In the days of AM radio, when songs were under three minutes long, there were a variety of sequences of songs played—repeatedly—which were generally described by the disc jockey as being the “top 10.” It was never entirely clear what the number described (i.e., top 10 of what?).
But it should be noted that while there was undoubtedly the whiff of something shady (to mix a couple of metaphors), radio station managers knew that they had to be exceedingly careful because of Congressional investigations into so-called “payola” in 1960, which even caused comment by then-president Dwight Eisenhower, who considered this to be an issue of public morality.
Which seems a bit too far.
But be that as it may, the FCC established a law that says, in part, “When a broadcast station transmits any matter for which money, service, or other valuable consideration is paid or promised to, or charged or accepted by such station, the station, at the time of the broadcast, must announce: (1) that such matter is sponsored, paid for, or furnished, either in whole or in part; and (2) by whom or on whose behalf such consideration was supplied.”
In other words, the issue was (and conceivably still is) that the station (or more likely the DJ who was getting swag and whatnot from the A&R man repping the label and musician) would play a given cut over and over and over again. The effect would, presumably, be one of an excessive number of listeners buying into the ad populum fallacy: if it is being played that much it must be good.
Or there is another thing that could have come into play: the Ohrwurm phenomenon. The earworm. The hearing a song “in your head.” A song “stuck” in your head.
Googling “how to write a hit song” results in 386,000,000 results.
According to Robin Frederick, who operates mysoundcoach.com,
“Here’s the simple skeleton structure on which most hits are built
- VERSE / CHORUS
- VERSE / CHORUS
- BRIDGE / CHORUS”
Ms. Frederick goes on to explain, “Those monster radio hits often add a section between the verse and chorus called the pre-chorus. It’s used to build anticipation and excitement leading up to those huge hooky choruses. Pop/Dance hits will sometimes have a section after the chorus called a post-chorus. This is where the music producer gets to show off his or her chops.”
The chorus counts.
Continue reading How to Write an Earworm