Identifying the Problem(s) With a Problem Song

The Songwriter’s Checklist can help you identify nagging problems with your song.


You may be writing songs every day, but are you just reinforcing songwriting errors?
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Songwriter's Checklist by Gary EwerLast week I wrote about the temptation that exists to fix a song that works, referring to songs that seem to “break the rules.” There are lots of songs you can point to in pop music history that are odd in some way or another, songs that their producers must have thought would go nowhere. But then — surprise — they become number 1 hits. What makes oddball songs succeed (like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody“, for example) is often a combination of structural innovation and a fantastic performance.

It’s always wise to never look a gift horse in the mouth, meaning that if you manage to build your audience base primarily on the popularity of one of your bizarre songs, don’t overanalyze the situation.

But if you find that your songwriting output lately is giving you failure after failure, it’s time to sit down and analyze what’s going on.

Every once in a while I offer a link to my document, “Songwriter’s Checklist”. It’s a short one-page list of that covers how most hit songs are structured. You can use the list to help identify what might be going wrong with your music.

If your songs are weird but working, do not use this, or any checklist. But if you just need help focusing your attention on various components of your songs, it might help you single out a nagging issue you didn’t realize even existed.

DOWNLOAD the Songwriter’s Checklist (free)


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