It’s little wonder that the hook plays such a pivotal role in defining the success or life cycle of a song. If you think about it, we naturally seek hooks in our everyday conversations and circumstances.
We want that memorable, familiar something that helps to make us feel more secure, affirmed, justified, or maybe vindicated. A successful hook resonates with something beyond what’s clever word play. It hits home in the heart and strikes a comforting chord in the soul.
The Heart Of Hitting Home
In many ways a hook is like touching home base, even in its non-verbal state. It’s notes and beats that help to anchor or define an experience or feeling. But the hook can actually be identified as the story of a song or the character at the core of a song. For example, a song like “Delta Dawn” makes a hook out of the plight of the woman as well as her name.
You want to create a familiar feel musically and you want to generate words or a phrase that complements or underscores the melodic feel of the hook. You can also juxtapose the feel musically with words or a phrase that counters the feel. The point is for the hook to stay with you, to help define the piece emotionally and intellectually.
Ten Songs With Strong Hooks
To help you play with creating hooks, think of ten of your favorite songs that have strong, simple hooks. Once you have your ten songs, then tackle each song one by one by writing either a parody of the song or by using the music only to inspire a different story or circumstances or feeling to sing about.
For example, the song “Desperado” might become a song about a special time or a special someone that has moved on or passed away. The hook “Desperado” might then become the simple phrase, “I Remember.” That phrase could be made more specific in describing something that you miss or appreciate about a special someone. In that case, “Desperado” could become “Tough and Tender.” That could be a song of someone who was strong enough to bend but never break and vulnerable enough to weep for others.
Finding Anchors In The Waves
The goal with the exercise is to give you a feel for hooks, something to anchor your piece in the heart, mind, soul, or sensuality. You want your song to be remembered for its appeal to any or all of these four areas. You never want your hook to be forced or seem out of place unless your song is about feeling left out or not fitting in. But even then you want the hook to make the listener feel grounded or anchored.
Hook Homeward, Angel
Once you compile several hooks based on a familiar song, you can then play around with original pieces to craft based on the inspired hook. Let your mind free associate until you come to rest stops that resonate with something deeper inside. It’s that thing that catches you off-guard, makes you stop in your tracks, zaps your heart into skipping a beat or two, strikes a nerve, shakes off what covers up your vulnerability, or simply takes your breath away.
The more you do these exercises the better you will become at creating hooks that give the listener a place to call home.