December 19, 2011 8:43

Scientists claim to know equation for 'hit song potential'

Boffins at University of Bristol say they have a formula designed to crack the charts

Scientists claim to know equation for 'hit song potential'

Photo: Press

A team of scientists have claimed to have discovered an equation to predict whether a song will become a hit single.

The research team from the University of Bristol say that their "hit potential equation" can predict a Top Five hit with 60 per cent accuracy by analysing factors such as volume, tempo, timing and harmonic complexity.

Scientists ran songs taken from the last 50 years of the Official UK Singles Charts to test the formula, which takes into account 23 'weights', or song elements, to determine whether the track could climb to the top of the charts or if it's unlikely to break the Top 40.

Team leader Dr Tijl De Bie, senior lecturer in artificial intelligence at Bristol University, told the BBC: "The goal was to find out if we could come up with an equation that distinguishes between a hit and something that dangles at the bottom of the charts.

"We can expect to get it right in about 60 per cent of cases. It's not perfect."

He also claimed that the research had helped show how what made for a popular song had evolved over the past 50 years, citing the fact that a track that was easy to dance to was much more likely to become a hit from the 1980s onwards, whereas before the 1980s danceability was not relevant to hit potential.

He told The Press Associaton: "Musical tastes evolve, which means our 'hit potential equation' needs to evolve as well. Indeed, we have found the hit potential of a song depends on the era. This may be due to the varying dominant music style, culture and environment."

According to the BBC, though, the professor was unable to shed any light on who would claim this year's Christmas Number One, with most bookies making the Military Wives Choir the odds on favourites ahead of X Factor winner's Little Mix and Nirvana.

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