UCI researchers study the secrets to pop music success

UCI’s Natalia Komarova and a team of researchers analyzed more than half a million songs released in Britain between 1985 and 2015 to understand the dynamics of pop music success. Their key finding? Upbeat songs by female singers dominate the charts, yet music overall is getting sadder.

Jennie Brewton /UCI

“Interestingly, successful songs exhibit their own distinct behavior: They tend to be happier, more partylike, less relaxed and more likely to be sung by a woman than most,” says Komarova, a UCI mathematician and evolutionary biologist.

Her study racked up dozens of mentions in the news media, ranging from The Economist to W magazine.

“Music matters. Our study shows that,” says Komarova, whose group used a dozen musical indicators to predict with an accuracy rate of 75 percent to 85 percent which songs would be hits.

Scientific American

W magazine


The Economist

The Los Angeles Times

IFL Science


Want to hear more? Listen to playlists inspired by the study.

Top dance hits
Sad songs of ‘14
Happy 80s Hits

More UCI News: https://news.uci.edu/