Museum of Science and Industry


Scientists from the University of Bristol studied whether an algorithm can predict whether a given song will hit the "top five" in the music charts. Their published accuracy rate? Approximately 60%, slightly better than random guessing. However, some interesting conclusions have emerged from this study:

1) It is easier for the algorithm to predict hits from the late '90s onward than in earlier eras, particularly the early '80s. Does this imply that David Bowie and Queen more musically complex than Taylor Swift? Inconclusive.

2) From the early '90s onward, songs have been becoming simpler rhythmically and more complicated harmonically.

3) All songs are becoming louder on average, and the hits are relatively louder than the flops. Therefore, the best thing you can do to ensure your song's popularity is make sure it's noisier than the competition.

Image: mattk1979 on Flickr

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