How to Win a Billboard Music Award: Here’s What This Year’s Top Songs Have in Common

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What are some of the common threads among winning songs at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards?

Hit Songs Deconstructed, which provides compositional analytics for top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits, analyzed key sonic characteristics of the songs that journeyed from composition to coronation at this year’s BBMAs, held May 15 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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Here are five takeaways from Hit Songs Deconstructed’s research, offering insights into what can make a song a Billboard Music Award winner.

Notably, Hit Songs Deconstructed’s analysis covers 11 songs that won honors across 16 BBMAs song categories:

  • “Stay,” The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber: Top Hot 100 Song, Top Streaming Song, Top Collaboration, Top Billboard Global 200 Song, Top Billboard Global (Excl. U.S.) Song

  • “Levitating,” Dua Lipa: Top Radio Song

  • “Butter,” BTS: Top Selling Song

  • “Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat feat. SZA: Top Viral Song

  • “Fancy Like,” Walker Hayes: Top Country Song

  • “Beggin’,” Måneskin: Top Rock Song

  • “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow: Top Rap Song

  • “Leave the Door Open,” Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak): Top R&B Song

  • “Telepatía,” Kali Uchis: Top Latin Song

  • “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix),” Elton John & Dua Lipa: Top Dance/Electronic Song

  • “Hurricane,” Ye: Top Christian Song, Top Gospel Song

Pop’s clean sweep: Each of the nine winning songs reflects a pop influence. Six sport a hip-hop influence and five, an R&B/soul and/or 1970s-retro influence.

Synth synonymous with winning: Eight of the nine songs above feature synth andor synth bass, all except for Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open.”

The next most popular instrument among the honorees is electric guitar, heard in six of the nine songs.

Love is loved: This year’s BBMAs host and executive producer Diddy mused in his opening monologue, “We’re back outside with no masks on. We need love, and I’m excited about celebrating that.”

Fittingly, the most popular lyrical theme among 2022’s nine winning songs is love/relationships, which plays into seven. Lifestyle ranks second in frequency (three), followed by boasting and hooking up (two each). Inspiration/empowerment is key to Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow’s “Industry Baby,” and religion and introspection are central to Ye’s “Hurricane.”

Name (in) that tune: “Hurricane” is also atypical among this year’s BBMA winners as the only song not to include its title in its lyrics.

Conversely, three songs feature their titles a hefty 11 to 15 times each: The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber’s “Stay,” Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open.”

Verses versus chorus: Five of the songs above each get right to their first chorus just 20 to 39 seconds in. “Stay” wastes almost no time, starting with its first chorus after one second.

Meanwhile, “Leave the Door Open” takes 53 seconds, or 22% of the way into the song, and Elton John and Lipa’s “Cold Heart” waits 49 seconds, or 25% in.

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