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What makes a song a hit?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    What makes a song a hit?

    Let's not limit this one to rock music only.

    What makes a song a hit? What do you think is the main force behind how a song gets to be popular and loved by the masses?

    I got this idea from the other thread about "hated by you, loved by many."

    Personally, there are so many great songs on albums that I love to play frequently , but are not consider "hits" because they A. weren't released as singles. B. never got much airplay on the radio....or  C. some other reason.

    Some of the songs I like alot that were never "hits" are:

    King of the Dance -Robin Trower
    Highway Song- Blackfoot
    Stone Cold Sober- Crawler
    Junior's Eyes-Black Sabbath
    Cortez the Killer-Neil Young
    Manhattan Project- Rush
    Green Manalishi- (either version , the original Fleetwood Mac or the cover by Judas Priest).
    Long Song Comin'- Bob Seger

    and there are so many more.

    Sometimes I think constant repetion makes the average listener believe a song is "good." (if it's no good, why are they always playing it?) Are we no better than monkeys? Can constantly repeating something work like an electrical shock to get us to respond? Is that why so many people like "popular music?" is it just another form of brainwashing the public?

    I think maybe "yes" to all of these questions.

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from carnie. Show carnie's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    In my opinion what usually makes a song a hit is a readily identifiable hook. Think of the guitar riff that Harrison led off day tripper with. Many times it's the chorus of the song that's the hook but not always. An example of a chorus that serves as the hook for the song would be "she loves you yeah yeah" again from the beatles. Sorry to keep harping on them but they wrote great hooks. Another great instrumental hook is the way Lynyrd Skynyrd led off "What's Your Name".
    Just my opinion.
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from NumbaFouwer. Show NumbaFouwer's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    Sometimes songs used in a popular movie can make a song a hit. For example, all those GREAT Bee Gees songs in Saturday Night Fever.

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    Would you say that constantly putting yourself on display ( facebook, magazines, television celebrity circuit rumor shows, internet, etc.) ala Lady Gaga, does this make you have "hits?"

    I find a group that is virtually unknown by the masses does not get attention, therefore they aren't popular, therefore they don't get a "hit" least in the 2000's. The underground would appear to be dead. Groups that made the punk and New Wave revolution and the whole alternative movement depended on the underground. Where are these groups today? Where are groups like the Cure, the Boomtown Rats, the Jam, Graham Parker and the Rumour, the Pixies, Big Audio Dynamite, the Hoodoo Gurus?

    Yet a person who has been on American Idol can have "hits" artist(?) who does the bizarre ( Lady Gaga) , but a group like Nirvana that goes from local fame to nationwide status ( without internet, T.V. , goofy costumes) , hasn't emerged in quite some time.

    Perhaps it's now the "looks" not the music that makes music superstars. Is it just me, or does it seem like we are overdue for an Elvis, a Beatles a Dylan or a Springsteen? Or even an Elvis Costello, a Nirvana , a U2 or some other mega- star in Rock'n Roll? How about a Ray Charles or a B.B.King?
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    I think that music nuts like us can't find the answer to this question. For most people, music is mainly the soundtrack to their lives, and often connected to emotions that most people experience at one time or another. Love and heartbreak are two of the top experiences for most people, so songs that address these feelings have a better chance at popularity. Obsessive music fans like me usually fail to understand that for most people, music doesn't really matter that much. They just listen to what is popular at the time and connect that music to what they are going through in their lives, usually through the teen years when emotions are running hot. Then they usually listen to that same music the rest of their lives or just stop listening. Pop music has always been designed to be ephemeral and cash in with what the biggest audience wants at the time. I think the audience for hit songs is mainly young, so certain types of songs will always be hits. Only we music nuts have "time to play B-sides." 
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from jesseyeric. Show jesseyeric's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    There are several pieces to the answer. Obviously the first has to do with the song itself. As Carnie mentioned, it needs to have that hook.  Once you have that, then it may depend on the genre. If it is R&B/Dance, it probably needs a strong beat that you can dance to (American Bandstand). With Rock, perhaaps a certain guitar melody or anthemic chorus.

    Then there is marketing. The songs Zilla mentioned were never released as singles so they didn't receive the airplay needed to become a hit. Even in the days of AOR radio, record companies told the stations which songs they should key on.

    Then there is the video. Does it have something that catches the kids eyes? We have all seen songs that were just horrible become hits because of the rotation MTV or VH1 pplaced it on.

    And in the end, it just maybe the trend. I still haven't figured out Justin Bieber's popularity but then there is no denying the power of a 13 y.o. girl.
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hfxsoxnut. Show Hfxsoxnut's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    As jessey says, different ways to answer this.  There's a marketing component to what makes some songs popular, including ones that aren't good music.  That can be said about a lot of consumer products.  If the song is a genuinely good song then I wouldn't insult it by calling it a product.  That term I would reserve for the ones that become successful in spite of their lack of musical merit.

    Then there are the genuinely good songs that become hits.  As has been suggested, a good song that is 'catchy' generally has a riff, or a hook, or a groove, or a melody, a repeated phrase or phrases of some kind that we just enjoy hearing.  It's all about pleasure, really, isn't it?  There is some sort of circuitry in us that feels pleasure when certain sounds enter our ears.  I was thinking about this watching the Beatles Anthology recently.  A song like I Feel Fine is just pure pleasure to me, it creates a certain kind of ecstasy in the brain.  The Beatles were good at doing that. 

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    Good answers.

    devildad, you have hit on something I didn't consider, but I think you have it , in a nutshell. I liked comicbooks,horror movies, T.V. Cop shows, Science Fiction ( books, movies, t.v.) , sports and all the normal boy things when I was a kid. Therefore , songs like "Ironman" , "Black Magic Woman" , "Space Truckin'" , and " Diamond Dogs". "Space Oddity" and many others by Bowie would appeal to me....while the songs of Sonny and Cher, Herman's Hermits , etc. were not very interesting. And since a part of me has never really "grown up" , I doubt those sappy love songs will ever be understood by people like me ( are there any?).

    jessey, you mentioned the video, which I am sure the image of Beyonce dancing with those gorgeous legs, gets people's attention -not so much the music ( at least it works that way with me....I could love this stuff , if the sound was muted!!!).

    Mr. nut, your mention of the Beatles in this thread leads me to ask another question. If we could sit a bunch of younger kids ( teens and 20's) down and subject them to a few hours of Beatles songs( assuming they don't pay attention to or listen to much Beatles music), do you think they would start to enjoy them or would it be torture?
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from jesseyeric. Show jesseyeric's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    Actually Zilla - The Beatles are listened to now just as much as ever. No one quite understands this. Perhaps it is because they are named as the influence to the bands that they listen to. Kind of like how we were all introduced to the American Blues. I knew nothing about Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooke r and all the rest until I read several interviews with Clapton, Richards, Beck, Page, etc. in the pages of Creem, Rolling Stone and Circus Magazine. And let's not forget that even though many of us were horrified by it, when Michael Jackson bought the publishing rights to the Beatles catalogue, many of his fans wanted to find that music for themself.

    In the end, the music itself will be the true marker. Beatle songs are still covered today and it is highly unlikely that this will stop anytime soon. Because one other thing you can count on The Beatles for  - "making money".
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from jesseyeric. Show jesseyeric's posts

    Re: What makes a song a hit?

    I cannot believe that I had to put a space between the e and the r because the forum has banned the word which comprises John Lee's last name.

    Now that is wrong on so many levels.