Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
The seven problems listed in this blog are easily solvable. Let “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” suite of e-books turn your songs into winners.
Why do some songs make a strong connection to the audience, while other seemingly great songs just sit there? What makes a song a winner? Generally, it’s the way several elements work together. Yet the difference between a hit single and an also-ran might be one fairly minor issue. So songwriters, your latest song might actually be really close to having what it takes to be a hit.
There are probably many things about a bad song that makes it bad, but in my experience, I’ve discovered that a bad song is failing because of one of the following issues:
ERROR #1: The form of the song is confusing. SOLUTION: Strengthen the form of your songs by carefully controlling the energy. Energy should (in general) build as the song progresses.
ERROR #2: The melody lacks shape. SOLUTION: Verse melodies should be generally lower in pitch than choruses, and should rise toward its end to connect smoothly with the chorus. A good melody usually has a discernible shape that helps it to be memorable.
ERROR #3: Chords seem to wander aimlessly. SOLUTION: Avoid progressions that are too long, and take the listener on a long meandering journey. In most hit songs, shorter progressions are more common than long ones.
ERROR #4: Strong and fragile chord progressions are used haphazardly. SOLUTION: Strong progressions (i.e., progressions that clearly point to one chord as being the tonic), are good, and should be very common especially in choruses. Chorus harmonies should feature the tonic chord more.
ERROR #5: The lyrics are not supporting the form of the song. SOLUTION: The kind of lyric determines the kind of chord progression you use. Strong, conclusive lyrics need strong progressions; introspective lyrics work well with fragile progressions. Good lyrics should use common, everyday words. Avoid poetry if you aren’t a poet.
ERROR #6: You’re relying on a hook to save a bad song. SOLUTION: If your song is bad, forget about a hook, and simply solve the problem. A hook is a great starting point for a song, so start there. If you’ve written a song that’s got issues, no hook, however good, will save it. Fix the song.
ERROR #7: You’re waiting for inspiration. SOLUTION: Stop waiting, and start writing! You will find that the act of trying to create music is a very strong source of inspiration. Waiting to write simply wastes time. On tough days, keep your writing projects short and easy, and keep every little phrase, chord, and melody you write. Someday it will all come together for you!
Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books can show you exactly how to get your songwriting process back on its tracks. Click here to read more about those e-books.