It’s halfway thru 2011 and time to make my 2nd annual midyear report. This report defines a hit as a song that has sold the most downloads. I look at the Top 50 biggest selling downloads in the US as a group. This year, these Top 50 downloads accounted for nearly 89 million downloads (and nearly $115 million in gross revenue). Once again, about 1 out of every 3 paid downloads of a new song came from this list of 50 titles. The exact figure is 32.9%, which is an increase over the 32.3% from last year. In fact, having a hit is becoming increasingly important. While the overall download market has increased 11% so far over 2010, the Top 50 downloads have increased in sales at a faster rate (by 15%). The #1 selling single for the year so far is Katy Perry’s “E.T.” with 4.1 million downloads sold. That’s a 22% increase over last year’s #1 song at this time. Also, for the first time, every single title in the Top 50 downloads has sold platinum in the last 6 months.
LIGHTS “My Boots”
A very standard 15 second intro that sets the listener up for a very traditional structure.
CHORD CHANGES: 6
Song has plenty of chord changes within the verse and chorus, but applies them very consistently.
Some changes (intro to verse) are throughout the song, but for the most part the song feels like a consistent beat with minimal changeups.
2 MINUTE CHANGEUP: 4
Bridge keeps same dynamic level and beat. Also repeats lyrics from chorus. While arrangement is different, the vibe appears to have minimal changes from the chorus.
Song title is not repeated that often in chorus, and also ends with a “boo-o-o-o-ts” lyric.
The ending is cold with Lights just singing the word “Boots” acapella. That lyric is on the resolve allowing closure, but it happens abruptly without the same resolution in the instrumentation.
At just over three minutes, it gives the listener little time to be fully engaged or owned by the song. It dissipates rather quickly to be sticky.
TIME BTWN RELEASES: 9
Lights’ debut was released just over a year ago, and an acoustic EP was released this past summer to keep fans interested.
Song title competes with Montell Jordan’s “My Boots” and Randy Houser’s “Boots On”, not to mention some generic boot companies.
Overall, the song is relatively flat, short, and non-dynamic. Plus the “oo-oo-oo” in the “boots” lyric of the chorus for some reason doesn’t sit right.
FUTUREHIT POTENTIAL: 49%
P!NK “Raise Your Glass”
Vocals come in at 8 seconds and the stuttering-type effect from the opening guitar even makes the instrumental engaging.
CHORD CHANGES: 6
The chord changes within the loop are nice, but that loop doesn’t change.
The song is popping from soft to loud quite often without once losing its energy.
2 MINUTE CHANGEUP: 10
“Oh shit, my glass is empty. That sucks!” “So if you’re too school for cool…” The lyrics + the dropout speak for themselves in terms of attention getting engagement.
The hook repeats the title several times and the immediate repetition of the “never be, never be” and “come on and, come on and” makes the hook instantly memorable and catchy.
A very concise ending that leaves you wanting more, and even though the song technically resolves, it doesn’t feel like it.
At just under 3:30, the song is average pop length that seems to work well for the song.
TIME BTWN RELEASES: 8
While it’s been two years since a new album, it’s only been 8 months since her last charting single peaked courtesy of a performance at the Grammys.
A combo of P!nk’s popularity and the lack of songs called “Raise Your Glass” makes this track super easy to find.
The energy, upbeat melodies, party vibe, and attitude one expects from P!nk all rolled into one? Feels like a smash.
FUTUREHIT POTENTIAL: 90%
KANYE WEST “Runaway”
The solo piano at the start is stark and intriguing and draws you in, but then is squandered by an overly long intro with vocals not hitting until 45 seconds in.
CHORD CHANGES: 2
This is mostly the standard 16-bar loop song that is increasingly finding less favor overall.
Starting with the stark piano, and a few other places where the piano gets focused, not the least of which is the ending, there’s some fairly decent engagement here.
2 MINUTE CHANGEUP: 3
With the long intro, this portion of the song happens around the 3 minute mark, which would likely have many causal listeners already tuning out.
When Kanye premiered this song on the MTV Video Music Awards, people immediately gravitated to the strong hook with bold, engaging, somewhat profane lyrics.
Ending with a stark piano re-engages the listener at the end, but it also goes for 15 seconds and has a chord resolution making it less subtly memorable.
If you’re gonna like this song, it’s nearly 6 minutes long, and will certainly own the listening experience at that time.
TIME BTWN RELEASES: 10
Kanye has been on a tear releasing songs within weeks of each other. As a result, the music fan is aware he’s got an album and are paying attention.
Search “Runaway” and you get the Joan Jett band from the 70s. Search “Kanye West Runaway” and you get his “Runaway Love” collaboration with Justin Bieber. Good luck finding this track.
The VMA launch drew a lot of attention to the track that instantly made it a hit amongst fans and caused people to know the song in an instant.
FUTUREHIT POTENTIAL: 56%