As a songwriter, getting people to listen to your songs over and over again can be a tough challenge. Knowing how to write a hit song that becomes a favorite to listeners everywhere is one of the highest accomplishments.
So what is it that artists like The Beatles, Adele, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson have in common?
In addition to undeniable talent, these artists have all perfected the art of writing catchy, timeless music.
Here's how you write hit songs like them:
- Choose A Song Form
- Make A Memorable Melody
- Establish Yourself As A Unique Artist
Lets take a closer look at the songwriting tips.
Choose A Song Form
Every song has a skeleton.
This skeleton is the bare bones of your work and the foundation on which you’ll build your final song.
The first step is deciding on the form your song will use. There are a ton of ways you could organize your next song, and there are no real rules that you have to follow when you’re writing. BUT….
Certain forms do tend to do much better than others when it comes to song popularity.
So let’s stick to those.
You may have already noticed that us humans enjoy repetitiveness in our music. That’s why all of those massively popular songs you hear on the radio repeat the same few lines over and over…and over again.
Why do we like repetitiveness? It makes it easy for us to learn a song, and if a melody is catchy enough, we get attached and enjoy hearing it over and over again.
Think about it. Even music as complex as Beethoven’s has repeated themes that are now staples in the classical genre.
This need for repetitiveness reinforces why the following form is so popular: ABABCBB, also known as Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.
Notice how frequently letters A and B appear in the form. This is why the melodies we choose for those sections are SO crucial to a song’s success.
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Make A Memorable Melody
Although repetitiveness is something you need to consider when creating a big hit, there’s another more important component that can either make or break your song: the melody.
Whatever melody you’re repeating must be something people enjoy hearing.
Here’s a tip: What’s aesthetically pleasing will change depending on the genre, so remember to consider your audience when you’re writing.
If you’re goal is to create a big hit, then its your audience that you need to consider most, not your personal goals as an artist.
Sorry but it’s true.
The melodies you choose for your song are the MOST important part of whether or not you’ll be climbing the billboard charts anytime soon.
The verse melody and the chorus melody need to contrast with each other, but still need to be easy to remember. Think of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. The melodies in the verse and the chorus are simple enough to be memorized easily, but unique enough that they stand out from other songs.
This is where you’ll have to do a lot of experimenting. Finding that perfect melody involves a lot of writing and re-writing, so be prepared to spend some time on this step and have an eraser nearby.
The notes we include also make or break our chances of creating a big hit. When writing your melodies, stick to consonant rather than dissonant sounds.
Dissonant intervals sit uncomfortably in our ears, so you’ll want to avoid that unease when you’re working to create a popular hit.
Your melodies need to be aesthetically pleasing, and while the content of the lyrics may be sad or uncomfortable, the notes should fit well into the key in which you’re writing.
Establish Yourself As A Unique Artist
U2 is known for a reverberant echo on the electric guitar.
Mariah Carey is known for showing off her mind blowing vocal range.
Louis Armstrong is known for his recognizable raspy voice.
All of these timeless artists have a quality unique to them that, like their melodies, allow us to remember them easily.
Ask yourself what you can do differently in your music to separate yourself from other artists.
What do YOU have that nobody else does?
What can you change about existing music in your genre while still sticking to the key principles that create a big hit?
You might want to consider changing things up from the usual instrumentation, fusing together existing styles, or creating new effects on your instruments through technology.
Check out this article to explore different options for creating unique sounds on your electric guitar.
So the next time you sit down to write your next song, choose a strategic form, distinct and catchy melodies, and a unique element that will make you stand out.
You’ll be on your way to the Grammy’s in no time.
Guest post: Natalie is a professional musician, session guitarist, and guitar teacher. She uses her blog as a personal outlet to share her six-string knowledge with the world. She also owns Musicaladvisors.com
(P.S. If you’d like to download the free music submission checklist click here or click the image below)