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Chart Beat Podcast: Men, Moodiness & Minor Keys Make the Hits, as Analyzed by Hit Songs Deconstructed

Yael & Dave Penn of Hit Songs Deconstructed look at more trends that defined 2017's biggest hits. Plus, is this the most historic week in Billboard chart history?

Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what’s on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.

This week, Yael and Dave Penn of Hit Songs Deconstructed return for the second of a two-part look at the compositional characteristics that defined some of 2017’s biggest hits.

Among the key trends of last year’s top 10s on the Billboard Hot 100? Simply put: men, moodiness and minor keys, all largely tied to hip-hop’s increased chart presence.


“Over the past three years, the percentage of [top 10 Hot 100] songs that featured exclusively female vocals did not exceed 27 percent,” Yael says. “In 2017, only 20 percent of songs featured exclusively female vocals.

“And, when you look at the No. 1 hits [last year], it’s even more pronounced: three-quarters of No. 1 hits in 2017 featured exclusively male vocals. That’s compared to just 17 percent for exclusively female vocals.”

As for minor keys, “Sixty-two percent of top 10 hits [in 2017] were in a minor key,” Dave says. “That percentage has steadily been increasing year-over-year since 2014, when minor accounted for just 41 percent.

Similarly, for No. 1s in 2017, Dave notes, “Eighty-three percent were in a minor key, which is up from 50 percent in 2014.”

In other words: “A lot more moody songs.”


Gary and Trevor also discuss whether this week might be the most historic in Billboard chart history, given that Drake sets a streaming record; Bebe Rexha earns a first atop the Hot Country Songs chart; and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber, rewrites the mark for the most weeks at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs.

Plus, a flashback to the music of the Olympics, from Seoul to Barcelona to Atlanta (and South Park, Colorado).

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!