What does it take to make a Billboard Hot 100 hit? Lyrics about boys and girls, a repetitive drum beat, and a boatload of disposable income to properly push the product. Rarely does a truly unique voice or vision matter.
On Wednesday, one redditor set out to hot-wire the hit machine.
After spending the week "listening to an Urban Music radio station which plays generic music that all sounds the same," redditor Indubitable_Smoo asked subreddit r/AskReddit if the community could craft a Top 10 radio hit:
From my detailed analysis and research all we really require is:
- A generic repetitive drum beat
- A bass line
- Lyrics (must be generic)
Optional: Melody and or harmony
Amongst all of us we must be able to find a record producer, musicians, a singer (where's that guy that sings our comments?)
Reddit users sprung into action almost immediately, offering their services as singers, producers, and audio engineers. Songwriters and lyricists started posting their ideas for verses, while redditor memefilter took to subreddits r/watmm and r/radioreddit to find a band of suitable musicians. One redditor even offered to shoot the music video.
By the time Indubitable_Smoo checked back, the conversation had completely taken off.
"Jesus, what a response," Indubitable_Smoo wrote. "Im at work for the next 8 hours but see what you guys can[n] organise in the mean time. Go nuts!"
Redditors created a new subreddit—r/reddittotop—and began flooding the page with contributions to the track. Redditor SoInsightful added a Soundcloud track called "Generic Pop Instrumental." Another user AldenSmeaton suggested a backing clip.
At 3 a.m. Eastern Time, Indubitable_Smoo posted an updated plan of attack:
Apart from the obvious creative aspects of this challenge there are also management and logistical obstacles to overcome. Currently myself and the other mods to this subreddit are trying to organise the chaos a lot more that we currently are so please bear with us, we are trying to get on the same wavelength. I would hate for this to lose momentum and excitement.
The creative aspect seems to be following a natural course and we will be making official threads (as has been done) when we feel a decision needs to be made. Creative decisions and the final choice of the song will be entirely democratic and will be based on the number of votes (seems logical unless there are objections). I would like to take suggestions on a structure of a song and dictate that part and let everyone go from there.
We have been contacted by several Redditors offering advice and volunteering for jobs which is brilliant, please keep it coming. Right now seeing as I have been thrown in the deep end of such a management process it would be great if anyone with experience managing such a project could make themselves visible (PM the mods). We have no idea what we need to do in terms of all legal aspects and how to approach publishing a song etc etc.
Redditor Benpett posted a rough draft of the track a few hours later, though only a cached copy remains.
"And for all the purists," he added, "I have been using a medium tier pre amp for the vocals, but in about 2 weeks I shall be able to record this in a proper recording format."
Those following the song's development were impressed, though not entirely sold.
"This is fantastic! I think the singing should have more of an energetic sort of YEAH PARTY ALL THE TIME WHOO and subtler 'wow seriously' because, at the moment, the song seems a little too self-aware of itself," wrote henr3y.
"I think the lyrics need a bit of work, but I really like this as a starting point," added redditor noneo. "Let's wait a bit before modifying this any further and make sure what backing track the community is going to choose. It seems like SoInsightful's track is the crowd favorite, but we will determine that for sure soon."
When the community does, and if the underground hit makers at Radio Reddit can lend a hand to spread this worldwide collaboration, there's enough muscle in the Reddit community to make this song a hit.
After that, it's all about dividing up royalties—to the "hundreds of people" who contributed to the making of Reddit's first chart topping smash.
Photo by Rafael Marquez