As a songwriter, I sometimes have doubts whether a song that I have written will be likeable or not. This dilemma is common among songwriters. It is not helped along by songs quickly running ‘out of fashion’.
The fact is that all songwriters are in a race against time. This explains why they would be foolhardy if they were to try to imitate the fashionable songs of the time. There is so much competition. Music enthusiasts can easily download ‘new’ songs by means of a swipe on their phone.
This does not mean that the songwriters should note be aware what music people are listening to and what is ‘trendy.’ However, they must not stop their ‘analysis’ there. They need to go beyond that step. They need to trust their intuition. If they think something is wrong with the song they have written, then it probably is.
I find that when I experience doubt about something I have written, this tells me that something, somewhere needs changing. In such cases I also look for feedback from fellow song-writers.
I also find answering the following questions helpful:
- Is the song professionally produced? Does it have the appropriate ‘instrumental’ back-up? Is it a high-quality song? Is it pleasing to hear? If not, it is unlikely that the lyrics will partner well with the music. Consequently, listeners will feel distracted and ill-at-ease at the poor quality of sound and at the lack of synchronization.
- Does the song use repetition? If the song does not have repetition, people will find it difficult to remember and will not have a melody line or chorus with which to identify. The lyrics are also likely to be burdensome as listeners will be given too much information in too short a time.
- Does the song have a forward thrust to it? Does the song give the impression that it is well planned, with melodies leading on to one another, often moving in sequential steps, with the occasional leap or spike to enable listeners to appreciate the song as a whole?
- Does the song have an emotional impact? Does it convey emotions in a way that people can understand and identify with? Does the song have a build up to climactic moments?
- It is a challenge to write a likeable pop song. However, it is not an impossible challenge. Many people have succeeded. And others (who are yet to come) will also succeed. The ‘trick of the trade’ is to see the song from the perspective of the listener. To do this, however, the songwriter must also discern which listener is being targeted; and how the song can be made more appealing to the targeted audience specifically. The fact is no songwriter can please all the people; and no songwriter can please all the people all the time. The good news is that this type of pleasing others is not obligatory for any songwriter. Rather, what is obligatory is that songwriters infuse their songs with a positive energy that makes people more likely to listen to the song, share it with others, and feel happy to do so.