Inasmuch as this topic could continue in perpetuity, it feels like this post is a good place to conclude our look at hooks and ear worms.  I’ve spoken of  bass lines, guitar (instrumental) riffs, idiosyncratic voices, particular harmonizing styles, drum/rhythmic patterns and repeated chord structures as vehicles to “hook” the listener.  Obviously not an exhaustive list.  And also obvious that several of these “hook” elements can exist within the same piece of music.

This final post looks at the use of a chorus or repeated phase that invites the listener to “sing along” with the performer.  Again, so many examples.  Let’s have a quick look at three for illustration (with a bonus).

#1  Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

Now I’ve never seen Neil Diamond in concert (except on TV) but I would hazard a guess that every time he sings this song (and I suspect he does at virtually all his shows) he can expect to hear the audience join in when he sings “Sweet Caroline...”  Here he is (with an oddly Elvislike costume) in 1974.  (By the way, the song reached #4 in 1969 with platinum sales of over one million as a single.  It has enjoyed a further digital life with over two million downloads in the US as of 2014.)

#2  Mull of Kintyre  by Paul McCartney

An interesting history.  The song is, of course, McCartney’s tribute (co-written with Denny Laine) to the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland where McCartney has owned a farm since 1966.  Interesting because the song became the #1 song in the UK in 1977/78 (and a massive hit internationally) but received little attention in North America.  Interesting because it remains the #1 selling (non-charity) single in the UK (with sales of over two million copies).  Interesting for its incorporation of that quintessential Scottish instrument, the bagpipe.  Interesting as well for its “other life” as a football anthem in the UK.  Feel free to join in on the chorus…

Mull of Kintyre
Oh mist rolling in from the sea,
My desire
Is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

#3  If I Had a Million Dollars by The Barenaked Ladies

(Canadian content, eh)

The repetition doesn’t need to take the form of an entire chorus.  Sometimes it’s just the phrase that recurs… like, If I had a million dollars…

That phrase (as well as the concept!) was the hook for The Ladies in this song which, oddly was never released as a true single nor was a music video shot.

In spite of that it received ample airplay in 1993 and became a staple for the band’s subsequent concerts.

A Postscript, A Bonus Example, A Little Sunshine, A Link and A Sheep…

Meet Shaun…

It’s odd that I’m working on this today… our wedding anniversary!  But we did celebrate yesterday in a limited way.  Limited because Jane has developed a nasty toothache (which is in process of being addressed).  One unplanned thing we did was to attend a matinee showing of Shaun the Sheep.  It was actually a very pleasant distraction from dental matters and a remarkably fun film for any age.  Part of the pleasure was the soundtrack which featured “Summer With You“… further proof (if needed) that Sunshine Pop lives on… and a good song to dedicate to my best friend on this day!


Time of our lives, wonder of surprise,
the open blue skies reflecting in our eyes
in a photograph, captured as we laugh,
like we always do.
Clear country air, ever-free from care
true friendship that we share, joy beyond compare,
in a perfect place, see the sunny days,
comin’ into view…

Cause everyday feels like summer with you,
everything feels like startin’ anew
everyday feels like summer with you
Aaah (aah, aah)!

Once you were here, the worries disappeared,
it all became clear, nothing left to fear, 

You’ve got my back

Keepin’ me on track
like you always do…
Time of our lives, such a sweet surprise,
together we survive, ever starry-eyed
beyond any price, pure as paradise,
comin’ into view…

Cause everyday feels like summer with you,
everythin’ feels like startin’ anew,
everyday feels like summer with you,
Aah (aah, aah)!

If we get lost on a grey cloudy day,
(we get lost on a grey cloudy day)
lets stick together we’ll always find our way
(always find our way)

Cause everyday feels like summer with you
(everyday feels like summer)
Everythin’ feels like startin’ anew
(everythin feels like startin’ anew)
everyday feels like summer with you
(everyday feels like summer)
Aahh (aah, aah)!

One more thing…

This post has been mostly about hooks (which can, of course, become worms)…  Here’s a wiggly ditty, courtesy of CBC’s This Is That

And here’s how This Is That used it in a little mockumentary about ear worms…




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