Song hooks

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'd like to discuss "hooks" in songs. I'm a little unclear on this topic. Not all songs have hooks, I'm pretty sure of that, but in a song that does have a hook, does it normally repeat or is it a one time thing? Can anyone give well known examples of hooks? Can anyone clearly define what a hook is? I'd like to expand my understanding of the hook. I welcome anyone to share all their hook knowledge here, so I can get a better handle on it.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
The hook in a popular song is the part that you get stuck in your head and can't get rid of. It's melodically or rhythmically so catchy that people can't help themselves but sing or hum along with it. It's definitely repetitive and the most memorable part of the song.

Think the chorus of Good Vibrations. Or that MMBop song by Hanson. Or even the recent Carly Rae Jepsen hit Call Me Maybe.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Larry, this seems pretty obvious so I take it you are looking for more than "just repeat the chorus".

Think of the name "hook". It hooks you in. Record company people always look for "hooks" - that charming piece of musical candy that people won't be able to resist, like in hamburger chain ads where the glistening drops of fat dripping from the hormone-soaked processed meat ...

Usually hooks work by repetition. Anyone who's trained as a teacher knows repetition is the time-honoured approach of inserting something into someone else's brain. The times tables we learned as children are hooks, always performed rhythmically.

But one-off hooks happen too, eg. Phil's fill in In the Air or the mock opera in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Is that you kind of thing you were after?
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
In my definition, a hook can be a variety of things including vocals and they are used repeatedly.

In pop music, sometimes the chorus is the hook.

Hooks that grab me are most often guitar riffs. I just heard one a while ago. Weezer...hash pipe.


And, all songs do not have them.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It's pretty simple in my mind. If something gets you hooked on a song and want to keep listening, that's the song's "hook". It can be lyrical, rhythmic, or what have you. Doesn't matter, and doesn't have to repeat at all, though it helps. The mind will want to keep getting another "dose" of that part of the song that hooked it.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
in more recent years the term "hook" has turned into another word for the chorus of a pop, rock, blues or hip hop tune

in jazz the "hook" has always meant the melody of the tune ......"you take 2 choruses and I'll take one chorus, then back to the hook.."

like the word chorus has a different meaning in jazz then it does in a rock, pop, or hip hop tune.....where in rock, hip hop or pop the chorus is the part generally repeated between each verse .....and in jazz it means one time through the form

but "hook" in general is a subjective term

could mean the chorus....could mean a catchy lick or melody in the tune
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The old saying was "if ya don't have a hook, ya don't have a hit", and back in the day in terms of commercial radio - which you may recall was once an important part of an artist's success - that was very true. While not every song had a hook, pretty much every hit song did. Some songs had a few hooks.

A lot of pop, dance & rap songs today still have hooks, but rhythm and production have become almost as important as a melody or catchy line, and that also draws listeners and dancers in. So the feel becomes the hook.

Bermuda
 

con struct

Platinum Member
You know the Rolling Stones song, "Brown Sugar?" The part where it goes "Brown sugar, how come you taste so good...brown sugar, just like a young girl should." That's the hook. And it's a killer hook.

Nine times out of ten the hook will be the name of the song. It's a pop tune thing, the part of the song that everything else comes back to over and over. Jesus, it's in a million famous tunes, but not every song has a hook, some do and some don't. "Smoke On the Water," what do you suppose the hook in that song is?

Here are some songs with obvious hooks:

What's the hook in this song?

What about this one?

Or this one?

Or this one?

That's what a hook is. I don't know about all those other things people are saying what a hook is, and I can't give you any current examples because I just can't listen to the crap that's called pop music these days.
 
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Anon La Ply

Renegade
Jay, in Smoke on the Water the main hook has to be the riff.

Substitute ... it's pretty well one big hook - great song. I can't be objective about the other two tracks because they grate on me. That's the other things about hooks - it's often a matter of love 'em or hate 'em.

Jon, great point about the feel being the hook. Staying outside the square, another hook would be the way a song represents a demographic or subculture. How else could something like Friday catch on ...


in jazz the "hook" has always meant the melody of the tune ......"you take 2 choruses and I'll take one chorus, then back to the hook.."

like the word chorus has a different meaning in jazz then it does in a rock, pop, or hip hop tune.....where in rock, hip hop or pop the chorus is the part generally repeated between each verse .....and in jazz it means one time through the form
Thanks, Anthony - that clears a few things up for me, especially with chorus = progression.

(Pardon the digression, back to the top!)
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
I always thought of the hook as the thing that non-musicians would recognize the most from a song. Its usually the most memorable part beacuse it is catchy, rythmic or interesting in some way and so is usually repeated as many times as the band/producer/writer can stand and/or good taste will allow.

I also think there can be only one in a song, no? Probably not.

I dont think of it as the main guitar riff in Heartbreaker by Led Zep because its the whole song- not just something that comes around once in a while and makes you want for it when the rest of the song is playing. Seems like it should be an occasional thing. Like that Call Me Maybe song. Anyone?
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
Cool topic! I think hooks are the one thing that, no matter who the band, if they have a hook that works, I can actually like the song. I hear it less today than in the past. I think the 90's was hook-heavy, especially in alternative pop and grunge-inspired stuff.

When I hear Song 2 from Blur, I think of a song with a hook:
http://youtu.be/7ccwiIIUquY

Or Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis:
http://youtu.be/LBaxde247Mw

I always thought songs can have a particular part, and not just a particular melody, as a hook, at least to me. And this can go way back. The "one more time" part in April In Paris, for example, feels like a great big hook at the end. Or the whole back half of "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" by the Fifth Dimension. Total hook.

keep it simple said:
Can a song have so many hooks that it effectively has non? Or the entire song is a "hook"?
I believe they can. Here's a couple candidates:

Zombies - Time Of The Season
http://youtu.be/oc7b62El_fk

Turtles - Happy Together
http://youtu.be/9ZEURntrQOg
 
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nhzoso

Guest
Yeah most popular songs have hooks, All big bands are masters of hooks, LZ,Aerosmith, Rush, Even Pink Floyd did not become uber successful till they applied hooks. HEY TEACHER....LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!

Have yet to hear a jazz song with a hook which is probably why it is a dying genre nowadays. We all know the musicianship is top notch but without a hook it will always be a genre only other musicians can appreciate for the most part.
 

Souljacker

Silver Member
Cool topic! I think hooks are the one thing that, no matter who the band, if they have a hook that works, I can actually like the song. I hear it less today than in the past. I think the 90's was hook-heavy, especially in alternative pop and grunge-inspired stuff.

When I hear Song 2 from Blur, I think of a song with a hook:
http://youtu.be/7ccwiIIUquY

Or Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis:
http://youtu.be/LBaxde247Mw

I always thought songs can have a particular part, and not just a particular melody, as a hook, at least to me. And this can go way back. The "one more time" part in April In Paris, for example, feels like a great big hook at the end. Or the whole back half of "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" by the Fifth Dimension. Total hook.



I believe they can. Here's a couple candidates:

Zombies - Time Of The Season
http://youtu.be/oc7b62El_fk

Turtles - Happy Together
http://youtu.be/9ZEURntrQOg
Great examples of hooks, both those songs are popular on the dancefloor even if they are alternative rock. No One Knows by QOTSA is an example of a brilliant guitar hook that works perfectly with the bouncy drums. But you'll notice it's the main focal point of the track, and not the chorus.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Yeah most popular songs have hooks, All big bands are masters of hooks, LZ,Aerosmith, Rush, Even Pink Floyd did not become uber successful till they applied hooks. HEY TEACHER....LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!
Really, Dark Side of the Moon was the one that made them megastars.

Dark Side had some hooks, like the echoes in Us and Them, the Money riff, the clock explosion of Time ... but maybe their biggest hook was that heavenly ethereal sound. It goes back to what Jon was saying that these days the feel of the song is often the hook. Floyd were ahead of their time.
 
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nhzoso

Guest
Really, Dark Side of the Moon was the one that made them megastars.

Dark Side had some hooks, like the echoes in Us and Them, the Money riff, the clock explosion of Time ... but maybe their biggest hook was that heavenly ethereal sound. It goes back to what Jon was saying that these days the feel of the song is often the hook. Floyd were ahead of their time.


well I did not mean to imply they were not good or did not have hits till the wall album, that was just the 1st one that popped up in my mind when I was typing.

Floyd was wayyyy ahead of their time you will get no argument from me on that one.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Yeah most popular songs have hooks, All big bands are masters of hooks, LZ,Aerosmith, Rush, Even Pink Floyd did not become uber successful till they applied hooks. HEY TEACHER....LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!

Have yet to hear a jazz song with a hook which is probably why it is a dying genre nowadays. We all know the musicianship is top notch but without a hook it will always be a genre only other musicians can appreciate for the most part.
every jazz tune outside of very free avant-guard , has a hook

it is the melody of the tune ...the chorus that starts and ends the tune ....the first melody played over the form

hum "take the A train"
hum "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"
hum " Billies Bounce"
hum "Giant Steps"
hum " Speak low"
hum "Autmn in New York"
hum "Satin Doll"

on and on and on and on and on

all hooks

I'm even pretty sure the term " hook" was even first used by jazz musicians

"Rollins takes the first chorus, Diz takes the second, Stitt takes the third, then back to the hook."


...and jazz is alive and very well by the way
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
Yeah most popular songs have hooks, All big bands are masters of hooks, LZ,Aerosmith, Rush, Even Pink Floyd did not become uber successful till they applied hooks. HEY TEACHER....LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!

Have yet to hear a jazz song with a hook which is probably why it is a dying genre nowadays. We all know the musicianship is top notch but without a hook it will always be a genre only other musicians can appreciate for the most part.
You make me LOL IRL.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
well I did not mean to imply they were not good or did not have hits till the wall album, that was just the 1st one that popped up in my mind when I was typing.

Floyd was wayyyy ahead of their time you will get no argument from me on that one.
Righto. Just thought you meant The Wall was their first biggie ... if it's the first one that popped into your mind then that says something too since we're talking about hooks. For the record, my fave Floyd is Pompeii.

How about riffs hooks? My Sharona is a killer. Smoke on the Water. Whole Lotta Love, Satisfaction, Sunshine of Your Love, Sandman, Teen Spirit ...

Edit: You must have added the jazz comments while I was writing. A lot of modern jazz is fine art and about exploration and expression ... it doesn't need hooks. If jazzers wanted broad appeal enough they'd all wear red jumpsuits and noodle soprano sax over polite funk backing tracks :)
 
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