Why do so many songwriters swear by the power of the hook? It’s because the hook, by definition, can reel in a listener, and keep them humming your song all day long, for days, weeks and even years to come You can’t ignore the power of a well-placed, well-composed hook to drive your song into the minds of audience members. Sometimes, though, a hook won’t necessarily save your song. If your song has structural problems, a hook, no matter how good, will only make it listenable on a certain level; it will still have problems:
Adding a hook to a bad song gives you a bad song with a hook.
In “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting,” I use the analogy of selling a 10-cent ice cream cone: you sell the 10-cent cone as a way of getting customers in the door. Once they’re in there, you can sell them other things. But you can’t sell them anything if they don’t come in your store. Hence the 10-cent ice cream cone.
But no matter how great that ice cream is, it won’t solve the problem that your other food stinks. It only gets them in the door. The good restauranteur will solve what is bad about the other food. In that sense, the good food makes the ice cream an even better hook
So how do you write a good hook? You make sure that the rest of your song is structurally sound, with an interesting, hummable melody, great lyrics, and a chord progression that doesn’t get in the way. When you do that, the hook comes to the fore and really does its job.
So remember the important features of a good hook: keep it short and make it memorable. Make sure the rhythmic component is catchy, and use your imagination.