Business of Music

How to Make a Hit Song

For most upcoming artists, one of the highlights is making a song that gets played on radio and gets played in clubs… or if you’re in West Africa, becomes the wedding song of the moment. Talent is usually the least thing you need to make it in these music streets, especially for a very wavering audience like the African one.

We dissected KiDi’s Odo, which we believe has all of the makings of a hit song, and highlighted some of the steps he checked on our how to make a song popular list.

  1. A powerful Introduction: The songs starts off with a play on the chorus of Davido’s If, which is already very popular among Afro pop and neo-highlife fans. “See me I no get 3O million” is such a strong statement, and memorable one at that. It captures you in the first minute of the song and makes you wonder what is next. In a generation of so much information and too little time, attention grabbing in the first minute is key. Kidi did this perfectly in the first 15 seconds of Odo.
  2. A play on familiarity: Kidi’s opening line killed two birds with one stone. Not only was the first line of Odo striking, it also played on familiarity. With Davido’s hit “If” having so much popularity, it was something you were bound to have heard before. Turning Davido’s popular chorus into his opening was a great way to weave familiarity into a song we had all never heard before and make us feel like we’ve known it all our lives. Another song that uses this tactic well is DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts. The use of Carlos Santana’s Maria Maria intrumentalization cemented the summer jam as a pop song. Not saying that’s what MADE it a pop song, but it’s one of the things that increased its status as pop song of the year. Maria Maria was a popular jam back in the day, and the familiar guitar rift helped make Wild Thoughts popular too. Which brings us to the third reason why Kidi’s Odo is by theory supposed to blow in 3 months or less.
  3. Utilisation of Nostalgia: Kidi music’s Odo uses nostalgia both sonically, melodically and in lyricism. The production of the song has a base sound of Highlife. Which is very popular currently among most afro-pop songs. With the lyrics “I bless the day I found you” Kidi takes us way back to the late 70s music of Elvis Presley’s Let it be Me, redone by Kenny Rogers and Dottie West in 1978 and again by the Everly Brothers in 1989. This song has been through the ages obviously. Even if you’ve never actually listened to it, you’ve heard the lyrics back in the day from radio, or your uncles cools tape. It’s tucked away somewhere in your memory, and KidiĀ  brought it back in this Afropop goodness. The hook of the song also has significant traits in the history of Ghanain Hiplife music. Ofori Amponsah’s Broken Heart is heard in the hook of Odo and just resonates with your early 2000’s hip life loving self, when the genre was in its prime. You may not remember, but you’ve heard Odo before, you know it, you love it, and that’s why it’s a typical pop song.
  4. Simple Lyrics: The lyrics of Kidi’s Odo is simple and easy to sing along to. It’s easy to remember and very easily ‘hummable’. That’s why it sticks in your head after your first listen. It follows a simple AABA structure that is common with most pop songs. 2 verses layered between choruses that are difficult to split apart. A hook that runs on the same instrumentation but different melody, is legit all one needs to score a ht song. Don’t forget the repetition of lines, and all the Oohs and Aahs, that make Odo very sing-along-able.
  5. Relatable lyrics: Inasmuch as we all love to sing about having 30 billion in the account, we don’t actually have it, let alone promise it to the girl of our dreams. Kidi poured out sincerity in his lyrics. It’s on a common subject most relate to ; Love. And the simplicity of the love he’s offering to the girl of his dreams is one many can relate to.
  6. Instrumentalisation: The instrumentalisation has a common base sound that is seen in most popular songs right now. Inherently, your brain communicates it as a song you know and love so you fall in love easily. This base sound is popular in RunTown’s Mad over You, Davido’s Fall and a host of other Afro-pop songs we hear on our radio

 

Although these are not certain for most songs, it is usually a resonating characteristics of popular songs worldwide. Kidi’s

Benewaah is the lead curator and editor at Harmattan Rain. Her love for music is closely rivaled by her love for plantain.