If “Stairway to Heaven” were released today, would it be a hit? (HINT: Probably not)

If you follow the trends in music, you’ll know that songs are getting shorter and shorter and their construction are skewed towards making them more appealing to short attention span listening. The latter means shorter intros, putting the chorus up front, multiple hooks throughout the song–anything to drag the listener through to the 30-second mark, the time in the song when a streaming service pays out.

This begs the question: If big hits of the past–even iconic songs–were released today, would they have a hope in hell of being successful?

Rick Beato tested out the theory by playing his daughter “Stairway to Heaven” and asking her opinion. This is hardly a scientific test with an n=1, but it’s still illuminating. Little Layla (gee, think Dad is a guitarist?) wasn’t impressed. She felt that the song was too long, had a long boring guitar solo and most distressingly, “There’s no Auto-Tune!” Urgh.

Watch the whole video here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37443 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “If “Stairway to Heaven” were released today, would it be a hit? (HINT: Probably not)

  • Well, let’s be fair. Stairway To Heaven wasn’t a hit when it came out either. It didn’t chart at the time because it wasn’t released as a single. And eight year old girls were never its intended audience. I’m sure were it to be released for the first time today, it would do just fine, thank you very much.


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