BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Sold on Song. Classic songs, covers, songwriting and more. Listen Live.

 Full Schedule
-













Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
Songwriting Guides
Writing a song
Hooks

A 'hook' in a song is anything that the listener can remember easily. This can be the catchy melody they can whistle, the interesting line in a verse that makes them think about what you're saying, the title of the song or anything else that catches the listener's attention. Here's a great example of a hooky song:

Let me take you down, 'cos I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney)

The first line is an instruction to the listener and contains the title of the song, the second line is surreal and intrigues the listener and the third line is the title again, sung to a classic catchy melody. The music contains many interesting sounds, including flutes played on a Mellotron keyboard and sitars. These are simple techniques that combine to produce a very memorable and therefore hooky song.

The best hooks can be remembered after just one listening.
Steve Hillier

The best hooks can be remembered after just one listening, and it's these that a prospective publisher or record company will be looking for when you play them your songs. Here are some hints on how to write hooks, and what to do with them once you've written them:

  • It can be very useful to listen to some of your favourite songs and take a note of any hooks you can spot. For instance a catchy tune, a clever lyric or an interesting sound? Where in the song do they happen? How often are they repeated?
  • If you find your favourite songs too familiar to analyse then listen to Radio 1's Top 40 Singles chart show and analyse these songs instead. After all, each one is a successful song.
  • A good hook can be immensely valuable; don't be afraid to repeat it several times in your song. Be careful though, you don't want to irritate your listeners.
  • It's important that you include at least one hook very early on in your song. You need to grab the audience's attention, and keep it! Making the first lines to your lyric interesting is one way of achieving this.
  • Ensure your verses include memorable lines, just as your chorus does. You can't write a song consisting entirely of choruses, so help your listeners through the song by keeping them interested in the other sections of your song.
Barry MannBarry Mann
Mann explains how "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was a dummy title: "... it was never meant to be called that."
Listen to Barry Mann Audio help
Send us your views or read other peoples'
Send us your comments on: Hooks








Peter Belfast
"If you find your favourite songs too familiar to analyse then listen to Radio 1's Top 40 Singles chart show and analyse these songs instead. After all, each one is a successful song." And with the right marketing, any song can be a hit!

Ben "the Baker" / Manchester
Sound advice, ha. I'd add that sometimes the further you go back the more will be revealed, most good music is either recycled and modified or combined with other genres, but the hook remains the same.

Songwriting Guides Writing a Song Genre Structure Verse Chorus Melody Tempo / Rhythm Harmony Lyrics Beginnings Endings Ideas Rhyme Middle 8 Hooks Performing Working with Other Writers In the Studio Publishers Record Companies Management Staying on Track
 The Songwriting Game
Songwriting Game Pick a chord
Play with chords and find out what kind of songwriter you are with the Songwriting Game.


 DON'T MISS
Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy