Once again, I’m just the messenger, interpreting what I read. So feel free to take the following study with a grain of salt.
Researchers at Ohio State University looked into the song structure of 303 top 10 hits, both modern and dating back to the 80s, hoping to discover how pop music has changed in recent years.
Lead researcher Hubert Léveillé Gauvin noted that “there was a 78 percent drop. That’s insane, but it makes sense. The voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things there is in music.”
Tempo has also increased by about eight percent, while song names have often been reduced to a short word or phrase.
Léveillé Gauvin attributes these shifts to what he calls the “attention economy” of modern-day pop.
“It’s survival-of-the-fittest: Songs that manage to grab and sustain listeners’ attention get played and others get skipped. There’s always another song,” he says. “If people can skip so easily and at no cost, you have to do something to grab their attention.”
So out with the long intros, and get to the “hook” as soon as possible.
I am more familiar with music from the 70s, and I seem to recall several songs that had some long instrumental beginnings, and to me such songs built up the excitement.
But I really don’t know a lot of the newer music, so I’ll have to take the researchers word that such intros are a thing of the past. If people do prefer to hear a voice as soon as possible, then today’s technology certainly makes it easy to keep skipping songs until the listener finds the one they want – one with a shorter intro.
If it’s true, then that seems a shame, since I think a song is not just the voice, but the instruments as well…
I’ll leave it up to others to mention a few classic songs with long intros, and whether or not they think such intros have faded away in recent years…