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Dr Joe Bennett

The Toby Gribben Show Highlights

10-02-2022 • 11 mins

Coinciding with the Brit Awards 2022 Musicologist Dr Joe Bennett is celebrating over 40 years of awards 'Song of the Year' category (SOTY) and has looked into how to create a hit song.

As a Professor of Modern Music, Dr Bennett is looking back and analysing songs from past winners and nominees as well as diving into the impact technology has had.

Since the first winner of SOTY in 1982, the structure of songs has gradually progressed. Interestingly by 2021, 50% of the SOTY nominees began with the chorus, which is a vast contrast to their predecessors throughout the 1980s.

As well as the structure the length of tracks has changed too.

By the mid-80s, SOTY nominees' songs were an average length of more than 4m 30s. More recently the average song duration was dramatically reduced in duration to an average of 3m 7s, between 2017-2021.

This is attributed to several factors, including listener preferences, Spotify algorithms and the rise of social media such as TikTok.

However, it's not only the tech that fans listen to music on that has evolved but also the tech behind the track. Findings show that songs that include the latest tech at the time were the most successful.

For artists struggling to land on a song title, one word should do the trick. Short titles have become much more common in recent years, with half of the 2021 nominees having one-word titles - e.g., Lighter, Physical, Rain, Rover, Secrets. Of the 329 nominees, 75 have one-word titles.

So, is it possible to create the 'ultimate song'?

Dr Bennett has teamed up with Mastercard to explore the category across a 40-year period and identify a checklist to follow when creating a hit song.

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