Writing a pop song is one of the most exciting projects you can take on as a musician. Pop music is a bit dumbed down and repetitive, but we, as creators and consumers, have a love-hate relationship with these types of popular tunes that are an earworm.
When you think of pop, you think of youthfulness, simplicity, and relatability. Pop music is such a huge deal because it brings out the natural instincts we all have as musicians to sing and dance along to something we can all connect to.
In order for pop music to be effective, you want to follow some of the unwritten rules when it comes to writing hit songs that most of your general audience will love. To keep things general and appealing to most ears, follow my tips below for your future pop song hit.
Many popular songs share a similar song structure. Firstly, pop songs are short and don't go on for more than 4 minutes.
If you want to create a pop music banger, keep it around 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get the sweet spot. Songs that are over 4 minutes aren't considered radio edits and will not get much love from the radio stations.
The structure of a hit song is often close to the following: Intro -> Verse -> Prehook -> Hook -> Verse -> Prehook -> Hook -> Bridge -> Chorus -> Outro.
Related Post: Check out this songwriting template if you need help with song structure.
Some slower songs opt to skip the bridge in order to keep the song short enough to be a radio edit. Other pop releases don't have a prehook after the first and second verses.
Some pop songs don't have an intro and/or outro. If you do want to keep an intro and outro, make sure they are short and very catchy sections.
If you want a hit pop track, you have to learn how to write hit pop song lyrics. Pop lyrics are often content that many people can relate to in their own life experiences.
Again, this is where you want to keep things general to appeal to many different audiences, but catchy lyrics often appeal to a younger generation, so keep that in mind.
A lot of pop songs are about love, and it's one of the most desired and talked about topics in the world, so why not? Obscure lyrics are cool to put into songs, but they don't always work for hits.
For lyrics to be catchy, they also tend to be pretty repetitive. Many people hate hit songs because they get stuck in people's heads, but that's their magic!
It may feel weird to add very repetitive and basic lyrics to your song if you're used to a deeper approach to writing, but don't overthink it, and keep it fun!
Your lyrics have to be basic yet unique, with a good rhyming scheme if you want to write a hit.
Most pop songs follow the rhyme scheme of either AABB or ABAB. A lot of songs get away with using similar-sounding words instead of using perfect rhymes.
Like creating catchy lyrics, you will need to develop some catchy melodic phrases for your verses and your hook. Of course, your hook should be the most catchy section of your song.
The trick to creating catchy melodies is that you will need to come up with unique melodies that haven't already been used.
If you're looking for how to write a pop song that has rapping only, you can skip this part, incorporate some sing-rap phrases into your song or even have a catchy sung hook.
Related Post: What Makes A Good Song?
You may notice that many hit songs are recycled from past hits. This is easy to do if you're signed to a big label and have an appropriate budget.
You need to get approval and pay the original content owners to incorporate that borrowed melody into your pop song. As an independent artist, you might as well stick to unique ideas only.
Most hit songs surprisingly share the same chord progressions. The most popular chord progression that hits across hundreds of genres share is the progression of 1-4-5-1.
If you want to take motivation from other hits while still creating unique melodic ideas, a great way to do this is to copy the chord progressions and not copy the melody lines.
There are several sites available with the help of Google if you are unsure about figuring out the chord progressions in your favorite songs.
Google the name of the song plus the term "chords" and you will find several sites with the correct chord chart as long as the song is a big enough hit.
For your chord progressions, lyrics, and melody, you want the chorus section to stand out and really wow the listeners.
The chorus/hook of a song is a big deal. It'll make or break the greatness of your entire creation. The chorus is likely the most memorable part of your song, and you need the chords with the melody and lyrics to fit perfectly together.
Hit songs often have the same tempos. If you're looking to make a hit song in the house genre, a tempo or BPM (beats per minute) of 128 or 120 is the way to go. If you want to make a slower hit in the pop or R&B genres, go for a tempo of around 80.
As an example for your BPM and song structure ideas, a fast song is way more likely to get away with a 16-bar chorus in comparison to a slow song, in which the chorus may seem to run too long and can only be 8 bars.
A report from Soundfly analyzed every song that cracked the Billboard Top 5 in 2018 and determined the most popular tempo for a massive hit in 2017 was 79 to 80 b.p.m. In 2018, it was 78 to 79.
In conclusion, writing a pop song is all about capturing that irresistible, catchy essence that gets people hooked. It may be criticized for its simplicity, but there's something undeniably appealing about a song that sticks in your head.
To create a successful pop song, remember the key elements. Stick to a structured format like Intro, Verse, Prehook, Hook, Bridge, Chorus, and Outro. Keep it concise, around 3 minutes and 30 seconds, for radio play.
When it comes to lyrics, aim for relatability and catchiness. Focus on universal themes like love, and don't shy away from repetition. It may feel basic, but that's what makes pop songs memorable.
Craft unique and infectious melodies, especially for the hook, and consider common pop chord progressions like the 1-4-5-1 pattern.
Lastly, tempo matters. Choose the right BPM for your genre, whether it's energetic or slower-paced.
By following these guidelines and infusing your creativity, you can create a pop song that captivates listeners and leaves them singing along!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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