| Although it has been said over
and over that nobody can predict a HIT or put the formula into stone as
to what makes a song a HIT SONG, we can still judge it by our own learned
intuition and our mental check list of all of the elements that we look
for --(that are necessary for a good song "to become a great song aka'
a potential commercial radio hit"). |
Firstly does the key lie in the TITLE? Is the title indicative of creating intrigue or curiosity as to what the song is about? Such as "I Almost Cut My Hair" or "Love Is The Perfect Imperfection".. If its not in the title itself --does the first line of the song grab your interest and lead you right into the story? Is it set in first person conversational form starting with "I".... Do the lyrics sing and feel humanly real and create an identification with the listener and the character who's telling the song story?.Where is the voice in the song, does it have a voice that leads you empathetically along with the story as it unfolds? Is the song in the first person and is it taking place in the present moment,or is it in the past--(are the past and present transitions that are used -clear enough for the listener to know which tense it is happening in or where they are at in the song ?).This can be a major problem with songs that use flashback imagery in the telling of the story.Is it clear as to WHEN THEY BROKE UP OR WHAT HAPPENED or has the lyricist left the detail too vague and left us still wondering the who,what,when where,and why of the story? Has the Writer put in too much unnecessary detail and we find ourselves wading through the song-just trying to figure out where we are ,whats happening and what the whole point of the song is?
It's important to look at the WHOLE song as a mini story set to music remembering that you have just so many bars to jump in and tell the story at the (VERSE) (sum it up and drive it forward in the CHORUS)(and hit the point (OF THE WHOLE STORY) -and punch it home AT THE HOOK LINE).As you write your story and lay it down in this format you need to be sure also that its totally believable.The story must be real and sincerely put--even if its a partially unrealistic or fictional story--it still must be totally believable just like a great acting performance is.
When we look at a new song,we look for a great story that moves well lyrically both naturally and easily within the melody and arrangement that it's set in.A story that says something lyrically that perhaps has been said before)-but in a new, very fresh and originally unique way.
We look for the song to have an unforgettable and catchy melody and a hook line and lyric that catches you and holds you waiting for the next verse in anticipation of hearing how the (song/story) turns out. And once more- a hook line that comes back again and has you humming the whole chorus after just one listening.And a song that we can relate to emotionally on some level,that catches and encapsulates the listener with (their own self identification of the singer's (the song character's) situation or emotions unfolding.These are the signs of success in a well written song.
Why do some songs sound so simple yet the impact is so enormous within the context of the whole piece.Is it the message and keen intention that the Writer HAS to get the message across-or it is HOW HE GETS THE MESSAGE ACROSS? A great song always has a "REASON"-a reason for being,a REASON for telling it, a REASON to the point made in the song. To find your reason -(YOUR VOICE)--first find where YOUR inspiration came from for the song --' inspired writing is always truly honest and comes from the gut'...From there,the process is definately HOW THE WRITER gets the message across,and it lies in the telling of the story..The approach and the voice used,the tone and the feeling of the song and its internal message within (is it easily understood,or is it too obscure or too personal a story-to be universally accessible?)...
Of course we cant forget the commercial pop song structure,and although known commercial structure may deviate slightly from 'verse verse chorus verse chorus bridge to --verse pre-hook chorus verse pre-hook chorus-- Your song should NEVER HAVE - more than a 4 bar intro-and never more than total 8 bars of verse at the top,and not more than 4 bars for the 3rd verse,(and never a fourth verse)...Of course if youre writing a folk opus with Parts 1 through 4- this structure doesnt apply.But if you are writing a Rock song or an R&B Pop Song or even Country it is important that the structure is to the bone and tight.That way we can anticipate the chorus/hook coming in where it does,and its almost a given.We look for a song that takes our breath away with its originality,with its words,its story,its feeling imparted,its groove,its message,and its killer hook (the thing that we most remember)..It's very important in the crafting of your song-to rewrite and rewrite until your song has all these great elements and that its the best that it can possibly be.
The secret to writing a great song is often in the 'polishing and editing' that comes after you've written it.Truly inspired songs are just like little diamonds in the rough and sometimes you may just find "that one rare stone that you've been polishing--can turn out to be the brightest gem of all !".
(c)1998-Lynne Robin Green
*Email for reprint permission.or comments.
THE GUESTBOOK READ
MESSAGE BOARD | INSPIRATION-POINT | OPEN MICS AND SHOWCASES | LAWMAN | PUBLISHING
ASK_LI'L_HANK | ROADWARRIORS | BOOKS | LINKS | WEBRINGS | UPDATE | AWARDS