If you were looking to catch up on the hottest new songs released in 2022, you wouldn’t find them atop the Billboard Hot 100 lately. While the Hot 100 measures the nation’s biggest songs every week, recently the chart has been absolutely dominated by remnants of 2021 – some of which didn’t begin their journey in 2022, some of which only hit their peaks. ‘ in 2022, and some of which just continued to hang around the list for several months (a couple even nearly a year) after hitting their peak.
In fact, if you look at last week’s chart, dated April 9, more than three months into the calendar year, you’ll find more songs in the top 10 (“Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, n No. 1) and top 20 (“Levitating” by Dua Lipa, No. 15) released in 2020 until 2022 – the latter year being represented only by Yahritza y Su Esencia’s all-new “Soy El Unico,” a first entry at No. 20. (“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd, at No. 17 , also began his chart journey two years earlier, in April 2020, although the Ariana Grande remix he is currently credited for did not impact the chart until May 2021.)
“WWe’ve seen this trend develop for a few years now,” says RCA COO John Fleckenstein, who thinks the contemporary dominance of streaming simply more accurately reflects the way listeners have likely always consumed music. “I imagine if you look at someone’s consumption, it kind of looks like a bell curve, where they start to discover the song, and they start to get excited about it, and they listen to it A LOT for a period of time . But I think when you do that on millions of people, you see this really long tail, and you see the songs go really long. And I think that’s what you see on the charts.
Still, streaming has been the main driver of the music industry for over half a decade now, and the lack of major new hits in 2022 stands in stark contrast to even a year earlier. Take a look back at the Hot 100 dated April 10, 2021, not just each of the top five on the chart – “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” by Lil Nas X, “Peaches” by Justin Bieber, with Daniel Caesar and Giveon , Silk’s ‘Leave the Door Open’ by Sonic, ‘Up’ by Cardi B and ‘Drivers License’ by Olivia Rodrigo – all released that year, they were all enduring hits (and ultimately topped the charts) , three of them even debuted at No. 1. 1. In comparison, only two songs from 2022 had even debuted in the Hot 100 top 10 on April 9’s Hot 100—Nicki Minaj & Lil Baby “Do We Have a Problem?” and Gunna and Future’s “Pushin P” featuring Young Thug, which did not top the chart. (“We’re Not Talking About Bruno,” the ubiquitous Hot 100 hit Charm soundtrack, only debuted on the chart in 2022, but it was released in late 2021 and went viral after the film arrived on Disney+ in late December last year.)
While streaming may be supreme in the market right now, this year’s Hot 100 peak arguably seemed more representative of the radio landscape, where the biggest songs stay louder for longer, as audience research dictates. – a trend that largely kicked off during the early comforting days of the pandemic, but which is even more the case now. “SNGOs just don’t die — they last forever,” says Erik Bradley, assistant program director/music director at Chicago CHR station WBBM-FM (B96). “I mean, ‘Save your tears’ Won’t do stop looking. You just think, ‘It’s gotta be gone, it’s gotta be gone…’ And every week he’s still up there in the top two or three positions. [‘Woman’ by] Doja Cat, same thing… They are always among [our audience’s] very, very favorite songs that we can possibly play.
While the radio medium is lasting longer than ever, it’s also taking a while for songs that have already proven culturally impactful through other metrics – which, according to Epic Records evp and head of A&R Ezekiel Lewis, contributes to the current shortage of 2022 hits of 2022. “As time goes by, we’re more and more in a kind of era of ‘show and prove’ record releases,” he says, “whereby gatekeepers are increasingly turning to the digital space to see a track’s cultural relevance. So you pull out a record, you get sticky in digital space…and then things that really help affect the Billboard graph, like radio audience – they’re a bit behind. It’s only when you get “the synchronicity between the digital and cultural aspects of a record,” says Lewis, that its charting potential is fully realized.
This explanation is certainly borne out by examining some of the hits that currently hold a spot in the Hot 100 top 10 – like GAYLE’s “abcdefu”, “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons and JID and “Super Gremlin” by Kodak Black. – which has started to take off on TikTok (which does not currently contribute its totals to Billboard‘s charts) and moved to streaming services in late 2021, but only hit their current highs after radio support began kicking off in that calendar year. But it’s also telling that, for as much impact as viral platforms like TikTok have to create immediate interest in a song, it hasn’t resulted in the same volume of instant hits (like “Soy El Unico,” a rare top 20 debut from a relatively unknown artist) that he might have had even a few years earlier.
“TikTok is [still] To vomit [hits], but the question is, ‘Is it going where it was before?’ asks another A&R source. “I mean, Arizona Zervas, [Lil] Nas X – there was this run, from 2019 to mid-12020, where when something happened on this platform, it came. And I think, to a large extent, you can still attribute most of the new breakthroughs to TikTok. I just don’t know if they’re as ubiquitous or so dominant on the platform that they translate the same as before.
Part of the problem could be that TikTok’s impact is more widespread now – not just in terms of hitting new hits, but resurrecting old ones, and also uncovering in-between catalogs that were never really hits in first place, and are now embraced by listeners as if they were brand new. While a TikTok video by user doggface208 propelled Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Dreams” into the top 15 of the Hot 100 in 2020, in the years since such revitalized catalog entries (“505” from Arctic Monkeys, Frank Ocean’s “Lost”, Pharrell Williams’ “Just a Cloud Away”) are less and less tied to a music video or cultural moment. Instead, their rise in the streaming space happens as gradually and almost as unstoppably as the modern hits of Dua Lipa and The Weeknd, and then lasts nearly as long – taking up space that might have previously belonged to new releases. more traditional.
“IIt takes longer and longer for people and songs to reach critical mass, so I think these resurgent records… we’re going to see more and more of that stuff,” the A&R source said. “Where the songs came out, it’s a great song, it got a marketing push, it maybe even worked on the radio, it didn’t quite work… It didn’t find the cultural context, or the awareness, or the right tendency for people to engage in it and find out. And they will reappear.
According to the sources interviewed for this article, the industry’s search for such quick hits has also come at the expense of artists’ long-term development. “There’s an end to the business right now that’s very focused on this algorithmic hit game, like finding songs that move because the audience is getting that particular sound repeatedly, and trying to chase that down,” says Fleckenstein. , whose RCA artists claim many of the past year’s biggest hits (Doja Cat’s unstoppable planet she blockbuster, Latto’s current Hot 100 top 10, “Big Energy”, SZA’s enduring R&B hit “I Hate U”, Lucky Daye is currently on the rise “Over”). “From RCA’s perspective – we are, have been, and always will be, a primary artist development machine. And our successes, when you look at our artists, whether it’s HER, or Doja, or Khalid, or SZA, you’re talking about projects that were in development for years.
And part of 2022’s lack of brand new hits in 2022 is simply the relative lack of those previously developed A-listers releasing new music. This previously mentioned top five in 2021 included releases from a handful of proven hitmakers in Cardi B, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars (of Silk Sonic) – the type of superstars we just haven’t seen a lot of new music from in 2022, with only a few exceptions in the first three months of the year. Even in some of these rare cases, radio superstars like The Weeknd (who released his new Dawn FM album in January) and Dua Lipa (whose Megan Thee Stallion collaboration “Sweetest Pie” debuted in March) took on the added challenge of competing with themselves – with both artists still having several hits from 2020 and 2021 still in the works. the top 40.
A new round of instant smashes by proven A-listers could be on the way, though – as potentially heralded by the arrival of 2022’s first real smash hit, Harry Styles’ “As It Was.” The highly anticipated first single from the global superstar’s upcoming third album Harry’s house, “As It Was” was an instant mega-hit on streaming services and a thrilling addition to radio playlists when it was released on March 31. Not far behind may be rising rapper Jack Harlow, who topped the Hot 100 for the first time in 2021 alongside Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby,” and same past Styles’ first numbers on Spotify over the weekend with the release of his trending single “First Class” on TikTok.
The influx of big releases, combined with some calendar catch-up, could mean that the scarcity of 2022’s all-new hits might not last much longer. “I think in two or three months we’re going to have a different conversation [about 2022 hits]predicts Lewis. “Because first of all you’re going to see more big names drop. But secondarily, some of those songs that dropped to the top of this year will have caught up, in terms of all the different bars that have to be pulled to 100% for you to really see [their impact] on the board.
And maybe as the weather warms, some of the lingering hits of 2021 and 2020 will finally start to melt away. “I feel like [those older hits] start to slow down a bit,” says Bradley. “I hope that’s what will happen. Because you know, as a music fan, and a person who loves new artists and new projects and all that, I also want to see a new life come into play — but at the same time, I also want to make sure that my marks play hit songs, you know? So I’m in a bit of a pickle with all of this. But I feel like there’s a lot of great material on the horizon. So I’m very optimistic.