Writing good lyrical hooks takes a lot more than just a good sense of melody. One of the most common reasons a song becomes a hit is that the lyrics get stuck in the mind of the listener. Hence, incorporating rhythmic and stimulating lyrical hooks is vital to the success or popularity of any song.
What happens when the hook is too complicated for anyone to be able to relate to it? Imagine a stand-up comedian making a performance. The script is well prepared, stage setup is marvelous, and story is also appealing. But the punch lines are too wordy and body gestures are too awkward; the audience will not be able to have fun and would instead get bored or irritated.
Always attempt to come up with great, musical content, and keep focus on the hook more than on anything else.
Let’s have a look at few good ways to keep your creative energy flowing for writing outstanding lyrical hooks.
Keep the lyrics simple
If you want to have a killer hook, make sure the words you choose are simple, concise and poetic. Simpler lines are easier to remember and have the tendency to capture the attitudes depicted in them. If you want to touch people’s hearts with your words, make sure the words come out of the creativity of your heart, rather than from a dictionary or encyclopedia.
Using heavy vocabulary, jargon or dull-sounding words cannot win people’s hearts, as they straight-away make people assume that they have to exhaust part of their mental energy in order to comprehend what’s being said. Keep the hook light and smooth, so that it’s easy to be memorized and hummed.
Create melody with words
There is no entertainment in a hook if it doesn’t flow smoothly in a hummable melody. In fact, it wouldn’t even be a lyrical hook if its not melodious. Melody attacks right into the subconscious minds of humans, so they end up humming songs even in inappropriate moments without realizing, even if the lyrics are weird and awkward in their literal sense.
Melodies are comprised of skips and steps. The words in each sentence need to be positioned carefully, so that when the song is sung, the singer’s voice seems to leap naturally from one note to another. Songs with good lyrical hooks are those that can be sung easily without necessarily being backed up by instruments.
Experiment with alliteration
This means finding adjacent words that start with a similar sound. Alliteration is used in different styles and genres of literature, and requires some expertise to practice. If you are able to alliterate your lyrics, it will be much easier to come up with smooth lines and enjoyable phrases, using simple words and modest sentences.
Creativity and thinking out of the box plays a huge role in practicing alliteration. As quoted by Frank Zappa,
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
An example of alliteration is in the following sentence.
“I love Qunitella the Queen Conch.” The words “Qunitella” and “Queen” create a heightened sense of delight for anyone who reads the line, making him or her want to read further. The more alliteration you use in your hook, the more it would produce such silent thoughts in the minds of the listeners.
Repeat the hook
Don’t be afraid to repeat your lyrical hooks as many times as you like. I mean if something is worth saying, what’s the harm in saying it over and over again? Many well-crafted songs are just a repetition of 3-4 hooks being said over and over again, until the listener is found humming the same lines to remember the song even after it’s turned off.
Make sure the words are arranged in a way that they sound good to hear when repeated many times. The best way to do this is to sing your hook to yourself a few times to check how they sound and fine-tune your sequencing.
Make the hook your high point
Every song has a “money note” in it – the one most attractive note that pulls in all of a listener’s attention due to its high pitch or prolonged tune that feels delightful to hear. This needs to be done in a natural way, and not forced, or else your song would begin to sound ridiculous.
Different words have a different tune and pitch by nature. One word may not shine as much as the other in the same hook. That’s when you need to either reposition your hook or just replace the unmatched words with better ones.
Increase intensity through instrumentation
Good lyricists are often good musicians as well, or at least know the basics for guitarists and can guide musicians on the kind of music that would go best with their lyrics. A great hook can be wonderfully complemented with dynamic or intense instrumentation. So if you can guide your musician on writing interesting chord progressions that suit your hook, you’re well on your way to preparing a fantastic song!
Some hooks sound more lyrical at high volume, such as deafening guitars or thunderous slap bass, while others require a more peaceful ambiance and softer touch with more drop-ins and outs in the musical track.
Experts in creating lyrical hooks can even come up with a sweet amalgam of bass in the beginning phrases followed by slow strings coming in when the hook arrives. You’ll need to try out a few ways to make the best combination. At the end of the day, whatever sounds most pleasurable to hear is the one to go with!
It would definitely take practice in applying the techniques mentioned above, before you can master the art of creating awesome lyrical hooks and building yourself up into a chorus powerhouse. As Beyoncé rightfully says,
“If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.”
You would know you have become a good lyricist and hook-maker when you are able to just speak your heart out and people just get it, and appreciate you for it.
The world is waiting for you to unite your thoughts into a beautiful song.