- Catchy chorus
- Believe in what you’re writing
- Strip your song down to its bare parts. Just one instrument and a voice
- Consider your audience – sing-along parts
- Write what feels right. Don’t try and write a song you feel you should write. If you like what you’re writing then others will too.
- Creative lyrics, using similes, metaphors and alliteration
It’s been said that anyone can write a hit song. Whilst this may not be the case, it’s definitely true that many people try to write hit songs but only a selection of people have actually succeeded. So what makes a hit song, and how do you write one? Songwriters write in various ways and there are generally no rules to go by when writing, so its important to find what works for you and stick with it.
So what comes first? This is of great debate among musicians and songwriters; is it the melody? The lyrics? The chords? Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. You may find that you have an idea for a song already, perhaps a lyrical phrase, that’s catchy and an obvious sing-along for the listener, or a guitar riff that draws the listener in. This is known as a hook. A hook is a key part of song writing in pop music, and classic examples including ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple because of it’s repetitive guitar riff or The Temptations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ for it’s catchy chorus.
Every song needs a subject. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing about your ex girlfriend or the stresses and strains of modern life it’s important that you’re passionate about what you’re writing. A classic example is John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ where he sings of his feelings towards society and portrays his political opinions during the 1970s.
Once you’ve written some lyrics see if you can hear a melody that fits with what you’ve written. A great way to conjure up a melody is to play some chords or notes on your chosen instrument while singing your lyrics over the chords in a simple melody. It’s more than likely that you’ll come up with something; it may not be useable but could become a starting block for something better so it’s important to stick with an idea and see it through. Once you’ve come up with something you like, maybe a verse followed by a chorus, play it to someone and see what they think. Feedback and constructive criticism are very important for every songwriter and can really help if you’re trying to decide whether you’ve written something good or something not so good. A helpful tip is to keep writing until you come up with an idea or have some spark of inspiration to drive you forwards. If you still don’t get any luck, try going for a walk or doing something menial as you may find it gets the juices following.
This may be when you write a lyric that encompasses what you’re trying to say within your song or come up with a catchy melody.
Effective song writing in pop music is an art that develops after a great deal of persistence. Factors such as a songs structure, imaginative lyrics and an ear for a great melody most often come after years of writing songs and learning what makes a high quality song a hit!