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

Tag Archives: writing better lyrics

MEP 14

Max Martin — regarded by many as the most successful songwriter of this century — has revealed the secret behind his 22 Number One hits in an interview with journalist Jan Gradvall of the Swedish magazine, Di Weekend. In the interview, Martin — who will be inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2017 — highlights what he believes are the key characteristics of a hit song.

“A great pop song should be felt when you hear it,” Martin told Gradvall. “You can hear songs that are technically great, songs that tick all the boxes. But for a song to be felt, you need something else. Something that sticks to you, something that makes you feel: ‘I need to hear that song again’.”

Martin believes listeners should be able to recognize a song immediately. But they should also be able to discover something new in the song every time they hear it, so that it holds their interest and lasts over time. “You must be able to have more than one favourite part in the same composition,” he says.

At the same time, though, Martin believes new elements should be introduced into a song one at a time so listeners can get to know each one before they’re ready for the next. As he puts it: “Like in a movie, you can’t introduce ten characters in the first scene.”

Martin’s phenomenally successful songwriting process includes treating each song like a journey, with the song building as it moves along through each section. Even parts that have the same melody and the same lyrics — such as the repeated choruses — should never sound exactly the same each time, he insists. “It’s the same melody and all that,” says Martin, “but what really happens is that the energy changes. It’s all about getting the listener to keep his or her concentration.”

When constructing a melody, it’s important to strike a balance between the verse, pre-chorus and chorus. “If you’ve got a verse with a lot of rhythm,” Martin told Di Weekend, “you want to pair it with something that doesn’t.” For example, a section with longer notes so listeners can take it all in. Or a melody that might not start at the same beat. “Sweet and salt might be a description that’s easier to grasp,” he explains. “You need a balance, at all times.”

Max Martin has had writing credits on 22 songs that topped the Billboard Hot 100, the third most of any songwriter after John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney. Martin’s most recent Hot 100 hits have included The Weeknd’s 2015 hit, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, and Justin Timberlake’s 2016 single ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ which won a Grammy in 2017. With sales in the hundreds of millions, Martin is considered as one of the most successful producers and songwriters of the 21st century.

You can read Jan Gradvall’s full interview with Max Martin 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.
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).

 


billy-bragg_shot_by_kris_krug

Photo: Kris Krug

“It’s a good time to be a political songwriter … Let’s have another generation of young songwriters come along and tell us all about it, about the pressure they feel under.”
—Billy Bragg (in an interview with Music Week)

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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).


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A new book titled “How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” aims to help aspiring songwriters steer clear of the many traps they can easily fall into when writing lyrics for their songs.

Written by experienced music publisher and music consultant Brian Oliver, the book takes a close look at the essential lyrical elements that are consistently found in the structure of all hit songs.

It highlights the most common errors that are made when these key components are built into a song, and shows writers who are just starting out how to avoid such mistakes in their own lyrics.

This new book is the follow-up to Brian Oliver’s five-star rated title: “How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success”.

Written in an easy, non-technical style, “How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” identifies many frequent causes of lyrical shortcomings—from common mistakes in the basic construction of song lyrics … to making flawed choices with titles, opening lines, lyrical hooks, verb selection, rhyming patterns, and more.

The book also highlights other causes of lyric writing problems—such as having the wrong mental attitude, not paying enough attention to ‘creative preparation’, and not taking steps to avoid writer’s block.

“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” includes important tips on fixing and strengthening lyrics, along with a comprehensive checklist of more than 100 potential hazards that writers can measure their own lyrics against—no matter how ‘finished’ they think their songs are.

Most songwriters have, at some stage, had to endure the disappointment of having their songs rejected and ended up asking: “Could I have done more to make my songs better?”. This book aims to help writers recognise weaknesses in their lyrics, so that they can re-work them, make them stronger, and hopefully achieve the breakthrough they’re striving for.

The book’s author Brian Oliver—who has worked with legendary songwriters such as Neil Diamond, Janis Ian, Albert Hammond and Gilbert O’Sullivan—warns that aspiring writers’ chances of success could be hampered if they fail to spend enough time polishing and editing their lyrics and eradicating weaknesses.

Says Oliver: “When a new lyric idea suddenly hits you – and everything comes together so quickly that the song almost writes itself – it’s very easy to fall into the trap of rushing straight into a studio and recording a demo. You then confidently submit the song to a music company believing it’s the best thing you’ve ever written – only to suffer the agony of having the song rejected.

“Sometimes it’s better just to slow down, take a step back, and re-examine each element of your new lyrics,” he says. “If you don’t spend a little more time polishing your lyrics, there is a danger that they may still contain weaknesses that you failed to spot first time around.”

“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good book stores as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Kobo Books.

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

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Grammy award-winning US singer-songwriter John Mayer claims he isn’t worried about writing hits any more. He insists that he no longer obsesses about dominating the charts. He now believes songs should focus more on being meaningful rather than simply having a catchy melody.

“I’m not worried about pop hits; I’m not worried about sales or relevance,” he recently told TIME.com. “I only care about one thing: tell your story. Tell YOUR story. … Follow where the road takes you.”

However, when telling your own story it is important to make sure that your song is not too narrow and personal. Don’t be too insular. Ideally, the song should be written in a way that leaves the audience thinking the song is about them and their lives—not about you.

People don’t really want to hear about your problems. They might, however, want to listen if your songs are about experiences, hardships and situations that everyone can relate to—such as a broken love affair, a personal tragedy, or a song about concern for the environment.

As singer-songwriter Jackson Browne once remarked when describing his own approach to storytelling: “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.”

By writing about something that everyone experiences in his or her own life, you can touch people’s emotions. If you can engage listeners’ minds and make them feel something, it’s the sign of a good song.

On the subject of writing good songs, John Mayer urges new writers not to worry too much about whether a song is good or bad when they are writing it. “Just write it,” he says. “The rule is: write bad songs, but write ’em. If you start writing bad songs, you start writing better songs, and then you start getting really good.

“If you try to get into the building on the twelfth floor, you’ll never make it. You have to get in the basement floor and work up from there.”

Take a look at this quirky lyric video for ‘Paper Doll’ from John Mayer’s sixth album Paradise Valley.

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How [Not] to Write A Hit Song! - Smashwords cover - blog widgit 188x282How [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).

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).