There are so many songs that exist out there in the world today – good songs and bad songs. All songwriters have probably been guilty at one time or another of writing their own songs they’re not happy with.
If you find that you’re writing a lot of bad songs and not a lot of good ones, it might be because you’re making some common songwriting mistakes. Here are the top mistakes made, so you can stay clear of these pitfalls.
1. Writing songs that are identical
Some songwriters and artists have an extremely unique style and voice, like Mumford and Sons or Ed Sheeran, and the risk with those artists is that all their songs sound the same, or derivative. If you find you’re struggling with this problem, you will need to spend more time selecting chords, keys, tempos, collaborations, and anything else that you can do to differentiate your songs from each other.
2. Forcing a chorus
This problem happens frequently when songwriters have great verses and intro, but then they hit a wall or writers block for the chorus and instead they force something that doesn’t work or is boring. In reality, you need to have a really strong chorus to have a good song, so spend time thinking of a melody, music, and lyrics that work with the rest of the song.
3. Choosing the wrong melody
You might be trying too hard to change your chords and be different but the result is that it doesn’t match with the melody. To avoid this happening, take some aural training and music theory so that you can better fit your melody and your chords together.
So, you came up with a really good lyric? Don’t ruin it by repeating it too often. Instead, come up with more lyrics that work together. Many songwriters make the mistake of simply reusing their first verse as the second verse. Yes, there are songs that include a lot of repetition of lyrics, but it’s quite rare and has to be matched with a really good accompaniment.
5. Throwing out a whole song
It’s normal to write bad songs – everyone does it. The important thing is taking the good ideas from the bad song or leaving it to return to it down the road. Even if you don’t love it or never use it, it still feels great to finish the song.
6. No climax
A big songwriting mistake is to not have a journey or a climax. The song must have many dimensions and take you on a story arc. This can be either melodic or lyrical, but you need to make the listener feel like the song is moving towards a resolution, with a powerful finale.
7. Rhyming issues
You can have rhyming but you’ll need to work hard to avoid the typical cliché rhymes. You also want to make sure you’re following lyrical patterns. On the other hand, rhyming is not always important so keep your mind off of it and pick words that work with your story.
8. Not knowing the story
You should write your song so that you know what the purpose of it is and the meaning behind it. If you start writing it without knowing where you’re going with it, you’ll get lost along the way and it will lose its purpose.
9. Adding unnecessary elements
Don’t add sections to the song just because you feel like you need to, or by habit. Consider each section and ask yourself if it’s necessary. Explore different options for your song structure and figure out what works best, whether that’s a bridge, a drum solo, or anything in between.
10. Trying too hard
A common mistake is trying too hard to do something different or unique. You’ll be using the same words, the same notes, and the same chords that thousands of others have used before you and that’s just the way it is. Instead of rejecting those, find ways to play with them and use them in unique ways.