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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

We’ve been listening to the same song on repeat for the past two decades

We’ve been listening to the same song on repeat for the past two decades. It appears that popular taste in music forced producers down a narrow single track after the 1990s. A shift in popular demand from rock and R’n’B in the 1980s and 90s toward the more “bombastic sounds” of pop in the 2000s — coupled with a change in the way Billboard magazine tracked record sales — meant that more and more songs of very similar traits were making it to the tops of the charts, “leaving less room for musical diversity.” The New York Times uses the same algorithm used by music streaming service Spotify to generate recommendations — which measures energy, acousticness, valence, loudness, and danceability — in order to create a “sonic fingerprint” for a number of popular summer hits from the late 1980s and 90s and compare them to counterparts from the 2000s.

Unlike the 80s, each of the most popular hits from 2010, which include songs by the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, “has roughly the same fingerprint.” The director of New York University’s music business program, Larry Miller, explains that the “hit-making process has become less random than it once was,” as music makers have become all too familiar with the “mathematical” formula to pleasing the crowd. 2018 is looking a little different though, suggesting that there may be hope yet for commercial music. Check out the full piece here, complete with sound and video.

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