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

Tag Archives: George Gershwin

Sam Smith, the hotly tipped British soul singer-songwriter, believes there is a gap in the market for songs about “unrequited love” instead of more common themes for love songs such as falling in love or breaking up.

Sam – who came top of the BBC’s ‘Sound Of 2014′ list and was nominated for the 2014 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award – recently told Emma Brown of Interview magazine: “I don’t think unrequited love is spoken about enough in music. I’ve been through it myself and I found it hard to find songs that were about that.”

He said he intends to focus on this kind of love song on his new album, In The Lonely Hour, which is due to be released in the spring.

“I’ve never been in love with someone who has loved me back,” he said. “So I wanted to write an album for people who have never been in love. I want to be a voice for lonely people.”

Sam explained that when he writes and records a song that lays out all of the raw emotion of everything he is going through, he often listens to the track at home when he’s feeling down. “And it somehow makes me feel better,” he said.

The great George Gershwin once described songwriting as “an emotional science” and there is actually a scientific reason why listening to sad songs can help to cheer us up.

According to a recent study by Japanese scientists, the reason we enjoy listening to sad music when we’ve had a negative experience is because it can actually evoke positive emotions in the brain.

In July 2013, researchers from Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan discovered that melancholy tunes can stimulate romantic emotions as well as sad ones.

“Sad music might even help to alleviate negative emotion if a person is suffering from an unpleasant feeling caused by real life events,” explained Ai Kawakami from Tokyo University of the Arts.

He said: “Emotion experienced by music has no direct danger or harm unlike the emotion experienced in everyday life. Therefore, we can even enjoy unpleasant emotion such as sadness, possibly because the latter does not pose an actual threat to our safety. This could help people to deal with their negative emotions in daily life.”

Sam Smith performs an acoustic version of his song ‘Not In That Way’, recorded at Abbey Road Studios:


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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, or 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).


Music publishers and A&R executives often talk about how important it is for new singer-songwriters to create their own unique style. But what they really mean is they simply want you to sound original.

In reality, your songs should not be completely different from anything music industry execs have ever heard before. Ideally, they want something that develops what is already out there – not a sudden leap that will leave a huge gap between you and the audience.

For your songs to be commercial and marketable so that they will sell (which, at the end of the day, is all that record companies and publishers are really interested in), your ‘unique’ songs still require a hint of familiarity so that people will be able to relate to them.

In other words, listen to what is currently being played across lots of different music genres – then carve your own niche by adding something new of your own.

One of the finest current examples of this approach is British singer-songwriter Laura Mvula.

One magazine has described her as a “musical magpie”; another reviewer referred to her musical style as “Nina Simone sings the Beach Boys”; while another even coined a brand new genre – “gospeldelia” – to encapsulate her soulful vocals and vivid soundscapes.

With a degree in composition from Birmingham Conservatoire in Birmingham, England, Laura Mvula has created her own distinctive sound by taking inspiration from many different genres – including choral baroque music, George Gershwin, Björk, the gospel-soul of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, and the pop of Amy Winehouse.

She has created something fresh by taking elementary melodies from each of these genres and turning them into complex five-part harmonies and emotional vocals.

“I’ve always enjoyed bringing really simple elements together to make something that’s bigger or more interesting,” said 26-year-old Laura in a recent interview. “I’m just into things that circle round and round. It’s how my brain works.

“I drew on the soul icons I loved when growing up – Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill. But I’m not a wordsmith, so I tried to be expressive with my unashamed first love, harmony.”

Listen to ‘Green Garden’ from Laura Mvula’s Top 10 album Sing to the Moon HERE…

And you can hear her latest single ‘That’s Alright’ 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, or 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) or HERE (Australia).