How to Write a Song and Rock the Top Chart
The song is one of the most popular musical works. A song is a written text with a melody that may be accompanied with music. It is believed that the song has a deep history that has roots in prehistoric times. In those times, songs served as an addition to rituals and ceremonies. Initially, songs served more for practical use, and the aesthetic element became dominant only over time. Ancient songs had simple motifs and nature. For example, songs of primitive tribes consisted of several phrases repeated all the time with a small number of changes. Those songs didn’t require any special talents, as they were performed by a chorus. At the same time, when writing didn’t exist, songs served as a great tool for communicating historical moments and important moments to the next generation.
Only over centuries did people start to appreciate those who had talent for music and singing. Nowadays, we have a huge base of written songs, and it’s hard to imagine how many songs will be written in the near future. If you wish to learn how to make your own song and get into songwriting, this article should help you.
What’s So Special About Song Writing
A song usually consists of three ingredients: lyrics, rhythm, and melody. If you want to learn how to write a rap song or how to write a pop song, you need to know there is no difference in general approaches to writing songs for each music genre. The only thing that differs is the individual approach, delivery, and energy. There are several situations authors usually face:
- You need to write a song from scratch (both music and lyrics).
- You need to write lyrics on a certain theme and accompaniment.
- You need to write music to a beat or accompaniment.
Nowadays there is a vast amount of song styles: rock, pop, hip-hop, rap, R&B, and more. A successful song of any genre has the following list of characteristics:
- A climax that subsequently moves to a cadence. It may be in lyrics or melody.
- Energy that progresses throughout the song.
- A melody that is easy to identify among other songs.
- Melody, chords, and lyrics that create a harmony.
To create a great song, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The best variant is a combination of existing techniques and innovations that leave the listener with a little bit of predictability.
How to Write Song Lyrics: Step-by-Step Guide
Before we start this guide, you need to know that there is no magic wand or certain order of actions that will help you magically write the song. But with the following ideas and complete guide, you can increase chances to force your inspiration to work for you. We are proposing an optimal way to write a song step by step for beginners who don’t know where to start. With this guide, you will be able to write a hip-hop song, a rap song, rock song, sad song, blues song, an r&b song, Christian song, and more!
If you think that writing a song depends only on inspiration and talent, that isn’t true. If you want to write a great song, you need to learn more about songwriting, and we believe that you will succeed. The only thing you shouldn’t do is stop trying.
The following steps are not strict, so you can change the order of the steps as you wish.
Step 1. Brainstorm about the idea.
A good song starts with a good idea. Sometimes you can’t rely only on inspiration and must let the grass grow under your feet. If you want to write a hit, you need to find an inspiring idea that will lead you to the creation of the song. Many songwriters prefer to write about personal life. Such songs usually have more feelings and may become close to a wide audience. If you like to write about your feelings, don’t stop. Just remember that your song should appeal to your future listeners. It is advisable to think about what kind of person will like your song. A teenager? A girl with a broken heart? The more you imagine your audience the more likely you will find touching and good song topics.
Meaningful lyrics are more popular, so add a story from your experience, write about someone important to you, and share it with your listeners. For example, you can create a song about friendship for your best friend, or write about life in your hometown, or just a funny song to make someone smile.
When you find the idea, think how it can be covered in a new way. The most popular theme that we can hear every day on the radio is of love. The desire to love and to be loved is a fundamental need of every human being. How is this topic used in songs? Can you do better? Can you do it a different way? What will distinguish your song from others?
- Write about the real you and your feelings.
- Write about what you are interested in.
- Write about something that can touch other people.
We recommend you to plan ten minutes every day to brainstorm about an idea, and don’t postpone the writing if you have an idea right now. If you have friends that write music, you can ask them to share with you several musical samples which you can use as a basis for the song.
Step 2. Come up with a song title.
How to write song titles? Why is this so important? The title gives you the right path. Think about what emotions the title evokes, and what it means to you personally. Imagine that you are explaining to your friend what your song will be about. When you will formulate your thoughts, you will see that you have gained a better understanding of what you are going to write about. If you are writing in a team, this will help discuss variations and make sure that all members are on the same page.
You can find inspiration everywhere. You can read the title in a newspaper, listening to a radio station, watching a movie, commercial ads, conversations in the street, etc. Titles are waiting for you everywhere. But the more powerful titles are born from the author’s feelings.
A great song title
- grabs attention;
- evokes strong feelings;
- looks extraordinary.
Step 3. Write a hook.
A hook is a melody sequence (motif), phrase, or a harmonious combination that effectively represents the song and leaves a “trace” in the listener’s head. It can be a part of the intro, refrain, or chorus. This part makes the song special and recognizable. In fact, the hook can be anything: from the drum roll to vocalizations. The most popular genres that use hooks are pop, hip-hop, rock, and R&B.
Have you noticed the most attention-grabbing words in the song that may even become an ear-worm? One of the best examples is Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” The beat, as well as the line “because I’m happy,” can be easily remembered both by children and adults. Or, listen to “Hey Ya” by OutKast. It’s probably impossible not to remember “hey ya!”
How to write a hook for a song? Think what makes your song special. You can choose a song title or a line that will frequently be repeated in the text. Make sure that the hook transfers the main idea of your song. Listen to the most catchy songs and try to distinguish the hook.
Step 4. Think about the song structure.
Initially, the creative process is more irrational, but if you want to be more understandable to the wider public, you will need to stick to the common form. The songwriting process is based on a typical structure form that can be compared to punctuation marks in sentences, as it helps to easily understand and feel the song.
This step may be boring, but this part is very important if you want to learn basic structure that you can freely and effectively use in your art. Besides, you can use the existing idea and express it within the limits of a particular structure.
Songs have an unlimited amount of possible structures. Basically, songwriters mix the following five sections:
VERSE: The aim of the verse is to tell the story and details that will lead the listener to the main idea. The verse sets the emotional tone and gives the main information. Each verse has the same music and different lyrics. There is a rule for structuring the verse: if your song will have more than one verse, make sure that each line has the same number of syllables. This will guarantee that each verse can be applied to the same music. Usually, a verse has eight lines. Also, you can use four, six, and twelve lines for your song.
PRE-CHORUS: The pre-chorus can be up to four lines, exists just before the chorus, and can have different music and lyrics. This is an optional part of the song. A pre-chorus is used to prepare the listener for the chorus. If the first verse contains a pre-chorus, the following verses will contain it too. Each pre-chorus is accompanied with the same music and has the same lyrics.
CHORUS: This part is the most catchy. Have you noticed that you will most likely remember the chorus instead of the verse? The aim of this part is to highlight the main idea of the song and clearly express the title. The more natural the chorus sounds, the more likely people will remember it. The chorus usually is simple and has no additional meaning to the overall story. It usually contains four or eight lines. Every chorus has the same music and the same words.
Don’t forget to mention the title in the chorus. There are many ways to have the title in the chorus: at the beginning and at the end, only at the end, or only at the beginning. Also, the chorus can consist only of the repeating title.
BRIDGE: This part is a step aside from the main motif. It has different chords and lyrics and is usually found in the “thirty-two bar” form. It helps to link two parts of the song together and arrange a great turning point. Traditionally it appears in the song only once. The bridge can be only a melody.
REFRAIN: This is a part of the song that appears several times. To have a better understanding, listen to the Imagine Dragons song “Radioactive.” It consists of two verses, where the refrain is the ending of these two verses and starts with the words “I’m breaking in, shaping up…” It can’t be considered as a pre-chorus or bridge, as the music and mood don’t change.
To have a better understanding of how song structure looks, read the following song structure examples. It’s good to know the basic structures, as you never know what structure will be the best for your own song.
Intro / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Ending
This structure is the basic one. Also known as strophic form, or simply ABAB (where A is for verse, and B is for chorus). For example, listen to the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Today, songwriters use extended constructions of this form.
Intro / Verse / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Ending
This structure is a classical one. It is known as the “thirty-two bar” form, or simply AABA. The first two verses create a unique mood and emotion, when the chorus becomes a culmination of the song. You can hear this form in Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow.”
Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus / Chorus
This structure is popular enough. It is an improved version of the first model with the addition of a bridge before the last choruses. You can hear it in Pharell Williams’ “Happy.” His song has even two bridges and starts with the words “Bring me down, can’t nothing…” which is the beginning of the bridge.
Intro / Verse / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Verse / Chorus / Ending
This structure is an extended variation of the AABA form. Today, song writers tend to use extended forms and don’t strictly follow the classical structure. A great example of this structure is Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
Intro / Verse / Pre-Chorus / Chorus / Verse / Pre-Chorus / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus
This is one of the variations of the basic structure. Here you need to add a pre-chorus at the end of the verse. You can hear it in “I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd and Daft Punk. The part that starts with the words “You’ve been scared of love…” is the pre-chorus.
NOTE: Songwriting is not a science. Listen to your feelings and don’t strictly stick to the structure.
Step 5. Compose the text.
When you will know for sure what you want to express with your song, start writing the song. There is no single recipe on how to come up with lyrics. For example, you can start writing words that come into your mind, find rhymes, and then create a verse for a song. Then think about the chorus or a refrain. Follow one of the basic structures to make sure that the text fits the beat. Read some of the best love song lyrics or sad song lyrics and list the most popular words that you can use in your text.
Don’t fill your text with abstract or difficult words. Use simple and clear language to create a certain image. Look through lyrics of songs on the same topic. Don’t repeat the same information in verses; instead, try to describe the story that continues in all subsequent verses.
Make sure that the song text expresses one single idea. Your audience should clearly understand what your song is about, even if the person listens to the song while shopping, working, or driving a car. It may happen that the listener will hear only snatches of the song. So make sure that you can clearly tell the story within three or four minutes.
Step 6. Start writing the music.
Some songwriters begin with this part, so if you think that it will be easier, start writing the music before writing the lyrics. Music writing involves creating a certain melody, rhythm, and cadence. You can use musical presets and create your own music on this basis. Think carefully about the intro; it shouldn’t be too long and boring. Your intro may become the calling card of your song, as it helps the reader identify from the first seconds what song is playing now.
If you don’t know how to write the music or just don’t play any musical instrument, you can work in collaboration with other musicians or record your song a cappella (just singing without instrumental accompaniment).
Song music should be easy to remember and reproduce. Good music has an optimal rhythm for singing and matches the text of the song. Music should contain a surprising chord, note, or motif. Besides, the musical range should be appropriate, so the expected singer could perform the song.
Step 7. Find the golden mean between lyrics and music.
Combine the text with the music and try to find the best matching sound. Record all your experiments and then compare the existing variations. Ask your friends or coworkers to listen to the chosen variations and give feedback. Maybe you will need to add a bridge or rewrite the chorus to make your song memorable.
How to Write a Hit Song: Checklist
When you finish writing your song, follow this checklist and make sure that your text is awesome.
- The text has a clear structure.
- It has a good idea and catchy title.
- The main idea appeals to a wide audience.
- The song tells about one single idea.
- The text evokes certain feelings.
- There is no cliché in the text.
- The first rows grab attention and force the audience to continue listening.
- The song has one tone and style or is a proper combination of styles.
- The text contains more than one hook.
- The music and lyrics create a whole and clearly express the energy of the song.
- The song has a single mood and style.
Sample Song Lyrics
If you have ever searched for sample song lyrics to your favorite song, you already know what song text looks like. You can also use the following songwriting template to learn how the texts should look. With our step-by-step guide and samples, you will be able to write a great song that wins the hearts of your audience. Check out our website to find more samples.
How to Write a Song: Tips
- If you are writing music, you will find someone who will like it or dislike it. Don’t write music only to be appreciated by the public.
- Don’t try to fake feelings. If you won’t write song from the heart, someone will do it better.
- Write in a simple language. The singer and the audience should easily remember the song’s text. If the song hasn’t evoked the desire to remember the text, your task as the author will have failed.
- Create as many hooks as possible. The listener should have the ability to find something new in your song every time. First, the attention will be on the chorus. Then the listener can be more attentive to the verse.
- Make sure that the intro is easily recognizable from the first seconds.
- Don’t try to use too much information. Your story should be clear and consistent.
- Alternate the rhythmic and slow parts of the song. If your song is too rhythmic, the listener can get bored or irritated. Adding slow parts will raise the attention to the song and give the listener a little rest. It’s like combining sour and sweet while cooking.
- Keep the balance between the verse and chorus. Make sure that the energy of the chorus is more powerful than the verse.
- Work in a team. Yes, working with people may seem hard for you, but eventually you will understand that all you need is a team of like-minded people.
- Don’t lose hope if you don’t succeed the first time.
- Don’t forget that your aim is to show your message to the audience with words and music.
- Make sure that your song won’t irritate your audience.
- Don’t stop experimenting with music and lyrics.
- If you wish to master songwriting skills, listen to songs in various genres.
Unfortunately, there are no magic words that will tell you how to write a country song or any other. But your diligence and willpower will eventually bring a reward for your work. Learn from the best songwriters. We believe you will write a hit that will rock the top music charts! We believe in you – good luck!