Top 40 songs define American musical culture. The higher a song is on the chart, the more often it plays on the radio, or in a restaurant, or blaring out the windows of the next car over at a stoplight. What are the major topics in pop music right now?
We broke down the Billboard Top 40 songs in America right now into major categories to see what kind of themes are so very May 2015. These are obviously subject to personal opinion since most songs, as works of art, try to tell us something about the world and are about more than one thing. But on the surface level, here's what the Top 40 songs right now are about:
There's no world in which we would have predicted that Wiz Khalifa's Fast and Furious 7 dedication to Paul Walker "See You Again" would chart at number one and stay there for 6 weeks, and yet here it is!
Love completely dominates the charts with almost half of the Top 40. If you include the songs about "former lovers," songs about love and relationships take up 60% of the Top 40 charts. Fascinated, we broke those down into their second major theme, and here's what we got:
Only one song about misandry ("Blank Space" by Taylor Swift) and one song about the shrine of your lies ("Take Me to Church" by Hozier) in a sea of jealousy, missing you, and foreverness.
While sweet and truly heart warming, these love-y songs weren't exactly what we found interesting about the Top 40 right now. This group was a slew of ballads like Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" and Ariana Grande's "One Last Time." They're songs that are popular, but not all that interesting.
The songs that felt more powerful and exciting, the ones with spunk about bragging and sex were all songs that fell into the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop chart as well. In fact, 12 of the Top 40 songs right now are R&B/Hip Hop. But instead of just breaking down those 12 songs, we used the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Top 20 to get a broader look. Here's what we found:
Despite still having no clue what Rihanna's "FourFiveSeconds" is about, this chart is much more cohesive than the full Top 40 chart. On this chart the songs are about flexing, be that about money, strippers or sex. There are still a couple of weird outliers (when will this Paul Walker song leave?!), but for the most part, there's a strong core in this section of songs that have a great little braggadocio to them. So we broke those down further:
Missing from this chart are "See You Again," "Bitch Better Have My Money," "FourFiveSeconds," "Slow Motion," and "Earned it," all of which were outliers in the Top 20 chart.
Here are the money songs! The songs about strippers like the now ever-present "Throw Sum Mo." What's remarkable is how many of these songs are about butts in some way shape or form. Songs like Nicki Minaj's "Truffle Butter" and Omarion feat. Chris Brown's "Post to Be," are really leading this charge.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.