The human voice is one of the most powerful instruments in music. Lyrics are a critical piece of songwriting, and the process of writing these lyrics can be one of the most difficult tasks that any songwriter will encounter. Like any other art form, songwriting is a powerful way to communicate with an audience and evoke emotion or convey a message. However, only some songwriters manage to accomplish this task. So how do you make your lyrics shine?
Define a Purpose for Your Lyrics
Lyrics can serve a variety of different purposes, and it is all depends on the writer. Some write because they have a message or opinion they want to impress upon their audience, such as Macklemore’s “Same Love”. Others write to tell a story like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. And others write in order to trigger an emotional response or to touch on experiences or feelings that are relatable to the audience. Having a clear understanding of what you want your lyrics to accomplish before setting out to write gives direction and clarity to the development. In turn, such definition lays the foundation for great lyrics.
Repeat After Me: Repetition is Key
Listen to any great song and there will be repetition is some shape or form. Regardless of whether it is the chorus or a few key hooks, repetition allows for your song to flow and also helps key in listeners to main ideas. The repetitive nature of some lines or verses will impress into your listeners’ memories and carefully utilized, it helps really absorb any listener into the lyrics. However, you don’t necessarily want to be that lyricist who writes songs with a total of ten words that are repeated for an entire song either.
Write What You Know
Songwriting is an extremely personal experience, as is the creation of any art. Your greatest work will come from what you know and, as cliché as it sounds, from your heart. All you have to do is craft all that you feel, know, and think into a string of words. Even the unpolished drafts of lyrics that are from personal experience tend to draw an audience in. Such lyrics often are infused with a unique passion and often times speak to your audience better than any forced story much like Panic! at the Disco’s “Northern Downpour”. Speculation over what the lyrics exactly means are of hot discussion amongst P!ATD fans, however, there is a unique comfort and relatability in the lyrics that even if you don’t understand what it is about, you feel while listening.
Have a Powerful Title
Titles of songs are often the first impression that listeners have to your song. It’s like the title of any book, movie, or story. It gives off a tidbit of information about what they are in store for. A powerful and well thought out title allows for listeners to be intrigued and can also be used to convey your message or emotion. For example, Ed Sheeran’s “The A-Team” utilizes a powerful sense of juxtaposition. The A-Team is traditionally seen as the top team or your top people on any team, however, in slang terms, the Class A team speaks of powerful drug addiction in which Ed Sheeran discusses in his song.