In my songwriting experience, I have definitely written some clangers…but I have also written some bangers (even if I do say so myself). Who really knows what makes a good song or a ‘hit’ song? Everybody has different taste, my version of a brilliant song could be your version of a crap song. People ask, ‘Do the lyrics or the music come first?’ It doesn’t really matter because there really is no specific way to write a good song. But here are some tips that help me write a song that I’m happy with…
1. Listen to music.
You learn through the artists that inspire you. Listen to different music and take note of what you like. If you hear a song and think, ‘I like that part,’ then question yourself, what is it about that part that you like? You wanna write music that YOU like, so first listen to music that YOU like, and it will start to rub off on you.
Of course don’t rip off somebody’s song, that will get you sued for copyright infringement!
2. Playing an instrument.
Playing an instrument definitely helps. I write songs on piano. But if you don’t play an instrument then that shouldn’t stop you. I know so many singers that don’t even attempt songwriting because they don’t play an instrument. Doesn’t stop you coming up with melodies and writing lyrics. So many successful singers have said that they used to just come up with melodies and lyrics and sing them into their phone. So if you don’t play an instrument then get the body of the song first, and then team up with somebody who can play an instrument. If you can play an instrument, then what are you waiting for?
3. Get out.
For me, I can only write about personal experiences. So I have to go out and live a bit in order to write. Don’t worry, nothing drastic. But just seeing things and meeting different people, it really helps with lyric inspiration. Unless I wanted to sit at home and write about the colour of my bedroom walls but that wouldn’t get me very far. You need something to write about, something that moves you. The more something affects you, or is mentally conflicting, chances are the better the song is gonna be because you have a situation that you wanna get off your chest but maybe can’t talk about it. So you write it out and before you know it you’re writing a song. That’s why so many songs are about love and relationships, because that’s what usually hits people the most. So yeah, get out and see shit.
4. Just write.
The reason people say, ‘I can’t write songs,’ is because they’re scared to write a bad song. Take it from me, all my life I swore to myself that I couldn’t write a song to save my life. That’s because I was scared to write a bad one. I used to sit at a piano and give up before I’d even started. Which is crazy because I used to write a load of poetry when I was younger. So one day I just put the songwriting idea to one side, and I just starting writing non-stop about this girl I worked with, just for fun. That turned into ‘The Girl’. If you just write without thinking then you’ll be surprised with what you can come up with. And worst case scenario even if the song is bad, chances are there will be a few good lines in there, so save them to use another time and start again. Sometimes you just need to get all the crap out the way before you write something you’re happy with.
5. Think outside the box.
This would be a tip for once you’ve written a few songs. Try thinking outside the box a bit. Don’t be boring. When I’m writing, the last thing I think about is structure. Like I said before I just write and see what happens. Don’t be so vague with your lyrics, expand on them and try to make them simultaneously artistic and your own. Sometimes in my songs I go off on one saying some really descriptive stuff and then I say something really blunt. But then I love that contrast in music. And don’t feel like you have to be grammatically correct, it’s your song so tell the story in your way. Nowadays in the industry everything seems to sounds the same, so try and create something a bit different, that’s what would excite me. A song can be what you want it to be, there really are no rules. For example, take one of the greatest hits of all time, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – I don’t think you could get any further outside the box, but OMG what a banger.
So they’re the rules I abide by when writing, it’s worked OK for me so far. I used to dread writing songs because I believed I couldn’t do it, now I love it. So if you’re thinking of writing, but you’re just not sure, then just do it. You’ve got nothing to lose, and if you’re anything like me, then you’ll become obsessed.
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