Verses Need Hooks Too! #Songwriting Hacks (Revised for 2021)

Today more than ever, it’s not enough that your song has a great catchy chorus. In the modern world you must pull the listener into your song and keep them listening. To do that you need to remember verses need hooks too!

It’s crucial that you become skilled at creating both rhythmic & melodic “hooks” in your verses when writing songs.

Things that pull the listener in are:

  1. A killer opening line that peaks the listeners intrest.
  2. Repetition of a hooky rhythmic pattern that matches the lyrics precisely to the number of syllables in the pattern.
  3. Interesting internal rhymes & interesting rhyme schemes.
  4. A repeated lyric in the verse. This is a great solution to verses need hooks. Check out Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons.”
  5. Interesting Vocal Hooks. (Check out “You And I” by Maroon 5) Killer vocal hook everytime he sings the words you and I in the verses.

I’ve put together a video lesson below that covers these and much more. All of these are tips I pull out of my pro writing sessions and share with SongTown members weekly.


Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.

Write on! ~CM

verses need hooks

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay Mills is also the co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing. 

13 thoughts on “Verses Need Hooks Too! #Songwriting Hacks (Revised for 2021)

  1. I read this with glee. I’ve been reamed out by some co-writers when I did this. I have to say, with my writing, it’s kinda natural inclination. I have to trust myself more . I really am smarter than I think.

  2. Hi Clay.
    You mentioned using interesting rhyme schemes also. Care to elaborate? Any thoughts or examples on ABBA rhyme schemes with melodic hooks?

  3. Thanks, Clay. “Shake It Off” is Max Martin at his best- this song just overflows with lyrical, melodic and musical hooks, keeps you locked in all the way to the end.

  4. I hope that people also absorb that melodic hooks (with variations) coincide with those rhythmic hooks.

    Really nice lesson, Clay. Super clear.

  5. The Bee Gees song is not such a good example as it starts with what I would call the chorus and that’s a trick in itself that is regularly used.
    You were just testing us weren’t you Clay?

    1. The Bee Gees often wrote what they felt was 4 choruses and then figured out what order to put them in to create the song. Every section they wrote, verse, chorus, etc all were extremely hooky. Doesn’t really matter which they started with 🙂


      1. That’s a brilliant idea to only write choruses and goes a long way in explaining their phenomenal success – difficult to sing along to but catchy as hell. Thanks for sharing 👍

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