So far, we have discussed some “things to do” and tips on how to write songs! Today I want to focus on what NOT to do when writing a new song! These are the 4 things to avoid by all means!
- Weird structure, no storyline
Popular music has existed for a long time! And throughout the years, many concept have been tested and either proved good or not! The most common song structure used in modern music is:
Verse, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus
You may of course skip a verse in the beginning, or skip the prechoruses altogether etc. However, try to lean on the concept! Why? Because it is a winner! If you write songs with no structure whatsoever, let´s say: verse, Chorus, bridge, verse, interlude, verse. How are gonna people memorize the song or sing along? I know there are some great examples that are outside the traditional scheme (e.g the Beach boys Good vibrations), but those songs rarely catch the listeners attention instantly! A band that has tons of hard core fans may put something like that out! They have the listeners attention no matter what! But for you- as a songwriter, I suggest staying with the obvious! Build your story in a way that makes sense!
Verse 1- getting the listeners attention by making a statement
Verse 2 – explain the statement by going back to the beginning of the story
Prechorus- build suspension
Chorus – express the main point / emotion
Verse 3 – Keep telling the story- but add a new element
Prechorus – build suspension again (this is a great element to let the listener know the Chorus (main hook) is coming up again = positive anticipation)
Chorus – that emotion again!
- Cliché rhymes
You know those songs that go “Baby, you are my desire, our love is so on fire….you are the one I admire! Even though you are a liar…” Do we need more songs like that? No! We don´t! Some rhymes are just outdated, overused, unattractive! Make sure not to fall into the trap of cliché rhyming! In fact, don´t focus on rhyming too much altogether! Songs are no poems (and even modern poetry kinda avoids rhymes more and more). Song are stories set to music! So, step out of that rhyme box and tell your story! If a rhyme works in favor of the story- use it! If it doesn´t, leave it be!
- Starting every section of the song on the same note
Do you use the same furniture in the exact same colour in every room of your house? No? Why not? -> Because each room has a different purpose! Likewise nobody want´s to remain stuck in the same place throughout the entire song! Guide people through your song sections by making them climb stairs! Take them to the basement (bridge), take them to upstairs (chorus), bring them back to the living room to have a cup of tea (verse).
Got it? 😉 Good!
- Predictable melody AND lyrics
If you want to avoid one thing, it´s being boring! If you are boring, you lose the listener! What makes a song boring? Being too predictable. Now, to a certain extend, predictability actually benefits your song…if for example, the listener anticipates the start of a chorus or waits for the verse after the chorus, because it already feels like a familiar place. A song should always play with comfort and excitement in interchangebale ways!
However, too much predictability gets boring! The worst thing you can do, is being predictable in your melody AND your choices of words…You may well use a very simple, predictable melody, but then make sure to use unexpected lyrics, that really stand out! Or, if you have rather basic lyrics, make sure to use catchy and fresh melodies or beats! That´s like a splash of colour that makes the song pop!
Now, go and review your songs and find out if you need to tweak on them! It´s never too late to get better!