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What is most important for a successful song?

Discussion in 'The Writers' Block' started by kbold, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Many components make up a song: the song format, genre, rhythm and tempo, melody and harmony, lyrics, the catchy phrase, the instrumental break, etc.

    Maybe it just comes down to a photogenic personality they can market.

    What do you think is most important?
    Or, can you grade different components with levels of importance?

    For me: I'm more of a lyrics based songwriter, and a legend in my own lunchbox. (Read as not successful)
    However, considering the quality (or lack thereof) in so many promoted and played songs, I feel there are aspects given far more weight and importance ....... like when I've heard the same phrase repeated 30 times in the one song, I'm tired of the phrase before the song has ended.
    Should I perhaps give more weight to the rhythm and tempo? Should I be trying to hypnotize the audience with a repetitive phrase?
     
  2. Wyzsard

    Wyzsard Friend of Leo's

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  3. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    My contribution will be that a song has to stick in your head. A friend and I were writing new material for our band a few years back; I'd find myself with ear worm from the best ones days later. No ear worm, it's forgettable.
     
  4. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    The chorus is king. Both words and melody.
     
  5. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    At the height of Beatlemania, a reporter asked Paul McCartney why the Beatles were so popular.

    He said, "We have a press agent."
     
  6. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    To me the most important ingredient is passion. Is it about the song, or is it about you? If it’s not about you, then it’s about the song. There are two songwriters: Those that write songs that they think other people will like, and those that write songs that they, themselves, like. A synonym of passion could be “soul”. Not in the terms of soul music, but not that far from it.

    I believe that the song needs to be about you, your passion, and your soul. Lately, I have been listening to many of my original songs. I hear them, and I think, I wrote these songs from within, without any regard for what I thought that someone else might like. Now, granted the songs I have written have been effected by outside circumstances mostly, but the final product comes from within.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  7. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    Your thread title and first question was "What is most important for a successful song?

    Have you asked yourself what you consider to be a successful song? Is a song successful because it has been consumed (purchased) by thousands and thousands? Is that what you would consider success? Is that your goal?

    Are there other ways to gauge success?

    I'm not saying I have the answer to these questions - I'm saying that each songwriter needs to consider for themselves what "success" is.

    There's a lot of material out there about songwriting (books, you tube videos, seminars, conferences) that you may want to look into to figure out what success means to you.

    I've been in circumstances where I listen to a lot of original material. I play in a house band, weekly gig, and every week, there's a new artist/band who presents original material. I've been doing this for 8 years. A majority of it is forgettable, even folks who are generally well regarded. Songs are by their nature ethereal; sold for a song.

    In other words, after the events, it's rare that I can recall the melody of any particular song I may have just heard. Sometimes I remember clever lyrics or a clever song idea.

    It's hard. A few people seem to make it look easy, but for the most part, there are skills to acquire by doing it and persevering.

    Groove is important, lyrics are important, melody is important; it's all important. Treat your songs with respect; don't give up on them too easily, but don't over think it either. Keep working. Just my 2 cents.

    These are things I tell myself, wanting to call myself a songwriter and composer, yet no one else is playing my songs or music but me.
     
  8. Shuster

    Shuster Poster Extraordinaire

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    A good hook, something that grabs you, most times a catchy riff!
     
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  9. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sounds good, but I hope that's not the only way to write a song! I don't do passion, and I don't write about myself. Passion is embarrassing, and songs about me would be boring to me and listeners.

    It's a hobby. I write them for my own entertainment, and if any of them are entertaining to anyone else, all the better.
     
  10. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    A lot of na-na-nas never hurt anybody, plus they are emotionally and politically neutral, so the performer can imbue them with whatever they like.
     
  11. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I hope that you didn’t misconstrue my post, or maybe I didn’t state it more succinctly. When I said that the song is about you, I meant that it comes from you, and that you need to be passionate about writing the song, from the heart so to speak.

    Look, every songwriter has his/her method of writing songs. My method works for me, and your method works for you.

    So, I guess the moral of this story is that there is more than one way to skin a cat!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  12. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    But none that meets the cat's specifications!
     
  13. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. The link in post #2 has a bunch of successful songs that are utterly unlistenable. But I don't think a song has to be buzzard puke to be successful.

    In #3, Dismalhead says it should be listenable. I like that, but I've had countless bad songs stuck in my head, too - Carpenters, Tony Orlando, Gary Puckett. They are successful, but there must something else that defines it!
     
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  14. catdaddy

    catdaddy Tele-Afflicted

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    I love the comments and insights presented in this thread! A thoughtful and compelling read. As for what is most important for a successful song, I would just add that it can depend very much on the context in which the song resides. What is most important for a pop hit can be very different from what makes a childrens' song or death metal or film score successful. In the way that great literature can be presented in the writing of authors such as Hemingway and Faulkner whose structure and style couldn't be more different, so the answer to what is most important in successful songwriting is: many different things.
     
  15. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, as evidenced by Milli Vanilli
    The studio performers behind the hugely successful but fake duo released stuff after the reveal, and it flopped
     
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  16. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Best reply yet!
     
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  17. bill4519

    bill4519 TDPRI Member

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    I believe Wes Montgomery said something like:"If a man walking down the street can whistle your tune, you've got a song."
    If anyone has the exact quote please post it for us. My memory is not what it used to be.
     
  18. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was recently pondering some thinking in the same vein as the OP.... Specifically, I was wondering how many amazing songs exist that no one, or next to no one, will ever hear. I thought about one of my favorite songs in the world, City of New Orleans, and tried to imagine Steve Goodman not having success, and no one ever hearing that wonderful song. It made me sad to imagine that. It makes me sad to think ole Steve could've penned that one and thought, too bad this isn't successful. Being a songwriter is a lonely and vulnerable pastime.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
  19. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Are you sure? It takes all kinds. I love hanging out by myself, writing, reading, guit-picking, driving, snow shoveling, whatever — like the guy in the old Leon Fullerton song:

    When I met the twelve apostles, I was down in San Antone,
    didn't have the heart to tell 'em how I craved to be alone.


    True, money is nice. It would be great to sell a song. But I don't write 'em to sell 'em. It's a hobby. I write 'em to write 'em. If someone likes one of my tunes, it makes me happy. So I do try to put 'em out there. But appreciation is the icing, not the cake.
     
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  20. Wyzsard

    Wyzsard Friend of Leo's

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    After thinking about it, prosody is important.
     
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