“How Hard Would You Work for a Hit?” | MusicWorld

A few weeks ago, a talented writer/artist asked me to write a song with her to fill in a certain niche missing from her repertoire. She wanted a lyric poem that conveyed strength and determination; Words that will empower listeners. She hoped we would write a melody that would show the strength and range of her vocals; something that involves unexpected melodic intervals; High notes and low notes that will attract attention. Before our writing session you introduced me the reviewer—Songs that conveyed the feelings she hoped to capture.

While there’s no right or wrong way to get started, we started our writing session by sharing a few titles that we each had in stock. We picked one up quickly and before we knew it, the first verse spilled out of us. It felt as if she had written herself. But when it came to the all-important chorus, we weren’t so lucky.

I’m a firm believer that chorus melody is the most important – if not the The most important – the elements in the hit songs. Three hours later, we still hadn’t nailed a chorus tune that felt as fresh and memorable as we knew it should be. I was frustrated with my limitations and suggested we give her a rest, think about it on our own, and meet again in a couple of days.

I had other commitments and was expecting to finish this song in one sitting, but I obviously had to spend more time on it. I went for a walk to clear my mind and it became clear that I needed an attitude adjustment. I had committed to the song, and now the song and the artist deserve my best effort and a hundred percent of my attention.

Ask a question in my mind. If this was one of only two songs under consideration to be a GRAMMY Award winning star’s next song, what actions would I take to make sure I was? everything In my ability to outperform the other song? How many times will I rewrite it if I have a fifty chance of getting smashed topping the chart? How many hours will I be willing to invest? And what tools and techniques would I test before I was satisfied that I gave it my all? The answer was obvious: I would stay up all night if necessary, pulling every tool in my arsenal. I wouldn’t leave a stretch without being flipped by an opportunity like the one I imagined.

I thought about some of the key points I share in my workshops and articles. First, I revisited the title and realized that while it was a unique and interesting title, it evoked more melancholy than empowering. Therefore, he did not fit the kind of melody that the singer could imagine. I realized that with a small modification, I could revise our title to better express the strength and power we hoped to evoke with our tune. Finding this new title released the kinds of tunes we were hoping for. The melodies that started playing in my head conveyed a sense of being indomitable and unstoppable. Continuing my career, I pressed “record” on my phone and sang over a dozen Without accompaniment of musical instruments Composed by the first line of the chorus. One of those tunes was the clear winner. It grabbed the attention and pushed all the other contenders out of my head.

I share with my students that when I analyze hit songs in various genres, I always find melodic motifs that are repeated throughout a particular section. The first line of the chorus melody was crucial because I would likely repeat all or part of that melody or the rhythms within it. I wanted to be sure that it was exceptionally powerful, and not only easy to remember, but worth remembering and repeating. This is why the first line of the melody is important in each section (eg: verse, chorus, chorus, bridge). Once I locked the first line of the chorus melody, several options for the rest of the chorus flowed in easily.

Back home, I revised my article “How (and Why) to Rewrite Your Melodies” and then spent the rest of that evening and most of the next day incorporating some of these instruments into the song at hand. As suggested in the article, I tried the following methods:

  • Combine melodic and rhythmic repetition
  • Explore different rhythms, break lines in different places to create shorter – or longer – tone sentences
  • Try new, hook, and unexpected beats with fainting, focusing on unexpected tunes
  • Apply melodic affirmations to different passages of your lyrical story
  • Hold one or more notes
  • Make a melody that includes ascending tones – or descending tones; Try ascending and descending in the same melodic phrase
  • Include a non-singing vocal hook, a nonsensical syllable like oh, oh, me, or a combination of these as can be heard in Ed Sheeran’s great song “Shape of You” (written by John McDaid, Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac, Tameka Cottle and Kandi Burruss and Kevin Briggs).
  • Include an unexpected high – or low – note, as Dewayne Blackwell and Bud Lee did in Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places.

It was almost midnight when I roughly scored my favorite copy and emailed it to the assistant writer. I felt it as strongly as I did and agreed to switch the title and continue in this new direction. We will continue to work on the song individually, prior to the writing session.

When we met again online, we finished our song in two hours. You accomplished everything we hoped for. I love the resulting song. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it’s amazing to be involved in creating something that I am so proud of.

Sometimes we get a “gift”—a song that flows effortlessly from us. My first life-changing song, “Change My Mind” (written with AJ Masters and recorded by John Perry and the Oak Ridge Boys) was completed in 45 minutes. Other times, we need to reformulate and rewrite our songs to make them the strongest they can be. For example, my song “Dear Diary” (written with Britney Spears and Eugene Wild, and recorded by Britney) underwent seven iterations before being included in Britney’s Grammy-nominated song oh i did it again The album has sold more than 24 million copies worldwide.

Every song is an opportunity to change our lives. We can never know which song will hold the key that opens the door to our dreams. Put one hundred percent in each song, then one hundred percent more. Write each song as if it were the one that would change your life. Only one of them maybe.


Jason Bloom he is an author 6 Steps to Successful SongwritingAnd This is a songwriting job, And Inside songwriting (Billboard Books). His songs are on Grammy-nominated albums and have sold over 50,000,000 copies. He has been a guest lecturer at the Liverpool Institute of Dramatic Art (co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney) and at Berklee School of Music, and has been interviewed as a songwriter on CNN, NPR, rolling rock magazine and The New York Times. For information on workshops, webinars, additional articles and more, visit www.jasonblume.com.

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