I would like to think that every song written is perfect. But, in the real world, most songs don’t meet these lofty criteria and fail. Why is this and how can we tell when a song isn’t working?
A song that doesn’t work is evidenced by when the listener becomes disinterested in listening. They zone out drifting into other thoughts. They have either lost interest in the lyric, the music or both. A lyrical problem may be making the song incomprehensible, or the music is un-interesting (boring). HINT: If you notice that your listener is gazing out into nowhere, or they have shut their eyes faking to be into it, this is a clue. And, as painful as it is to know that your song doesn’t work, if you are like me, you want to know why. Here are the first questions I ask:
Is the lyric about one subject?
Is the rhyme scheme awkward?
Is the melody memorable?
Is there is a hook?
Is the structure too long?
Does the song emote a feeling?
and many more (feel free to add to this list)
It is from songs that don’t work that you learn the most.
By identifying the part of the song that isn’t working so you can then re-write it is key to improving your song.
Sadly, there is also the possibility that your song will never work because it has too many unfixable problems. Sometimes songs don’t work. Sorry! It’s true! But there is something positive that comes from a song that doesn’t work. You will bring with you what you learned from the song that you wrote that failed into the writing of your next song.
Hence, my least favorite songwriting truth: MOST SONGS DON’T WORK and my most favorite songwriting truth THE ART OF WRITING IS RE-WRITING.
The art of writing is rewriting and listening.