Blogs » Musings On Muses » What Is A Hook?


Hooks grab the mind and stab deep like a lions fangs sinking in for the kill. I for one, and I’m probably not the only one, have never really tried to write ‘hooky’ songs. I’ve always been content to let the words I wrote and the music I pared them with tell the story. Poetry and verbal eloquence are simply tools I tend to employ to some extent. Whatever coalesces out of my mind gets worked over pretty much ‘spur of the moment’. Later, it can get re-worked, and usually does.

All of my favorite songs have hooks that worked for my taste. The words and the music I love are showcases for hooks. Artists’ great and small have created iconic phrases and musical passages that stand the test of time. Emotions are jostled out of slumber and thoughts race off after daydreams whenever a good hook presents itself.

The perfect hook is an irresistible force that draws out powerful mental responses. To be moved by a song is to be ‘hooked’. That tune that cements itself into your thoughts all day, that memorable chorus, that bridge section, or that intro, are all hooks produced either by accident or intention. Even if you hate the song the hook can still move in for the kill.

What if every song ever written was about the exact same subject? How could writers still generate hooks? The range of genre would certainly have to be expanded and the lines between them would have to be far more blurred than they already are today. Unique wording would be a prerequisite.

When I hear a new song I listen carefully to the words and try to feel what’s coming next. When I get it right I know it’s some phrase I’ve heard before. When I don’t I know it’s totally new and it just might be a hook. Writing the unexpected phrase is where an artist steps into the domain where hooks are born. Instead of saying: “In the end of the ride”, maybe: “At the end of the ride” sounds better? I’ll pair it with the music and let the listener decide.

Hooks are perks and surprises. Muses inspire us to new heights and depths of creativity but they don’t readily relinquish hooks. They have to keep some secrets from us. I guess if we don’t know what a hook is when the muses bite it’s not any loss. After all, we are still creating new music.