Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can science predict a hit song?

Date:
December 19, 2011
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
New research by academics has looked at whether a song can be predicted to be a "hit."

Most people remember listening to the official UK top 40 singles chart and watching the countdown on Top of the Pops, but can science work out which songs are more likely to 'make it' in the chart?

Related Articles


New research has looked at whether a song can be predicted to be a 'hit'.

The paper, to be presented at an international workshop this week, argues that predicting the popularity of a song may well be feasible by using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms. The research team, led by Dr Tijl de Bie, is based in the University of Bristol's Intelligent Systems Laboratory in the Faculty of Engineering.

The team looked at the official UK top 40 singles chart over the past 50 years. Their aim was to distinguish the most popular (peak position top five) songs from less popular singles (peak position 30 to 40). A website, ScoreAHit, about the research is available at scoreahit.com/

The researchers used musical features such as, tempo, time signature, song duration and loudness. They also computed more detailed summaries of the songs such as harmonic simplicity, how simple the chord sequence is, and non-harmonicity, how 'noisy' the song is.

A 'hit potential equation' that scores a song according to its audio features was devised. The equation works by looking at all the UK hits for a certain time and measuring their audio features. From this the researchers had a list of weights, telling then how important each of the 23 features was and allowing them to compute a score for a song.

The team found they could classify a song into a 'hit' or 'not hit' based on its score, with an accuracy rate of 60 per cent as to whether a song will make it to top five, or if it will never reach above position 30 on the UK top 40 singles chart.

Dr Tijl De Bie, Senior Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence, said: "Musical tastes evolve, which means our 'hit potential equation' needs to evolve as well. Indeed, we have found the hit potential of a song depends on the era. This may be due to the varying dominant music style, culture and environment."

The study found some interesting trends, such as:

  • Before the eighties, the danceability of a song was not very relevant to its hit potential. From then on, danceable songs were more likely to become a hit. Also the average danceability of all songs on the charts suddenly increased in the late seventies.
  • In the eighties slower musical styles (tempo 70-89 beats per minute), such as ballads, were more likely to become a hit.
  • The prediction accuracy of the researchers' hit potential equation varies over time. It was particularly difficult to predict hits around 1980. The equation performed best in the first half of the nineties and from the year 2000. This suggests that the late seventies and early eighties were particularly creative and innovative periods of pop music.
  • Up until the early nineties, hits were typically harmonically simpler than other songs of the era. On the other hand, from the nineties onward hits more commonly have simpler, binary, rhythms such as 4/4 time.
  • On average all songs on the chart are becoming louder. Additionally, the hits are relatively louder than the songs that dangle at the bottom of the charts, reflected by a strong weight for the loudness feature.

The results of the study differ from previous research, which has so far not been shown to predict hit potential. A possibly important qualitative difference with previous studies is the use of the time-shifting perceptron to account for evolving musical taste.

The MML 2011 4th International Workshop on Machine Learning and Music: Learning from Musical Structure held in conjunction with the 25th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems will be held in Sierra Nevada, Spain on Saturday December 17.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Can science predict a hit song?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216234655.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2011, December 19). Can science predict a hit song?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 24, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216234655.htm
University of Bristol. "Can science predict a hit song?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216234655.htm (accessed January 24, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Phoenix hospital is experimenting with a faster way to test much needed medications for deadly brain tumors. Patients get a single dose of a potential drug, and hours later have their tumor removed to see if the drug had any affect. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

Buzz60 (Jan. 22, 2015) — What you do before bed can effect how well you sleep. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has bedtime rituals to induce the best night&apos;s sleep. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins