Pam Nori's Music Blog

Listening for "Hooks" in the Grocery Store

Posted on June 5, 2016 at 12:40 AM

Listening for “Hooks” in the Grocery Store



Creativity is a force of life which drives new understandings and new expressions. The understandings can be scientific, philosophical, academic, mechanical and applied. The expressions can be artistic, written or musical.



The musical indie artist needs to have creative abilities in several areas that would parallel the departments that record companies have. They need to have expertise or access to people who have expertise in music, logistics and promotion. This includes: photography for cover arts for singles or albums, computer skills for powerpoint or action videos, access to a good videographer, social networking skills, marketing and promotional skills, access to good musicians, recording studios and digital music distribution companies. The list goes on. Independent is what the musical indie artist is.



When wearing all of these hats, the indie artist can not lose site of one important ingredient of a song. That is the “hook”; the catchy, memorable, lyric line or lines, melody or rhythm that stays in people’s minds and is often the key ingredient to a hit song. The hook is often repeated in the song and so the repetition also helps listeners to remember it.



A great exercise for developing hooks for songs is to listen for them in other songs and to watch how they impact people. The following is a suggestion. When you go grocery shopping or frequent a store which is playing streamed music or music from a radio station, listen for hooks. When I go grocery shopping I often hear “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s. “Oh what you do to me” stands out. It can stop me in my tracks as I reach for a product on a shelf and fill me with an emotion. That’s what successful hooks do.



I recently walked into Dollarama and I heard a woman in the next aisle singing along with “I’m without your kisses. I’ll be needing stitches” from Shawn Mendes “Stitches” song. You know a hook is a successful hook when people not only sing the line but dance to it as well especially in a store. The lyrics, the melody and the rhythm motivate people to express the hook for themselves.



“Born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. Born in the U.S.A. now.” Bruce Springstein’s lyrics are repeated in his song and then he leaves the lyrics out near the end of the song where the melody and rhythm stand alone. And yes, listeners fill the lines in themselves by singing the hook. I would consider Bruce’s hook to be an anthem hook—a hook which is rousing and uplifting and identifies with a particular group.


There have been so many powerful hooks throughout the years which have propelled the songs to become hit songs. Here are some examples:


Beatles: “Here comes the sun Here comes the sun and I say, It’s all right” in “Here Comes the Sun” “


Simon and Garfunkel “I am a rock. I am an island” from “I Am A Rock”


Bee Gees “And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive ah, ha, ha ha stayin’ alive….”from “Stayin Alive”


David Bowie and Queen “Under pressure” from “Under Pressure.”


Tina Turner “What’s love got to do with it” from “What’s Love Got To Do With It”


Micheal Jackson “ Beat it, Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it” from “Beat It”


U2 “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” from “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”



In conclusion, creativity is the means which drives musicians. If music is one of your passions, then you will not be able to put it down. It is part of you; it runs through your blood and needs to be expressed. Undoubtedly, hooks are an important ingredient of songs. Since grocery stores, automotive stores, department stores and the like have streamed music or music from radio stations playing, we can listen to this music while we are out doing chores. We can watch and listen for our own reactions to hooks and watch and listen to the reactions of others in the store. This also keeps us focussed on an important part of our role as a musical indie artist and that is to create songs which are expressions of our own thoughts and emotions and which can resonate with and elicit emotions from our listeners.




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