×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pop Is Crushing Hip-Hop in 2019, According to Hit Song Study

The number of new hip-hop songs reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 is dropping dramatically in 2019 as opposed to last year, according to “The State of the Hot 100 Top Ten,” a quarterly analysis of the compositional and industry trends issued by analysts Hit Songs Deconstructed.

While the study looks at just one element of the charts and year-to-year trends will be clearer in the full 2019 report, the drop in hip-hop is striking: Of the second quarter’s 15 new arrivals in the Top 10, just 34% were hip-hop as opposed to 60% last year — a drop of some 26% — while the percentage of pop new arrivals more than doubled to 49% from 23%. R&B/soul remained at 11% while other genres were 3% or below. The arrival of two new songs from Taylor Swift and one each from BTS and Ava Max certainly strengthened the pop category in Q2, although two new songs each from Drake and Khalid bolstered hip-hop and R&B, respectively.

The trend continued from the first quarter of 2019, which saw hip-hop songs dropping from 60% to 40% year over year, and pop surging to 45% from 23%.

Top 10 songs also moved faster and were musically more cheerful (or at least more were in a major key), according to the results of the study.

The second quarter was dominated by one song, of course: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which was in the Top 10 for some 12 weeks and was No. 1 for nearly the entire quarter. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” was next with 11 weeks in the Top 10 during the quarter, followed by Khalid’s “Talk” and Sam Smith and Normani’s “Dancing With a Stranger” with eight each.

Looking at the 15 new arrivals, 60% had male singers, 20% female and 20% mixed, while 53% were pop, 27% were hip-hop/rap and 20% were R&B soul. The average tempo was a brisk 98 beats per minute, while the average length was 3:20 and 53% are in a major key.

(The 15 new arrivals are: “Old Town Road,” “Bad Guy,” “Talk,” Drake’s “Money in the Grave” and “No Guidance” and Taylor Swift’s “Me!” and “You Need To Calm Down,” Khalid’s“Better,” BTS’ “Boy With Luv,” Sam Smith and Normani’s “Dancing With a Stranger,” Logic’s “Homicide,” Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s “I Don’t Care,” Shawn Mendes’ “If I Can’t Have You,” Da Baby’s “Suge” and Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho.”

Overall, the quarter saw fewer songs in a minor key than 2018 (57% vs. 71%, with 40% over 28% in a major key); the BPMs sped up considerably (93 vs. 83), and far more songs were exclusively sung as opposed to rapped (54% vs. 31%).

One could also argue that listeners have become more impatient, as the average song length dropped from 3:36 to 3:16, and the percentage of songs with 1 to 9 second intros rose from 25 to 43%. However, it’s taking six second longer to get to the chorus, from 36 seconds in 2018 to 42 seconds this year.

Overall for the quarter, the Top 10 saw 32 artists, 110 songwriters, 43 producers and just eight labels (seven majors — Atlantic, Capitol, Columbia, Def Jam, Interscope, RCA and Republic — and just one indie, eOne). Six songwriters had more than one new song in Top 10: Drake, Khalid, Taylor Swift, Joel Little and Stargate’s Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Erikensen; three producers had more than one new song: Stargate, Swift and Little). Of the labels, Republic had most new arrivals with four (Taylor and Drake) followed by RCA.

Looking at the growing proliferation of contributors to hit songs, 74% of the quarter’s 15 new entries songs had two or more producers: 40% with two, 27% with three and 7% with four, while 27% of new songs had one producer.

Taking a look at the year to date, 86% of all No. 1s are pop, 91 is the average BPM, and 57% are in a minor key and less than three minutes long.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Rob Thomas Sammy Hagar

    Sammy Hagar Joins Rob Thomas for 'Smooth' Performance (Watch)

    Who do you call when your pal Carlos Santana has plans on a Friday night? If you’re Rob Thomas, you recruit another famous friend, rocker Sammy Hagar, who turned up to help the singer close out the latest show of his Chip Tooth Smile tour with a performance of “Smooth” at the Fox Performing Arts [...]

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content