The Three Types of Song Hooks and How to Write Them

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You would be surprised to hear this, but many songwriters do not understand song hooks. A serious argument is still underway regarding the importance of hooks vs. lyrics, to the extent that many songwriters consider song hooks to be utterly unimportant.

In fact, some prominent music producers have gone on record dismissing the existence of song hooks, claiming that they are accidentally created by songwriters.

When we talk of creating a hook for a song, it wouldn’t be surprising for you to immediately think about the chorus.

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Truth is, the hook us the most memorable melodic or rhythmic part of the song that get listeners “hooked” to the song. In this post, our main discussion is, how can you write or create a “hook”?

First off, bearing in mind the context of the definition of the phrase “hook”- it is a short melodic or rhythmic fragment of a song that often includes the song title. If you are still struggling with the definition of “hook”, consider the iconic hooks such as “Born in the USA”, “With or Without You”, “Stayin’ Alive”, and “”.

To write an effective hook to a hit song, it must be able to attract listeners and keep them coming back to it.

The most important characteristics of a functional hook to a song is that it must be catchy, obvious, clear, and most importantly, memorable.

There are three main types of hooks:

I. Rhythm hook that establishes the beat or the rhythm combination that the song is built on. A good example is Stevie Wonder’s “boogie on Reggae”. However, this style of writing a hook does not with the modern style of songwriting.

II. An intro hook that is established at the start of the song and repeated over and over throughout the song to the drop out such as the hook in “You can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. This is a simple hook to write but it must focus on the notes from the track. It is best functional when it is three or four phrases that appear and disappear throughout the song.

III. Background or instrumental hook such as the one in Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”.

IV. This is often a catchy phrase that appears in the chorus of the song and also acts as a great chorus hook. This is the most functional hook that a songwriter can utilize the instrumental elements of the song. It must, however, be distinct, rhythmic, and concentrate on the chorus of the song.

While writing a hook for a song, it is important to remember that it must grab the listener and make them want to listen to it more. It should be attention-grabbing, memorable and most importantly, simple and repetitive.

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