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Why Being Catchy Isn’t Good Enough

Posted by Keith Freund On September - 2 - 2009COMMENT ON THIS POST

Today I was checking out one of my favorite blogs, Musformation, saw their post on this topic, and got inspired to finish a draft I started earlier in the year. Without further adieu:

Even if you’re not a musician, this scenario will probably be familiar to you: a group of people are debating the merits of a popular song (particularly one which can be considered objectively terrible) and someone* interjects, “but the melody gets stuck in your head.” Everyone nods in agreement because hey, if it’s catchy it must be a well written song. Right?

While a great song with a catchy melody is doubly effective, a terrible song that gets stuck in your head is still worthless. Some of you may remember the children’s show Lambchop’s Playalong, with its devastating outro, “The Song That Doesn’t End.”

But you won’t see Lambchop coming up on my playlist any time soon. In fact I would probably pay iTunes the 99 cents to never hear it again.

In other words, it’s not enough to merely write a memorable hook, and you can’t defend a song by saying it’s catchy. Though it can be tricky to write a catchy melody, catchiness has no value without the substance to back it up.

Catchiness is like a built-in reminder: if your song is great, people will be constantly reminded to buy it, seek it out, go to your show, etc. If your song is annoying, it will only remind people that you’re annoying.

Shari Lewis

*UPDATE: A day later, I’m checking out comments on Asher Roth’s “I Love College” video on YouTube and stumble upon this gem in response to commenters saying he sucks:

Evermorefading (9 hours ago) Show Hide
no but it is catchy and this is what pops up when you search catchy? rap although its not rap


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