When Maroon 5 took the Super Bowl halftime stage to perform their huge 2018 hit, “Girls Like You,” without featured artist Cardi B, fans were understandably disappointed. The Red Pill Blues single was one of the year’s most massive hits, spending seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and giving Cardi B her historical third chart-topping single. Now, a new study may have more information on just why that was.
Rolling Stone reported that the results of the study suggest that not only do songs with featured artists perform better on the charts than solo singles, the greater the stylistic difference between two artists, the better the songs tend to perform. The multi-decade study looked at the Hot 100 chart to analyze how songs with features fared against songs without them, as well as comparing cross-genre features to those from the same style.
The lead author of the report, Bocconi University marketing professor Andrea Ordanini from Milan, Italy, told Rolling Stone: “I expected ‘featuring’ represented a route for chart success, and indeed it was, [but] I was surprised by how fast such phenomenon spread outside the hip-hop genre where it originated.” He and his co-author Joseph Nunes, a business administration professor at USC, suggest that this is a result of cross-pollinating fan bases who wouldn’t normally interact with one artist or another. For instance, Maroon 5 may be a huge pop band, but their songs may not get on the radar of a hardcore hip-hop fan without the participation of a rap supernova like Cardi B. Another example might be Taylor Swift’s 2014 “Bad Blood” collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, which was one of the bigger hits in both performers’ respective catalogs.
Of course, the prevalence of collaborations and increases in hip-hop-centric streaming habits may also contribute to the study’s results as well. Both professors intend to continue to examine music business trends, with their next review looking at the role of authorship in chart success. Drake haters beware.