A consistent rhyme scheme. The different sections of your song need to have consistent rhyme schemes. All of the verses should have the same rhyme scheme. All choruses should have the same scheme, etc. Changing the rhyme scheme from verse to verse is unsettling for the listener. And this is similar to my previous point to some level that keep changing the melody will again confuse the listener. And keep repeating the same scheme or theme for specific sections of your song will make people to remember it much easier and be able to sing along. And that’s what makes them to come back to your song over and over again.
Singable and catchy melody. By and large, listeners want to sing along with a song they like. If the song is too rangy or too hard to sing, it turns the listener off. They want it to get stuck in their head and they want to sing along. Sure you might want to show off your writing skills by using some words too big that else than yourself and Shakespeare no one else would know the meaning or notes so high or so low that only a few vocalists in the world can perform them, but remember that an ordinary listener must be able to sing your song if you want it to be successful. Keep it simple and catchy.
A predictable time frame. Most great songs are between 2 and a half to 3 and a half minutes long. Writing a song much shorter or much longer doesn’t feel right to most listeners. Also for each section of the song, you should be careful not to make it too short or too long. For example a chorus which lasts only 4 bars will be ridiculous and no one would enjoy. Same goes for a verse that is 84 bars long!! Make it the way that make sense and remember most listeners have something like a counter / metronome in their subconsciousness and they expect the certain part of the song to come up at certain timing. Give it to them. Satisfy them and then wait and see how they will enjoy your song.
A great opening line. You need to draw the listener in from the first line. You can lose them or keep them with that one line of lyrics. The opening line is extremely important because this is like an indicator, telling your listeners that your song will have a proper message for them and should they wait for the chorus or just forget about it and move to the next song. Specially when they are listening to your song for the first time and they have no idea what is coming up. The opening line is like a hook, catching your listeners to sit and wait for your punchline hook. Use it wisely!
Melody and Lyrics that fit well together. Writing a happy song with a minor, “down” melody doesn’t usually work. Nor does the reverse. Making your music and your lyrics have the same “feel” gives you a strong, consistent message. Just imagine you find someone dancing and you ask them what made them so happy, and they tell you “my father just passed away!” It just doesn’t make sense. Well, in most cases!
Lyrics that makes sense. I know I’m going to get grief over this one. Yes, I know that “Yakety Yak” was a hit song. But for every hit song you could name that doesn’t make sense, I could name you ten that do make good sense. Generally, people want to understand what they are hearing. Once in a while there might songs like “Coco” or “Every Day I’m Shuffling” and they become big hits but these kinds of songs have a time line for being “trendy” and they fade out after a while but for example look at Michael Jackson's “We Are The World”. It’s literally a timeless song. One of the main reasons is the message the lyrics of this song has.
Touch some universal emotion. If you want to write a great song, you have to tap into some universal human emotion. Not doing that leaves people with a “so what” feeling. Universal emotions are feelings like love or broken heart or lost of someone or something. The emotions that every one of us had experienced it at least once in our lives and when we hear a good song talking about it, we easily can relate to. I am sure you had heard some songs – or at least one – that you said to yourself “this song is talking about my life”. It’s not telling your story. That song is talking about a universal emotion and you want it or not, when you hear it, your brain relate it to your story and adjusts the details. To get a successful song, you’d want to write something that thousands or millions of people can relate to their own story and to do so, you will need to write about universal emotions.