HOT COUNTRY BILLBOARD CHARTS 2018
There were only 3 #1 songs on the Hot Country Charts in a year when we went through so many changes to our lives. The charts not only reflects chart position but also look at digital and physical sales as well as streaming. We find they were only written in 4th form. There are 7 forms. I call them forms for lack of a better word for the songs, but these songs were only written in 4th form. In Europe the “lift”, or “prechorus” is called a “bridge” and when they refer the “middle 8” its also called the “bridge” in the United States....as I’m writing it in the United States, we'll call it a “lift”, ”prechorus” and a “middle 8” or “bridge”. The 4th form is verse, lift, chorus, verse, lift, chorus, middle 8/instrumental/breakdown or whatever and either lift or chorus. With each of the figures quoted what I do is add all the numbers together (intros, length of time to first use of “you”,etc.) and find the average number. I use that in the article.
When a record has an “intro” that means it is designed for terrestrial radio as well as streaming and additional uses. You only do an intro when that should be a “signature lick”, or it establishes tempo, or a thousand other reasons or because that’s what the Broadcaster wants. So they all had intros. “Meant to Be”, “Lose it”, and “Speechless” had 10 seconds and 11 second intros, and the song that almost didn’t have an intro was ”Speechless” with a 1 second intro, so almost a zero start. The average of the intro is 7 seconds.
FIRST USE OF “YOU”
Most songwriters think they need to write their innermost feelings about themselves. Wrong. That’s poetry. It’s called “writers assumption”. You need to describe a situation, scene, or scenario that captures what’s happening right now. I’ll repeat myself again, the pronoun “you” is the trigger word that invites in the listener/consumer.
The only downside to using the pronoun “you” is that when you do that, the consumer expects to hear all about that “you” which means “them” individually! If you fail to do that then listener/consumer loses interest. The times for the pronoun “you” went 11 seconds on Fla- Ga Line and Bebe Rhexa to 2 seconds for Dan & Shay and 30 seconds on the Kane Brown, but each of the songs used the “you” to involve the listener. That means the artist establishes a link immediately to the consumer by involving them. The average time to the “you” is 14 seconds.
The detail is so important because that’s what the listener hears in the song. The songwriter “assumes” the listener knows all about what the songwriter is talking about. The writer needs to tell the listener about what the writer is seeing/feeling in the song... soon! The first few lines lead the listener to the title or “hook line” and that needs to happen around about a minute. That happens about 40 seconds and 41 seconds into these 3 songs.
Once you enter a structure, the listener expects you to follow that structure. All the three songs are written in the same structure...fourth form. I guess that must be the form that satisfies them and the Broadcaster. “Mean to be” by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rhexa for 50 weeks, almost a year on the #1 spot. It came on last year for a few weeks, but got bumped out by Kane Brown for a week and Dan & Shay for 3 weeks, or else it would have stayed on the charts for almost a year.
This gives us a opportunity to look into this structure. This structure starts off with “ear catching” detail in the first line or two and is generally cemented in the lift/climb, by the use of “and/with/but or because.” It is marked by the semi-questioning line at the prechorus in the “Meant to Be”, “As long as you’re right here by my side”, and the start of the prechorus in “Lose It”, “Cause when you do that thing right there” and “‘Cause when you look at me with those eyes” in “Speechless” they set the tone for the lift. The hook is at 40 seconds for “Meant to Be” and 41 seconds for “Lose It” and 40 seconds for “Speechless”. It reaches the conclusion in a timely fashion, and the 2 minute wall is where it should be.
THE TWO MINUTE WALL
The listener gets very bored if you as a writer don’t bring another section into the song. It can be a breakdown, instrumental, middle 8 ,whatever.... The “ two minute wall” happens in “Meant to Be” at 1.59, and it happens in “Lose it” at 1.52 and “Speechless” 2.22. The average time to the “2 minute wall” is 2.03.
BEATS PER MINUTE
BPM, or as it’s known generically. Because in most cases the listener is ONLY listening, so bpm is very important. I just add all the beats per minute on all the songs and divide it by the number of titles. This year it's the radio friendly 87 BPM, which makes the consumer sit up and take notice.
When you do mundane tasks, like on the computer for instance, it’s good to set the music at 60 bpm. Dance is 120 to 135 and the listening tempo is somewhere in between, so 87 bpm is good. That’s all determined by the heart rate.
TIME TO FIRST USE OF TITLE
The writer has an obligation to get the listener/consumer to the title in at least 60 seconds. 60 seconds is a long time to wait for the “punch line”. The first use of title coincides with the first time the hook is involved. That’s 40 seconds in “Meant to be”, 41 seconds in “Lose it” and 40 seconds in “Speechless”. That means the songwriter did their job, and the average time to the title is 40 seconds.
The era of the artist initially making a cd/album is pretty much gone. We’re living in a digital world. The artist doesn’t make a collection of her/his body of work. The songs needed to be faded because the artist needed to wean off that particular song to move you along to the next song...which was generally theirs. Not so true anymore.
All the songs dead ended on the Billboard Hot Country Chart for 2018 at 2.42 minutes for “Meant to be”, 2.56 minutes for “Lose it” and 3.29 minutes for “Speechless”, for an average of 2.58 minutes. Although in the next few years the Pop Charts, which the Hot Country and the Country AirPlay Charts have a tendency to follow, are using the fades on the tracks, not the vocals.
Gender is important. There is not a female solo on the Hot Billboard Country Charts. But if you look at “Meant to Be”, it’s Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rhexa, she does have the second verse to herself and it dominated the chart for the bulk of the year, so I guess it qualifies. There is no woman featured in “Lose it” or “Speechless” unless you’re talking about the “you”. Regarding the gender of the writers, there were 11 writers and two were female, Bebe Rhexa on “Meant to be” and Lara Veltz on “Speechless”. They wrote with Tyler Hubbard, Joshua Miller and David Garcia on “Meant to be”. On “Lose it” Chase McGill, Will Weatherly and Kane Brown wrote it on Kane Browns single. “Speechless” was written by Jordan Reynolds, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. So there were 9 male songwriters and 2 female songwriters on the three songs.
AND THE AVERAGE IS...
If you want the average, here’s the average...
Have a 7 second intro
Use the pronoun “you” on average about 14 seconds into the song
Have a detail sprinkled around liberally
Be sure to honor the “2 minute wall”
Keep the BPMs around 87
Average for the dead end is 2.58
Aim at a male singer or make sure there’s a place for a woman
Use the 4th form...but don’t be afraid of the 3rd
Arrive at the title in 60 seconds or less...(40 seconds), including Intro
Follow the averages above or not ...I do the analyses for me because I want to know what is wrong with my songs. Have a wonderful time.