Hot 100 Update: The State of Music in 2017

What's Hot #1: DJs
DJs have certainly had their presence in pop music this year; perhaps the most popular are The Chainsmokers, who have had a song in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 for 61 consecutive weeks and given Coldplay their biggest hit since 2008. Additionally, DJ Khaled has had success by recruiting the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Drake for chart-topping singles. Zedd's 'Stay', with Alessia Cara lending vocals, has seen constant radio play for months, and David Guetta is starting to have a comeback. That's not to say there's no room for new DJs; Kygo, for example, just enjoyed his first-ever USA hit. With an overall solid track record, it wouldn't be surprising to see more DJ collaborations in the near future.

What's Hot #2: Rap
Maybe there's less guest-rapping in pop songs these days, but rap in and of itself seems to be doing well at the moment. For example, Drake's latest album was the #1 album as measured by Billboard for 13 weeks. On the critical acclaim side, Chance The Rapper recently received a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Then there's Childish Gambino, who is enjoying his biggest hit to date on the second single off his third album. Finally, both 21 Savage and Jay-Z released new albums in the beginning of July, and both are set to sell well.

What's Not #1: Bands
Sure, Coldplay is enjoying their biggest hit in almost 10 years, but that song is half-electronic and thus not a full-on band song. OneRepublic hasn't seen massive commercial success with their latest album, and Maroon 5 has both traded in their band sound for a more manufactured one, and their latest single was the first in years to miss. Rock/punk band Linkin Park, who has not seen commercial success in years, is now trying again as a straight-up pop act, and so far it has been critically panned and has not given listeners a hit single. The one major exception is Imagine Dragons, who is currently rebounding after their modestly-selling second album. So while bands are not dead, it seems like it's much tougher to get a hit as a band than it is to team up with a DJ with a radio-ready beat.

What's Not #2: Country
Since country music is very rarely played on radio stations that claim to play the hits, the genre has a tough time breaking into the Hot 100. As of this writing, the #1 country song on the Hot 100 sits at #37, with only two country songs in the Top 40. There is definitely an audience for country music, especially in the southeastern United States and more rural areas, but the radio, and as such the Hot 100, isn't really recognizing that.

What's Hot And Not: One Direction
Instead of releasing three or four singles to the radio every year, One Direction has split up, and now five people are trying to break in as solo artists; so many that I even had to look up their names to write this. Some are having better success than others. It seems like from the beginning many expected Harry Styles to be the Justin Timberlake one, making a solo career that's arguably even bigger than the days in the boy band. While his first album did go to #1 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart, lead single Sign of the Times has failed to have longevity despite heavy promotion. Granted, it's much different than anything else on the radio, but it's still a bit underwhelming. Meanwhile, little-promoted group mate Niall Horan has found himself two lasting hits in a row. Additionally, Zayn (who apparently no longer has a last name) had a massive hit before One Direction was officially over, and more recently had a collaboration with Taylor Swift on a soundtrack. Not only was the song the first one on the soundtrack and the one released to radio, but he also was the first one to sing on the song. The two other ex-members have found moderate success so far. 

And Then There's Despacito
The Spanish song that took the world by storm. The music video has been viewed over 2 billion times on YouTube, and both the original and the remix with Justin Bieber are doing extremely well on all fronts. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe we've gotten anything like it since Gangnam Style half a decade ago, and even then that was more a product of a viral video and not airplay. This one, meanwhile, is getting constant airplay, and listeners who only speak English don't seem to mind that they can only understand the lyrics to maybe 25% of the song. In fact, it's been reported by Billboard that the song is actually helping Puerto Rico's economy by increasing tourist presence.

It's even possibly influencing the way other artists operate. Take OneRepublic's song No Vacancy for example. There are now three versions of the song that are partially in another language. It seems that what they're going for is adding artists that are recognizable in their native countries, hoping that they will in turn bring the band new fans that will follow them on tour. Whether the strategy works or not is debatable; the song has only hit big in a couple smaller countries.

What do you think? What trends do you think will be present in the upcoming months? Let us know in the comments below!

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