What is a Hit Song Anyway?
As an artist myself, it took a long time for me to realize what a great song of mine was compared to what a good or mediocre song was. We all have an ego that gets in the way. As artists, when we create something our first reaction to criticism is to get our backs up and defend how good it is. I was guilty of this for a long time. Until I started writing with successful writers who had penned actual hits, I refused to learn to let go and ask for opinions to help write better songs. When I overcame my ego that was when I wrote the song that changed my life and got me my first record deal.
I remember the day, where I was, what the weather was, and what time I had written it. It was one of those ah ha moments that will never leave me. Finally, I got it. I believed I had written THE song. It was the first song in my career that a producer didn’t pull apart and feel the need to fix because it wasn’t good enough, (which now I know is not a bad thing). When we hit the studio with a very well known producer, he didn’t change a thing, and it felt amazing.
Trying to write a hit song? There really is no formula. Listening to hits, analyzing them and asking the questions of why it’s a hit will help. The song needs to have hooks, it needs to grab the listener and not let go.
The best songs out there get better as they go along. Just when you think the song couldn’t get much better than the amazing verse and pre chorus, along comes a chorus that blows your mind. The old saying “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” is still as relevant today as it was when it was first said years ago. It’s all about mental seduction. You need to get a reaction out of the listener or the song is doomed. The chorus is that part of the song where you hit your home run, where you make the listener wait in anticipation for it to come around again.
Going back to my initial thoughts about the human ego, I challenge everyone to write with other writers. Let them give you opinions on your music and your writing. Co-writing is a great thing to help you let go of that emotional connection you have with your song, and learn to listen to someone else’s opinions. Another great way to challenge yourself is to not settle for the first melody lines you write. Try to write three more verse melodies, three more pre choruses and three more choruses. Do this to see if you can actually make your initial melody better.
Writing songs isn’t easy. Writing hit songs is even harder. Writing every single day will help but so will being honest with yourself and asking the question: Is this good enough? Does everything in the song need to be there? Are the hooks strong enough to draw the listener in and keep them listening? Keep on writing and writing and writing and hopefully you’ll get there.