Give me your hookiest hooks!
March 20, 2019 2:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs with irresistible hooks. Give me your favorites, please!

I need something to distract me on the often annoying commute to work, so I'd like to put together a playlist that will make me, you know, bounce. Tap my toes. You get the idea. I tend to focus on hooks (guitar, bass, piano -- whatever), so that's what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for hooks that are ostinato-like, i.e., that continue through most of the song. Examples of stuff I'm talking about:

Bishop Allen, Click Click Click Click
Cake, Jolene
Tom Allen and the Strangest, Walks Like Chaplin
Spoon, Anything You Want
The Pixies, Where is My Mind

Any genre in rock/pop/hip-hop is fine. Just no death metal, please (which I know isn't exactly hooky in general, but still).

Thanks, everyone!
posted by holborne to Media & Arts (63 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Pseu Braun has a weekly radio show on WFMU called Thing With a Hook.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:46 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

Teenage Kicks by the Undertones
posted by bdk3clash at 3:05 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

The hook for "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie is so good, Vanilla Ice stole it for "Ice Ice Baby" and used it as the beat for the whole song.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:09 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

Evil Woman - Electric Light Orchestra (actually, most ELO has great hooks)
posted by parmanparman at 3:10 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

I'm gonna shamelessly self promote here cause this kind of music is what I do...

"To the night"
"Big Indie"
"45 RPM"
"Breathing Rock"
posted by nikaspark at 3:21 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Jukebox the Ghost – Schizophrenia
posted by General Malaise at 3:23 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]

Archie Bell and The Drells, Tighten Up.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:23 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]

You might like Pete Drodge and The Sinners - Dear Diane or Mr Jade or just about anything off that album. That's a great album.
posted by fshgrl at 3:38 PM on March 20

Curse Me Good - The Heavy
posted by lyssabee at 3:59 PM on March 20

posted by Kiwi at 4:08 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Some of these don't have the strong, specific hooks that you describe but I find very catchy.

The Dave Clark Five - Glad All Over
The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
Queen - Don't Stop Me Now
PJ Harvey - This Is Love
Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere (starts with choral intro then kicks into a relentless driving bass)
posted by acidnova at 4:09 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Nine Inch Nails - Sanctified has the same bass line looping through the entire track. It's a bit more of a groovy, low key song.
posted by acidnova at 4:14 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Love Will Tear Us Apart also has a Hook.
posted by Kiwi at 4:17 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

Sugar Sugar - The Archies
Hooked On A Feeling - Blue Swede
Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me - Mac Davis
posted by briank at 4:23 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Sloop John B - The Beach Boys
posted by Fukiyama at 4:25 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

Woo Hoo by the 5 6 7 8's
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:25 PM on March 20

Less of a hook than a brain parasite, but Tom's Diner
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:25 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Lucky Henry by Walter Becker. Hook starts RIGHT at 0:00 and keeps going through nearly the entire song, with some harmonizations for variation.
posted by smokysunday at 4:34 PM on March 20

Building Steam With a Grain of Salt by DJ Shadow
Homebass Mega Mix by UNKLE
Push Upstairs by Underworld
Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:38 PM on March 20

Chicken Fried
posted by Ftsqg at 4:40 PM on March 20

Haim Falling
Grimes Genesis
Soul II Soul Back to Life
Mary J. Blige Real Love
Lil’ Kim Crush on You
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:45 PM on March 20

Can we really have gotten this far without anyone mentioning "Sweet Child O' Mine?" Or "Smells Like Teen Spirit?"
posted by praemunire at 5:03 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Dru Me Negrita
posted by adamrice at 5:09 PM on March 20

Sweet and Lovely, by Thelonious Monk. There are far, far worse earworms to have...
posted by JamesBay at 5:20 PM on March 20

Zhané Hey Mr. DJ
Skee-Lo I Wish
Stevie Wonder I Wish
Steely Dan Black Cow
Khrurangbin Maria También
G. Love ane Special Sauce Cold Beverage
Soul Coughing Down To This
Toots and the Maytals Pomps & Pride
posted by STFUDonnie at 5:36 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Kool is Back by Funk, Inc.
posted by Morpeth at 5:39 PM on March 20

Here's a Spotify playlist! 🎶🎵🎶🎵

posted by maya at 5:43 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

The Brian Jonestown Massacre Straight Up And Down
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:51 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Eric Clapton, Layla
Cream, Crossroads
T Rex, Bang a Gong
Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Relax
Doors, LA Woman
posted by Oyéah at 6:34 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Ezra Furman, Body Was Made and Haunted Head
JD McPherson, Mother of Lies and Lucky Penny
Low Cut Connie, Shake It Little Tina and Both My Knees

If at least one of these doesn't get you bouncing, seek medical attention :)
posted by EKStickland at 6:50 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

All for Swinging You Around, the New Pornographers.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 6:59 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

I always thought Siouxsie and the Banshees Cities In Dust had one of the all time hookiest hooks.
posted by windbox at 7:14 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

I still remember reading an article in CREEM that breathlessly counted FIFTY hooks in Roxy Music's Love is the Drug, a number that seemed immense in the days before super-layered pop music production took over. But it's still pretty damn hooky.

Some more recent stuff:

Tokyo Incidents - Brand New Civilization
Of Montreal - Wraith Pinned to the Mist
Spoon - The Underdog and Don't You Evah
Mike Viola - Closet Cutter
CAKE - Long Time
Plan B - She Said
Peaches - Fuck the Pain Away
posted by maudlin at 7:31 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Pavement - Cut Your Hair
posted by salvia at 7:43 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Stranger Than Fiction by Split Enz (1976)
posted by Rash at 8:01 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

el raton
la murga
posted by stinker at 12:37 AM on March 21

posted by stinker at 12:39 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Stevie Wonder - “Superstition”
posted by wenestvedt at 3:12 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]

Bonita Applebaum by A Tribe Called Quest
posted by newpotato at 4:10 AM on March 21

Mt. Moriah - Bright Light
posted by dmo at 4:39 AM on March 21

Waxahatchee - Coast to Coast
posted by dmo at 4:41 AM on March 21

The Mothers of Invention - Trouble Every Day
posted by dmo at 4:49 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]

Television - See No Evil
posted by dmo at 5:08 AM on March 21

Also, it seems factually wrong to count "two chords alternating forever" as a hook, but it seems spiritually wrong not to have Jane Says on this list, so here you go.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:03 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

OH SHIT ALSO, how could I forget the most tenacious of looping earworms: Jurassic 5, Concrete Schoolyard.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:06 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]

The saxophone hook from I Just Wanna Make Love To You by Etta James has some bounce.
posted by clawsoon at 9:11 AM on March 21

These are great, thanks! I'm going to go ahead and make a Spotify playlist from these and any that follow (except for the ones that aren't available on Spotify, obviously -- sorry, nikaspark :/ ). I'll post the link when I'm done in case anyone is interested.
posted by holborne at 9:31 AM on March 21

Ooh, I get to plug NoMeansNo again
posted by farlukar at 10:01 AM on March 21

Hey holbrrne, I've already made a Spotify playlist (linked above a few hours ago)
posted by maya at 10:02 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

One of my absolute favorite hooks ever:

Donny Hathaway - The Ghetto (live)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:08 AM on March 21

Oh, I'm sorry maya -- my mistake! I actually tried to get to the playlist but I was on my phone and was having trouble with it, so I didn't even realize you'd made a playlist from this Ask. That's great -- I appreciate it!
posted by holborne at 10:28 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Fountains of Wayne were unbelievable at writing hooks. Start with the Welcome Interstate Managers album (w/Stacey's Mom)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:25 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Is funk okay? Bass hooks all over the place, e.g. James Brown - Payback, One Nation Under a Groove - Funkadelic.
posted by clawsoon at 11:58 AM on March 21

This might be a bit on the nose, but Hook by Blues Traveler?
posted by Aleyn at 2:10 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Riton: Rinse and Repeat [ SYTL]


Time to make the club go up
Time to shut the club down
This is not how I woke up
But it's how I look now
If you leave with me
We'll be on till.

posted by Faintdreams at 8:06 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

Radiohead has a reputation for downbeat complexity, but some of my favorites are both uplifting and built around catchy hooks. B-side "Worrywort" centers on a cheerfully bubbly chiptune riff, "Desert Island Disk" and "Gagging Order" have satisfyingly soothing acoustic strumming hooks, "Present Tense" features a seductive bossa nova melody with dreamlike flanging, and "Bodysnatchers" kicks right off with a killer fuzzy guitar line that repeats continuously through the track. Plus one of their most beloved songs, "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," is named after the repeated string arpeggios that undergird the music. "Lull" is a similar B-side (albeit fairly short).

Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out" is permanently seared into my brain (specifically the riff that starts ~1 minute in). Nthing "Seven Nation Army." "Feel Good Inc." and "Float On" are some other good mid-00s one.

Lem's summery "Steal My Sunshine" is built around an earwormy sample of Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More". (Which reminds me of KC & the Sunshine Band's "Keep It Comin' Love.")
posted by Rhaomi at 11:21 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

When You Walk Into the Room by the Searchers (1964)
posted by Rash at 2:44 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

My Hookiest Hooks . . . YouTube and Spotify links.

Luke Vibert & DJ Cole - Hipalong Hop

Pretty Lights - I Can See It In Your Face

Maps & Atlases - Pigeon

Alex Bleeker - Sealong Hair

Steve Gunn - Lurker

Cave Singers - Beach House

Ben Howard - Old Pine
posted by eggman at 9:58 AM on March 25

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