How To

What Is A Hook In A Song And How Do You Write One?

Photograph of the blog post author, Ashley Dejarnette

Ashley Dejarnette

12.5.2020

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So, what is a hook in music? A short hook definition in music is a memorable passage, phrase, or riff within a song. Hooks are used in popular genres such as Pop, Rock, R&B, Hip Hop and Dance. Historically, the term hook refers to the part in a song which hooks the audience. A hook can be found in the chorus or can even be the chorus of a song. Ultimately, the hook dresses the instrumentation, and ties together the number as a whole. Hooks can be melodic, rhythmic, or even instrumental. However, there is far more to a hook than just the style. Either way, the hook needs to have the ability to be musically effective and impactful. 

A hook

The Concept Of A Hook: Telling A Story

The motive behind a hook plays an important role in writing one, and helps to create a theme that will steer your song. This theme should be viewed as the plot in a play, and should assist the songwriter in structuring the song.  Consider the arrangement and relations between the elements in a hook as you would in a story or movie. For example, the aforementioned literature almost always include a beginning, middle and an end. 

Think of the hook as a piece of a song meant to hook the listener in. The hook forms an arch over each verse, and the verses in a song link to the hook like a bridge. Find a simple way to get your point across in a hook that sums up the finer details from the verse. Hip Hop made sampling hooks an art form, and many great Hip Hop songs were transformed by artists looping sampled sections of other tracks on their song hooks. Hook music sampling is responsible for Hip Hop hits such as Drake – ‘Nice For What,’ ‘Hotline Bling,’ Rihanna featuring Drake ‘Work’, and plenty more noteworthy hits. 

Man writing songs on guitar

Make sure that whatever you have chosen for your hook is memorable – that is key. Imagine your hook as your conclusion to all things that you have already expressed in your composition. It is crucial not to underestimate the potential of your hook when writing songs. For instance, Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ has wormed itself into many minds at one occasion or another. Immediately, we know what the song is about – a bad romance. Not only is ‘Bad Romance’ the title, it is also included in the hook itself.

When hearing your hook, the listener should both feel inspired, intrigued and have a clear understanding of what your song is all about.

Top Tips For Writing Hooks

Here are some top tips on how to write a killer hook that keeps your listeners intrigued and with your track on repeat!

Keep The Same Energy

A helpful way to write a hook is to attempt to capture the attitude which you have built up in the verses. The hook is a message filled with passion that you want to naturally spill over into your verses to create a wholesome masterpiece. The passion found in your hook lyrics should at least equate to the amount of wholeheartedness present in your verses. In fact, likely more to the straightforward and evolved point.

Progression, Repetition & Lyrics

Lyrics of a song

Next, we can center our focus around progression and repetition in a hook. As a songwriter, using a progressive hook can help with the sort of storytelling that naturally occurs in song lyrics. The term ‘Progressive Chorus’ is one that reflects the verse before it. For instance, if you are going from past to present to future tense in your verse lyric, the hook might also mirror this tense change with different words: ‘was’, to ‘is,’ to ‘will be.’ Often, to carry a song lyric along, the Chorus and/or hook needs to update in accordance with what is happening in your lyric. 

Organically in the writing universe, people might find that repetition serves a narrow and redundant purpose, if any. In spite of this notion, the same does not hold true for songwriters. In which case – don’t be afraid to repeat yourself! For example, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees. This popular hit song makes you want to dance and is highly repetitive. Essentially, contemplate lyrics which are amusing to repeat and are catchy enough to hook you! Having lines in your hook which are appealing and able to roll off the tongue easily is a great way to get fans to fall in love with your music. 

Melodies

Hanson

Remember that heartfelt words are more easily retained by a listener. If your hook still sounds good after repeating it many times, consider it a good sign. When a person hears your hook, you want it to subconsciously continue to exist in their minds. In particular, one may discover themselves humming a tune they’ve hardly heard before and singing along to a hook that they can’t forget. A memorable melody is almost important to go with the lyrics and rhythm of your hook, so that people literally cannot get it out of their heads. ‘MmmBop’ by Hanson is a great example of when melody, rhythm and repetition come together to make a song memorable.

Play with strong melodies, and try the steps being a semi or whole tone apart to create nuances of power. Have you been contemplating chord patterns? It is suitable for your hook melody to share the same chord pattern as your verse, and to be sung at a higher register. Alternatively, it may be worth acknowledging that a rhythm which is distinct from the verse can work wonders. Are you unsure if opposing tonalities will gel in a hook? Well, rest assured that the unusual or unique certainly grab attention. When writing a hook, keep in mind the structure of the music – whether coming in straight away or building up. Although both practices are valid, choosing one or the other may cater to the cadence or cause confusing energies in your song. Choosing your transitions wisely is a successful way to make your hook feel colossal.

The human mind cannot withstand an open-ended question. Use this fact to your advantage and be sure that your hook drives your song home.

Closing Thoughts

When we think of songs, we usually think of their hook first. This part of the music is what draws people to listen to a song again, as we may become addicted to the hook and fall in love with other elements of the song later. The hook is an important first impression, so use it wisely. It could involve intriguing, thoughtful lyrics, repeated lyrics with a catchy melody, or even a rhythmic lick or riff that underpins parts of the song. Whether it makes audiences want to sing along to it, dance to it or even scream it at the top of their lungs – it creates a moment of interest in the song. As long as audiences remember it, like it, and want to hear it again, you will have done a good job! Don’t forget to check out our picks for the best songwriting apps to help you keep track of your ideas as you write!

So, now you know how to write a successful, memorable hook that will accelerate your music and interest listeners. Allow us to help you amplify your musiccollaborate with others, and get your music in TV, film and more. Why not try Music Gateway for free?

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