bore us, get to the chorus / Don't be a shnook, get to the hook!" by
you've decided that you want to write songs that will be heard by
many. You've begun to study commercial songs, you're reading books
on commercial writing, and you're paying close attention to the
successful songs of the day. You are beginning to understand how
this new approach differs from the way you used to write.
now you have no doubt discovered that the single most important
component of commercial songwriting is that sometimes elusive creature
known as The Hook. Can you survive as a commercial songwriter without
a firm command of how to write a hook?...in a word NO! Since this
is certainly the case, lets see if we can shed some light on this
often misunderstood yet absolutely essential piece of commercial
short, the hook must be that part of the song the listener goes
away remembering. Great hooks start with great ideas. Great hooks
sell great songs. Great hooks are what publishers, record companies
and recording artists are all looking for. Most publishers decide
to pass or accept based on the hook. I have worked with major publishers
that won't even listen until you have pitched the hook first.
"Hook" can most easily be described as that part of the
song that is most memorable, usually most catchy lyrically and musically,
and usually most repeated. It is almost always the song's title,
and is usually found within the song's chorus. Musically speaking,
the hook is often the most dynamic part of the song. While most
hooks are lyrical lines, they are often followed by a musical figure
that enhances the lyrical line. The Dire Straits tune Sultans of
Swing is a fine example of this technique.
successful commercial songwriters write hooks before they write
songs. They do this because a great song is more easily born of
a great hook. Writing a great commercial song based on an average
hook is a near impossibility.
will note that I've used the words usually, often, and almost, quite
frequently in describing what a hook is. I want to be careful about
stating rules for commercial songwriting, because in fact there
are none. There will always be writers that break every possible
rule and still manage to achieve commercial success. Nevertheless
for most of us it makes sense to acknowledge and draw guidelines
from prevailing industry standards. In essence I am saying that
while many great commercial songs don't follow the rules, most do!
your next song from the hook. Make it interesting, accessible, catchy,
and memorable and you're there!