American rapper and songwriter Nicki Minaj has revealed that she often rewrites her song lyrics up to 10 times because she wants her songs to be perfect every time.
Trinidadian-born Minaj—the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100—feels it is important for up-and-coming songwriters to realise that getting to the top of the charts isn’t an easy process.
“Even now, I still rewrite verses five and six and seven and eight and nine and ten times because I want it to be perfect,” she recently told Redbull.com. “Don’t rest on your laurels. Keep trying, as if it’s your first day on the job. That’s how I think of it. When it comes to creating, I always feel like, wait a minute, I can’t take any shortcuts … People have to know I spent quality time on it. That’s my motto.”
One of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced songwriters often make is to think their latest song is finished as soon as they’ve added the final chord or found a rhyme for the last line. The first draft could, of course, prove to be the one and the song may be ready for the demo studio. But in the majority of cases, ‘finishing’ a song is just the beginning.
As someone once said: “Great songs aren’t written, they’re rewritten …”
Every new song will probably need several rewrites before you have the final version. Some experienced writers have admitted that creating a hit song usually requires 10% writing and 90% rewriting.
Pro writers often produce a first draft of a new song, put it down for a few days, and then listen to it again. That’s usually when they can tell if the song truly has potential. Listening to it from a fresh perspective enables them to spot the weaknesses and assess how the song can be improved.
And strengthening a song often means having to change or leave out some of the favourite lyrics, rhymes, melodic phrases, chords (or even complete verses) that you started out with.
If you’ve already gone through the agony of having songs rejected by a publisher or a record company, ask yourself: ‘Could I have made my songs better if, like Nicki Minaj, I’d spent more time polishing them?’
Photo: Fer Morrell
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“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.