On hooks

It’s an old truism of songwriting that the song with the most hooks wins. For instance, this new Trent Tomlinson tune playing on country stations these days is hookerific: “he’s an angel with no halo, An’ one wing in the fire.” There are at least three hooks there, and depending on how you read it, maybe more. On the other side of things, there’s just about any Inspirations tune. The I’s songbook has many distinguishing elements (riding the one chord is its most salient technical features), but lyrically the songs are almost always hook-free, lyrically straight-ahead affairs, usually unmetaphorical, highly literal, and absent all but the most obvious figurative language or imagery. The songs pivot less on a hook and more on a declaration or affirmation - for example, “I’m Not Ashamed” and “I Just Want to Thank You Lord” - I assume this is one key way they keep their fan base happy. If there is a non-sneering case to be made for the Inspirations distinctiveness, I think this is a pretty good basis for it.

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