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"What Makes a Song a Hit?"

This is a project for my Project Based Learning class at the OH Institute.
by

Leah Smartt

on 11 April 2011

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Transcript of "What Makes a Song a Hit?"

What Makes a Song A Hit? To find that answer, let's get technical. First of all, What is a hit song? A hit song is: The song that, despite your taste in music, you can sing along to. The song that is stuck in your head all day. The song that is on EVERY SINGLE radio station. The song that can turn an unknown artist into an overnight celebrity and increase a superstar's popularity. The song that is the number one download on iTunes. How do artists write hit songs? Every song has a "skeleton." In music lingo, the "skeleton" of the song is called the song form or The song arrangement. There are many, many different types of song form. AABABCBB, ABABCB, AB, and A-TB-B, formats are popular in songwriting. A is the Verse, B is the Chorus, C is the Bridge and TB is the Transition Bridge or PreChorus. "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum follows an A, TB, B, Interlude, A, TB, B, Interlude, B song arrangement. *Lady Antebellum won the song of the year
award (as well as 4 others) at the 53rd Grammy Awards.* "Baby" by Justin Bieber Is in an AABBAABBCBB song arrangement. According to Billboard.com, the single "Baby" peaked at the number five spot on the website's Hot 100 in 2010. "Born This Way" By Lady Gaga Recently claimed the number one spot on Billboard.com's Hot 100. "Born This Way" is in an ABABCBB song form with an added spoken introduction, interlude, and outro. The following hit songs are examples of different song arrangements artists use in their writing. Is song arrangement the only factor in composing a "hit" song? For songs to be "hits" they must be considerably well written and composed. Well, what makes a "good" song? Let's find out. L
Y
R
I
C
S The title of the song has to catch the listener's eye. "Tik Tok" By: Ke$ha Is an example of a song title that catches the eye--it's misspelled on purpose, short and different. "Tik Tok" also happens to be the hook in the song. Nope! Lyrics and musical arrangement are highly important in music composition. The melody of a song needs to be simple, catchy, and easy to remember. The song must be universal, and completely original. *songs that sound like other songs are never big hits.* CONNECTION CONNECTION CONNECTION If a listener cannot connect to a song through the lyrics or musical arrangement, chances are they won't listen to it again. Musical Arrangement The musical arrangement of a song
doesn't have to be complicated, it just
needs to engage the listner. "Hey There Delilah" By the Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah made it to Billboard.com's Hot 100 charts in July of 2007 and was also nominated for two Grammy Awards. Is a song with a simple musical arrangement and simple lyrics that made it to the top charts while still connecting with listeners. Now we know that song structure, lyrics, and musical arrangement are important factors in writing and composing "good" songs. By: Leah Smartt Besides the technical aspect of a song, how does it become a "hit"? social influence. A study was done using the website purevolume.com to determine if social influence was a large factor in determining which songs were "hits" and which songs were not. Purevolume.com is a site that features unknown artist's music. 14,341 teenagers were asked to rate 48 songs on a scale of 1-5 each, and if the teens liked a song, they had the option of downloading. Teens were split into two groups--Independent and Social Influence. In the Independent group teens were on their own and made music choices by themselves. In the social influence group teens had knowledge of other's opinions. A song called "Lockdown" by 52Metro came in 26th in the Idependent group while in once social influence group it came in first. In another social influence group the same song came in 40th out of 48. This study proved that social influence
plays a large factor in determining the
popularity of a song. Internet influence. Google, YouTube, iTunes and other websites of the same type can be credited to the larger availability of music. Both YouTube and iTunes have features that will recommend a user to a video or song that is similar to one that the user has previously watched or listened to. As the Internet has grown over the past
decade, the availability of music has grown. The internet offers a wider spectrum for social influence. One music video that has become a hit in the past couple weeks due to rapid social and media influence is "Friday," by Rebecca Black, a previously unknown artist. "Friday" currently has 43,576,329 views as of 3/24/11. Artist's popularity. If and artist already has a large fan-base, several hit singles, an album etc., there are higher chances for that artist to produce another hit single. This is due to the artist's evident popularity, the artist's ability to connect to the listeners, and the musical arrangement. An example of this effect is Lady Gaga.
she has had eight hit singles and all of which have made the top 10 on billboard.com's Hot 100 in the past two years. Four of her songs have claimed the number one spot. Relevance to Today's music Today, many of the "hit" songs are specifically written for use in clubs and on dance floors. why is the music like that today? Music is written for the dance floor becuase it's what listeners want to listen to. Through social influence,
the want for more songs to dance to has increased. Therefore record companies and music artists
record more songs that would work in clubs. So generally the "hit" songs today are club songs. In an interview, Lead singer of the band OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, shared his thoughts on music. OneRepublic's song "Apologize", 2007, had the record of the biggest radio airplay, only to be broken by Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love, which Ryan Tedder wrote. Ryan Tedder has written for artists like Leona Lewis, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and Adam Lambert. He confesses that he would like to write 1940's style music but says that, "...When you think about a song like 'At Last' [recorded by Etta James in 1961] , I could give it to Mariah Carey or whomever and it wouldn't work! You'd put it on the radio and it would die instantly. It's too melodical. It's too musical. iT doesn't have an 808 drum kit behind it, and it's not programmed to be playing in a club. Club songs, for the most part, are what people are identlfying
with today, and music means nothing if someone cannot
identify with and relate to the song. The point of music is to express ones self and connect with others. So in reality, a song could be a "hit" even if only one person has listened to it. Listen to what you love. Sources:
http://www.internetwritingjournal.com/oct05/dawson51.htm
http://www.livescience.com/7016-science-hit-songs.html
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/11257662/ns/today-entertainment/
http://garyewer.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/what-makes-a-hit-song/
http://www.guitarnoise.com/lesson/writing-a-hit-song/
http://1runited.net/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=902
http://www.billboard.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_(Justin_Bieber_song)
http://bobbyowsinski.blogspot.com/2011/03/born-this-way-lady-gaga-song-analysis.html
http://www.chevroncars.com/learn/wondrous-world/voyagers-greetings
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