by John Harada

April Wine said it all in their 1978 hit, “Rock ‘n Roll Is A Vicious Game”... cuz it is.

So is Hot AC, AC, Dance, Urban, R & B, Pop, Country, Jazz... whatever music genre, you name it and it’s a tough sell to score a hit song.

Writing a hit comes down to 1 key element... does the song have a great hook ?

If it doesn’t, then you might as well continue with your fulltime job by day and your Thursday-Saturday and/or whatever gig(s) you can score by night.

I’ve been in radio and TV a long time and have been a Program Director and Music Director at several stations throughout my career, so I’ve seen and heard lots of great tunes and seen and heard even more songs that just downright suck.

PD’s and MD’s are busy- they’re inundated with new music sent to them every day on DMDS or record reps calling them and/or banging on their doors to play their artists.

When we audition potential songs, we’re a rather impatient bunch cuz we’re also thinking about the next meeting with promotions or sales, or doing airchecks with the jocks, juggling budgets, and in many stations... prepping for our on-air shifts as part of our insane multi-tasking.

So when a song’s dropped on us, it better rock us out of the gate...or... within the first 45-60 seconds or the song’s history.

So, the key here’s to have a dynamite hook within the first 60 seconds, otherwise, you might as well kiss your chances goodbye of getting your song played.

There are lots of great musicians who write great songs with great hooks...Lennon and McCartney come to mind...Dylan...the Eagles...Bernie Taupin...Springsteen.

The hot artists of today have awesome hooks...Rihanna...Katy Perry...Chris Brown...
Taylor Swift...Carrie Underwood...Madonna,.to mention a few.

There are some songs that have the hook right out of the gate when the song starts cold
(vocals in).

Songs like Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music,” “Eleanor Rigby”- the Beatles, “Hooked On A Feeling”- Blue Suede are all songs that have the hook out of the gate.

Then, there are great songs like “Hotel California”- Eagles, “Stairway to Heaven”-Led Zeppelin, “Thriller”- Michael Jackson...songs with long intros, great melodies and killer hooks.

The bottom line’s the songs have to have a great hook.

Combine that with a great melody and awesome vocals and your chances of getting your song played on radio stations ...AND... on MuchMusic or MTV (great videos, too) are so much better.

The one really hot artist who blows me away everytime I hear her music is Lady Gaga.

“Bad Romance” has one of the best, quickest hooks I’ve ever heard in a song.

She wastes no time in getting into her signature sound and right away, you find yourself singing along to the song.

She’s brilliant...and extremely talented. This is one artist who knows how to market her music and image.

She got game and she got the hooks...good on Gaga !!!

Great hooks do that... leave you powerless to sing along to... even more fun in the summertime...in the car with the top and windows down, singing your fool head off to your favourite song.

Why ?

Cuz the hook got you.

BTW- I’m big on helping indie artists or any artists trying to get that big break.

Check out our website... www.harada-data-productions.com and go to “More” and
“Hot Emerging Artists”. It’s a special section reserved to help musicians get noticed.

The deal’s simple- We give you free pages to promote your music complete with pics, bio, contact info and 3 mp3’s in exchange for putting our logo on your website(s)

Oh yeah, make sure you send us only songs with great hooks !

John Harada is a freelance radio and TV personality, voice-over talent and creative writer, harada-data-productions.com