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> What constitutes a 'hit' single?
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Jamie Barkley
post Jan 16 2017, 07:31 PM
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So, following a brief discussion with some friends the other night, I've been having a bit of an internal debate with myself over what makes a 'hit' record. Being a bit of a chart nerd, I've always been interested by this concept, because I've always kind of known that a 'hit' record can have many different meanings. It can mean a song that was a hit at the time but the fact it has not been well remembered could call that status into question, or a song may attain 'hit' record status even if it performed poorly at the time but has become a well-known classic today (Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams probably being the best example of this).

First off, I think a songs chart peak is ultimately irrelevant, now more than ever. In 2017, I think a song can miss the Top 40 all together and still be considered a hit - 'Post To Be' by Omarion & Chris Brown from 2015 got no higher than #74 but was still pretty well known and sold well due to longevity where it's sales were more steadily flowed rather than in a few big bursts. Conversely, I would say that 'Focus' by Ariana Grande was not a hit despite it achieving a top ten placing. It fell off quickly and didn't sell particularly well and I don't think it will be remembered all that well.

Peak's have always been irrelevant. Back in 1996-2006, a song could chart very highly but I wouldn't consider a lot of top tens (and even a few top fives) from this era 'hits' as like the Ariana Grande example, they fell off quickly and sold relatively poorly after a first week flourish due to being held back. It would make sense then, and this is as close to an answer as I can get, that it's longevity which makes a 'hit' record but that depends on the climate of the chart at any particular song. I don't think you can use the same methodology to measure what's a hit in 2017 as you can do with 2002.

The way that chart back in 2002 worked, I would argue that any song that managed to last at least ten weeks in the Top 40 would be considered a hit single. Due to the nature of songs generally being held back so long and then selling a bulk of their copies in week one for a high peak, I think any song that managed to last ten weeks after it's debut within the Top 40 was definitely a hit. I don't think a song which peaked at number six but was at #72 six weeks later can really be considered. In terms of sales, I don't really know where you'd draw the line. Back in 2003, I'd say any song hitting 100k was a bonafide hit whereas now I'd say failing to get to 300k is edging towards disappointing for a Top 20 hit. I don't know if weeks in the Top 40 is a good method to use in 2017 as most songs spend at least ten weeks on the chart, is it 20? Is it if the song manages to sell well comparative to its peak? It's becoming very hard to define so I was wondering if people on here had any input?
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cqmerqn
post Jan 16 2017, 07:38 PM
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Chart peaks are becoming less and less relevant nowadays! For example, scraping the top 20 with a single a few years ago would've been seen as a flop but now it's usually seen as a hit considering it's so much harder to get into the charts.
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JosephStyles🐶
post Jan 16 2017, 07:43 PM
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I think anything that goes top 40 is most certainly a hit, although of course there are varying degrees of this, but when sales are generally high and it's so hard to crack the top 40, I think anything that goes top 40 is at least a minor hit, rather than a #38 single being seen as a huge flop for many artists a few years ago. Of course we're also seeing examples of lower peaking songs becoming hits too, such as Joel Adams' Please Don't Go which peaked at #50 and is now silver-certified (obviously streaming fuelled but that's another debate). It's something to consider on a case-by-case basis but I agree with cqmerqn, chart peaks are generally becoming less important, although they can be a good indicator still!

re. Focus, it's probably a bit harsh to say it wasn't a hit, because top 10 is still great and it hung around for a decent number of weeks in the top 40, but it wasn't a huge hit, it's a bit lower down the spectrum compared to most top 10s these days, if that makes sense.
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Spinfanny
post Jan 16 2017, 08:01 PM
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But then between 1996 and 2006 there was so much competition in the chart for places (with up to 10 new entries potentially a week) that it was still hard to get a high placing for a song and a decent chart run.

I still think the top 40 is useful as a guide to what became reasonably popular throughout time, I just use it for convenience really, and the top 40 has been such a big part of the UK chart culture for a long time, that anything that makes it for me is a hit in some form. The big hits though would be shown by those with a top 20 placing AND longevity in the chart.
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pes
post Jan 16 2017, 08:02 PM
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I have searched hit single on google last year, and read it that " a single is a hit when it made the top 100 " lol

Personally, for me everything that goes silver (minor hit), gold (hit), platinum (big hit)


This post has been edited by pes: Jan 17 2017, 10:28 AM
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Jan 16 2017, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE(pes @ Jan 16 2017, 08:02 PM) *
Personally, for me everything that goes silver (minor hit), gold (hit), platinum (big hit)


That seems fair in terms of the current climate.
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Spinfanny
post Jan 16 2017, 08:07 PM
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QUOTE(JosephStyles @ Jan 16 2017, 07:43 PM) *
I think anything that goes top 40 is most certainly a hit, although of course there are varying degrees of this, but when sales are generally high and it's so hard to crack the top 40, I think anything that goes top 40 is at least a minor hit, rather than a #38 single being seen as a huge flop for many artists a few years ago.


The perception depends on the artist, if they are an artist that has got two top 10 or top 20 hits and their next pre-album single reaches number 38 it would be a flop (example Matrix and Futurebound - Don't Look Back)

But if it is a new artist that has never had a top 40 single and gets one at #38, it would be seen as a hit.
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JosephStyles🐶
post Jan 16 2017, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE(Snake Got Hissed @ Jan 16 2017, 08:07 PM) *
The perception depends on the artist, if they are an artist that has got two top 10 or top 20 hits and their next pre-album single reaches number 38 it would be a flop (example Matrix and Futurebound - Don't Look Back)

But if it is a new artist that has never had a top 40 single and gets one at #38, it would be seen as a hit.


Although bear in mind that Matrix & Futurebound single wasn't in the current climate kink.gif I get your point though, it's all relative, but I don't think we can call a top 40 hit a "flop" in this day and age.

I think pes is pretty spot on actually with the certifications! Nicely put biggrin.gif
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danG
post Jan 16 2017, 08:30 PM
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I'd use the following thresholds myself

100k - minor hit
200k - medium sized hit
400k - big hit
600k - huge hit
900k - very huge hit
1200k - massive hit
1500k - humongous
2000k - 'all-conquering'
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gooddelta
post Jan 16 2017, 08:33 PM
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QUOTE(Danuary @ Jan 16 2017, 08:30 PM) *
I'd use the following thresholds myself

100k - minor hit
200k - medium sized hit
400k - big hit
600k - very big hit
800k - huge hit
1000k - massive hit
1500k - really massive
2000k - humongous


I'd agree but probably revise down 'really massive' to 1200k and 'humongous' to 1500k. I can't think of any songs that have sold over 1.5 million that I wouldn't think of as being absolutely huge.
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danG
post Jan 16 2017, 08:36 PM
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Fair enough, but I think the 2 million sellers (Thinking Out Loud, Happy and Uptown Funk are on a whole other level than other truly massive hits)
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gooddelta
post Jan 16 2017, 08:57 PM
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QUOTE(Danuary @ Jan 16 2017, 08:36 PM) *
Fair enough, but I think the 2 million sellers (Thinking Out Loud, Happy and Uptown Funk are on a whole other level than other truly massive hits)


Haven't there only ever been about 10 songs sell 2 million though?

I'd say those few songs are in a class of their own as being 'all-conquering' or something.

Then again, streaming has made this seemingly impossible target slightly less impossible (I mean Thinking Out Loud really doesn't feel like one of the top ten biggest songs of ALL time, as much as I like it).
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danG
post Jan 16 2017, 09:22 PM
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I've revised it slightly ~
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gooddelta
post Jan 16 2017, 09:34 PM
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QUOTE(Danuary @ Jan 16 2017, 09:22 PM) *
I've revised it slightly ~


Just my opinion on it of course, it's all pretty subjective.

Personally I also think the artist's profile, chart runs and how far through an album campaign a song is all come into the equation when determining a hit too. I mean I don't think too many people are going to look back on Perfect Illusion as being much of a hit for Gaga, especially with that chart run. Yet Million Reasons getting to #39 is somehow more impressive as it spent more weeks on the chart, probably sold more, or is at least on its way to doing so, and wasn't the lead single from the era. And any song making the top 40 four or five singles deep into an album campaign is doing really well (e.g. Adele's Water Under The Bridge...obviously a lead single peaking in the low 30s would be a disaster though).

And a top 40 hit for any new artist is always pretty impressive these days imo. There's really so much to think about when trying to define a hit.


This post has been edited by gooddelta: Jan 16 2017, 09:35 PM
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diamondtooth
post Jan 16 2017, 09:38 PM
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A few years ago Louisa Johnsons 'So Good' would be seen as a flop for peaking at No.13.
However in this climate its longevity has caused it to be a hit in my opinion. And I don't hear people calling this particular song a flop.
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Jamie Barkley
post Jan 16 2017, 10:11 PM
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It's interesting that although peaks are now more irrelevant than ever before in registering what's a hit and what's not, a higher peak from sustained success now means more than ever. Getting to number one in 2017 is a lot more impressive than getting one in 2007 (this is why I've never been against streaming too much). There were more than a few number one's in the late 90's and throughout the 2000's that I don't think would be hits in today's chart climate. It's interesting to think how the charts of 2003 may have looked with the method we use today.
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cqmerqn
post Jan 16 2017, 10:25 PM
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QUOTE(Danuary @ Jan 16 2017, 08:30 PM) *
I'd use the following thresholds myself

100k - minor hit
200k - medium sized hit
400k - big hit
600k - huge hit
900k - very huge hit
1200k - massive hit
1500k - humongous
2000k - 'all-conquering'

That's a good way of putting it. There are so many songs that haven't even sold 200k yet I'd still class them as hits
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Jamie Barkley
post Jan 17 2017, 12:29 AM
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QUOTE(Danuary @ Jan 16 2017, 08:30 PM) *
I'd use the following thresholds myself

100k - minor hit
200k - medium sized hit
400k - big hit
600k - huge hit
900k - very huge hit
1200k - massive hit
1500k - humongous
2000k - 'all-conquering'


That's a very good way of looking at it, though the categories would shift back a bit when looking at previous sales periods. In 2004, for example, 200k was probably about the equivalent to Big or even Huge hit for that time.
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Jamie Barkley
post Jan 17 2017, 12:37 AM
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The Vamps are probably a good way of looking at the rapid changes in chart format and how hits are measured. Their #24 hit 'All Night' is probably going to outsell at least three/four of their five top ten singles.
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