our secret sauce - great lyrics!
Throughout the history of American Pop Music, well written Love Songs dominate the top of the charts. While Musical styles come and go, well written Love Song lyrics which are instantly clear and have universal appeal live on. Timeless lyrics are the key ingredient to a Love Song's longevity.
Great Love Song lyrics revolve around just a few dozen romantic plots. Over time, these same plots appear again and again in different hit songs performed by a variety of artists. And while the musical style and artists change over the years, these romantic plots are almost always the same.
For example, let’s look at two popular cheating songs:
Me and Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul (1972)
Secret Lovers – Atlantic Star (1985)
If you Google the lyrics for “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “Secret Lovers”, you’ll see that “Me and Mrs. Jones” is more concise, but overall the stories are the same. These two songs were BIG hits and have stayed on the radio because of a specific approach the writers took in the lyrics. (Read On)
Over the decades, the major labels have probably released hundreds of Pop / R&B songs about cheating. And you can bet that millions of more cheating songs have been written by aspiring writers. And yet all this effort by all these writers has resulted in just a few dozen great cheating songs. Why?
Most aspiring writers approach the “cheating” love story from the point of view of the person being cheated on – the victim. And focus on the victim’s sense of betrayal. This is a mistake. The victim is in a weak position and it is very hard for a mass audience to WANT to identify with the victim. (There is a way to successfully tell the “victim point of view”, but that is a different discussion).
“Me and Mrs. Jones” and “Secret Lovers” completely avoid the victim trap because both songs are told from the point of view of the cheaters. And while cheating can be a big turn off for listeners, both songs avoid this by focusing on the emotional love (not the lust) being felt by the cheaters. The result is a song that captivates a mass audience because the love story transcends the cheating. The vocal performances were great and the musical arrangements were wonderful, but the lyrics are why millions of listeners have embraced these two songs. And why these two cheating songs have stayed on the radio for decades.
Nearly all Hit Love Songs which have stood the test of time can be broken down to core concepts and rules similar to the analysis above. If you dedicate yourself to studying these core stories and learning how they work, you can write Hit Loves Songs on demand, consistently. Unfortunately, these formulas take YEARS of practice to master. And writing universal love songs is rarely accomplished in 15 minutes. But with A LOT of patience and persistence you can write universal love songs over and over again. And this is what we do at TorNella Songs.