In the context of music composition, it’s really interesting to find out what’s currently popular with the market at large and what characterises that music.
I analysed the top 20 tracks in the Apple Music Global Top 100 on February 25, 2021. In each case, I wanted to know the key, the tempo and the time signature. Here’s what I found …
|Calling my Phone||Lil Tjay, 6LACK||105||B minor||4/4|
|Up||Cardi B||166||E minor||4/4|
|Back in Blood (feat. Lil Durk)||Pooh Shiesty||147||G# minor||4/4|
|Drivers License||Olivia Rodrigo||144||A# major||4/4|
|Streets||Doja Cat||90||E minor||4/4|
|Good Days||SZA||121||E major||4/4|
|Time Today||Moneybagg Yo||137||Eb minor||4/4|
|On Me||Lil baby||78||F# minor||4/4|
|Save Your Tears||The Weeknd||117||C major||4/4|
|Dry Flower||Yuuri||148||G major||4/4|
|Blinding Lights||The Weeknd||171||C minor||4/4|
|For the Night||Pop Smoke||126||F# minor||4/4|
|Dakiti||Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez||110||E minor||4/4|
|Wasurena / 勿忘||Awesome City Club||79||E major||4/4|
|You’re Mines Still||Yung Bleu||87||F minor||4/4|
|Heartbreak Anniversary||GIVĒON||130||C major||4/4|
|Without You||The Kid LAROI||93||C major||4/4|
What does this tell us?
- Well, there’s a wide range of tempos, from 78 to 166
- For someone like me, there are some really unusual choices of key here, which reflects the fact that music that is predominantly electronic is composed on keyboards rather than guitars. A guitarist would never choose Eb minor, because it’s a hard key to work with on a guitar whereas, on a keyboard, it’s all simple black keys.
- What is much more surprising to me is that 12 out of the 20 tracks are in minor keys. Historically, this would be regarded as extraordinary but when you analyse it by genre, it is almost exclusively the hip-hop tracks that are in a minor key and it gives them a great jazz/soul feel.
- Finally, and there’s no surprise here, all of the tracks are in 4/4. No-one is experimenting with different time signatures.
You would get very different results if you chose to analyse the most popular tracks in a wider range of genres and at different periods. There’s a task for another day.