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> What constitutes a successful single nowadays?
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TheGhostPensmith
post Jul 17 2016, 04:02 PM
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I've been giving this a lot of thought lately, particularly where everything is now 'on air on sale' and geared towards streaming. What, on the whole, do you feel constitutes a successful single for an artist these days?

The days of anyone going top 10, let alone number one first week out seem to be long gone unless they're on a major international scale - e.g. the recent Justin Timberlake or Rihanna records - or unless the record gets held back which very few seem to do now.

If you compare it to say 2003 or 2004, where fans and record labels judged an artist by their chart positions a lot more harshly - often dropping artists if they so much as hit anywhere lower than #5 with a single (hi, The 411 - random example off the top of my head) - it does seem there is a bit more breathing space for artists now if that makes sense.

Certainly, I think the way it works now - whilst is it a bit slower for turnover - has put a lot of the emphasis back on a single naturally building popularity and slowly climbing, as it did back in the 70s and 80s. The best recent example for me was Little Mix "Love Me Like You". That didn't even end up anywhere near the top 10, which if they'd been around 10 years ago and especially for an artist as they would have been seen to be a disaster, but it had a great chart run and really strong sales and airplay.

So that's my take on it all...any thoughts?
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mdh
post Jul 17 2016, 04:06 PM
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Ooh this is a good topic - I would have posted one in the next few weeks.

I think trends come and go, for example everything in the 80's was synth heavy and had an electronic feel to it, and around 2010-13 most number ones were pop.

Right now I think the stereotypical successful song is a dance-pop song that has a specific chorus - or, and especially this year, a basic male R&B track with light rap and a catchy hip hop beat.

AND I read the thing wrong nvm but have my opinions on something totally different instead wink.gif


This post has been edited by meme: Jul 17 2016, 04:09 PM
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Dobservance
post Jul 17 2016, 04:14 PM
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Love Me Like You did end up near the top 10, just outside in fact!

Of course chart runs are very parabolic these days & almost every single NE to the top 40 these days began its life outside it. Dua Lipa Hotter Than Hell entered at #50 in week 1, 10 years ago cheerio but now labels are beginning to realise songs climb to their peaks rather than fall from them.

Anyway to answer your question there isn't really a surefire answer for a successful single as it's all subjective really. Pink's Just Like Fire as an example has an underwhelming peak but an impressive run so there will be people who will consider it a successful hit & others not so much.


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Joe ho ho!
post Jul 17 2016, 04:15 PM
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Well Little Mix's Love Me Like You was #11 so it wasn't that far from the top 10.


But in general I think it's all about longevity now. I class Ariana's Love Me Harder as a hit and it didn't even make the top 40!
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James Silkstone
post Jul 17 2016, 05:41 PM
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I'm in a minority on this but I actually really like the charts now. I like to know what's genuinely popular and it's great to see songs climb and build up momentum to their peaks over time. I never liked 6-12-20-34-45-67-75-OUT chart runs, I much prefer to see songs build week by week. One wonders how songs from 10/15/20 years ago would have done under this system - acts like Westlife and Boyzone would have lost a good few number one's for sure, if not a few top tens.
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Winter Wombatlan...
post Jul 17 2016, 05:54 PM
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Tbh I don't really think the definition of a successful single has changed - wherever it peaks, if it racks up an impressive or consistent sales total over time then it is a success (I wouldn't say a number as that's relative to the peak), even those that peak outside the top 20/40. What has changed is it's near impossible to judge if any single was a success based on it's first week or merely peak alone, unless in very exceptional cases like the X Factor winners single or similar acts that aim for as big a first week impact as possible.

This post has been edited by Chez Wombat: Jul 17 2016, 05:55 PM
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Hassaan
post Jul 17 2016, 08:22 PM
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Calum Scott has spent 12 weeks climbing from #40 to #4 with Dancing On My Own so that might be one of the recent success stories in terms of a song slowly building in popularity.
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Jonjo
post Jul 17 2016, 09:44 PM
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QUOTE(Joe. @ Jul 17 2016, 05:15 PM) *
But in general I think it's all about longevity now. I class Ariana's Love Me Harder as a hit and it didn't even make the top 40!
Agreed! I also think of Ciara - I Bet as a similar sort of hit (on a smaller scale, obviously). But tbh, I think they'll just be songs in the future (maybe not so much so in Ciara's case come to think of it - but def Ariana) that people look back on and think "wow. That wasn't a top 40 hit?" in a similar way to how it's still hard to believe 'Summer Of '69' was never a top 40 hit/one of Bryan Adams biggest peaking singles!
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Gambo
post Jul 18 2016, 09:55 AM
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QUOTE(James Silkstone @ Jul 17 2016, 06:41 PM) *
I'm in a minority on this but I actually really like the charts now. I like to know what's genuinely popular and it's great to see songs climb and build up momentum to their peaks over time. I never liked 6-12-20-34-45-67-75-OUT chart runs, I much prefer to see songs build week by week. One wonders how songs from 10/15/20 years ago would have done under this system - acts like Westlife and Boyzone would have lost a good few number one's for sure, if not a few top tens.


Hear hear. Just a shame the quality - in my book - of the music in today's charts is generally so poor. I've bought 31 single tracks so far in 2016 (yes, BOUGHT - there's still a few of us around!), but only 14 of them registered a chart placing within the Top 200, and fewer still grazed the 100. There's still decent music out there, but one may not necessarily find it in the upper echelons of the charts, and rarely do I really believe that the biggest hits represent the best on offer in terms of musical composition and lyrical literacy. But, for all the concerns about the sameness of so many songs nowadays and the increasingly processed nature of them, as well as the impact of audio streaming and the steady dilapidation of true sales changing the shape of the market, I do prefer the slower pace of the chart now compared to the frenetic 1990s or 2000s, where sales of the biggest singles could be significant, but were considered a living oldie if they clung on to a Top 75 berth ten weeks after release. Yes, the pendulum's swung a little too far in the way of slowness now, but as I always say, the chart configuration is determined by the public's patterns of sales (and now streams), and people should not be looking to advocate changes to the chart just because they don't like the dominant behaviour of titles within it, any more than because they don't personally like what appears in it. It should be retained as the most accurate reflection of the market, for better and worse, as is possible.

I would say that the longevity of a track within the Top 100 or 200 is actually less of a determinating factor as to what constitutes a bona fide 'hit', as it is now so common for titles to retain chart positions for months on end, despite sometimes having peaked relatively low, and in a declining sales climate, clocking up enough units to stay in the chart each week may not compare favourably to what was needed to sustain a chart run in times of stronger sales. As has always been the case, the best barometer of determining the greatest hits in any era is neither the peak position nor weeks on chart, but surely their overall sales tally (and nowadays its streaming units), especially now all tracks are available in perpetuity rather than just a few months as was the norm in the physical era. A track that's shifted a million copies - and I'd say actual copies rather than streaming equivalents, surely ahs to be considered a more sizeable hit in relative terms to those that sold less. Better-still those who managed such lofty levels of commercial success within only a few months, and in the physical era, as opposed to titles that've taken decades to achieve it thanks to trickle-sales since being made available digitally.

In a less measurable sense though, another valid way of assessing the success and status of a song is to look at its longer-term impact culturally. Has a track lived longer in the memory of music fans, for whatever reason, and even if it didn't shift many units or perform with distinction on the charts, has the song nevertheless gone on to cement a wider importance beyond its commercial reach that renders it more worthy, or more relevant, to the broader history of popular music than many of those which sold well for a while, but ultimately have been forgotten by a large portion of people? There have been numerous examples of this down the decades, from say Van Morrison's 'Brown-Eyed Girl' which never even scraped a Top 50 position in 1967, yet is widely-known and loved by many even today, with frequent radio play, to 'Teenage Kicks' by The Undertones - regarded now as a seminal punk classic boosted by the endorsement of John Peel, yet at the time a brief Top 40 flirtation. Even songs that sold well but didn't quite hit the highest heights won't be viewed as less of a hit in many people's eyes; so some of The Beatles' incredibly well-liked and well-known singles 'only' sold half a million copies in the 1960s, while Robson & Jerome's first two singles both topped the million very quickly in the '90s. Yet which is likely to be best-remembered, and seen as the more relevant and worthy 'hits' in retrospect? I think we know the answer.

So in summary, sales and streaming tallies provide the entry level measure of success and whether something is a comparative hit or not - although it is entirely arbitrary as to where one draws the line as to where something ceases to be classifiable as a 'hit' based on figures. And looking only at units shifted as a determinator of wider impact or success is only half the story. In both cases, only time will tell if a song will be looked back upon by a majority who would agree that it was a genuine bona fide outstanding performance that may or may not have outperformed the market at the time of its peak popularity, but has in any case transcended commerciality to secure a permanent place in the history books and that which future generations will keep coming back to. Sadly, I fear we will have fewer and fewer of that kind of song in today's charts, however high and for however long they score.
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SKOB
post Jul 18 2016, 10:26 AM
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^Great post, thanks!

(although I hugely disagree with the last sentence.. I played Lean On on a dj gig on Saturday, and everybody went nuts so there's one classic right there for you, also Get Lucky, Uptown Funk, Someone Like You etc there are loads. Plus I believe that streaming a song over and over again engages people even more to it. One can always buy a track and listen to it twice but it really requires some love to play it loads)


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No Sleeep
post Jul 18 2016, 01:59 PM
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QUOTE(James Silkstone @ Jul 17 2016, 06:41 PM) *
I'm in a minority on this but I actually really like the charts now. I like to know what's genuinely popular and it's great to see songs climb and build up momentum to their peaks over time. I never liked 6-12-20-34-45-67-75-OUT chart runs, I much prefer to see songs build week by week. One wonders how songs from 10/15/20 years ago would have done under this system - acts like Westlife and Boyzone would have lost a good few number one's for sure, if not a few top tens.


This!
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Atonement
post Jul 18 2016, 02:06 PM
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QUOTE(James Silkstone @ Jul 17 2016, 07:41 PM) *
I'm in a minority on this but I actually really like the charts now. I like to know what's genuinely popular and it's great to see songs climb and build up momentum to their peaks over time. I never liked 6-12-20-34-45-67-75-OUT chart runs, I much prefer to see songs build week by week. One wonders how songs from 10/15/20 years ago would have done under this system - acts like Westlife and Boyzone would have lost a good few number one's for sure, if not a few top tens.


Agreed (even though I'm not from the UK so it's not that relevant to me laugh.gif).
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James Silkstone
post Jul 18 2016, 02:57 PM
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I mean, there are downsides. Drake will probably still be in the Top 40, if not the Top 20, at Xmas and only one or two hits entering the Top 40 each week has made the chart show a little dull.

I think 2016 is one of the worse years for popular music in recent memory, though I'm one who thinks on the whole 2011-2013 and then 2015 were actually pretty superb years overall, so there's still been a fair few major hits this year I've liked. To me, at the end of the day, any record that reached the Top 40 in any era was a hit. In 2001, it was easier as you could have weeks of building up interest to a song being released which obviously made for higher, more front loaded sales but at the same time the song had to capture the public's imagination to do that. In 2001, we didn't have YouTube or Spotify which meant in the weeks prior to a songs release all the exposure the public had to it came from chance plays on TV or Radio and the odd promotional performance on TOTP, CDUK, GMTV exct. Therefore interest in a song really had to be captured and maintained over six-nine week periods without anyway for the consumer to really use the song regularly - I imagine that's why some would argue the actual quality of chart music as declined overall; songs back then had to create so much more of a buzz or memorability in order to keep it fresh in the record buying publics minds for two months before they could actually get their hands on it. Think now, do you still like and listen regularly to the songs you were into 8 weeks ago? One or two aside, I can't say I do or ever have done.

Whereas now, songs are kind of thrown into the deep end straight away and have to really 'earn' that Top 40 spot. I would count a lot of the songs in the past few years that peaked between #41 and #75 as hits on their own merits, but because of the way the charts are structured now their high sales came gradually over months and months rather than in one straight flourish. This cost a few songs Top 40 positions but lead to silver or even gold certifications in the long run. I mean, if you compare Selena's "Same Old Love" which peaked at #81 in 2015 to a #81 peaking song from 2005; the difference is clear. 'Same Old Love' had a bad peak but has managed to sell over 100k and seems generally quite well known whereas, name me a #81 peaking song from 2005. One of the most culturally impacting hits of last year was Omarion, Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko's "Post To Be" thanks to it's rather tasteless eating booty like groceries line being shared and quoted over and over, yet it only slumped to #74 but I would argue a majority of people my age (21) or thereabouts are aware of it.


This post has been edited by James Silkstone: Jul 18 2016, 03:00 PM
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awardinary
post Jul 18 2016, 06:14 PM
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I used to judge "successful singles" if they made it onto a compilation CD like the Now series or Hits series (back in the day).

Ultimately, I would say if a single is remembered in 5 years time, let alone a years time, it has produced a measure of success.

Would love a weekly chart show on TV again like TOTP as you mentioned previously. biggrin.gif

Also, there needs to be a push for new artists to break into the charts, as they don't get a look in these days, and that's a real disaster to the music industry. There has to be an incentive to "try something new" each week, maybe a freebie with each download, or something like that, anything to get new artists noticed.
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TheGhostPensmith
post Jul 18 2016, 06:56 PM
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QUOTE(Hassaan @ Jul 17 2016, 09:22 PM) *
Calum Scott has spent 12 weeks climbing from #40 to #4 with Dancing On My Own so that might be one of the recent success stories in terms of a song slowly building in popularity.


I was gonna say that one as an example as well! It's doing really well that song, and I liked the original by Robyn as well smile.gif

It's interesting to see a lot of people agree with what I said re: sustained chart runs and sales being the predominant focus. I do love that about this current era for singles.
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JingleBellJupes
post Jul 20 2016, 02:56 AM
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I think one benefit to the top 40 being so stagnant is that more people are looking further afield to the e.g. top 100, sales-only chart, Spotify top 200, iTunes top 200 and thus being exposed to a much bigger raft of music than the 40 biggest sellers (or biggest-consumed) songs in any given week. And then certain songs pick up traction. Calum Scott is one example of that; to a lesser extent something like MO Final Song, AlunaGeorge I'm In Control, Dua Lipa Hotter than Hell would all be songs that have stuck around long enough in the lower reaches to catch on. M.O Who Do You Think Of is another that's hovering just outside the Spotify top 50 right now, something that might still let it enter the charts now in July or in August and catch on, despite being released in early May. Go back even three years and it would have been much harder for songs of that kind to build any kind of base high enough to trouble the charts if they didn't impact hard in week one and catch on, or unless they had dedicated radio support or an ad campaign supporting.

So I would say there are lots more routes to having a successful single nowadays. Ultimately if it makes money and helps its artist establish their reputation and get to put more out, that's a success.
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