What Happens to the Top Songs of Today, Tomorrow?

By Tyler Moore
, Product Specialist, Data & Insights
Product Specialist, Data & Insights
March 26, 2024
— 3 min read
By Tyler Moore
, Product Specialist, Data & Insights
Product Specialist, Data & Insights
March 26, 2024
— 3 min read

What Happens to the Top Songs of Today, Tomorrow? In 2019, the most-streamed song released that same year was Billie Eilish’s “bad guy.” Last year, though, the top 2019 song of the year was not “bad guy” but Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” which saw a huge resurgence due to a number of impacts, namely The Eras Tour, as well as the release of “Cruel Summer” as a single to contemporary Pop/Top 40 radio. “bad guy,” meanwhile, declined in rank in 2023, falling from the No. 1 2019 song that year to the No. 25 song from 2019 streamed in 2023.

These fluctuations are part of a trend that happens to all top songs year over year: they move down in popularity as new songs from the past are uncovered by next year’s listeners. All of the top 10 songs from 2019 dropped in rank over the next five years, eventually landing anywhere from No. 10 (“Middle Child” by J. Cole) to No. 264 (“Panini” by Lil Nas X).

Top 2019 Songs in 2019. On-Demand U.S. Audio Streaming, rank among songs released in 2019. 
'bad guy,' Billie Eilish: ranked 1 in 2019 and 25 in 2023. 
'Middle Child,' J. Cole: ranked 2 in 2019 and 10 in 2023. 
'7 Rings,' Ariana Grande: ranked 3 in 2019 and 41 in 2023. 
'Ransom,' Lil Tecca: ranked 4 in 2019 and 31 in 2023. 
'Suge,' DaBaby: ranked 5 in 2019 and 94 in 2023. 
'Talk,' Khalid: ranked 6 in 2019 and 105 in 2023. 
'No Guidance,' Chris Brown: ranked 7 in 2019 and 14 in 2023. 
'Pop Out,' Polo G: ranked 8 in 2019 and 51 in 2023. 
'Panini,' Lil Nas X: ranked 9 in 2019 and 264 in 2023. 
'Seniorita,' Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello: ranked 10 in 2019 and 80 in 2023.

As for 2023’s top 2019 songs, their origins are far more erratic. When “Cruel Summer” was released in 2019, it was only the No. 235 song that year. Similarly, “Under the Influence” by Chris Brown, now the No. 2 song from 2019 streamed in 2023, did not even rank in the top 1,000 songs when it came out, nor the year after. Most impressively, only one of the top 2019 songs in 2023 was a Top 10 song in the year it was released.

Top 2019 Songs in 2023. On-Demand U.S. Audio Streaming, rank among songs released in 2019. 
'Cruel Summer,' Taylor Swift: ranked 235 in 2019 and 1 in 2023. 
'Under the Influence,' Chris Brown: ranked * in 2019 and 2 in 2023. 
'Blinding Lights,' The Weeknd: ranked 255 in 2019 and 3 in 2023. 
'Heartless,' Diplo and Julia Michaels: ranked 115 in 2019 and 4 in 2023. 
'Lover,' Taylor Swift: ranked 62 in 2019 and 5 in 2023. 
'Heading South,' Zach Bryan: ranked * in 2019 and 6 in 2023. 
'Circles,' Post Malone: ranked 16 in 2019 and 7 in 2023. 
'All Your'N,' Tyler Childers: ranked 785 in 2019 and 8 in 2023. 
'Cover Me Up,' Morgan Wallen: ranked 356 in 2019 and 9 in 2023. 
'Middle Child,' J. Cole: ranked 2 in 2019 and 10 in 2023.

Almost all of 10 of these songs seem to have come from “out of nowhere,” although a quick glance at the artists helps to explain their success. Taylor Swift, Morgan Wallen, Zach Bryan…each are artists who dominated the charts in 2023, regardless of their 2019 releases. Their spikes in rank appear to be driven by fans digging through the artist’s catalog, finding songs that, while old to the market, are nevertheless new to the fans. And that isn’t the only way for old songs to bubble up. Chris Brown’s “Under the Influence” went viral on short-form video platforms in 2022 in a way that translated to real On-Demand Audio streaming growth, as it was the No. 2 song from 2019 both last year and this year as well. Luminate Insights’ consumer research data also shows that short-form video platforms are a key way for younger audiences to find music as Gen Z Music Streamers are +50% more likely than the average U.S. streamer to discover new music via SFV sites/apps.

Rank mobility varies by factors including genre and artist, what seems clearer than anything else, though, is that song rank is not permanent. If a song is not a hit this year, that does not mean that it won’t be next year.

Sources:
Luminate Music Consumption Data
Luminate Insights US Music 360 Consumer Research (Q1 2024)

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