Verses Need Hooks Too! #Songwriting Hacks

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 & 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 more. All of these are tips I pull out of my pro writing sessions and share with SongTown members weekly.

All part of the weekly lesson series for members at SongTown…

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. 

21 thoughts on “Verses Need Hooks Too! #Songwriting Hacks

  1. 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 👍

  2. Again, Clay gives us simple genius. Thanks bud!

    BTW, do you ever do song critiques for your viewers? After incorporating your suggestions, it would be nice to get your feedback on how well we’ve used your insights; and maybe you could use our tunes to show what worked and what didn’t. Just a thought

  3. I find this bakance between melodic hooks in verse and rhyme, content come together best when I work with a melody person/ singer on the final and initial lyrics and melody are not viewed as sacred, set in stone. Flexibilty in co-writer gets me to this point best and most often.

  4. I love these relatively short songwriting hack lessons! You can listen on a break from work or while cooking dinner or whatever. You really pack a lot of info in to a relatively small amount of time – and I appreciate it!

  5. I refer to ‘Hook Factor’ and ‘THE Hook’. THE Hook is the title line, that line of Lyric and Melody that sum up the gist of the Song and get into your head and keep playing there after the Song is over.

    But every part of the Song needs Hook Factor. The Introductory Movement may only last 10 to 14 seconds, but it is there to serve that ‘Function’ of ‘hooking’ the listener into paying attention long enough to get to the beginning of the Verse.

    The Verse has to be interesting enough in Lyrical meaning, Melodic appeal, and Rhythmic appeal to keep the listener hooked until ‘enough’ has been done to go on to the Chorus.

    The Chorus has to ‘step up’ in some way, pitch, Rhythmic ‘punch’, Lyrical meaning, Melodically, to renew interest. One of the most common Publisher rejection reasons is that the Chorus sounds too much like the Verse. The Chorus has to refresh listener interest AND get to the point of the story.

    After the Chorus the listener can hear a second Verse and welcome back that Melodic and Rhythmic hook factor they ‘learned’ in hearing the first Verse. That of course leads to a repeat of the Chorus and the listener should like hearing it again because they ‘learned’ it the first time.

    From there, Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus, the listener may tire of hearing those compositional components. They’ve heard them twice now. A third repeat risks monotony and the listener drifting off to other thoughts. An Instrumental Bridge can serve the Function here of renewing listener interest. The guitar solo, drum work, keyboards, something to renew listener interest.

    If the Songwriter has despaired of finding a third Verse to complete the story they may employ a Lyrical Bridge, instead of an Instrumental Bridge, a brief interlude with its own Melody and Rhythm and Rhyme-Scheme, different from either the Verse or Chorus, and Lyrical content significant to the storyline that has come before in the two Verses and Chorus. After that refreshing of listener interest listeners will welcome back a final giving of the Chorus to end.

    Each component in the composition has to have hook factor. If you can’t identify the hook factor then it may not be there and you need to ‘Craft’ it to find it and employ it to make your Song work.

    Good stuff. That kind of Song analysis is a good lesson for writers. Break down 10 Songs you think work, or don’t work, and see if you can figure out why. The lessons you learn can then be applied to your own works to bring them up to competitive standards and potentially widespread commercial appeal.

  6. Writin’ tight with The 3 R’s tonight. Alright, alright, alright! Excellent message Clay!
    Many thanks for the freebie!

  7. OMG! Clay you have changed my songwriting forever. I can’t thank you enough for all the info you so freely offer. Bless your giving spirit!
    Thank you,
    Thank you,
    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *