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Chart-toppers more likely to be happier, danceable, and sung by women

Researchers analysed more than half a million songs from the UK Official Singles Chart in the last 30 years (1985 – 2015) to understand what makes them successful.

Several trends were found including a clear downward trend in ‘happiness’ and ‘brightness’ of songs, and a slight upward trend in ‘sadness’.

Songs are also becoming less “male”, whilst successful songs tend to be ‘happier’, more ‘party-like’, less ‘relaxed’, and more ‘female’.

We analysed more than 500,000 songs released between 1985 and 2015, to understand the dynamics of success (defined as “making it” into the top charts).

Several trends have been uncovered: “happiness” and “brightness” of songs are clearly decreasing, while “sadness” is increasing.

Furthermore, songs are becoming less “male”. Interestingly, successful songs exhibit their own distinct behavior: they tend to be “happier”, more “party-like”, less “relaxed”, and more “female” than most.

We used machine learning techniques to predict the success of songs, first based on their acoustic features, and then adding the “superstar” variable, achieving an 85% prediction accuracy.

Source: The Royal Society 

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