Everyone here has valid arguments about the book, and what constitutes a "hit." But also take all the lesser-known bands into consideration--
Band of Horses' 2nd album "Cease To Begin" is absolutely FULL of "hits", to me. From the opening track to the second song "Ode to LRC" and all the way to the end... hooks, hooks, hooks. Simple songs, unique vocal phrasing, great vocal harmonies... and heartfelt (though at times, strange) lyrics. On a grand scale, no one cares about Band of Horses.
Alternately, the band I talk about a lot on this forum, Minipop-- their 2007 album "A New Hope" is chock full of hooks and pretty melodies and to me, the album is an album of "hits." Again, no one's heard the band.
Also, a band which is now defunct, wrote a TON of hits during their time together - The Arrogants
. You can download all of their music for free from that link. Just take a listen to "Nobody's Cool" or "Why TAANG is Our Favorite Band" to hear some awesome hooks.
It's all subjective, but really... there ARE a TON of "hits" and bands that consistently write songs that make me wish I wrote them... and totally get me psyched to show them to friends and anyone else in my life. "Hit" does not mean "big money maker." "Hit" means "something insanely hooky, that you can't get out of your head."
To me, these three bands blow away anything Taylor Swift's songwriting team writes for her, or most top 40 "artists."
And I agree with one of the posters above who said something about Rivers Cuomo knowing the secrets... there are countless Weezer songs which are INSANELY GOOD, and I won't even mention the Blue Album which is probably one of the greatest "hit" albums of all-time... from No One Else to Say It Ain't So... anything in between.
Some people just have the knack to write awesome "hits" (even though staying obscure) and most of us don't. Ultimately, you can't go wrong with the major scale and the notes 1, 3, 5 in your melody and ideas. Stick with diatonic chords (I, IV, V, etc) and make your melodies "conversational" (easy to sing, say, whistle), and that's the secret.
More songs that come to my mind -- Julia Nunes "Stay Awake" from her latest record "Settle Down".... an artist who consistently writes great hooks.... Jimmy Eat World's two albums "Bleed American" and "Futures" are absolutely full of hooks and hits, but weren't great sellers, in the grand scheme of things... (sure, "The Middle" was a huge hit, but if you listen to the rest of "Bleed American" you would see that this is a band that constantly nails the "hit" formula)....
There is sooooo much great music out there. As John Frusciante said years ago... "it's all there for you to discover and enjoy, if you are open enough to it. What a shame it would be for you to miss it all", or something like that.
-------------------------------------------------------------- Chris Caulder
songwriter/beatmaker/filmmaker/instructor/whatever http://youtube.com/chriscauldermusic http://chriscaulder.net http://twitter.com/chriscaulder http://underratedmusic.wordpress.com http://songwritingandrecordingtips.wordpress.com