Songwriting is a mysterious process that many have tried to explain. Sometimes songs arrive fully formed in the composer’s head–other times, they can take years to develop.
Repetition is an important element in many successful songs–it hooks the listener with a phrase, lyric, or musical idea that creates a melodic, lyrical, or rhythmic connection both consciously and subconsciously.
Jason Blume has written an article over on BMI’s website that discusses the idea of repetition in songs, and mentions a few songs where repeated lyrics are no doubt a part of their success: “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, just to name a select few.
Many songwriters eschew the idea of repetition because they feel it’s beneath them, or too simplistic–but the key is to remember that, as a songwriter, we want the song to stay in the listener’s heads long after it ends. Melody, harmony, are all crucial parts of this puzzle–but in terms of effectiveness, repetition may just be the most undervalued asset in a songwriter’s toolkit.