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

Tag Archives: songwriters

lorde-photo-by-brendan-walter

Photo by Brendan Walter

In a recent interview with Zane Lowe on his Beats 1 show on Apple Music, Lorde revealed how her new single ‘Green Light’ — from her upcoming album Melodrama — was inspired by her first major heartbreak. But instead of the song’s intense lyrics sounding gloomy, the song actually oozes joy because, as Lorde explained, it’s all about someone giving the ‘green light’ to a fresh start after the end of a relationship.

“The song is actually about a heartbreak,” Lorde told Zane Lowe. “And it’s not something that I really am used to writing about. It took me a while to be able to figure out how to write about that. It was my first major heartbreak. And the song is really about those moments kind of immediately after your life changes and about all the silly little things that you gravitate towards.”

She added: “It sounds so happy and then the lyrics are so intense obviously. And I realized I was like, ‘how come this thing is coming out so joyous sounding?’. And I realized this is that drunk girl at the party dancing around crying about her ex-boyfriend who everyone thinks is a mess. That’s her tonight but tomorrow she starts to rebuild. And that’s the song for me.”

And here’s the song …

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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.
A 5-star rated book at Amazon,
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, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

 


apple-music-memo-lead-582x402An all-new app from Apple called Music Memos will allow songwriters to quickly capture, organize and develop musical ideas on their iPhone. At the same time, a major update to Apple’s GarageBand for iOS on iPhone or iPad has introduced several new features, including Live Loops.

Many musicians and songwriters already use the Voice Memos app on their iPhone to quickly record ideas. According to Apple, the new Music Memos app is inspired by Voice Memos and takes the functionality even further by adding musician-friendly features designed specifically for songwriting and developing musical ideas.

With Music Memos, says Apple, you can record any musical instrument through the iPhone’s built-in microphone in a high-quality, uncompressed format, then name, tag and rate it to start building a library of your ideas. The app can analyse rhythm and chords of acoustic guitar and piano recordings, and instantly add drums and a bass line to provide a virtual, customizable backing band that plays along to match the feel of your song.

Apple says Music Memos can even provide basic notation that displays the chords that were played. With iCloud, Music Memos will automatically be available across all of a songwriter’s Apple devices – so the memos can be opened in GarageBand or Logic Pro X to further develop new songs.

“The innovative new Music Memos app will help musicians quickly capture their ideas on iPhone and iPad whenever inspiration strikes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “GarageBand is the most popular music creation app in the world, and this update helps everyone easily tap into their musical talent with the powerful new Live Loops and Drummer features, and adds support for the larger iPad Pro screen and 3D Touch on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.”

Ryan AdamsSinger-songwriter Ryan Adams (pictured) says he is already a big fan of the new Music Memos app. “Sometimes ideas come faster than I can get them into my notebook so I’ve used Voice Memos and Notes to quickly capture songs before they’re lost. Music Memos is like if those two apps came together to form some kind of superpower for songs.”

He added: “It quite literally blew my mind how Music Memos could transform a single guitar idea into a whole composition with a virtual drummer loose enough that it felt like you were having your mind read by some A.I. musician and a choice of stand-up or electric bass accompaniments.”

Music Memos is available for free on the App Store and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later, and iPad 2 and later.

For more information about the new Music Memos app, visit: http://www.apple.com/music-memos.

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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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Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson - 'Say, Say Say' remixTo pave the way for a remixed, deluxe edition of his classic album Pipes of Peace, Paul McCartney has released a new remix of his 1983 hit with Michael Jackson, ‘Say, Say, Say’, which was originally produced by George Martin. The song became Jackson’s seventh Top 10 hit in a year.

In the video below, McCartney talks to Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield about what it was like to write songs such as ‘Say, Say, Say’ with Michael Jackson.

McCartney reveals that the song was written quickly, with Jackson and himself face-to-face around a piano in the former Beatle’s London office.

“It came very easily because I was excited to be writing with him and he was excited to write with me,” said McCartney. “We just popped off each other.”

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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).


Bob DylanSince the 1980s, a debate has been raging about whether an artificially intelligent computer system could ever be truly creative. Could computer algorithms ever be used to write a ‘real’ hit song – even if the machine was programmed and trained just like a human songwriter … and given enough data and fed hundreds of chart hits by its programmers?

An old adage says that a monkey sitting at a typewriter could eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare. By the same token, could a computer ever create a work of art that could match the creativity of Beethoven or Mozart? … Or Bob Dylan?

IBM has cleverly used this debate as the basis of a new US TV commercial for its cognitive system IBM Watson – an artificially intelligent computer capable of answering people’s questions posed in natural language.

In the TV ad, IBM’s ‘Watson’ is seen discussing songwriting with Bob Dylan …

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MORE SONGWRITING TIPS


Photo: Eva Rinaldi

Photo: Eva Rinaldi

“I’ve only ever written songs from the heart. I don’t really see the point in making music if it’s not an expression of self or a form of therapy.

“I could go three months without writing a single song and in one week I’ll write twenty. But I never want to write a song just to have a hit. I write a song because I want it to make me feel better. Other people have different ways of letting off steam. Mine is writing songs.

“It’s like when you’re angry with someone and you write an email or a letter to that person, and you write everything down … but you don’t give it to them. Songwriting is my way of getting out anger, aggression, happiness and love. It’s just about getting it out – and making you feel better.

“So it’s never been about the audience or pleasing people, or trying to fit in. It’s just been about myself and my love for music.”

—Ed Sheeran (in an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS)

MORE SONGWRITING TIPS

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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, a 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)


GARTH BROOKSCountry superstar Garth Brooks recently learned the hard way that if you’re going to record and store song ideas on your phone you have to make sure you always keep the phone backed up … otherwise you run the risk of losing everything.

And that’s exactly what just happened to Garth Brooks. He lost six months’ worth of new music ideas for his next album when the personal cell phone on which he’d recorded them decided to stop working.

“All the new stuff I’ve been working on for six months was on a phone that’s been fried, and I can’t get the phone to come back up,” said Brooks. “It’s like losing your briefcase back in the Nineties! This is what happens when the old guy gets into technology …”

Brooks says he’s now counting on an IT tech specialist being able to somehow extract the memory from the dead phone and rescue his ideas for what would become his tenth album. Brooks fears the fried cell phone may have set back production on the new album which is intended to be the follow-up to 2014’s Man Against Machine.

The country legend’s experience is similar to that of Metallica’s longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. He recently lost his iPhone which contained more than 250 unused Metallica song ideas and riffs for the band’s next album. “I was crushed. It didn’t get backed up,” said Hammett. “When it happened, I was bummed out for about two or three days. I’m still looking for it to this day …”

Hammett added: “All you musicians out there who use your phone, make sure it’s backed up, right?”

In 2013, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran lost a phone which contained the only recording of his new, unreleased album (later released under the title x). Fortunately for Ed, the missing phone was eventually found in the back seat of a limo that had transported him to an awards ceremony in London.

So new songwriters beware!

If that potential hit song you’ve just written has been entrusted to digital media, make sure it is backed up. And if it’s the only copy of what could be your breakthrough song, play extra safe … and back it up more than once!

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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).


A portion of music manuscript for Happy Birthday's predecessor, 'Good Morning to All' (courtesy of University of Louisville).

A portion of music manuscript for Happy Birthday’s predecessor, ‘Good Morning to All’ (courtesy of University of Louisville).

‘Happy Birthday To You’ is a staple of birthday parties around the world, but, until now, it couldn’t be sung in public or in TV shows and movies without paying a sizeable licence fee.

Now, though, a US federal judge has ruled that music publisher Warner/Chappell does not hold a valid copyright to the song.

Warner/Chappell has been collecting royalties on the song since acquiring the copyright in 1988 for some $25m (£16m). The publisher has reportedly been making around $2m a year from royalty payments whenever the song is used in a film, TV show, advertisement or any other kind of public performance. According to the Internet Movie Database, ‘Happy Birthday To You’ has been featured in nearly 150 films.

Judge George King has ruled that the original copyright (filed in 1935) was only granted for specific piano arrangements based on the original melody, and did not grant any rights to the lyrics.

The tune was composed in 1893 by two Kentucky sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill. They called their version ‘Good Morning To All’ which later evolved into the ‘Happy Birthday’ version which is now popular all over the world.

The case against Warner/Chappell was launched in 2013 by Rupa Marya and Robert Siegel, who are making a film about the history of the song. The music publisher wanted to charge $1,500 (£970) for the right to use the song in the film, but Marya and Siegel maintained that the song was in the public domain and should not be subject to copyright fees.

The ruling now puts the song in the public domain fifteen years before the copyright was due to expire in the US in 2030.

So here it is … royalty-free! And if it’s YOUR birthday today, happy birthday from all of us at The Hit Formula  …

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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).


SONGWRITING TIPS: David Bowie's 'cut-up' method of writing lyricsWhen David Bowie released his twenty-fourth studio album, The Next Day, in 2013, a journalist asked him to explain his thinking behind the new songs, each of which featured unusual, cryptic lyrics and surreal imagery.

Bowie responded by sending the journalist a list of 42 words which supposedly provided the framework for the critically-acclaimed album.

Here are those 42 words:

Effigies … Indulgences … Anarchist … Violence … Chthonicum … Intimidation … Vampyric … Pantheon … Succubus … Hostage … Transference … Identity … Mauer … Interface … Flitting … Isolation … Revenge … Osmosis … Crusade … Tyrant … Domination … Indifference … Miasma … Pressgang … Displaced … Flight … Resettlement … Funereal … Glide … Trace … Balkan … Burial … Reverse … Manipulate … Origin … Text … Traitor … Urban … Comeuppance …. Tragic … Nerve … Mystification.

Quite a confusing lyrical framework for an album that ended up including song titles such as: ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, ‘Love Is Lost’, ‘Where Are We Now?’, ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘The Next Day’.

Maybe the answer can be found in a 2008 interview with Bowie. In it he described how he often comes up with interesting lyric lines by employing the ‘cut-up’ writing technique used by postmodernist author William S. Burroughs in his controversial novel Naked Lunch.

‘Cut-up’ is a literary technique designed to add an element of chance to the creative process.

It involves taking a finished line of text and cutting it into pieces—usually with just one or two words on each piece. The resulting pieces are then rearranged to create a brand new text.

The cut-up concept can be traced back to the Dadaists of the 1920s, but it was developed further in the early 1950s by painter, writer and sound poet Brion Gysin—and then popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Burroughs.

David Bowie explained: “I use it for igniting anything that may be in my imagination … You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects, creating a kind of ‘story ingredients’ list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ’em up and reconnect them.

“You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this,” he said. “You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.”

This technique is also said to have influenced Kurt Cobain’s songwriting. And Thom Yorke applied a similar method on Radiohead’s 2000 album Kid A. Yorke reportedly wrote single lines, put them into a hat, and drew them out at random while the band rehearsed the songs.

Here’s Bowie explaining his cut-up technique in the 1975 BBC TV documentary Cracked Actor

So there you have it … If you want to get all Bowie-esque and create some unusual and intriguing lyrics, simply reach for your lyric notebook and a pair of scissors – and start cutting and pasting!

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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.A 5-star rated book at Amazon, “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. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL

“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS

“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe, as well as Apple’s iTunes Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

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

 


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).


PINKPink – recent recipient of the prestigious President’s Award for outstanding achievement in songwriting at BMI’s 2015 Pop Awards – believes it’s important for songwriters to always be honest in their songwriting.

“I would say to aspiring songwriters, as long as you’re uncomfortable you’re probably on to something,” she says. “The more uncomfortable you are, and the more honest you’re being, the better the outcome will probably be.”

Pink believes strongly in the power of songwriters to speak truth through their music. Honest songs, she says, can often resonate strongly with listeners who are able to relate to those same experiences, hardships and situations in their own lives – whether it’s a broken love affair, a personal tragedy, or family problems.

If you can touch people’s emotions and make the listener feel something, it’s the sign of a good song.

As US singer-songwriter Jackson Browne once observed: “I’m not looking to describe something that’s only true of my own circumstances. It’s all about reaching inside to something that you have in common with many.”

Pink believes it is essential to write your own story. “To me, it’s a necessity. I’ve always had to put pen to paper and just scratch out my rage since I was little.”

She says: “I’m an open book. I hide nothing. I’m expressive. I’m honest … When I work with people, we share our most intimate betrayals and heartache and love, and then we just start playing …

“As long as people are telling the truth, I’m listening,” she says. “But if you have nothing to say, I’m bored.”

Grammy Award winner, Pink – whose real name is Alecia Moore – has released six studio albums as a solo artist, as well as 2014’s Rose Ave., a debut album for her folk-inspired pop duo You+Me with Canadian musician Dallas Green. She has sold over 40 million albums (and 65 million singles) worldwide.

In being presented with BMI’s President’s Award, she joins previous recipients such as Taylor Swift, Gloria Estefan and Willie Nelson.

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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).