Creating a Catchy Song
Songs are comprised from two key elements: the lyrics and the melody. These can be created in any order. Oftentimes I will have a small lyrical idea (e.g. feelings catch like wildfire and I’m a forest of dead trees) and then will build the song around it.
So what can you do to make your songs memorable? Below are a few tips to help you :)
1) Keep melodies short and keep them simple.
One thing you can do in order to create a memorable melody is to keep is simple and to keep it short, the songs that do this tend to be catchier. Examples:
- Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
- Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepson
- Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (this one in particular - if you listen closely enough you can hear the same melody repeating over and over under the percussion throughout the entirety of the song with the exception of the bridge)
2) Make it repetitive without making it too repetitive
Repetitiveness is a vital part of creating a memorable song but there is a fine line between being memorable and being irritating. For most of my songs I have different chord progressions for the chorus/choruses, the verses, and the bridge so that there is a differentiation between the sections of the song. In terms of lyrics, most of the successfully catchy songs have lyrics which are repeated i.e. a chorus, lyrics which are repeated are more likely to be remembered, hence why they are an important feature of catchy songs. Though, this is not to say that songs have to repeat their lyrics in order to be catchy or popular.
3. Start with chords and come up with your melody based on the chord progression
Before diving straight into the main melody used throughout your song, it is probably a good idea to create the main structure and key of the song you're writing. This should make it easier when coming onto writing and composing the later stages of the song.
4. Variation is vital!
Variation within a song is key to gaining and maintaining the interest of the listener. Variation can be achieved through the use of leaps, pauses, note/chord length etc. Essentially, you should aim to include some elements to the song that the listener might not necessarily be expecting. These variations in the melody should be used sparingly to avoid being overly predictable and frequent. Variation within lyrics is also important; songs where the same few lines are repeated over and over tend to be incredibly catchy but more tiring and potentially annoying.
If you want to look into this more extensively, here are some other places you can go: