I found this nifty article by Antoine Hennion in the book “On Record” edited by Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin, 1990, published by Routledge, page 185. He deconstructs the formation of the pop song. For him, the tune and simple melody are not the secret, but rather the arrangement, voice, colors, orchestration, recording and sound mixing that make the song. But as passive musical listeners, what we ‘hear’ and think we appreciate is the tune itself.
Lyrics: (with my own thoughts strewn here and there). The popular song tells a two or three minute story, a novelette, which borrows from poetry, the theatre, storytelling. The basic idea is set out, elaborated upon, and concluded. Often, there’s a conflict. The story is usually conventional, fits in the culture and mythology of the day (e.g., honeymoons). The words should give the text originality, yet simple to pronounce and memorize.
Character: Oftentimes, the singer is the CHARACTER in the song. He is the one on the bus waiting for the yellow ribbons (or knocking three times on the ceiling). Is his/her real character important here or just how he/she sings the song?
The “Mixture”: The music, lyrics and character have a subjective relationship that is hard to predict, coming together to create a successful song in which both the observer and (sometimes) the producer cannot analyze. The public, after all, wants to like a song and can forget the shortcomings of one or the other elements if they are somehow buoyed in the mixture.
Songs, like stories (and perfumes), have beginnings (intros), middles and ends.
Form of the song: Introduction – A few bars that enable the listener to identify the song immediately, a signal that says ‘Watch it, here comes such and such a tune!”. If successful, it is a hook that draws the listener in. Listen to the introduction of a few of these sixties tunes. How long does it take you to identify the song? How do they differ?
House of the Rising Sun
A Whiter Shade of Pale
Touch me- the Doors
But of course, not every famous song has an introduction, does it?