Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Name That Tune in 7 Seconds (Or 7 Words)

Radio can take a lesson from songwriters when it comes to storytelling and grabbing attention. Yes the music can make a song memorable, but a well written line in a song can have an even greater impact. When you open the mic, you have seven seconds to capture the listener’s attention or they are gone. Writing a great opening line takes thought, skill and perseverance; plus, you have to do it consistently if you want to win.
Can you identify these songs from their opening line?   
(Top 10 of 25 posted as Spinner.com’s Top 25 opening lines of all time; answers at the end)
1. "She's a very kinky girl"
2. "I was born in a cross-fire hurricane"
3. "Hey, ho, let's go!"
4. "Well, she was just seventeen -- you know what I mean"
5. "Don't call it a comeback"
6. "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?"
7. "In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey"
8. "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!"
9. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine"
10. "Tommy used to work on the docks"
What they all have in common is the ability to evoke an emotion or paint a picture in one short sentence. Even if you don’t know the rest of the song, the opening line is intriguing enough to entice you to listen for more.  
If you are a radio air talent, or if you just want to be a better communicator, think about your opening line. Be consistent with opening lines that accomplish the following three things:
  1. Answers the questions: Why will the listener Care? What’s in it for them?
  2. Contains words that paint a picture or evoke an emotion
  3. Accomplishes all of that in seven to ten seconds
This formula can also help you when creating blog posts, tweets and texts. People are inundated with so many messages each day. Take the time to make sure your message will be relevant and heard by creating an opening line that demands attention. If you don’t, they will hear “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” and those are seven words you never want to be known for.
  1. Rick James' "Superfreak"
  2. The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
  3. The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop"
  4. The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There"
  5. LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out!"
  6. The Carpenters' "Close to You"
  7. Beck's "Loser"
  8. Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes"
  9. Patti Smith's "Gloria"
  10. Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"