The last few years have been tough for the theatre industry due to COVID-19’s forced closures, which put performances on hold until mid-2021.  

Although, while shows have resumed – giving theatre lovers a chance to go and see their favourite performances once more – the Omicron variant has caused another major setback.    

One thing that people have relied on in the absence of live shows is streaming services like Spotify, which can continue to provide listeners with the latest musical theatre hits. 

But do you know what the most popular songs and productions are? Or what it takes to create a musical theatre masterpiece? 

Well, theatre bookings platform SeatPlan conducted a study on the most popular musical hits of all time, from the nation’s favourite musicals, to find out. 

By analysing Spotify’s most-played songs from musicals, SeatPlan shortlisted the most popular productions and other key data sets – like preferred keys, chords, BPM, length, tempo, and total streams- to discover what makes a great musical theatre hit. 

Top 10 Most Popular Productions  

 

 

 

Musical 

 

Total top 100 appearances 

Musical’s first opening year   

Movie’s release year 

 

Most popular song on playlists 

Hamilton  19  2015    Alexander Hamilton 
Dear Evan Hansen  12  2016  2021  You Will Be Found 
High School Musical  12    2006  We’re All In This Together 
The Greatest Showman  9    2017  Never Enough 
Waitress  6  2016  2007  She Used To Be Mine 
Wicked  3  2003  2021  Defying Gravity 
Rent  4  1996  2005  Seasons Of Love 
Heathers  4  2021  1988  Candy Store 
Mean Girls  4  2018  2004  World Burn 
Anastasia  4  2017  1997  Journey to the Past 

 

Hamilton – which first opened as a theatre show in 2015 – is the most popular production, with songs from the hit show featuring a total of 19 times in Spotify’s top 100 most played musical songs.  

‘Alexander Hamilton’ is the most played song, with a playlist popularity score of 70, followed by ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ (60) and ‘Satisfied’ (58). Each amassed 210,644, 169,838 and 182,741 streams, respectively – all in the top 20 most streamed musical songs of all time. 

Next up is Dear Evan Hansen, featuring 12 times in the top 100, most played songs on Spotify playlists. Dear Evan Hansen opened in theatres in 2016 and has since been adapted into a feature film, released in 2021.  

It’s interesting that while both shows are so popular to listen to, that neither is the highest- grossing shows at theatres overall. Hamilton only comes fourth overall for ticket sales ($649 million) and eighth for its attendance numbers (over 2 million). 

Dear Evan Hansen is currently the ninth highest-grossing show with $241 million and in 11th place for its attendance numbers, with just over 1 million attendees to its theatre performances so far. 

Dear Evan Hansen song, ‘You Will Be Found’ is fourth in the top 100 for playlists, with a score of 57 and 74,146 streams. ‘Waving Through A Window’ has the most streams, at 132,678. 

By looking at the data, researchers found that the most popular musical productions and tracks weren’t necessarily from stage performances, either. The third and fourth most popular musicals are High School Musical and The Greatest Showman. 

High School Musical, first became famous thanks to its hit film, released in 2006, followed by subsequent stage shows occurring in the US and UK in 2007 and 2008. The film’s well-known songs are some of the most streamed musical numbers, featuring 12 times in the 100 most-streamed tracks, with big listener numbers for hits such as ‘Can I Have This Dance’ (131,470), ‘Gotta Go My Own Way’ (117,613) and ‘We’re All In This Together (83,597). 

The Greatest Showman – again a film, and not currently a stage show – is the fourth most listened to musical. Hugh Jackman’s songs are the most streamed, with nine songs in the top 10, including ‘Rewrite The Stars’ (679,348), ‘This Is Me’ (600,691) and ‘The Greatest Show’ (410,458). 

Now we have a list of the most popular shows and songs, what do they have in common that makes them a hit musical song? 

Songs in keys G and F are most popular for musical songs featuring 16 and 12 times in the top 100. 

Plus, songs containing major chords are in 75 percent of musical playlists compared to minor chords, which are in 25 percent of them. 

According to statistics, major chords are tied to happiness, and minor chords to sadness, meaning Spotify listeners prefer to listen to an upbeat musical number.  

Meanwhile, the perfect average tempo is 119 BPM, and the best song length is around four minutes long. 

With this essential toolkit for the winning combination, songwriters might be in with a chance to make millions from a hit musical song. 

Ben Jackson, CEO and Founder of SeatPlan commented on the findings: With all the misfortune the theatre industry has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s great to see that theatre lovers are still seeking out their favourite songs on Spotify. 

“For anyone looking to pen the next musical theatre hit, we hope this study will give budding songwriters the right ingredients to create another piece of magic that will be listened to for years to come.”