Before I leak this open secret, let me confirm we are on the same page by defining a Naija hit song. To avoid boring everyone with a dictionary definition, I will name a few hits and assume we all understand. Examples are Skelewu, Limpopo, Aboki, Oliver Twist, Gongo Aso, Like to Party, Lagos Party, ihe neme, African Queen. In order to make a hit song, the vocal quality, beats and delivery must be perfect but there are some key components that characterize most naija hit songs and it is based on these points that I have developed these hit song formulas.
Most naija hits have up tempo beats so they are naturally party songs. Even the slower one’s are made fast by DJ’s in parties or blended into faster dance beats so that people can rock to them. These songs get massive airplays on radio and TV. In naija every artist is hustling for a hit song. You will hear stuff like “He stole skelewu from me”, “I wrote Sholee for him ”, “Wizkid made this song a hit”. Every music artiste wants to be associated with a hit.
Here are the winning tips:
- Work with a great Producer
Popular Producers have made a lot of his and many near hits. Out of experience they know what kicks,drums or snares to add to a beat to upgrade it. They can even guide your voice and style. The mere mention of their names on a song boosts the acceptance of the song. These producers turn average musicians to superstars with their talent. Great producers wont even let out mediocre materials on their name. Featuring these producers cost an arm and a leg except they are in the musicians team or they will benefit directly from sales.
- Get a Catch Phrase
Any musician that adds a catch phrase or word to a song increases the chance of popularizing the song. The reason is that automatically people can relate to the song because they already know a word or two from the song. The good thing about this is that the musician get credit for inventing the word or phrase when actually it had always been in existence. What is the KOKO? Take Banana,Selling point, if I hear, Skelewu, Limpopo.
- Make a Dance titled Song
This can come in various forms either by making a song from a popular dance like Azonto or by creating a dance from the video of the song like Yahoozee or Alingo. Some artistes go as far as teaching the audience how to dance or by hosting an online dance competition. We Nigerians can dance so tey we steal Azonto from Ghana.
- Make a Good Video
No matter how good a song is, if it does not have a good video, then it will not be played on TV. Get a Clarence P , Sesan or Godfather to shoot your video. If you cant afford them then hunt for an upcoming Video director for an affordable rate. Visuals make an indelible mark on our memories. I hear I forget, I see I remember….. Make sure to choose a good set , costumier and make-up artist.
- Feature a Big Artist
In world music generally, talented artistes shy away from featuring biiger artistes because of budget, overshadowing and rights issues. Most artistes want their fans to accept them as independent solo artistes with a particular style of music and not one looking for help from other artistes. In naija , reverse is the case however this has brought many young stars faster to the limelight. Most times featuring big artistes usually ensures hit songs. Examples are Davido and NaetoC, Kefee and Timaya, Vector and Tuface.
- Mother Tongue
For the past 5 years the trend was that speaking a little Yoruba in a song will make an average song an instant hit. Now the trend has changed, speaking ibo in a song is now more desirable. Thanks to Ikechukwu and Illbliss for laundering the Igbo image in Nigerian music industry with the ibo boy swag and ibo boy Movement. Consistency is key. The Igbo theme is selling more right now. Flavour sings completely in Igbo and Phyno raps in Igbo too. I still await the time when hausa or efik will become more desirable.
The number of hits an artiste has will determine whether he will even be called up to perform for a show. Musicians like Tuface can perform for 3 hours in a row and the crowd will still be yelling for more and calling out songs that he has not performed.
In my opinion the above tips will ensure hits. There are other ways that include the Name songs like Ada Ada, Ifunanya, Onyinye, Olufunmi etc. Wedding songs and Success/ Celebration songs are also a good way to go. A combination of these tips will go a long way.
Written by Ayo Alloh!
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