Is There A Science To Winning A BRIT Award?

Now that’s what I call evolutionary! To celebrate The BRITs, new Mastercard research reveals how music has evolved over the last 40 years from ways we consume it, to key components that helped artists win prestigious awards.


Music’s Evolution Over 40 Years

Mastercard, proud partner of the BRITs for over two decades and sponsor of the highly coveted category ‘Song of the Year’ (SOTY), collaborated with Musicologist and Berklee College of Music Professor, Dr. Joe Bennett to develop a piece of research that analyses how music has evolved over 40 years, both in the way it has been created and consumed.


What Makes a ‘Song of the Year’?

Whilst there is no guaranteed blueprint for success, through analysis of over 300 songs from the past 40 years of The BRIT Awards’ nominees and winners of ‘Song of the Year’, the findings revealed key characteristics of the nation’s favourite hit tracks and how they’ve evolved.

  • Social media influence – In the 2000’s platforms like MySpace launched the careers of popular artists like Lily Allen, Panic! At The Disco, and You Me At Six. Today, platforms including TikTok, are a major creative influence on new music
  • Short song length – In the 80’s the average song length was 4.30, today this has shortened to 3.07
  • Shorter song title – Over 50% of the SOTY nominees had one-word titles in 2021, almost double when compared to the 80’s and 90’s (27%)
  • Start the song with the chorus – the first winners of SOTY started with verses, winners now typically start with choruses for quicker snappier intros
  • Multiple songwriters create the track – Single writer songs were common in the early 1980s but modern tracks average five songwriters
  • Heartbreak songs – From the 329 songs analysed 60% of the lyrics were about romantic love


How Music Has Changed Since 1982

Dr. Joe Bennett, Professor of Modern music at Berklee College of Music said: “The BRIT Awards Song of The Year dataset has provided us with wonderful insights into trends in British musical preferences across a 40-year period, since the first Song of The Year award in 1982. We have uncovered noticeable characteristics of songs: track duration, title length, according to new technologies, listener preferences, and cultural trends. There is no perfect way to write a song, ​​though listening to the whole 21-hour playlist it revealed the enormous diversity of artistic approaches and musical styles prevalent in British music between the 1980s and today.”

Agnes Woolrich, Vice President Marketing & Communications, UK&I said: “Music is ever changing, so we were interested to explore how innovation and our changing lifestyles, especially our use of social media, has influenced the creation of music, as well as the different ways in which people enjoy it. These fascinating insights will help us find new ways to connect millions of Mastercard cardholders with their passion for music.