Country Ties Pop on Top, R&B Overtakes Hip-Hop: The State of the Hot 100 Top 10 in 2023 Q1
A look at the latest trends in the chart's top 10, as analyzed by Hit Songs Deconstructed.
What were some of the most notable trends on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in the first quarter of 2023?
Hit Songs Deconstructed, which provides compositional analytics for top 10 Hot 100 hits, has released its State of the Hot 100 Top 10: Q1 2023 report.
Here are three takeaways from Hit Songs Deconstructed’s latest in-depth research.
Country Ties Pop on Top, R&B Overtakes Hip-Hop
In the first three months of 2023, pop and country tied as the most common primary genres in the Hot 100’s top 10, each contributing to 26% of all top 10 hits.
Country surged to its “highest level of prominence in over a decade, largely thanks to Morgan Wallen’s five top 10s from his album One Thing at a Time,” Hit Songs Deconstructed’s report notes. Wallen’s haul has been led by “Last Night,” which first topped the Hot 100 dated March 18.
As for pop, despite its domination, its 26% share of all Hot 100 top 10s in Q1 continues a decline for the genre, from 35% in all of 2022; 39% in 2021; 40% in 2020; and 47% in 2019.
At the same time, as Hit Songs Deconstructed noted earlier this year, while country ascended in Q1, driven by Wallen’s hits, the genre boasts notable similarities to pop songs.
In third place for Q1, dance/electronic accounted for 17% of all Hot 100 top 10s, “its highest year-over-year level in a decade,” per Hit Songs Deconstructed, with David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good (Blue)” a key contributor to the genre’s growth.
R&B/soul placed fourth among primary genres in Q1, at 13%, powered by the likes of SZA’s “Kill Bill,” followed in fifth place, at 4%, by hip-hop – as “the top genre in 2022 all but disappeared save for Drake and 21 Savage’s ‘Rich Flex,’ ” Hit Songs Deconstructed points out.
Thus, not only did hip-hop join pop in dropping in Q1 – hip-hop had never been below 34% in any full year since 2019 before plummeting to 4% in the first three months of 2023 – but comparing hip-hop to R&B/soul since 2019 is likewise striking. The genres’ respective Q1 shares of 4% and 13% contrast from hip-hop’s runaway wins between them in 2022 (38% for hip-hop vs. 8% for R&B/soul), 2021 (34% vs. 18%), 2020 (41% vs. 8%) and 2019 (34% vs. 10%).
Love Songs Get Their ‘Flowers’
“Lyrically, love/relationships held tight as the most popular lyrical theme[s], skyrocketing to 83% of songs” in the Hot 100’s top 10 in Q1, according to Hit Songs Deconstructed.
Leading the way for such songs (representing, naturally, a range of emotions about love): Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers,” which soared in at No. 1 on the Hot 100 dated Jan. 28, along with Beyoncé’s “Cuff It,” Bizarrap and Shakira’s “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” and The Weeknd and Ariana Grande’s “Die for You.”
Also per Hit Songs Deconstructed’s Q1 analysis of lyrics, “the top 10 continued to trend toward fewer song title appearances, with just over half of songs featuring between one and five in their framework. The most popular place to find the song title continued to be the chorus, followed by the outro and vocal break post-chorus.”
Or … not at all, as SZA never explicitly sings the title in “Kill Bill.”
“Instrumentally, electronic drums, synths and synth bass continued to be at the core of most top 10s” on the Hot 100 in Q1, according to Hit Songs Deconstructed. “However, their use was notably down compared to years prior. Conversely, there was a notable uptick in the use of guitar (electric, acoustic and lap steel), largely thanks to the rise of country.”
As for atypical instruments and sounds in Hot 100 top 10s in Q1, they include the brass section in “Cuff It”; mallets, in Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero”; and even birds chirping in JVKE’s “Golden Hour.”