The New Yorker published an article titled ‘The Song Machine, The hit makers behind Rihanna’.
Most of the songs played on Top Forty radio are collaborations between producers like Stargate and “top line” writers like Ester Dean who has written smash hooks for Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.
Ester Dean has a genius for infectious hooks.
Among Dean’s best hooks are her three Rihanna smashes—“Rude Boy” (“Come on, rude boy, boy, can you get it up / Come on, rude boy, boy, is you big enough?”), “S&M” (“Na-na-na-na COME ON”), and “What’s My Name” (“Oh, na-na, what’s my name?”), all with backing tracks by Stargate—and her work on two Nicki Minaj smashes, “Super Bass” (“Boom, badoom, boom / boom, badoom, boom / bass / yeah, that’s that super bass”) and David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” (“Make me come alive, come on and turn me on”).
Things slowed down when people got fed up with Stargate’s sound..
In 2004, things suddenly slowed down for Stargate in the U.K. “People got fed up with Stargate’s sound—things change fast in the music business—and there was no work,” Eriksen told me. “We were sitting back in Norway wondering, What do we do now? Should we shut it down? Our manager, Tim, said, ‘Let’s just go to New York, book a studio, and give it a shot there.’ We didn’t have much money left, but we paid for the trip. No one here knew who we were. We had a few sessions with writers, but nothing substantial. Our goal was to sell one song, and we did, we sold one, so we came back for one more week of sessions, and then we were going to call it quits.”
Today, hit songs are mainly composed by 3 people and it must contain hook after hook.
The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds; the top-liners come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, the president of Roc Nation, and Dean’s manager, told me recently. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre-chorus, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge.” The reason, he explained, is that “people on average give a song seven seconds on the radio before they change the channel, and you got to hook them.
Read the rest of the article here