How To

How to write a hit song: David Penn

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


Small blue and purple gradient divider


Having a good song is crucial for making it within today’s music industry, but what makes a hit? Some people would say it’s the hook, others may say it’s the lyrics or the melody, however here we are going to show you that it’s a combination of these with some other elements in addition. Hit Songs Deconstructed digs deeper into what makes a hit. This can give you an idea of how you can implicate some of the techniques within your own work and maybe some inspiration!

So what are the key elements of a Hit? According to David Penn from Hit Songs Deconstructed the fundamental features of a hit are:


The three main ways of starting a song are either to start with the:




David talks about keeping your introduction to your song short and simple, but keep it interesting by capturing the listener’s attention by adding new musical ideas.


A hit should also feature elements of repetition whether it’s exploited through lyrical content, melody or musical ideas. If you can create an iconic hook that can be repeated in a variety of different musical settings throughout the song you are well on your way to capturing your listeners attention. David states that the key to a hit song is to have a good balance of repetition and diversity, to maintain interest throughout the song.


Dynamics are almost essential to creating a hit song as it can add elements of diversity that evokes emotion within a track. Without dynamic range you are more likely to lose the interest of the listener. For me it’s all about creating tension and then releasing that tension in an explosive manner.

Lyrical content

Lyrical content is becoming more important than ever in 2014! Lyric videos have become more popular and listeners are actually starting to care about lyrics. So when you’re writing your hit make sure the lyrics are universal and something that everyone can relate too.

If you want to find out more about this in detail, check this video with David Penn out.

As a final note the best way to make great songs is to collaborate. By fusing different styles and ideas together with a variety of musicians you’ll find that your songs are given a whole new leap of life whilst retaining your own unique edge to a new song. I hope these tips find you well and now it’s up to you to get songwriting!

If you want to know more from Hit Songs Deconstructed then check out their website.

Your music career
Get ahead.
“Making it in this business, means making sure you have everything you need to succeed.”
What you can expect from our newsletters:
  • Industry news and tips
  • Opportunities to submit your music and collaborate with others
  • Free software and resources
  • Free membership to Music Gateway
Are you sure that email is right?
Thank you! Newsletters will be sent to: .
Is this the right email address? If not, you can correct it.
Junk mail? Hell no - we hate that stuff too!
Tap here to get our newsletter!
News and opportunities
Thank you! Newsletters will be sent to: .
Is this the right email address? If not, you can correct it.
Are you sure that email is right?

Music Gateway Company Logo

Sign up for a 14 day free trial

Get started