Songwriter with guitar

Uniqueness is a Powerful and Necessary Element in Good Songwriting

If you take a look back at the best performers and bands from the past six or seven decades of pop music, there’s one thing you’ll see that’s in common with all of them: they were all able to produce songs where uniqueness was a vital factor.

Uniqueness, at least from a songwriting/performing standpoint, does not mean oddness. It’s more accurate to say that those writers and performers are able to infuse their music with something that sets it apart from other songs out there.

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And it’s a tricky thing to balance properly. Songs that are too unique might just be too weird to build an audience base, particularly if that uniqueness just seems to be odd for no good reason.

Assessing Your Songs For Uniqueness

Assessing your own songs for uniqueness is not easy to do, because uniqueness isn’t a quality that’s easy to measure. How do you determine if your song is “unique enough”?

I’d recommend that if you’re assessing your songs for their level of uniqueness, that rather than trying to quantify it, simply play through your songs, one by one, and ask yourself:

“What is it about this song that sets it apart from all other songs out there?”

songwriting sessionIf that’s a difficult question to answer, then you may have simply churned out a song that sounds pretty much like every other song people are listening to. And if that’s the case, you haven’t done anything (or enough) to allow your song to rise above the rest of the noise.

The best way to assess your songs in this manner is to pull songwriting and production together, and evaluate the song as a partnership of compositional and performance-related qualities.

In other words, if your song sounds pretty much like other songs in your chosen genre, you may need to ensure that the performance-production qualities are unique. And if your song, from a compositional point of view, sounds pleasantly oddball, you may want to balance that uniqueness by offering something more easily digested in the performance of it.

So as you listen to your songs, put the magnifying glass on these qualities:

  1. Melodic ideas. (Are they mainly predictable and repetitive, or are they unique combination of leaps and steps that are less similar to other songs in your genre?)
  2. Chord choices. (Predictable or unique?)
  3. Lyrics. (Clear and straightforward, or complex and creative?)
  4. Production. (Do you use unique sounds, lesser-used instruments, etc., or is it something akin to a simply-strummed guitar?)

For each time you notice something predictable in your choices for one of those categories, you’ll want to consider ways to create something unique and fresh in another category.

By doing that, you go a lot further to creating a song that jumps out in pleasant ways to your fan base, and reminds people that a song from you is going to be, in some way, a unique and exciting experience.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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