What Is an Overt Hook in a Song?

by Clayton Yuetter
The quality of a song's hook helps determine its marketability.

The quality of a song's hook helps determine its marketability.

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The hook is a songwriting term that refers to some "catchy" aspect of the song that makes it memorable for the listener. An overt hook is one in which the hook is obvious to the audience, often because it is repeated in the song. An overt hook can be both a piece of lyric or an instrumental run.

Qualities of an Overt Hook

An overt hook, above all, must be catchy. It helps the listener recognize the song and, hopefully, remember the title. In songs that use an overt hook, the hook becomes the song's tagline. For example, in the Beatles' "All You Need is Love," the phrase "All you need is love" is the overt hook that gets repeated over and over again in the song. The hook is also the title in many songs that use an overt hook.

Types of Overt Hook

Often, the overt hook is a piece of lyric in the chorus that sticks out or gets repeated. Overt hooks, however, can also be instrumental parts that define the song and are highly memorable. For example, the guitar riff that gets repeated in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" is its overt hook. When the first notes of the tune is played most people who have heard it before immediately recognize the song. An overt hook is anything that keeps the listener thinking about the song.

Importance of the Hook

The hook, in essence, is what sells the song to the public. The most successful songs stay in the listener's mind and is easily recognizable once it comes on the radio. In some ways, the hook is the most important aspect of a song that makes it marketable. A producer evaluating a song from a songwriter will tend to favor songs with a strong hook. The hook is the part of the song that some songwriters spend the most time on.

Other Kinds of Hooks

Some hooks are more subtler than an overt hook. These types of hooks are less obvious and may not necessarily direct the listener to the title of the song. An example of this is the sound effect hook, such as the the fire bell in the beginning of "Oowatanite" by April Wine. Sometimes, shouted words can be hooks if they are especially memorable and help define the song. "Tequilla," by The Champs, contains a shouted hook.

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