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Future Hit.DNA Explains Why Adele is So Popular

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Future Hit.DNA is a project undertaken by CMT Senior VP Jay Frank, undergone to help determine how to best create and market popular music. Frank released a book on the subject, but also writes a blog of the same name, on which he recently issued his 2011 Midyear Report, presenting his findings when analyzing the top 50 most downloaded songs from the first half of the year. He discovered many interesting things, from a shorter average intro length (4.88 seconds, down 37% from last year) to an increased emphasis on artists releasing more songs in shorter time periods (which resulted in, among other things, Katy Perry accounting for one out of every 32 songs sold in the first six months of 2011.)

But Frank's most interesting findings were related to Adele, whose "Rolling in the Deep" he says was so super-successful this year because it was designed as a "futurehit." By that, Frank means that it contains nearly all of the hallmarks that he noticed were trending among popular hits—its short intro, its medium-paced BPM, and more subtle qualities like dynamic shifts, choral counter-choruses and chord-progression shifts. Accounts Frank:

The subtleties of modern futurehit song structures amidst its retro-soul feel is what takes this song over the top and makes it as undeniable as it is. Artistic credibility and commercial sensibilities can coexist when done right. When they do, they create a massive hit and help lift an entire industry.

A mixture of soul and science: That's actually probably the best explanation we've heard for why "Rolling in the Deep"—a very good song, no doubt, but none of our predictions for biggest hit of 2011 going into the year—is such a success. We're glad to see that, though we're a little bummed by Frank's other Adele-related revelation—that "Rolling in the Deep," arguably best categorized as a soul or pop song, is actually the only "rock" song in the entire Top 50. C'mon, new Coldplay album.