How to compose a great hook for your song

How to compose a great hook for your song

I'm sure you know the hook of a song these days is probably the most essential part of the song. This has been the case really for as long as I can remember, even going back to the golden era of hip hop. Pretty much, if you have a catchy hook or a simple hook, the chances of your song catching a buzz or becoming a hit are high, provided you, the artist, does the marketing and promotion side to the best of your ability. Just listen to some of the songs on the radio e.g. Racks on Racks, it’s a simple repetitive hook that has auto tune on it, yet it is one of the most requested songs on the air waves. So what goes into making a hook that will help your single to sell or go viral? This is an age old question that has no one answer really. However there are certain things I have noticed that successful artists are doing to boost the status of their singles.

Here are a few things I have seen some artists do and it seems like it works. This tutorial serves for songs where you want commercial appeal or looking to make a crossover track that will be embraced by mainstream. This is in no particular order.

1. Find a singer for your hook. That’s a simple technique that has been used for decades. Think Mary J. Blige and Method Man(All I Need), T pain Kanye West(Good Life), songs like All I Do Is Win, Tupac's Changes, Rihanna Eminem...the list goes on and on, I’m sure you get the idea.

2. For club type songs, make a simple hook that’s catchy and repetitive if you can. It’s easier for the listener to remember songs this way. According to Akon, that’s how he
structures his hooks, and he has been successful selling albums worldwide.

3. Harmonize the hook to make it sounds like semi signing rapping. E.g. Eminem's not afraid; he pretty much kind of sings the hook. Tech9, Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa, Nelly, Kanye and Lil Wayne, among other artist's also employ the same technique. It gives your song a different dimension compared to just rapping the hook part.

4. Sing the hook part if you are good or pretty decent at singing. Drake and Nicki Minaj come to mind, as an example of an artist who exploits this trick. However, you have to have some sort of ability to sing or it will sound terrible.

5. For pop type songs, it’s usually a 16 bar hook, that comprises of an 8 bar bridge type of singing which leads to the climax of the hook in the last 8 bars of the hook.

6. For crossover type of songs, get a pop or alternative singer to sing the part. I’m sure you have heard plenty of collaborations that have been so popular lately. According to research, last year's top selling hip hop songs that were considered crossover hits, comprised of alternative pop acts like Paramore, Mr. Hudson e.t.c singing the hook and the rapper sticking to the verses.

7. Make your hook as clear as possible so as to not confuse the listener. This means try and keep it simple, avoid slang if you can, make sure you get all your words out, limit the number of ad libs in the part.

8. If you can, make the hook that people can relate to.

9. Double up your vocals on the hook part to make it sound fuller. If you have owned a crappy boom box or set of speakers, I’m sure you have heard this. The hook is always comes out louder than the verse part. That’s because they layer the vocals on the hook part.

10. Make a clean hook if you are thinking of trying to get radio play. That’s why most songs and albums have a clean and dirty version. Radios won’t play overly censored tracks period.

These tricks don’t only apply to crossover, club and radio type songs. They can be used on anything from underground, horror core to conscious hip hop. Above all, be as creative as you can, apply some of these tricks if you can and you will find your own niche to making a great hook.

What do you else do you think goes into making a great hook? Feel free to leave comments

Written by Black Tim, Producer for

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