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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 17, Number 1 (2017)

An Analysis of Common Songwriting and Production Practices in 2014-2015 Billboard Hot 100 Songs

David T. Tough

Belmont University


Over the past two decades, there have been multiple studies and analyses conducted to separate and identify the components of a hit song in popular music. Some of the research has focused on a body of work (corpus studies) while others have honed in on individual songs. This paper is a multi-factor analysis of popular music recordings that attained ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 charts over the period 2014 to 2015. The purpose of this research study is to define current practices used in modern songwriting and music production. It is the author’s view that in today’s commercial music market both songwriting and song production techniques share a good deal of overlap. Production and engineering techniques are becoming a much more important part of the composition in today’s market, branching out from their historical role of simply reinforcing good tone or adding ear candy. Many modern hit songwriters are also producers and vice versa.

By applying statistical analysis to a number of metrics, including tempo, form, introduction length, song length, archetypes, subject matter, and repetition of title, common trends of songwriting and music production were garnered. Items such as number of weeks on the Hot 100 and the song’s peak position and number of songwriters and the song’s peak position showed statistically significant relationships.

Common practices identified in modern production and songwriting included, but were not limited to: 1) Writing songs about love and using the “Lover” archetype, 2) Using the song’s title as the hook and repeating it multiple times, 3) Co-writing, 4) Experimenting with new song forms, and 5) Using different textures in the song’s production that draw in listeners from different genres.

Keywords: music production, popular music research, songwriting analysis, Billboard Hot 100 chart, hit song techniques, music industry

Tough, David T. “An Analysis of Common Songwriting and Production Practices in 2014-2015 Billboard Hot 100 Songs.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 17, no. 1 (2017): 79-120.  https://doi.org/10.25101/17.4.

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