Timber”; and the beat featured in Aloe Blacc’s Retro R&B/Soul/Pop-influenced “The Man.”

Late-Hitting Choruses Are On The Rise
As you may know, hitting the listener with the first chorus as quickly as possible is a good rule of thumb, no matter what the songwriting genre. That’s why it was such a surprise to find first choruses that occur relatively late within the song (i.e., more than 1:00 of the way in) steadily increasing from just 4% of songs back in Q3 all the way up to 20% during the first quarter of 2014. A couple of representatives include:

Drunk In Love: Its first chorus hits at 1:12 in the song. The 0:14 intro is followed by an exceptionally lengthy 0:58 first verse – longer, in fact, than in any other song within the top 10.

Story Of My Life: Its first chorus hits at 1:04. This is the case because three elements precede it – a 0:16 intro, a 0:32 first verse and a 0:16 pre-chorus.

One thing is certain. Getting to the primary hook relatively late didn’t hamper the success potential of either of these songs.

Top Performing Labels
Capitol and Warner Bros. accounted for the second-most and third-most songs within the Hot 100 top 10 during the first quarter of the year. Do you know which two labels tied for the most songs? Hint: one of them surprisingly hasn’t had a top 10 showing for the past three weeks. (For the answer, consult our full report on Q1.)

More Songwriters Are Going It Alone
If you’ve been reading our reports for a while, you know that most chart-topping songs are written by teams of hitmakers. Over the past couple of quarters, however, songs that were written by one credited songwriter have been consistently doubling in number, increasing from NONE back in Q3-2013 all the way up to 20% of all songs during the first quarter of the year.

Solo Male Vocals Dominate; Solo Female, Not So Much!
Most people, for whatever reason, usually assume that the majority of mainstream hits feature a female lead vocal. As you’ll see within our trend report, however, this was definitely NOT the case during Q1, and hasn’t been for more than a year!

More Songs Are Utilizing the A-B-A-B-C-B form
Historically the most-utilized form in popular music – the straight-up A-B-A-B-C-B form – reached its highest level in more than a year during the first quarter of 2014. In fact, it accounted for 40% of all songs within the Hot 100 top 10. That said, there were certain genres where the form had significantly less influence, including Dance and Hip Hop/Rap.

Top 10 Hits Possess Increased Staying Power
During the first quarter of 2014, 20 songs charted within the Billboard Hot 100 top 10. Nine of these were new to the top 10. The other 11 were carryovers from the last quarter of 2013.

This was actually the first time in more than a year that the carryovers outweighed the new arrivals! Was this because the labels had extended the length of their promotional initiatives? Or is it simply that these carryovers songs are connecting more powerfully with audiences?

The Mighty Synth Is In Decline
As you probably know, the synth has been a primary element within the vast majority of mainstream hits for a long, long time. During the first quarter of the year, however, its influence significantly diminished, dropping from 90% of songs during Q4 all the way down to just 65% by the end of Q1.

The reason for the decline was an influx of non-synth-dominated songs, some of which include “Let Her Go & Say Something” (acoustic guitar, strings), “All Of Me” (solo piano) and “Happy” (Fender Rhodes, prominent bass and claps).

These are just a few of the key trends in our most recent Hit Songs Deconstructed Trend Report. Our reports keep you in the know and ahead of the curve in a fast-changing musical landscape.

To check out the full report, click here.