Scientific Formula for Hit Pop Songs

Obviously, there's a lot of money to be made from hit pop songs. But can you predict or even make which songs will make it ot the top of the charts?

Bring in the scientists! Artificial Intelligence researcher Tijl De Bie and colleagues analyzed 50 years' worth of hit songs on Britain's top 40 charts and came up with a formula.

From an interview over at The Los Angeles Times:

You used artificial intelligence to devise an equation that could predict which songs made it to the top of the charts. How does it work?

To predict the hit potential of a given song, we used a computer to quantify how similar it is to previous "hits" and "flops." Time frame is important: If you're scoring a song from today, then we will consider the songs in 2011 more important than the songs in the '60s.

We represent each song using a set of 23 different features that characterize the audio. Some are very simple features — such as how fast it is, how long the song is — and some are more complex features, such as how energetic the song is, how loud it is, how danceable and how stable the beat is throughout the song. We also took into account the highest rank that songs ever achieved on the chart.

The computer can combine a song's features in an equation that can be used to score any given song.

We can then evaluate how accurately the computer scored it by seeing how well the song actually did.

Every single week now we're updating our equation based on how recent releases have done on the chart. So the equation will continue to evolve, because music tastes will evolve as well.

Any good examples of the computer guessing correctly?

Wiley's "Wearing My Rolex" did well, strongly based on loudness. So that was an expected hit. It went to No. 2 in 2008.

Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," which went to No. 1 in 2006, scored well thanks to its danceability, among other things.

Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," which went to No. 2 in 1970, had a fairly simple harmonic movement, which at that time was a good thing if you wanted to score a hit.


Previously on Neatorama: Is There a Scientific Explanation for Justin Bieber?

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