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Algorithm Finds The Most Danceable Hit Songs

By Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein, Amanda Luberto
Published: Monday, September 10, 2018 - 12:45pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 8:57am
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Almost everyone has that one song that always gets them up and dancing — no matter what.

And not surprisingly, the songs that make us move are often hits. But just what makes a song catchy enough to top the charts?

Well, some researchers decided to try to get to the bottom of this.

In a paper recently published in the American Sociological Review, the researchers teamed up with a company called The Echo Nest that helped them identify key characteristics of a song, like danceability, key, instrumentation, and so on. Together, they created an algorithm and analyzed the #1 hits from the Billboard charts over the last 50 years.

And according to the data, the most danceable is “Give It To Me” by Timbaland.

But the research wasn’t just about figuring out what gets us on the dancefloor — it was also to figure out what qualities of a song make it a hit.

Michael Mauskapf of the Columbia Business School co-authored the paper on this. He says even though you can analyze past hits with this algorithm, it’s not so easy to predict future hits.

"Because the kind of sweet spot of what a song should sound like is always a moving target, you’re always going to be behind the latest trend and it’s really difficult to kind of predict where the general market is going or how tastes are moving. In the end it's as much art as science," said Mauskapf.

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