I love a good songwriting contest. Bring out the best in songwriters because the contest deadline gives them something to write for.
However, I am amazed at the number of people who put pen to paper and just do it. It’s fantastic. You can also hear some wonderful talent out there.
Anyway, back to the list of common songwriting flaws from the judges’ point of view.
Please do not take this list as absolute truth. These points are just observations that I have made followed by some suggestions on how to address the points.
1. Lots of clichés and topics in the lyrics.
It amazes me that we are all unique, special and different, and yet when we write a love song, for example, everything sounds the same in the lyrics.
We as songwriters need to quiet our minds and listen to the true essence of ourselves. Only then can we write a song from our unique and different perspectives. However, it takes a lot of practice to get there to get to that stage.
2. Awkward lyrical delivery.
The rhythm of the lyrics and the melody are jumbled and the song doesn’t have a natural flow. It’s like there are too many words in the song and the writer is having a hard time exploring all the ideas.
Remember, a song is more effective when it is about a concept/idea. If you find you have too many ideas in one song, pick one to perform and write another song (or two) with the leftovers.
3. Not enough attention is paid to the format of the song.
There have been many times where I’ve been listening to a song and thought to myself ‘there should be a bridge here’, or a chorus has been written that doesn’t stand out enough.
It pays to have an idea of what makes a verse, a chorus, a pre-chorus and a bridge and how you can use them.
4. The songs are too long.
This is also mostly a question of format, but sometimes you notice that there is a hymn phrase that the composer loves because it repeats itself over and over and over and over again (you get the picture).
There is nothing wrong with a long song as long as the journey and the story are there for the listener. If you say that after 3 1/2 minutes you’re starting to repeat things and your idea loses steam, then end the song.
5. Past, present and future tenses are mixed.
Be careful not to mix up the tenses when telling the story in your song. This sends a mixed and confusing message to the listener.
People want to be held by the hand and led on a little journey, unless you’re the songwriting equivalent of Quentin Tarantino, you need to know how the story goes chronologically.
There you have it, a short list of things to consider.
Practice, practice and practice your crafthave fun with it, share it with others and when a songwriting contest comes around, do your best and give it a try.
You have nothing to lose and much to win.