How to Make a Summer Hit

Summer hits have a special something to them. It’s that time of year when people are outdoors, gathered with friends, and hopefully, enjoying life after a cold winter. The soundtrack of summer changes every year, but they all have a certain ‘je n’ais ce quoi’ about them. That said, a vague indescribable something won’t actually do for an article on how to make a summer hit. So, let’s try to narrow it down.

How to Describe a Summer Hit

Popular songs in the summer are summer hits, but there’s a bit more to it than that. 

They’re usually have:

  • An upbeat tempo
  • A catchy melody
  • Positive lyrics
  • Evoke feelings of being carefree and happy (like when you’re on vacation)

Suffice to say a mournful, melodic tune with a slow beat is better for winter when you’re in front of a fireplace with a whiskey in hand.

There’s a formula you can follow, but add some passion and a good ear, and you’ll be on the radio waves next summer. Don’t stress about it. Instead, watch this tutorial, and read this article for a breakdown on how to make a summer hit. There are only 10 steps to follow in the studio to get there. 

10 Steps to Make a Summer Hit

As stated, the following 10 steps are from a brilliant tutorial from a master. Follow them to make your very own summer track that will hopefully be the next sound of summer.

Step 1:

First set BPM to 123, then find a catchy vocal.

You will also use this part for the intro, but first, make the chords.

If you want to create a hit song, it needs to be catchy, so use simple chords in the entire track. The chords are pretty (basic), but that’s what makes the track catchy.

Step 2:

Get started on the intro!

First find a vocal lead. This will be a vocal hum kind of layer to use in the intro. It plays a catchy rhythm based on the chords you created.

The last 2 bars will be empty, but you will fill them up with other elements.

First, find a deep bass, then make some pianos.

Use the pianos in the drop too. Use the same rhythm as the vocal bass you made earlier.

This keeps the track structured. Layer it with two other pianos.

Step 3:

To mix the plugins, the tutorial used Unison’s new plugin “sound doctor”.

It is a revolutionising Mixing Tool, which contains 30+ different tools to use from compressors to flangers.

Test it out and you will see it’s very easy to use.

Step 4:

Next up, add a pad for the track. This is a very simple pad to add thickness to the track. Finally add some simple drums and FX – a simple clap to set the rhythm combined with some ambiance.

Step 5:

For the break, use the piano, pad and break you created earlier, then slowly introduce the pianos using a filter automation.

The break also serves as a build up but it’s very subtle, which is why we want to have some movement going on in the break.

Step 6:

Next add some more drums and FX. Since this is also the build up, add some Rolling Snares & risers.

Step 7:

All the samples and presets used in the tutorial are from the deep house sample pack.

According to the tutorial, deep house is getting a lot of commercial attention, and with this pack, you can create a hit. 

The pack contains 410 samples such as drums, loops, and FX. It also contains 145 presets designed for serum. You also get 5 project files for FL studio/Ableton/Logic pro.

Step 8:

Time to make the drop, which is split into two parts. Add drop vocals. 

For the second part of the drop, use other vocals, then make the drop bass.

First add a deep bass. The bass should have the same rhythm as the pianos you created.

Most hit songs are very structured. Use two layers for the deep bass and also add a Top Bass.

Step 9:

Now, to make the drums. In the first 2 bars of the drop, the vocals will be without any elements, After that, introduce the drums and the other elements.

Step 10: 

Listen to the completed track! Make whatever changes you see fit, or go back to the beginning and choose different elements.

Dancing to a summer hit

A Summary of a Summer Hit

There are three main elements of a summer hit that you must keep in mind.

Firstly, the tempo must be between 120 and 130 beats per minute. It has to be upbeat and aim to get people on their feet.

Secondly, the melody must be catchy and easy to remember/sing along to. Once you’ve got a good tune in your head, you can take it up a notch to a memorable melody.

Thirdly, positive lyrics make summer special. Even if it’s about a break up, you’ve got to find the silver lining. The person’s celebrating a new stage of life, not crying into their whiskey glass by the fire in winter, remember?

Summer Hit Homework

If you’re still a bit unsure, the best advice to follow is to listen to previous years’ summer hits.

For example:

  • “Body” Loud Luxury
  • “In My Mind” Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino

Find other EDM summer hits. Study them. Listen to the lyrics. Let the melodies get stuck in your head so that you can take that inspiration to your own studio. Experiment with different sounds and effects, but most importantly, you’ve got to have fun and enjoy yourself, or nobody else will.

Making a summer hit with an upbeat tempo, catchy melody, and memorable lyrics could be the thing you’re most proud of, but unless you actually get into that studio, you’ll never know. Enjoy the process and upload a video showing how you did it, because, why not?