Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes” is the bands biggest hit of their 14-year career. In most cases the chances of writing a major hit decreases over time but this pop-alt song has managed to reach over 155 million listeners on the airwaves in a single week.
A recent report by Soundfly analyzed every single song that hit the Billboard Top 5 in 2018 and concluded that more than half of those songs used two to four chords. “High Hopes” was the only major hit to incorporate eight different chords.
Sam Hollander co-wrote the Panic! at the Disco single and explains what went into this song. While writing “High Hopes” he repeatedly failed to find a groove. “The chorus was lingering. They played it to me a few times, and I was chopping it to bits, but the rest of the song would never materialize,” he says.”
When the band started promoting “High Hopes” they knew they had to push it towards alternative, pop, and, for the first time, Hot AC, an adult-focused format that can grease the wheels for crossover. “It started testing well there, and I think that research helped [encourage] a lot of the pop programmers [to play ‘High Hopes’],” Nagelberg says. Having the support from all three formats is key for recent rock songs that want to reach a wide audience. Hollander refers to “High Hopes” as “the eight-cord wonder.”