What Makes A Hit Song

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Whenever this subject is discussed there is always this airy fairy idea surrounding the subject eg If I knew that I would be a millionaire now, a guy on the street with a guitar and three chords could write a hit song, and a studio with all the latest gear and the hottest vocalist can fail. While there is some truth in this, I think they are avoiding the question, and not answering it. So here is what I think for what it’s worth and I have no names to drop or credits to list or any stories to tell.

A hit song is combination of a lot of things put together so I will list what I think they are.

1…A great lyric that people can relate to immediately, it may be in the title of the song but it may not be. The art of lyric writing or poetry is a study in it’s self but we all respond to it. I’m a fan of Robert Burns listen to this! “My luv is like a red red rose” right away we know what he is talking about his love and the metaphor is a rose but it’s not just a red rose it’s a red red rose you are hooked immediately.

2…Now add a melody to this which will hang on each word like it was always meant to be there you now have the beginning of a great song. Surly this is all you need, is love all you need, no at all, this is the poets muse! real love needs commitment through trial and tribulation. Oh no I hear you say, but true love is much more than the poets muse, or the in and out of love we witness today, but if you do get over serious it will have to be authentic like artists such as Bob Dylan, so lets move on.

3…Right so you now have the song, not quite yet, what you start with is a concept for a song or the idea and perhaps the story line. You now need to work out some kind of format verse chorus verse bridge chorus etc and you don’t want to repeat to repeat

yourself to much do you do you? I usually find once I have a title and the concept I can go to work on it, sometimes starting with a chorus or a verse, what can be a little harder is the subsequent verses to keep the listeners interest. I mostly work on the melody and the lyric at the same time. The hit song needs to have a hook you know the catchy bit that everyone will sing along to. Here are one or two of my favourite songwriters; Cole Porter, Billy Joel, Lennon & McCartney, and lately Ed Sheeran.

4…Oh and there is the little thing about being a proficient musician on either guitar, piano or both, if you can’t do this then you need to get a partner.

5…So now you have your hit song, not quite, you now need to get it heard, can you sing if not you will need to get someone to sing, and don’t say when they hear it they will know it’s a hit song, first of all who are THEY friends and family, I’m sorry but they mostly don’t count in this process because they are bias towards you and want you to succeed. I can fill a hall easily with 400 no problem with just 50 students performing one or two songs. All those who attend the concert are mums and dads grannies and granddads, they have definitely not come to see me it is family and friends of each student, that they have come for. So for every song you write, you just don’t know if it will be a hit, even when you build up a group of fans they are now bias to you although you can assemble better feed back from this source. But let’s carry on regardless in absolute faith in your work.

6…The majority of hit songs are heard by a recording a demo for an artist to sing and most artists these days do at least some writing themselves or bring in top song writers to help. Do it yourself get the gear learn how to use it and record it. In my experience recording music is an art form and those who do record music are highly skilled, when I compare my feeble attempts’ at recording to those who really know what they are doing I don’t underestimate this skill but many have done it with great successes, so I would say it’s up to you on what direction you go on this one.

7…The song is completed you listen to it over and over again it must be a hit song sounds great with a fantastic vocal and instrumentation this is a hit song. Sorry not  quite yet you need to get it out there to a publisher or artist or if you are an independent artist you could start pitching to radio stations.( I will discuss the radio in another blog.) But it’s a hit song not yet! now here is the salient point who makes a song a hit? You? Me? Absolutely not it is the great listening public that decide to
make the song a hit, if they like it you will soon know, but before you start spending your royalties ponder this for a moment, think how many songs that are out there and most of them well recorded and sound pretty good and have had thousands of dollars spent on them with little or no return on the investment. Try this exercise write down how many hit songs you can write on a sheet of paper, now compare this to the thousands of great songs that have never quite made the cut. As I write this blog I asked some children youths and adults what they thought was the latest hit song and This is the song most chose “Gangnam Style”.

So the conclusion the matter everything having been heard is, you are at complete liberty to ignore everything I have said, all I can say is you have been warned!

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