A songwriter once said, “People like cheese.” He was referring to cheesy lyrics, the kind where anyone can sing-a-long and though the words don’t always make sense together, seem silly, or they’re not even words, people still love these cheesy songs like “Who Let The Dogs Out” or “MMMBop.”
If you want to be a songwriter who makes songs people actually hear, like and tell their friends about, you’ll have to do what you can to fit into the sound of the times as well as deliver catchy lyrics, rhythms and beats to get people’s attention in an ever-crowded media world.
Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” was provocative. It got people’s attention. Had it been done in the style of polka music, it would not have been a hit. However, it sounded like Top 40 pop music, and radio played the heck out of it. Suddenly, everyone from young to old, conservative to liberal, and gay to straight was singing “I kissed a girl and I liked it… the taste of her cherry chapstick.”
Where to Start
If you’ve been thinking about writing songs, chances are you’re wondering where to start. Well, for starters, “write what you know.” Take some time to scribble down some words and phrases about topics you live and breathe every day. Are you going through a bad break-up? Write down the words you’re feeling about such a thing. Are you loving life because you’re so happy in love, finally? Write about that.
Practically speaking, the words you write will end up getting connected to chord progressions that fit the feel of the phrases you want to share. Simple songs may use a simple progression like the C chord, followed by the F chord, back to the C, with the G chord thrown in at the right time for good measure.
Think of songs as mini-books, with a beginning, a middle and an end. You introduce an idea to people. Then you tell more about this idea. Finally, you want to sum up the idea, typically using repetition so they’ll be repeating the main theme over and over again. Take a song title like “I Really Love You.” It can start out talking about finding love, then go on to enjoying love, and finish with declaring love… all tied together by the simple phrase “I Really Love You.” It’s a sentiment most people can relate to, so chances are most would love to sing along.