One More Song About Love? How to Choose a Song Topic

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LyricsIt’s frustrating when you want to write a song, but you can’t seem to come up with anything fresh or innovative to write about. The topics of love, relationships and the social scene seem done to death. And your fear is that one more song that tells the world how much you love someone is just going to add to all the noise out there. How do you develop a songwriting idea that can lead to something original?

First of all, don’t be so afraid to write about the world of personal relationships and love. After all, your song topic needs to make a connection to your audience, and it doesn’t matter that 90% of the hit songs out there at any given time talk about love. People want to hear it.

But remember this: writing a song about love isn’t going to be a problem unless you fall into the trap of allowing your lyrics to emote endlessly without describing underlying situations.

A song topic needs to speak on a personal level to the listener. It’s why love is so popular: everyone’s been there. But “love” is not really a song topic; it’s really more of a category. You need to move deeper and describe more specifically what you want to express.

So now the dilemma becomes: How do you say something creative about the subject that speaks directly to the heart of the listener. How do you take the category of love, and develop something more specific? Here are some tips:

  1. Check social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, etc., to see what people are talking about right now. Checking the latest hit songs only tells you what other songwriters are expressing. Checking social media tells you what’s on your friends’ minds, and songwriting topics may suddenly jump out at you.
  2. You’d be surprised how original you can be with a song about love if you do the following: create two lists of words, one that expresses positive emotions, the other that relates to negative aspects. Look through your list, and you may start to see a story or emotional reaction taking place. The two lists can serve as a way of making sure you don’t keep saying the same thing over and over.
  3. Think of a subject that is important to you personally: world peace, Earth Day, parents, personal confidence… that sort of thing. Then, write a short description, or list of phrases, that describe how you feel about the topic, but don’t use words that make your topic choice obvious. For example, if you want to write about how much your parents mean to you, instead of saying, “You were there for me while I was growing up,” your list may include phrases such as “hold me”, “protect me”, “be there”, “guide me”, “did you see me”, and so on. These phrases also relate to other topics, so it’s a way of referring to a topic without it being clearly obvious at the start. That kind of “hiding the true message” can strengthen and enhance a song’s message.

No matter what your topic, a song lyric should ideally come from looking at lists of relevant words and phrases. It can keep you on track, and prevent your lyrics from becoming tired or trite.

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Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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One Comment

  1. Checking social media sites like Facebook.

    Yep, this one is a sure winner – one of my more popular songs (that even receives a small amount of radio airplay without any promotion at all) is a song written based on a status update of one of my friends. I commented on her status that it might be a song; she sent me her version of the lyrics, and we recorded it together.

    The end result is the song titled “Gravity”. If you would care to listen:

    Thanks for your articles, Gary! Currently trying to catch up on one month worth of them!


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