Pop song lesson
Ever fancied yourself as a song writer?
I stumbled across this article in the trade publication Music Week today describing how to write the perfect pop song. It's author is the Ivor Novello winning British songwriter and producer Chris Braide. Braide has written various well known hits including 'Anything is Possible' the song Will Young achieved his first number 1 with. S Club 7's 'Have You Ever', Diana Vickers' latest release 'The Boy Who Murdered Love' and various other songs for the likes of JLS, Cheryl Cole, Kylie, Westlife and our own Emma Bunton.
Pen & paper at the ready? Here starts the lesson...
The perfect pop song should be like a little three-and-a-half minute jingle which harmonically takes you somewhere fantastic. When done really well a pop song is the ultimate quick fix, delivering a little blast of emotion to your day.
- Keep it real: Write about subjects that you know about and that you have experienced, unless of course you haven’t done anything at all in which case you shouldn’t be writing songs.
- Deliver emotion: Not plastic emotion, but real emotion. There is nothing worse than a singer ripping their heart out like Celine Dion but who is dead inside. There needs to be feeling – and this can take the form of anything from a chord sequence to the story told through the lyrics; the song can be sad or happy, but it has to make someone tingle, otherwise, no matter how good everything else is, then the song will never work. I always try and get that in a track and get that in singer’s voices as well.
- Keep it short – but not too short: There is something in the old adage of the perfect pop song being about three-and-a-half minutes long. If it’s much shorter than that then it leaves the listener with no conclusion, much longer and you’re bored. Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule- I could quite happily listen to the whole of Hey Jude and not get bored, but they are few and far between.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the lyric: Lyrics need to take the listener on a journey that goes somewhere and you’d be surprised at how much you can squeeze into three minutes. I am always proudest of my songs that are lyrically exotic, suggesting something which makes you think, rather than something generic like ‘I love you’.
- Don’t try and be too clever: as long as there is emotion, something very simple can work just as well – for example, The Boy Who Murded Love, which I wrote with Diana Vickers, the title says everything you need to know about the song.
- Make sure the song has a good title: Someone once told me that all my songs had the title in the chorus and this really offended me at the time – I thought I should be cleverer, more avant-garde. However now I embrace it, if you have a good title that could be the perfect chorus – look at Video Killed The Radio Star by Buggles – it says everything you need to know in the title.