Before we head into December’s blizzard of festive tunes, we thought we’d look back over the biggest and best (non-yuletide) tracks of 2022.
But how can anyone know what a year in music sounded like in 2022?
In the era of personalisation, one barometer of streaming success, in the US at least, is the Billboard Hot 100 chart. To get a top-level indication of how 2022 sounded in streaming, we analysed singles in the top 10 this year.
How did top streaming tracks in 2022 compare to 2021?
The most significant shift we see from last year is in musical moods. The most common moods in 2021 on the Billboard Top 10 were Seductive (Sexy) and Heartfelt. More concretely, we’re talking about songs like ‘Heatwaves’ by Glass Animals and basically anything Drake put out that year.
By contrast, in 2022, Top 10 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 moved strongly toward the Confident mood. That’s the sound of Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero’, Lizzo’s ‘About Damn Time’ and GAYLE’s ‘abcdefu’. Simply put, the data bears out what we know in our gut: listeners love confident female artists.
The Dancy mood was also much more popular this year than last. That will not least be because of clubs reopening and people wanting to be out socialising and dancing. It could also speak to the USA’s slow shift towards embracing more club sounds in the charts.
But what is ‘Dancy’, as far as the AI can tell? Well, ‘BREAK MY SOUL’ by Beyoncé typifies the tag.
As you might expect, the increase in Dancy moods is paired with a rise in Electronic genre tags. Where last year Electronic (in turquoise) made up only 1.2 per cent of tracks, this year it doubled its share, accounting for 2.5 per cent. That might not sound a lot, but when you factor in the appearance of House in the chart (new for 2022), it demonstrates that the needle is moving towards more electronic music. (Thank you, Béyonce).
Of course, on a macro level, it might not look like much has changed in the genre stakes; the five most common genres remain the same. But look below the surface, and you can see changes happening.
One genre shift to point out is the rise of Indie (in magenta), jumping from 2.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent share of the top 10. That’s not just down to Harry Styles’ record Harry’s House and Steve Lacy’s ‘Bad Habit’. We’re also seeing Indie genre tags coming from Taylor Swift, Kate Bush and even Drake. We can perhaps interpret this as a tonal shift in listening preferences for more nostalgic, less polished sounds.
Finally, a small but indicative change is the appearance of Latin (in orange) as a genre in 2022’s Billboard top 10. That’s down to one extremely influential man: Bad Bunny. All the tracks tagged as Latin in this year’s Billboard top 10 are his.
How does US streaming compare against global trends?
Of the biggest global tracks on YouTube for 2022, the top two spots are songs from Pushpa: The Rise, a massive Indian Telugu-language film. However, the third and fourth spots are held by Bad Bunny, the most streamed artist globally for the third year in a row, according to Spotify.
In fact, of the 10 songs on YouTube this year with the highest play counts, only three have English lyrics (and that’s including BLACKPINK’s dual-language ‘Pink Venom’).
When we look at the genre and mood makeup of the global YouTube chart, it’s dramatically different to the Billboard chart. The Dancy moods we saw gaining ground in the US dominate on a global stage. Indian and Latin genres also have far greater prominence.
Through this global lens, we can better understand Latin music’s impact on the 2022 Billboard chart. And it also serves as a valuable reminder to look outside our musical bubbles.
Any other surprises?
Here are a few data points we enjoyed. Feel free to deploy them over convivial egg nog.
- TikTok users in the US vastly prefer hip hop as a genre. 26 per cent of top tracks had a Hip Hop tag. That’s versus Pop in second place with just 11 per cent.
- Confident remains the most popular musical mood in 2022 based on TikTok audiences in the UK, US and songs in the Billboard Top 10.
- Billboard Top 10 songs this year tend to have lower average energies than tracks that are popular globally.
- Billboard #1 songs in both 2021 and 2022 exclusively have Medium energies.
- Over two-thirds of Billboard #1 songs in 2022 were in a minor key. This is a reverse of last year’s data; in 2021, almost two-thirds were major.
That’s just scratching the surface of TikTok, though. Come back next week when we dig into sonic trends across the short-form video platform.
To find out more about Musiio by SoundCloud’s music reports, tagging tools and audio reference search tools – and how this can benefit your business and catalogue, reach out on Linkedin or Twitter, shoot us a message using our contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.