The catchiest guitar intros, according to The Itchyworms’ Chino Singson
We all have those songs that we know by heart—songs that make us jump up and do air guitar solos the moment they begin. Studies have shown that the brain can recognize a song in a tenth of a second: far shorter time than it takes to play a single note. And for guitar enthusiasts, that’s all it takes, because regardless of the genre, there are few things more satisfying than a brilliant riff.
“There are certain things you can do on the guitar that you can’t do on a piano,” says Chino Singson of The Itchyworms on the “Chino and Carl’s Guitar Picks” podcast. Between bending, sliding and everything in between, it’s the unique voice these techniques can lend to a song that can reel you in within a matter of seconds.
A one way ticket
In the episode, Chino and his co-host, PumaPodcast CEO and guitar student Carl Javier, list the songs that they think have iconic intros. Carl brought up The Itchyworms’ own songs.
“Anyone who’s ever heard the intro to ‘Beer’ will never not hear that intro. Sobra lang siyang makapit na guitar hook,” he says. To which Singson tips his hat to The Itchyworms drummer Jazz Nicholas for creating the melody.
In the song ‘Day Tripper’, The Beatles tell us exactly what a good hook should be: “She’s a big tease, she got me halfway there.” The intro teases what’s to come, but it makes no promises of what ride it’s going to take you on.
“Sa sobrang gusto nila yung riff, inulit nila in 3 different keys. I guess the main characteristic of this riff is it’s what drives the song along, it’s the pumping eighth notes in the riff that take you along with it,” says Singson.
Sometimes a good guitar hook begins with a melody. It could be killer progressions, or simple power chords. Like ‘Day Tripper’, the intro could carry on throughout the song, or it could turn into something completely different. Some are simple, while others are so complex, as if to say “Sige nga? Kaya mo?”
The intro, or the hook, is when most people decide if they should skip or listen on, or in Javier’s case, listen to it often enough to learn it. As with the example set by The Beatles, making a simple intro isn’t a bad thing. What matters is its catchiness.
Catchy over complex
While Chino and Carl’s playlist does include more challenging and awe-inspiring intros, like ‘Plug in Baby’ by Muse, Chino and Carl believe that you don’t need to get fancy to make an impact. Sticking to the basics can be just as powerful—like in Sandwich’s ‘Butterfly Carnival.’
“It’s those two notes, and people would go into a frenzy,” Singson said. The simplicity of these two notes feels natural. “While it’s simple, it doesn’t give you a hint as to the roller coaster ride you’re in for while listening to this song.”
In talking about these “sobrang lupit na intros,” Javier recalls the challenges that his co-host threw at him while he was still learning, and shares this insight for guitar newbies: “Just because a song sounds like there’s a lot going on doesn’t mean you can’t learn it.”
Chino says, “I think you should set small, achievable goals first.” (Like learning an intro!) “As with any skill, those things can be learned over time, so there’s no need to rush.”
“Chino and Carl’s Guitar Picks” is a Spotify exclusive podcast where Chino Singson of The Itchyworms, and Carl Javier, his guitar student and PumaPodcast CEO, pick their favorite tracks to learn from, be inspired by, and rock out to. “Chino and Carl’s Guitar Picks” is produced by PumaPodcast.