by Aimee Laurence
There are good songs out there and bad songs, and all songwriters can probably say that they’re written their own bad songs too. The problem is if you’re writing a lot more bad songs than good songs, you might be making some common mistakes without realizing. Without further ado, here are the top 11 mistakes to avoid in songwriting.
1. Writing extremely similar songs
Some artists have a very specific style or voice, like Ed Sheeran, and they run the risk that all their songs will sound the same, in other words - derivative. If that’s your case, you need to put a lot of extra work in choosing different keys, chords, tempos, time signatures, collaborations, instrumentation, and more so that each song sounds different than another one.
2. Writing a forced Chorus
This is a common problem when a songwriter finds a great intro and verse, but then has no ideas for a chorus and forces a boring or disjointed one. The reality is that your chorus has to be the catchiest part of the song or the whole thing will fall flat. This includes not only the melody and the music but also the lyrics.
3. Having a Melody unsuited to the Chords
Your mistake might be trying to change your chords to mix it up or have a different rhythm but failing to match the melody to the chords. To fix this problem successfully, work on aural (ear) training and music theory to understand how they can work better together.
4. Being too Repetitive
If you have a really great lyric, you don’t necessarily need to keep repeating it instead of writing more lyrics. One of the biggest problems is repeating the first verse as the second verse instead of writing more lyrics. It’s still possible to write a great song with over-repetition of lyrics, but it has to be done right with a powerful accompaniment.
5. Giving up on a bad song
As mentioned, it’s normal that you’ll write some bad songs. However, you can always take some good ideas from it for another song down the road. You’ll even feel good about finishing it even if you end up not using it again.
6. Not having a Climax
One of the biggest problems with songwriting is when a song doesn’t take you anywhere. The song isn’t multi-dimensional. Whether it’s melodic or lyrical, your song needs to have an arc. The listener should feel like the song is building up to something, and have a good finale.
7. Poor Rhyming
There is divided opinion on whether your song should have rhyming to avoid obvious cliché rhymes but to still follow in traditional lyrical patterns. Others think that rhyming is not important in songs at all because it’s impossible to come up with anything original and new. The important thing is not to try to make something rhyme and it shouldn’t, and pick words that won’t be accidentally thought of as rhymes.
8. No purpose in your Lyrics
Don’t start writing your song without knowing where it’s going to go or what it’s about. Know what your song is about before you sit down to write it, and find the most meaningful and purposeful way to say it.
9. Unnecessary song sections
If you’re adding a section to a song like a bridge because it’s habit, ask yourself if you really need it. Don’t just stick with what you know because you’re familiar with it. Instead, explore different options to reach bigger potential. Find out if you want a bridge and a guitar solo, or none, or just one of those two.
10. Trying too hard to be different
Learn what it means to be unique and different without rejecting any ideas that existed before. At the end of the day, you’ll be using the same notes, words, and chords that others have used, because patterns and structures exist. Instead of rejecting them, play with them instead.
11. Not listening to Different Genres
You’ll have a better chance of coming up with unique and original content if you’re listening to a lot of different styles. Instead of hating on any type of music that isn’t yours, listen to everything without judging, and listen outside of your comfort zone.
For information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net