The lyrics in a song are much more than just content. Constructing well-timed and well-placed lyrics is an art, which can set apart great songwriters from the average.
To write creative lyrics that will get listeners to open their eyes wide and press replay over and over again, you have to understand how to use the different agents of figurative language. The most common ones include metaphors, similes, symbolism, alliteration, personification, and hyperboles. Once you understand how to use even a few of these literary devices, your songs will automatically become more poetic, which will affect your listeners more, especially if your lyrics have subtle meanings or deliberately have dual interpretations.
Let’s take a look at how the right lyrics can get inside the heads of intelligent and creative listeners:
• They may feel a special connection with your lyrics: At different points in life, everyone goes through situations where they wish they had the words to explain what they were going through, whether good or bad. In the same breath, most music lovers can recall being hooked on a song because one or more lyrics expressed a feeling in the exact words they couldn’t find, be it love, hate, joy or sadness. When this happens, the listener becomes attached to that song for life and may return to it every time they are experiencing the feeling the lyrics refer to.
• Your lyrics may surprise or shock the listener: When a listener gets caught off guard by lyrics that they did not expect, it may bring about a reaction such as “No, he didn’t go there…” Such lyrics are sometimes of an explicit or graphic nature but some are subtle. If crafted correctly, you can say almost anything in your lyrics and get away with it. However, you have to strike a balance so as to not be lewd, disrespectful or insensitive, which could work against you instead.
• Awaken their curiosity: Lyrics that are subtle in meaning can be quite potent and cause listeners to spend a great deal of time wondering what you’re actually trying to say. In Rihanna’s “What’s my Name?” Drake has a lyric that says ‘The square root of 69 is eight something, right..? Because I’ve been tryin’ to work it out,’ which left many scratching their heads for a little while until they figured out what he was getting at.
• Your lyrics may influence a change in mindset: What is called conscious or rebellious music may affect the minds of those who tend to take a deeper look at life. While there are current songwriters and performers who do this very well with their lyrics, older songwriters, such as Michael Jackson (“They Don’t Care About Us)” and Bob Marley (“War”) were renowned for their potent lyrics, which helped to shape the mindsets of whole generations.
Music listeners often get attached to songs for several reasons, one of which is the song’s lyrics. Sometimes it’s just one lyric in the entire song that grabs the listener but, sometimes you only need one to connect. Whether you are what is called a lyricist or you just manage to nail the occasional ‘awesome’ lyric, understanding how this important song element influences the mind of listeners can go a long way in helping you gain fans and boost the potential of your music.