So you want to write amazing hooks. Fine. You’re into music, most probably the popular kind. It’s all good. But do you really know what a hook is? Well, let’s see. A hook can be a whole lot of things that are subtly different from each other. Yet, they are all hooks. How come? That just doesn’t compute, hey? Don’t worry, it’s not all that difficult. The essence of the hook – any hook – is what we call “appeal”, or “interest”. A hook can be any small part of the music – we can call it motif – that’s made (or ended up) to be appealing. Super appealing. A hook is one of those little things that are made to help people gain interest towards your tune. In other words, the hook is the sexy part of the song. Basically, it’s the part that sells your song, once it’s out in the big ole air. Sex sells, my friend. Anyway.
Hooks are all over a good song
We can have melodic hooks. These are usually instrumental or vocal riffs and/or phrases. They can be part of the chorus, the intro, they can actually be the whole chorus or part of the verse. You can plant them anywhere. Rap guys call the whole chorus the hook, because it’s the main musical part that’s made to be truly memorable (whistleable, hummable, you know the drill). If you can come up with cool sounding guitar riffs, it means you have already written hooks. Yay! Same goes for piano, whistle and banjo. And bagpipe. (Honorable mention for accordion. You knew it’s coming.)
Being catchy lyrically
We can also have lyrical hooks, which is a little bit tougher to come up with, but not too bad. Using vulgar words is a cheap and easy (i.e. lame) way, but it might not be all that effective anymore. Especially when you have to market your shit for little kids, and have to be PC (fuck PC). If you have your way around the language, you know that using odd and rarely used words and phrases are where it’s at! Think of the whispering vacuum cleaner in the hollow of Mona Lisa‘s belly fat. Or something like that.
If you are good with rhythm, you can also create rhythmical hooks. I mean, no one can hold you back from it, can they? Don’t be shy! The odder, weirder it is, the better it will be.
The overlooked trick
And with that, we have reached the important part, the trick of any good hooks. Because a good, catchy one is not exactly the sweetest thing on earth. Nor the sugar of life. And so on. A good hook is riding the razor blade edge of being something disturbing. Or downright annoying. AND at the same time it can be sweet as dripping honey. But you have to be smart and put the leading edge into it. Once you get your shit together, you’ll realize that an effective hook stinks. But only just the right amount! That’s what grabs the listener. He (the listener) – we can assume – is that big, sore, numb mind. The one that keeps roaming around hopelessly in a supermarket. Right after school. So once the above mentioned grabbing part’s happened, the good sounding part can do its final job. Finish ’em off like there’s no friggin’ tomorrow! And that’s how you do it, man.