Hitmakers

How Can You Tell When A Song Is A Hit?

Gold record for Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock'

The gold record for Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock". the prodigal untitled13/flickr.com hide caption

itoggle caption the prodigal untitled13/flickr.com

Starting tomorrow, in this space and on All Things Considered, we're going to spend a month talking about the songs you hear on the radio or watch over and over again on YouTube. We'll talk with songwriters, producers, chart experts and maybe even a strip club owner or two. The kind of people who spend their lives trying to figure out what qualities, what audience, what elixir distilled from will.i.am's tears turns a collection of musical notes into an inescapable smash.

We've thought about this a lot over the last few months, and now we want to hear from you. So we have two questions:

  1. How can you tell when a song is a hit?
  2. Are there qualities that all hits share?

Do you watch the charts? Is a song a hit when you hear it more than twice a day? Is it the presence of auto-tune? Does your 12-year-old niece's iPod hold the key?

Light up that comment section, or send us an email at therecord@npr.org. And stay tuned. You may hear next summer's big single here first.

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