In this article, we are going to look at some of the common elements found in some of the chart music hits.
You could use these elements to inspire your own songwriting or provide you with a basis to start writing your own song. Or even to wonder if there is a formula for a hit song.
Statistics and Music
The arrival of streaming services like Spotify has allowed the music of the world to come together into one platform and allow us to consume as much music as we like with a click of a button. But it has also provided a potential to analyse and produce data based on the songs created and hosted on the platform. Back in 2015/16, Spotify posted a few blog articles with data based on the music hosted on its platform. Unfortunately in 2020, I can no longer locate the blog, but luckily, I kept some of the graphs.
Below is a pie chart with a list of keys of all the music contained on Spotify. You will see that a decent proportion of music is written in only a few keys.
So if looking to write a hit song, would you consider only composing in C or G major?
Another graph found from the same set of blog articles showed the data in popular music genres in the USA.
Obviously trends change and back in 2015/16 the Latin Pop, Emo Metal and Punk may have been really popular. But if your main ambition was to compose a hit song of the times, this type of data could make you think whether to compose in one genre or another and research elements of the style of that genre.
The Four Chord Song by Axis of Awesome has provided us with food for thought when it comes to songwriting. So many songs have similar chord progressions in common. It could be argued that this does make up the formula for our hit song or again provide us for a basis to start composing for the first time.
Another common aspect of popular music is cleverly demonstrated in the video below. Although titled “Millennial Whoop” the concept spans a wide range of music and long time period.
Is this another concept we should consider a frequent feature to include in “Hit” songwriting?
Personally I do not believe there is a formula for a hit song. The zeitgeist will always influence what we listen to and what is popular. But there are clearly some elements that are common and by having an analytical ear when listening to music will definitely expand your horizons and hopefully provide inspiration for your own compositions.
I don’t believe that any songwriter should write a song for the sole purpose of creating the next big hit. You should always write songs that show your creativity and if you are looking for global recognition, hopefully, that will follow later.