Move over Simon Cowell, for the scientists’ hit machine

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“HITMAN” Simon Cowell faces a challenge to his reputation for spotting a chart-topping song … from a computer programme.

University of Bristol scientists have developed a “hit potential” equation that can predict a top five hit 60 per cent of the time.

It assesses tempo, timing, duration and loudness as well as more detailed information such as complexity to rate any song. Once run through a computer, a score indicates whether a song will reach the top of the UK singles charts or never rise above position 30 or 40.

The Bristol team used artificial intelligence software to analyse 50 years of top 40 singles.

Team leader Dr Tijl De Bie said: “Musical tastes evolve, which means our ‘hit potential equation’ needs to evolve as well. Indeed, we found hit potential depends on era. This may be due to the varying dominant music style, culture and environment.”

The scientists found that before the 1980s, danceability was not very relevant to hit potential. From the 1980s onwards, it became far more important.

Slower ballads were more likely to be hits in the 1980s, while from the 1990s onward, hits tended to have simpler rhythms. The research also showed hits tend to be louder than chart strugglers.