SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

Tag Archives: Calvin Harris

ED SHEERAN

“If I write a song, there has to be a catalyst. It can’t just be like ‘I had a nice day’. It has to be like ‘I had the best day ever’ or the worst day ever. You can’t write a song from a bland experience, but you can write a song from two extremes.

“If you’re in a really good mood, you can write the best song, and if you’re in a really bad mood, you can write the best song. But if you’re just vanilla, you can’t.”

—Ed Sheeran (in an interview with CNN)

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MORE SONGWRITING TIPS

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.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.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).

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Pharrell WilliamsEarlier this year, Grammy Award-winning Pharrell Williams urged songwriters to buck the trend toward sad-sounding songs by writing more tracks designed to make people feel happy.

Pharrell showed the way himself with his chart-topping song ‘Happy’ which was nominated for an Oscar after featuring in the animated comedy movie Despicable Me 2.

Now, leading music streaming service Spotify has unveiled a list of the world’s 10 happiest songs, based on the listening choices made by many of its 40 million active users across 56 countries.

After analyzing thousands of users’ playlists from around the world—and assessing the emotional positivity of each track—Spotify has identified the songs that feature most frequently on feel-good playlists titled ‘Happy’.

‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams takes the crown as the happiest song this summer, followed by ‘Best Day Of My Life’ by American Authors, ‘The Walker’ by Fitz and The Tantrums and Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’. Other top ‘happy hits’ include Calvin Harris’s ‘Summer’ and ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille.

If you’re looking for a successful song structure and benchmark for your own ‘happy’ songs, try dissecting and analyzing the shape and form of each of Spotify’s Top 10 Happiest Songs:

1. Happy – Pharrell Williams
2. Best Day Of My Life – American Authors
3. The Walker – Fitz and The Tantrums
4. Rather Be – Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynn
5. Digital Witness – St. Vincent
6. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
7. Summer – Calvin Harris
8. Sponge Won’t Soak – Wild Moccasins
9. Come Home – Chappo
10. Pompeii – Bastille

By putting a greater focus on ‘happy’ songs, these songwriters and artists are actually going against the tide of the last five decades.

In 2012, an academic study found that pop music has grown progressively more sad-sounding and emotionally ambiguous since the 1960s. The number of minor chord hits has doubled since 1965, the study found, and fewer hit songs are now being written in major chords.

Music psychologist Professor E Glenn Schellenberg and sociologist Professor Christian von Scheve analyzed the tempo (beats per minute) and mode (major or minor) of more than 1,000 American Top 40 songs that charted between 1965 and 2012. Their study found that in the second half of the 1960s, about 85% of songs that reached the top of the charts were written in a major mode, but by 2012 that figure had fallen to only 43.5%.

“Just as the lyrics of pop songs have become more self-referential and negative in recent decades, the music has also changed—it sounds sadder and emotionally more ambivalent,” Schellenberg and von Scheve stated in their study. They suggested that emotional ambiguity in a song is a way for some acts to convey their seriousness and complexity.

But Pharrell Williams insists that songwriters and artists should not forget about the happier side of things. He believes there’s a growing need to lift people up emotionally.

“Through the connectivity of the internet,” says Pharrell, “people are becoming so desensitized to all the tragedies and travesties [in the world], that we all need to take audiences to a lighter place.

“There’s something to be said for making music that is jovial,” he says. “Songs for people who need a break. Songs to bring joy.”

You can listen to some of Spotify’s Happiest Songs here …

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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 paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.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.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).


Photo: Carlos Delgado

Photo: Carlos Delgado

Multi award-winning Scottish DJ, singer, songwriter and record producer Calvin Harris has unveiled the official video for his new single ‘Summer’.

It is the first single from his forthcoming fourth studio album and is tipped to be one of this year’s biggest summertime hits.

‘Summer’ was written and produced by Harris, who won the Songwriter of the Year Award at PRS For Music’s Ivor Novello Awards in 2013. The feel-good track features Calvin himself on vocals for the first time since his multi-million selling single ‘Feel So Close’ in 2011.

Here’s the video for ‘Summer’ …


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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 paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, and Barnes & Noble's Nook storeHow [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) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK), HERE (Australia)and HERE (Canada).


RITA ORA, 'I Will Never Let You Down’Last February, Grammy Award-winning Pharrell Williams urged songwriters to buck the trend toward sad-sounding songs by writing more tracks designed to make people feel happy.

“I believe there’s a need to lift people up emotionally,” Pharrell said. “There’s something to be said for making music that is jovial. Songs for people who need a break. Songs to bring joy.”

Now, British singer-songwriter Rita Ora is following Pharrell’s lead by releasing a new single, ‘I Will Never Let You Down’, which has been described as “the ultimate feel good love song”.

Written and produced by Calvin Harris, the single will be released on 11 May 2014.

“I love the fact this is such an uplifting love song,” says Rita. “I’m in a very good place and I really wanted people to see how I felt and how I want other people to feel when they listen to it … happy!”

‘I Will Never Let You Down’ is the first single from Rita’s forthcoming second album. Her platinum debut album, Ora, debuted at number one in the UK in 2012 and spawned the Number One singles: ‘R.I.P.’ and ‘How We Do (Party)’.

And here’s Rita lifting our spirits with the video for ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ …


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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 paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, and Barnes & Noble's Nook storeHow [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) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


Emeli Sandé won two awards at the 58th Ivor Novello Awards in London today. Her song ‘Next to Me’ (co-written with Hugo Chegwin, Harry Craze and Anup Paul) was voted the ‘Best Song Musically and Lyrically’. The same song also won the PRS for Music award for ‘Most Performed Work’.

Calvin Harris was voted Songwriter of the Year, while Randy Newman, Noel Gallagher, Alt-J and The Maccabees also won big at the prestigious event which is staged annually by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), in association with the UK collection society PRS For Music.

The ‘Ivor’ awards are judged by the British writing community and are designed to celebrate, honour and reward excellence in songwriting and composing. They are regarded as the most important awards for UK music writers.

Full list of winners at the 58th Ivor Novello Awards:

Best Contemporary Song – ‘Pelican’ (written by Sam Doyle, Rupert Jarvis, Orlando Weeks, Felix White and Hugo White).

PRS for Music Most Performed Work – ‘Next to Me’ (written by Hugo Chegwin, Harry Craze, Anup Paul and Emeli Sandé).

Best Television SoundtrackLucian Freud: Painted Life (composed by John Harle).

The Ivors Inspiration Award – Marc Almond

Album Award
Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave (written by Thomas Green, Joe Newman, Gwilym Sainsbury and Augustus Unger-Hamilton).

The Ivors Classical Music Award – Errollyn Wallen MBE

PRS for Music Award for Outstanding Achievement – Justin Hayward

Best Original Film ScoreAnna Karenina (composed by Dario Marianelli)

Best Song Musically and Lyrically
‘Next to Me’  (written by Hugo Chegwin, Harry Craze, Anup Paul and Emeli Sandé).

International Achievement – Gavin Rossdale

Songwriter of the Year – Calvin Harris

Outstanding Song Collection – Noel Gallagher

PRS for Music Special International Award – Randy Newman

Watch the official video for Emeli Sandé’s ‘Next To Me’ HERE…

Watch the official video for The Maccabees’ ‘Pelican’ HERE…

Watch the official video for Alt-J’s ‘Tessellate’ HERE…

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How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is now available from Amazon’s Kindle Store for only US$7.22 or GB£4.78.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) and HERE (UK).

Also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music).