Expected Hits

Some songs just so obviously match the profile of a hit it's no surprise they have made it to the Top 5. We call these songs 'Expected Hits', since we correctly predicted these songs to be successful.

These songs have the perfect features for the time in which they were released, or indeed could have been a hit in any decade. We give details of some songs which we correctly predicted to be hits here, and give some insight into the features of the song which helped them climb the UK charts.

Wiley - Wearing My Rolex (#2 in 2008)

The musical features which our equation thinks pushed this club hit high into the charts are the beat variation and loudness. The non-harmonicity also seems to have played a role.

The song enjoyed lasting success, entering at #4 then rising to #3 and eventually peak at #2, only beaten by "4 Minutes" by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. In total the song remained in the Top 40 for 16 weeks and in the Top 100 for 22 weeks.

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (#1 in 2006)

The features which our predictor says this song scores with are danceability, low energy and a loud signal. These facets propelled Gnarls Barkley to number 1 in 2006 for 6 weeks, setting various records along the way.

The most prominent of these was the length of time at the number 1 spot - some 9 weeks - a stay of length which was previously attained over 10 years prior. The song was significant as being the first song to reach number 1 based on official downloads alone.

The Streets - Fit But You Know It (#4 in 2004)

From 2001 to 2004 people continued to buy songs which were danceable and loud, but a significant number of songs with a tempo of 140-180bpm also charted well. The Streets used this to their advantage and scored a number 4 hit which was consistent with the musical sounds of the time.

There are several other features which helped this tune stay in the top 75 for 15 weeks. The cunning poetic lyrics and clever music video also probably helped propel it inside the top 4. However, the facets contributing most to its hit score were the danceability and tempo.

Usher - Pop Ya Collar (#2 in 2001)

In 2001, 3 ways to make a hit were to make it danceable, loud and harmonically simple. Usher got all three with this hit, and we correctly predicted that it would make it inside the Top 5. In some ways the song was actually an unexpected hit. Released on Usher's unofficial album All About U, the song along with the rest of the album was leaked on the internet in 2001.

The song also spawned a popular culture 'buzzword' in the UK for the fashion of turning up one's collar on a shirt. This is once again an example of social features which our system could never catch. In this case it wasn't necessary, since the acoustic features were enough for us to predict the song being a hit!

TLC -No Scrubs (#3 in 1999)

This Number 3 hit has a catchy tune and memorable lyrics, but it's in fact loudness and harmonic simplicity which our hit predictor claims are the most important features of sending this track to the Top 5. In addition to this the tune has a steady tempo of 93bpm which was also favourable at this time.

The song was the lead single on the girl group's third album FanMail, and was their 3rd number 1 in the US. Despite only peaking at number 3 in the UK charts, the song sold well and was certified platinum in the US, UK and New Zealand. Number 1 success followed worldwide, peaking within the top 5 in 10 countries.

2 Unlimited - Get Ready For This (#2 in 1991)

A classic of the emerging UK dance scene, this number 2 hit scores highly on danceability (unsurprisingly!), loudness and consistent beats. These features were the key elements of scoring a hit in the early 90's.

The song was an international success as is known as a staple of the genre, and is also one of the most frequently-played songs at sporting events. It turns out that being loud and danceable isn't only useful for scoring hits! It was the group's most successful international hit for a number of years until it was eclipsed by their fifth single, 'no limit', in 1993.

Simply Red - If You Don't Know Me By Now (#2 in 1989)

In the late 1980's, the data suggests that changes in beat, low energy, and tertiary time signatures were the formula for scoring a hit. This ballad features all of these features, as well as being reasonably short and a suitable bpm.

It's not known by many that in fact the song was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1972, and became their first hit. One generation later, the song became Simply Red's best-known tune and was an international hit, scoring number 1 on Australian, Canadian, New Zealander and United States charts.

T. Rex - Get It on (#1 in 1971)

This staple of 70's British rock was always destined to be a big hit, based on the harmonic simplicity, variance in loudness, and duration.

In fact, the song's musical qualities are clearly what prompted the public to buy the song, since the nation's number 1 DJ at the time, John Peel, expressed a dislike to the song on air. Peel and the T Rex frontman Marc Bolan were good friends before the release of this record, although owing to the former's opinion of 'Get It On' would mean that they would speak only once before Bolan's death in 1977.

Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds (#2 in 1970)

This classic was released in 1970 and features a fairly simple harmonic movement, a suitable duration and energy for songs of the time. Originally written by Mark James to a mediocre reception, Presley decided to record a version following his 1968 Comeback Special.

The song would be Presley's last number 1 US single before his death and has since been recorded by a large number of artists, including Dee Dee Warwick (whilst Elvis' version was still in the Billboard Hot 100), then later in 1986 by The Fine Young Cannibals and later still became the third number 1 UK single for Gareth Gates.