How to write a “sticky” song

Foot stuck into chewing gum on street
Sometimes after I’ve been to an evening of music, I try to predict what song is going to get stuck in my head.
Believe me, there’s always one. Sometimes it will haunt me for days, when I wake up and when I go to sleep, when I drive in my car or take the train. There it will be, that *$%&@ sticky song that just won’t go away. According to The Atlantic, one-third of people get songs stuck in their head at least once per day!
But even though I might shake my fist at the heavens, cursing the author of that sticky song, I also raise my hand in admiration. It’s no mean feat to write such a catchy tune, or an “earworm.” I have lots of talented friends who are great at writing sticky songs. My friend Mark even called his last album “Sticky.”
So how do you write that song that is sure to stick? Well, there’s no magic formula, at least I don’t think so (correct me if you know the magic formula!).
But, there are some definite tips and tricks — a few I’ve come across:

Keep it simple.

A simple chorus melody, for example, that’s easy to recognize, can glom onto your listener’s brainwaves and stick. Long note durations and smaller pitch intervals can do the trick: Think the B-52s “Love Shack” or Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.

Keep it repetitive.

Like a nursery rhyme, a repeating section — typically your simple chorus — just might stick like glue. Good lord, remember Call Me Maybe (I just met you…this is crazy…here’s my number…call me &$%#*)?

Keep it familiar.

A familiar, recognizable song structure can stick-ify your song immediately. Common song structures like ABABCB or AABA, or a 12-bar blues, make it likely that your audience won’t take long to catch on.

Does your song need to be sticky?

Hmm. That’s a sticky question. I would say no…there are plenty of amazing songs that aren’t sticky in that earworm kind of way. But they might stay with you for other reasons — a beautiful melody, an arresting theme, deep lyrics. Yet, I also think that the best songs are at least catchy in one way or another…a song that doesn’t hook you in or provide something to latch onto an be problematic, in my opinion.
And again, I’m all-admiring for the all-time greatest catchy songs. This article says these 10 songs have been proven the catchiest — by science! Do you agree?
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