When you think of a good song, you think of something that’s easy to remember and fun to listen to. There are many reasons we consider a song to be good, or why we love them and want to listen to them.
Maybe it is because you can relate to the lyrics or it helps you to feel good, a great song from the pop music genre that uplifts you when you are sad, or the song just has a great melody. Maybe you just enjoy listening to the vocalist, or the song itself is really catchy and stays with you even after it is over.
Think about your favorite song. Why is it your favorite? Can you think of some reasons?
There are many factors that go into what is considered to be a great song. What are they? What makes a good song? Let’s explore some important qualities, songwriting tips, and how a songwriter might utilize these qualities when writing their own original song.
Chord progressions throughout the music are a key part of making popular songs. Part of this is making use of repetition, with the verses using the same chords, and then having the melody or chorus using the same chord progressions. This gives it more catchiness since it will be easy to pick up on the notes and chords.
Good lyrics also have to go with the chords. A song can’t connect to its audience on notes alone, though instrumental or non-lyrical music does evoke emotions and there can be hit songs that have no lyrics.
However, when you are able to pair the melodies with some good lyrics as well within a song, you create a two-toned effect. Emotional and heartfelt lyrics can really create a lasting impact.
Rhyming is also something that can be used to help drive the repetition throughout, and can also aid in the catchiness. The key to rhyming is to try and be clever. Rhymes with easy words like cat, hat, sat – won’t have as much intrigue as bigger, more complex words like moment/own it. Think of clever ways to create the rhymes to make your lyrics more effective.
SOLID SONG STRUCTURE
Chords and lyrics have to be put together in some shape or form. That’s where having a solid song structure comes in. Clearly being able to map an intro, chorus, verses, and possibly a bridge (or melodic leap) outline the overall shape of your song.
Think of a song structure like this: A = Melody/Chorus, B = Verse, and C = Bridge. So some song structures follow the ABAB format, sometimes like ABABCA. Catchy melodies sometimes bare being repeated multiple times over, so maybe your song structure would go something like BABACA.
There isn’t really any right way to structure your song, but if it is your first time writing a song, maybe it’s easier to keep it simple and start with just the ABAB or BABAA format. Songwriting is a learned skill that takes a lot of practice, so it is a good idea to start with simple chord progressions and melodies, and simple formats with your lyrics. Simple can also be great!
REACTION AND EMOTION
Not only does a good song need to have great chords, melodies, and lyrics, but also should create some sort of reaction, or evoke a specific emotion. A lot of songwriters craft their music from specific events or experiences that they have had, making it very relatable to others.
Think about a certain vibe that you want to give your song. Maybe you really like the way that hip hop punches with its lyrics or a pop song that has a bubbly, feel-good type vibe. Play on these emotions and feelings, and use your song to express them so that people will recognize and react to them in a positive way.
SPECIAL HOOK OR RIFF
One of the last parts of crafting a good song would be having a certain hook or a riff within the song that establishes its catchiness, sometimes where the “C” part of your song structure comes in. This can be explored when you are figuring out your chord progressions and lyrics.
You want to have something solid, whether its a saying in the lyrics or a certain musical interlude that can embed itself in your brain. Then you know that your audience will continue to hum and have in their heads the next day.
PLAYLISTS AND LISTENING FOR INFLUENCE
If you want to learn how to write good music, or what truly makes a good song, listen to your own playlists. Grab your favorite song and listen to it on repeat. Get on your Spotify and identify what artists, vocalists, or instrumentalists that you idolize. Why do you idolize them? What songs do they have that you find to be the best?
When you can break down a song and actually figure out what chords, melodies, lyrics, or catchy hook makes the song stick with you – you can easily adapt and make something that you can use in your own song(s).
You can’t create something original without having some sort of influence to draw from. It’s not that you couldn’t be creative and create something from your imagination. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier to start by listening to others and explore why they have such a profound effect. Then you will be ready to craft your own stories and anecdotes from your life within your songwriting.
Chances are, your own experiences will be easier to write about when you start, but if you need a boost to get you started, think about a sad heartbreak from high school, or what falling in love for the first time felt like. Start writing those stories and see what evolves from there. Who knows – maybe your story-turned-song will be the next smash hit heard throughout the music industry!