An overview of harmonic, rhythmic and timbre complexity of the top 10 most streamed songs on spotify as of June 2021
Top 10 – Peaches (Justin Bieber, Daniel Ceasar, Giveon)
Lofi HipHop is officially mainstream with this new Justin Bieber Hit, the song follows the famous IV – iii – ii – I progression with all sevenths and it lays over a kind of LoFi HipHop Beat, Justin sings with a really heavy autotune effect which makes it hard to classify it as LoFi but the beat with a strong high pass filter and a heavily compressed bass doesn’t let the style go unnoticed.
Top 9 – Butter (BTS)
It isn’t new to anyone that the Korean boys from BTS are redefining K-Pop and turning it into worldwide pop. This hit has a vi – I – IV – I – V progression on the verse and a IV – V – I one on the chorus, it is all produced with synths and even the voices sound like digital instruments .
Top 8 – Levitating (DuaLipa, DaBaby)
DuaLipa’s production team has that characteristic summer hit vibe that is present in here of course, after all it’s summer and this is a hit song, it has a funky slap bassline and supersaws all over the chorus. This is the first minor song in the list so far and it follows a i – v – iv – i progression.
Top 7 – Bad Habbits (Ed Sheeran)
This one has just released and is already in the top 7, we speculate that it will be top 1 in three days max
because of the EDM vibe and Brazillian Bass inspiration. It goes i – iii – vi – VII with upbeat
bass and the EDM characteristic lead synth and reverb.
Top 6 – Beggin’ (Måneskin)
It looks like the pop rock genre refuses to leave the limelight of the public, this song is the first to focus on electric guitar and to not have a strong and compressed bassline. The guitar plays the overused i – bVI – iv – V7 progression and Damiano David grants us with a really dirty vocal performance for that extra felling of despair.
Top 5 – deja vu (Olivia Rodrigo)
It’s time to talk about her, the record-beating machine, the new face of pop divas, Olivia Rodrigo. With only one month of age her album SOUR has had eight out of its eleven songs go through the global top 10 which breaks the previous Taylor Swift’s record of six songs. This song is a common case where the progression is absolutely basic (IV – I) but the chord extensions make up for it, all the two chords of the song have 9ths and there’s even a Bm11 in some places. Olivia gifts us with a really clean vocal performance with no detectable pitch correction and beautiful word painting in the verse ”singing in harmony”.
Top 4 – MONTERO (Call me By Your Name)-Lil Nas X
This song feels like it has an identity crisis, it starts with an acoustic guitar intro that sounds like it was recorded on a phone than the actual unrelated song kicks in with a full professional production, really well processed vocals and a synth bass that alternates two notes one semitone away from each other. As the song has no real chord progression the rythm makes up for it by leading the whole song on a tersillo, also called the DemBow Rhythm, it ends with a hearable spacebar hit to stop the recording and it reinforces the identity crisis.
Top 3 – Yonaguni (Bad Bunny)
Here we have a i – bIII – v – IV progression with again the tersillo through the whole song, a 100% spanish lyrics, light pads for the harmony and vocals with heavy autotune effect on them.
Top 2 – Todo de Ti (Rauw Alejandro)
Another 100% spanish Lyrics song makes into the podium, with a i – bVII – V – bVI progression, this one has a four on the floor beat, upbeat sytnh bass alternating octaves and vocals with heavy autotune effect on them.
Top 1 – Good 4 u (Olivia Rodrigo)
There she comes again for no one’s surprise with a song that follows i-bVII on the verse and i – bVII – V – bVI on the chorus with energetic electric guitar with chorus effect playing the harmony and again a really clean vocal performance but this time with a lot of energy put into it for na extra rebellious freedom feel.
Author’s Opinion (Lord)
I personally have never listened to the songs above until the making of this list and I have no affection to any of them so I tried to make this as impartial as it should be but here’s my opinion if it matters to anyone.
The songs that I liked the most were deja vu, definetly because there’s nothing that pumps a music nerd more than getting to use fancy terminology like ”’word painting” and Levitating just because I really enjoy when a song that is all minor chords isn’t dark and depressing but all the more uplifting for some reason.
I didn’t really like the kind of production going on with Butter because it just ends up killing all the humanity that’s already lacking in pop music, Yonaguni suffers from the same problem and also lacks in energy. As awesome as having artists outside the U.S. and U.K. in this list is, the masses are still getting used to them and seem to only really like those unhumane line produced songs.
All the items of the list lack an interesting harmony and some even an intersting melody. We’re all exited to see when the big composers are going to be more creative and step out of the four chord comfort safe zone.