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Making Your Listeners Want to Hear Your Song Again, as Done by Queen
By Anthony Ceseri - 10/25/2012 - 10:25 PM EDT

One thing we all songwriters want is for people to want to hear our music. And not just hear our music, but we want them to be listening to it over and over again. The best way to have that happen is to have a really catchy hook. But there are other little things you can do, to maximize the impact your song has on your fans. 

One technique which I think is a great little trick to keep your listeners coming back to your songs is to establish a catchy hook throughout your song, and then at the very end of the song, cut that hook short and leave them wanting it.

The best example I can think of this happens in the song, “We Are the Champions,” by Queen. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but in case you need a refresher, check it out here:

The chorus repeats three times in this song. The first two times we hear the chorus, it ends on Freddie Mercury singing the phrase “… Of the world,” after singing the line “We are the champions.” In the last chorus, at the very end of the song, that phrase “of the world” is omitted and the song ends on “We are the champions.”

I remember hearing this song when I was younger. It would get to the very last line in the song and it would end without the line “Of the world.” It would drive me crazy. I’d wonder why the song didn’t the song end on that line. It was in the previous choruses, so why wasn’t it at the end? I needed to hear that line. I couldn’t take the way it left me hanging. So what would I do? Yep, I’d play the song again. I’d get my fix at the choruses in the middle of the song, but then I’d get to the end. Again, I was left hanging. You can see where I’m going with this. By simply omitting that line, they made me want to hear that song over and over again. 

It’s important to note that had Queen simply omitted the line “Of the world” from the song entirely, we wouldn’t be craving it at the end. Instead, they established a standard with that line during the song, and then they deleted it at the very end of the song. THAT’s what makes us want to hear it again. We were given something and then it was taken away.

One thing worth mentioning here, is that moves like this generally work best when the things happening in the music tie together with the lyrics. While I now appreciate this as a cool move by Queen, I think it could have been even stronger if it had to do with what the lyrics were saying.

For example, let’s say we had a song just like “We Are the Champions.” Except let’s pretend our song is called “One Minute You’re Here.” That title line would be the one that shows up in every chorus in the same way “We Are the Champions” does for Queen. And in our song, let’s pretend the line “And then you’re gone” is the one that we hear in the first two choruses, but then it disappears at the very end of the song. Our choruses would read like this:

Chorus 1
One minute you’re here
And then you’re gone

Chorus 2
One minute you’re here
And then you’re gone

Chorus 3
One minute you’re here…

Do you see how that could be really impactful as a listening experience?  Our lyric would be practicing what it preached in the first two choruses. It would be gone, just like it was saying it was in the previous choruses. PLUS we’d get that added effect that Queen had of people wanting to hear our song again because we left them hanging. Cool stuff.

For more songwriting techniques, you can download my free EBook here:

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