Listening to any top 40 radio station will reveal that for the most part, two genres rule the waves: pop and hip-hop. There are plenty of big names coming from both worlds, and they often compete for the highly-coveted space on both the charts and on radio playlists. There is one thing that can be bigger than either of them if done correctly: the two combined. When two artists get together and mix their styles, the results can be magic, and the numbers prove it.
These days, many of the biggest pop hits find a way to incorporate a hip-hop verse, typically by one of the more recognizable figures in the industry. This can be a great artistic decision, but to labels and radio stations, it’s much more important than that. Adding rap to pop has been identified as a solid business decision, and an easier route to getting a hit. With some of the latest examples, one has to wonder if it the two genres melding is becoming more a route to better sales and less of an artistic experiment.
For example, the other day, Demi Lovato was discussing her friendship (and recent MTV Video Music Awards performance with) rapper Iggy Azalea, who is also featured on the pop singer’s upcoming album. In an interview with MTV News, she revealed that when Azalea recorded a verse for the track “Kingdom Come”, she hadn’t even heard it before she put her two cents in. The end product may work well enough, but is that really the best way to put together a song?
Also worth noting is Taylor Swift’s latest number one hit, “Bad Blood”, which features Kendrick Lamar. When 1989 was released, the song didn’t have a featured guest, but when it was time for the fourth official single to head to radio, the rap verse was added. In fact, one could argue that Kendrick has more of a starring role on the track, and his presence likely helped the song chart as high as it did. There have been plenty of examples of radio edits of songs adding verses after they’ve already been out, as a single has to sound different from an album cut.
Including a rap verse opens any song up to new potential it might not have known before. A new Taylor Swift single may get plenty of attention at radio stations that deal in top 40, pop, or adult contemporary, but anything in the R&B and hip-hop world is out of the question…unless somebody like Kendrick Lamar is on board. There are also plenty of music lovers who identify with a certain genre, and who won’t often stray. A hardcore Lamar fan might never think to listen to Swift, but when the two collaborate, they can access one another’s fan bases and find all new customers.
In the past few years, there have been a slew of pop songs that have used this method to achieve success. 2014 saw at least half a dozen top ten hits benefit from the addition of rapper’s talents, including Katy Perry and Juicy J’s “Dark Horse”, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea’s “Problem”, Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg’s “Wiggle”, and the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Bang Bang”, which featured Ariana Grande and Jessie J.
Thankfully, the plan doesn’t always work, and having two different genres on one track isn’t a foolproof way to find a hit. The reverse of this (hip-hop-leaning songs bolstered by pop hooks) has also been taking place for years, but it doesn’t seem to be the same crutch that pop is using currently. There have been some truly great songs that expertly utilize both hip-hop and other genres (Aerosmith and Run DMC anyone?), and there will be plenty more. Let’s hope that the practice doesn’t lose its significance and become nothing more than a marketing tactic.
For more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2015/09/06/has-adding-hip-hop-to-pop-songs-become-just-a-marketing-tactic/?utm_campaign=Forbes&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Business&linkId=16888199