I recently did an analysis about 80’s music for a client (yes, I do stuff like that). It’s actually a very detailed and vast analysis that took me quite some time for research and putting the results together, but I decided to take out some of the things that I thought would be most interesting for you (and me).

Also, I limit this version of the analysis here to the US American Billboard charts, as the US has by far the biggest market for music on the planet, almost 10 times bigger than the #2 in the game, which would be China. That fact alone is stunning, if you ask me.

Here’s some results:

3 Most Charting Artists (in the Top 100)

1: Madonna (1.6%)

madonna

Most successful song: “Like A Virgin” (Keynote: E-Flat minor / Tempo: 120 BPM / high energy)

2: Hall & Oates (1.5%)

hall_oates

Most successful song: “Maneater” (Keynote: B minor / Tempo: 89 BPM / normal energy)

3: Michael Jackson (1.4%)

michael_jackson

Most successful song: “Billie Jean” (Keynote: F-Sharp minor / Tempo: 117 BPM / normal energy)

Personal note:

“Billie Jean” is one of the very few songs by Michael Jackson I really like. In fact, I love this one only. It has a perfect groove, perfect songwriting and arrangement. No surprise it was so successful.

I knew Madonna and Michael Jackson would be in the Top 3, but Hall & Oates?? And even higher than MJ, who had the most #1 hits in the Billboard charts in history, by the way? I must have been sleeping under a rock … really surprising.

Energy

Calm music (ballads, downtempo etc.): 20.8%
Typical/normal energy level music: 46.2%
High energy music (dense sound layers, uptempo): 33%

3 Most Used Keynotes

1: A major (8.3%)
2: G major (8%)
3: A minor (7.7%)

That didn’t surprise me really, although I saw G minor on top. Top selling rock acts like Pink Floyd or Dire Straits wrote most of their most successful songs in G major. In the basic Pop music field, it seems like A major dominated.

3 Most Used Words in Titles

1: you (18%)
2: love (14.7%)
3: me (13.7%)

Put that together and you have “You Love Me”. Nice. Yeah, the 80’s were — still — dominated by “love” in combination with “you” and (logically) “me”. I haven’t done research on that now, but I’m sure the most used words don’t look very much different today, apart from “love”. The 80’s were definitely pretty cheesy.

  • Average tempo: 116.5 BPM
  • Average track length 80’s: exactly 4:00 minutes
  • Average track length today: 3:58 minutes

There was a peak in duration in 1992 (4:15 minutes) and a low in 1959 (2:22 minutes). From 1969 on, the duration of songs was steadily rising, until 1992. From there it went down towards 4 minutes again.

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