Famous hooks dissected: Beyoncé, Crazy In Love

Released in 2003, this corker is a great example of how one great sampled hook can provide the foundation for a worldwide smash that's still relevant nearly 15 years on – so how does it work?

Here we dig deeper into the track and provide a running commentary on what makes it so catchy…

0:00 The main sampled hook of the tune hits the ground running, with full-on blaring horns and ride cymbal-led samba-style percussion. In the key of D minor but alternating between Bb and G major chords, this sample is lifted entirely from the Chi-Lites’ 1970 song Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So).

0:02 The main hook is joined a moment later by some freestyling Jay-Z, who introduces the tune with a few throwaway lines.

0:14 “Uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh oh-no-no!” This famous vocal hook takes over from the horns, with the percussion loop continuing beneath. The rhythm of the “uh-oh” hook is based on the part that would normally be played by go-go bells in the Samba genre on which the percussion groove is based – that's why it fits so well in the track.  

0:24 In comes the main hook again, just for two bars, to set up the first verse. 

0:29 Out drops the brass hook to be replaced by the verse vocal, the percussion loop and the odd horn stab taken from the sample. The vocal melody in the verse is centred mainly around only three notes – D, C and E – from the D minor scale.  

0:43 There are a couple of ‘one-shot’ hooks in this record – little ear treats that only happen once – and this is one of them: a sampled voice saying “yeah”, with a quarter-note delay added.  

0:48 Our first proper chorus, with the main brass riff pounding back in, and Beyoncé gives it “Got me lookin’ so crazy right now...”, again using only three notes (F, G and D) for the entire chorus vocal hook. 

1:20 Another one-off hook: the spoken verse lyric: “Who he think he is?”  

2:01 Jay-Z does his thing over brass stabs and percussion.

2:35 The “uh-oh” hook returns beneath this part of the rap section, this time with added phaser effects!

2:44 For the middle-eight, we get a new vocal hook over the intro chords; “You got me lookin...”. This lyric is sung half-time, and this time we’ve added in an A note to the melody. Three-part harmony backing vocals chime in with a G7 chord on the words “crazy”, “baby”, “foolish”, and “do this”.  

2:58 Another new vocal hook adds the lines “but your love’s got the best of me, baby you’re makin’ a fool of me”, with lots of soulful harmonies added in.  

Get a full dose of tactics and inspiration for making catchy tunes, and discover How to write Perfect Hooks across 19 pages and 21 videos in Computer Music issue 240.

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