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

Tag Archives: Katy Perry

MEP 14

Max Martin, one of the most successful songwriters of the last 20 years, is set to receive this year’s Polar Music Prize Laureate when the Stockholm-based event celebrates its 25th anniversary in June 2016. The award will be presented by Sweden’s King Carl XVI.

Previous winners include Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Burt Bacharach.

Stockholm-born Max Martin (real name Martin Sandberg) said: “If you can somehow influence popular culture, shape it in some way, when something becomes bigger than just a song, that’s the greatest thing for me… this is what I love about music. You can reach so many people.”

Things really took off for him in 1995, when he started working with the Backstreet Boys, receiving a writing credit on the boy band’s platinum single ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’. He followed that success with Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’ and ‘Do You Know (What it Takes)’, both of which also charted.

Since 1999, Martin has written or co-written 21 US Number One hits (most of which he also produced or co-produced) – including Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ (2008), Pink’s ‘So What’ (2008), ‘Hold It Against Me’ by Britney Spears (2011), Maroon 5’s ‘One More Night’ (2012), and Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ (2014).

Martin is the songwriter with the third-most Number One chart single credits – behind only Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Many of the stars who have achieved chart success with Martin’s songs have already started paying tribute to him. “He sets the scene to be really creative,” said Katy Perry.

Britney Spears – for whom Martin wrote ‘Baby One More Time’ – said: “I think you are a genius; you’ve been a part of my career from my beginning.”

Pink said: “You blow my mind and I’m really proud of you,” while Justin Bieber added: “No one deserves it more, you are a master.”

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, who was the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA. The name of the prize stems from Anderson’s legendary Swedish record label, Polar Music.

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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) and HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

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AVICIIWhile it’s true that the melody and the title are regarded as the most important parts of a song, it would be a huge mistake to believe that the quality of the lyrics doesn’t really matter if your song has a strong melody, a catchy hook and great beats.

As the award-winning songwriter and producer Francis ‘Eg’ White once remarked: “If you’ve got a killer tune and a killer set of chord changes and you’ve got no lyrics, you’re screwed.”

And just to prove that writers should never settle for lyrics that they know are second-best, new research from YouTube shows that lyrics are becoming more important than ever.

According to YouTube, searches for the term ‘lyric video’ are now at an all-time high. The Google-owned video-sharing website claims that some 100 days’ worth of videos with ‘lyric video’ in the title have been uploaded so far in 2014 (attracting more than 850 million views). And more major artists are now creating their own official lyric videos as a teaser for their official music video.

YouTube says Avicii’s lyric video for ‘Wake Me Up’ currently tops the ‘most viewed’ list, having been watched almost 199 million times.

Here is YouTube’s list of the Top 10 most popular lyric videos of all time:

1. Avicii – ‘Wake Me Up (Lyric Video)’: 198,525,542 views

2. Avicii – ‘Hey Brother (Lyric)’: 137,056,523

3. Maroon 5 – ‘Payphone (Lyric Video) ft. Wiz Khalifa’: 117,022,809

4. Adele – ‘Skyfall (Lyric Video)’: 98,440,284

5. Christina Perri – ‘A Thousand Years’: 84,700,444

6. Katy Perry – ‘Roar (Lyric Video)’: 76,791,132

7. One Direction – ‘Rock Me (Lyric Video)’: 67,608,064

8. David Guetta – ‘Shot Me Down ft. Skylar Grey (Lyric Video)’: 73,957,630

9. Ariana Grande – ‘Problem (Lyric Video) ft. Iggy Azalea’: 59,862,736

10. Bruno Mars – ‘When I Was Your Man (Lyrics)’: 57,789,851

Here’s the chart-topping Official Lyric Video for Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ …

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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).

 


We constantly hear about young singer-songwriters such as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry writing emotionally wrenching songs about their past loves and broken relationships. And other young writers find new ways of expressing the emotions associated with issues they’re experiencing for the first time—such as finding yourself, friendships, coming of age, fitting in, and growing up.

But what do songwriters turn to for inspiration when they get older?

Janis Ian was only 22 when she wrote her classic song ‘At Seventeen’—a groundbreaking, poignant commentary on adolescent cruelty and teenage angst. Would she be able to write that song now, 40 years later?

The answer, according to award-winning Nashville songwriter Brett James, is to learn how to think like a 15-year-old again.

In an interview with Viacom’s country music TV channel CMT, 45-year-old James explained that songwriters sometimes need to re-discover the adolescent inside them in order to come up with a great idea that hasn’t been written about before.

“You always want to keep that freshness, so you have to feel like a 15-year-old kid who has never written a song—sometimes it’s important to sit down with that attitude,” said James whose number one hits include Carrie Underwood’s Grammy Award-winning ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’, ‘Who I Am’ by Jessica Andrews and Martina McBride’s ‘Blessed’.

James told CMT: “Sometimes we rehash and put twists on ideas. But there have been a lot of songs written in the world, so it’s tough to find the one that no one’s thought of yet. When you can write something truly original, the world takes notice.”

To achieve major success, songs need to be about issues and emotions that everyone is familiar with—and the lyrics should be honest, believable and heartfelt so that people can easily relate to them. If your lyrics don’t come across as genuine and relevant, listeners may find it hard to connect with your song.

Do you ever try to find inspiration, as Brett James suggests, by taking yourself back to when you were first starting out and every new chord, every new chord progression, every new song title, and every new way of rhyming a lyric was a wondrous discovery?

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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.

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


Most experienced songwriters recognize that if a song is to become a great song, it must be able to reach out and touch listeners and stimulate an emotional response within them. It must make them feel something.

Katy Perry calls this her ‘goose bump test’.

“There’s this test that I do after a song’s complete and you’ve tracked some vocals,” Katy recently told MTV. “If every time you hear it, it gives you goose bumps then it’s hitting an emotional chord inside of you that’s really important.”

Katy cites her latest single ‘Unconditionally’ as an example of this. She felt inspired to sit down and write the song shortly after travelling to Madagascar with UNICEF. Touched by the unconditional love that the children she met had for each other – despite their poverty – she decided to pen some lyrics about what it means to care for someone in the purest form.

Katy says that ‘Unconditionally’ went on to pass her ‘goose bump test’ and it is her favourite song on her latest album Prism.

Try giving your own songs the ‘goose bump test’ with the people closest to you, someone who will give you an honest opinion. If the song doesn’t genuinely move them in its rawest, stripped-down form—one vocal and a single guitar or piano—then the song has failed.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking a magical transformation will take place in the studio if you decide to spend money on making a demo of the song. Trying to create an emotional connection with the aid of lots of production frills won’t fool listeners (or music publishers or A&R execs!). They always look to the song inside the recording.

As Neil Sedaka once observed: “The most challenging task for a songwriter is to write a simple tune but still bring an emotional feeling to it … No frills. No production gimmicks.”

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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).


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While Taylor Swift recently commented that she thinks songs about people who are heartbroken tend to make the best and most interesting songs, Katy Perry insists that songwriters should always try to include a sense of humour in their songs – no matter what the song is about.

“I think people appreciate a songwriter who shows different sides,” says Katy. “The whole angst thing is cool, but if that’s all you’ve got, it’s just boring. Everything I write, whether it’s happy or sad, has a sense of humour to it.”

Katy once again demonstrates her quirky sense of fun on her new single ‘Roar’ which is released on September 8. It’s the first single from her new studio album PRISM which will be released on October 22.

Written with Bonnie McKee and produced by Max Martin and Lukasz Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke), ‘Roar’ still manages to balance the uplifting feel of the track with a serious message. ”It’s a bit of a self-empowering type of song,” Katy explains. “I wrote it because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside and I’m now speaking up for myself.”

Even the lyric video for ‘Roar’ adds to the fun by cleverly replacing many of the words with emoticons. Take a look …

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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).


The urge to express yourself is one reason why many songwriters start writing in the first place. And if you can also touch other people’s emotions by writing about a personal experience that they can relate to in their own lives, then it’s usually the sign of a good song.

Katy Perry has revealed that she takes this a stage further by pouring out her darkest secrets and concealing them in her songs. Many of her songs actually contain cryptic truths about her life and relationships, she says.

“They all stem from the truth inside me,” the 28-year-old singer and songwriter recently told OK! magazine. “Maybe I’m not so specific with names, but that’s my lockbox, where all my secrets go.”

Katy also revealed that she initially struggled with songwriting because of her conservative Pentecostal upbringing. In fact, having had very little exposure to mainstream pop music in her strict childhood, she started out pursuing a career in gospel music as a teenager. She didn’t start to open up as a writer, she said, until she met Glen Ballard, her mentor and producer.

“I was at that point in life where I was scared to write about certain subjects because I was still virginal,” she said. “I remember I wrote a song called ‘Nothing Like the First Time’ and I was really scared to present it because it had some risqué lyrics.”

She added: “Glen was like, ‘You can write about anything, anything you feel, just write them.’ I was so free by him allowing me to do that.”

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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).


Many producers of artists who don’t write their own songs are finding that the best way to consistently generate hits is to use the American TV ‘writers room’ model – with large numbers of pop writers working in teams.

But what is the optimum number of writers required to create a hit song?

English boy band phenomenon One Direction had an average of five songwriters per track on their hit 2012 album Take Me Home. Now, Britney Spears is going two better with her new track, titled ‘Ooh La La’, which will be featured in the upcoming Smurfs movie, The Smurfs 2.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ‘Ooh La La’ is the result of a seven-way collaboration between Lukasz Gottwald, Joshua Coleman, Henry Walter, Bonnie McKee, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Lola Blanc and Fransisca Hall.

You can watch Britney’s official video for ‘Ooh La La’ HERE…

The song will play over the end credits of The Smurfs 2 when it is released in cinemas this summer.

The film’s director Raja Gosnell said: “I am very excited that Britney is joining our smurfy adventure. ‘Ooh La La’ is the perfect Smurf-party song, and the perfect button on the film for audiences around the world.”

Britney added: “I always loved The Smurfs as a kid and now my boys are the biggest Smurfs fans ever. I wanted to surprise them with a song in the movie. I know they’ll think it’s Smurftastic!”

The royalty split agreement between all of the writers and music publishers involved in ‘Ooh La La’ should also make Smurftastic reading!

Also busy collaborating right now is Katy Perry who is co-writing tracks for her third album with hitmakers such as Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Greg Wells, Sia and Bonnie McKee. The album will be the follow-up to Teenage Dream which spawned five Hot 100 Number One singles.

“Max and Luke push me the most,” said Katy, giving an insight into how she works with her co-writers. “As a team we have certain strengths. With Max, it’s melody choices, Luke is production and I’m topline and melody.”

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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).