Is there a scientific formula behind writing a hit song?


Writing a hit song is not an occurrence that happens with every recorded musician. In fact, some would go through their careers without a single hit song, while others will make a hit song once and never accomplish such a feat ever again. Yet there are those artists who will produce hit song after hit song, each better than the former.

Is producing a hit song a result of incredible talent or just a store of genius? Do the hit making musicians put more work in their song writing, or what makes the difference between them and others?

Various theories have been thrown around about what enables a musician to write a top ranking song. Some believe the musician’s prior popularity will to an extent gear a song towards becoming a fan favourite, while others note that following popular trend will hold more promise.

Is there a scientific formula behind writing a hit song?

The question has also risen on whether there’s a certain formula followed by hit makers that allow them to make hit songs over and over again. Studies have been made to find scientific and mathematical formulas in the structure of these hit songs and while it cannot be accurately said there’s a certain formula used to make hit songs, these popular songs have a lot in common in their make up.

Repetition and Rhythm

A hit song will always contain two units, a chorus and a verse. The chorus is a repetitive paragraph, while verses change content. Rhyming used in verse lines make them more catchy and easy to learn among listeners, making the song memorable. The melodies used in the verses are also identical, bringing in more musicality and familiarity. A song with different melodies for every chorus and verse would confuse listeners and rank poorly.

Relatable content

Many songs hit because listeners can relate to the emotions presented in them. It makes a song more real to them and it becomes more than a piece meant for entertainment. This keeps them listening to it over and over again, and songs like these last longer.

Unique use of instruments

A hit song will either have very few instruments, perhaps a couple, or too many. These kinds of songs usually have more impact than those with the traditional 3-5 instruments.

Short, simple form

Nowadays, most songs range between a length of 3 minutes to 5 minutes. If the song is too long, the chances of it becoming a hit diminish. Shorter songs appeal more to listeners as they’re easy to learn, familiarize with and remain interesting to the last note. A simple form of verses, chorus and refrain is enough.

Is there a scientific formula behind writing a hit song?

Backup vocals

Study on hit songs between 1958-2012 reveal that songs with backup vocals do well than solo acts. This coupled with the instruments of choice put a song at a better position to become a hit.

Other strategies that can be utilized include making every line in the song count and resonate with the song title, creating a recognizable contrast between the chorus and verses in terms of melody and content and varying the lengths of lines to avoid monotony.

Some musicians will have their talents play a big role in hit making, others will have special formulas while others will study the hit making trends but one thing is sure, there’s no one way towards writing a hit song.