If you study the charts, you’ll realize that great pop songs are not accidents, and they are too plentiful to be the products of so-called “inspiration.” Great pop songwriting is a craft, one that can be learned and practiced. I’d like to share what I’ve learned through my own writing and conversations with many professional songwriters over the years. Hopefully, you will be able to use these suggestions in your own writing! We should make this post sticky so that others can benefit from it in the future.
1. Song composition
Great songs begin with an excellent structure. While several popular structures are used in pop music today, they all have one thing in common: they provide a balance of repetition and new information. A great song structure is intended to provide your listener with something new while also providing enough familiarity to keep them engaged.
Melody is everything in pop music. Writing a good melody isn’t difficult, but here are a few pointers:
Keep it simple. the easier it is to remember a simple melody. Your listeners will be turned off if your melody is overly complicated. I frequently ask songwriters if a preschooler could sing this song. If not, simplify it.
3. Harmonic Foundation
Let’s talk about the chords that sit beneath your melody and how they change rhythmically. Choosing the right chords and the rate at which they change can help strengthen and propel your melody.
Good lyrics are an essential component of any pop song, and writing good lyrics is easier than it appears. Here are some pointers:
You should be able to summarize your song’s entire message in one short phrase. Try it with any current pop song on the charts, and then try it with your own music. For example, “Someone Like You” by Adele could be summed up with this phrase: “You left me, but I still love you.” If you can’t summarize your song in a single phrase, you’re either trying to incorporate too many ideas or your idea isn’t clear enough. Maintain simplicity.
5. Take note of the stability.
Without delving too deeply into music theory, it’s important to understand that certain notes in a given key will feel more stable than others. What I mean is that certain notes give the listener a sense of resolution, whereas others make the listener nervous, as if there is more to come.