“It’s no use just singing about being famous, or rhyming ‘crazy’ with ‘baby’ a million times over,” Lily Allen recently told Q magazine. “I want to write about things that are relevant to other people. And I like to be frank whether it’s about sex or politics or feminism.”
Lily’s comments are especially pertinent to new songwriters. A common mistake among many aspiring writers is their use of over-elaborate imagery and ‘poetic’ lyrics in an attempt to show how clever and creative they can be. Far from being impressed, though, music publishers and A&R reps may view too much flowery language as a sign of inexperience.
Trying too hard to be ‘different’ and artistic can often result in lyrics that simply sound pretentious and self-indulgent. If your lyrics don’t come across as genuine, listeners may find it hard to connect with your song.
Lily Allen frequently achieves a personal connection by writing as if she’s having a one-on-one conversation with the listener, often making lines sound like they could be spoken naturally.
If a new song is likely to have any chance of success, it must be able to touch listeners on an emotional level and make them feel something.
That means a song needs to be about something that everyone is familiar with. And the lyrics should be honest, believable and heartfelt so that people can easily relate to them.
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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.
John Lewis Retail, which operates 40 John Lewis stores across the UK, is running a YouTube competition – called ‘ReWorked’ – which will give one aspiring artist a chance to take Lily Allen’s place in a special TV advert to be aired nationwide in the UK on Christmas Day.
John Lewis’s popular 2013 Christmas TV advert features the animated story of best friends Bear and Hare at Christmas, set to Lily Allen’s cover of Keane’s 2004 hit, ‘Somewhere Only We Know’.
All you have to do to take part in the ‘ReWorked’ competition is to upload a video of your version of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ at www.youtube.com/JohnLewisRetail.
The competition closes on December 3, 2013 and a winner will be chosen by December 6, 2013 by a panel that includes a member of Keane.
If you win, you’ll be given an all-expenses paid trip to London where you will record the track in a professional studio with producer Paul Beard (who also produced Lily Allen’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ cover).
Your recording will then provide the soundtrack for a special 90-second version of the advert which will be shown live on ITV1 on Christmas Day.
Craig Inglis, marketing director at John Lewis, says: “In previous years, we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people sending and uploading their versions of songs from our Christmas ads. This year, with the support of Lily Allen and Keane, we want to give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget – the chance to hear their song on our advert on Christmas Day.”
He adds: “Absolutely anybody can take part. We’re really looking forward to seeing the entries come in!”
Here is the 90-second version of the John Lewis Christmas ad that will be used in the ‘ReWorked’ competition:
“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.