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rhythm - rhyme - REPETITION

... are the most important ingredients of a modern pop song (remember my post on lousy lyrics?). It does no harm if the verses use good imagery or tell cool stories, too, but that comes second. We're talking pop here, not country.

In Germany the radio stations up and down the country currently play "no roots" (Alice Merton) all the time. How often is the line "I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground" repeated? It feels like a hundred times! That's modern pop for you! With the advent of smartphones the attention span of young people has deteriorated and you have to repeat the hook every two seconds so they will get it. Just kidding. It's not just young people anyway, an elderly president of a huge nation governs his country be means of twitter feeds. That's a maximum of 280 characters!

Whatever... In a modern pop song you need a good hook and many repetitions, and, of course, a good, consistent rhythm. Rhymes help, but actually are not THAT important.

In Alice Merton's song it is not only the hook that is repeated. As she uses the 'standard' structure of a modern pop song that goes: verse - lift - chorus - verse - lift - chorus - bridge - chorus* there are also the lifts that are repeated. And she goes beyond this common 'pop recipe' by repeating the last line in each verse like a refrain, too: "'Cause I've got memories and travel like gypsies in the night". To top it all off she re-uses the image** and the lines of the first verse in the bridge! As simple as her lyrics look at first sight as much can you learn from them.

* Actually it is verse - verse - lift - chorus - chorus..., but basically it's THE pop structure

** Yep, there is a cool image right at the beginning of the song to 'set the stage': "I like digging holes and hiding things inside them".