Hit Songwriting: “The Other” by Lauv

LauvAlthough I usually feature songs at the top of the mainstream music charts in this section, today I want to look at “The Other” by Lauv, an artist who took a different path to success and whose work and career provide plenty of inspiration for independent artists and songwriters.

Lauv’s self-produced singles “The Other” and “I Like Me Better” have collectively had over 450 million listens on Spotify and launched a sold-out tour. Yet he has never had a Billboard chart hit as an artist. (Although after his solo records went viral, he co-wrote charting songs for Charli XCX and Cheat Codes w/ Demi Lovato.)

Produced by Lauv and co-written with Michael Matosic, “The Other,” debuted on a friend’s music blog (Oblivious Pop) and was picked up by other bloggers, spreading virally through blog aggregator Hype Machine. It just goes to prove that listeners WILL spread the word when they find good music.

“THE OTHER” – LAUV (Pop)

Writers:  Ari Staprans Leff (Lauv), Michael Matosic

TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:

  • Flesh out a basic verse-chorus structure.
  • Build your lyric around a peak moment.
  • Keep your listeners involved with images and actions.
  • Create contrast in your melody with octaves and beat emphasis.

Read the lyric here.

Watch on YouTube.

GENRE / STYLE (What is a genre? Watch the genre video.)

“The Other” is in the Pop/Singer-Songwriter genre, but a heavy R&B influence, creates a contemporary, fresh, soul-infused sound that’s very appealing to listeners and works well for Film & TV. Continue reading

Hit Songwriting: “Hello” by Adele

Adele

Here are three huge hits by Adele that are packed with songwriting tools you can use.

I often suggest in my songwriting posts that you learn to sing and play (or just sing ) successful songs. But why is that so important? Because you miss so much when you don’t. It’s like the difference between zooming down a highway at 80 mph versus rolling slowly along with your head stuck out the window.

When you slow down, you notice things… road signs, blue sky. You feel every bump in the road and the smells on the breeze. At 80 miles-per-hour you can feel the emotional rush; when you slow down, you can learn what the rush is made of.

I thought it might be fun for you and I to slow down and go through the process of learning to play and sing a hit song together. I chose “Hello” by Adele because, as I listen to it, the 80 mile-per-hour experience is pretty good, and something tells me that if I slow down and take a closer look, there might be some good songwriting tips I could use to create that experience in songs of my own.  So, let’s take it for a drive. Continue reading

Hit Songwriting: “All Of Me” by John Legend

“All Of Me,” recorded and co-written by John legend, is a beautiful love song that has been embraced by listeners around the globe. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the U.S. and was the second-best selling song of 2014. The YouTube video has had over one billion views. That’s billion with a “b.” Proof that, even in this era of giant Dance/Pop extravaganzas, a simple song with an honest, emotionally moving lyric can hold its own.

Because the production is so bare bones, the song itself has to sustain the listener’s interest. That’s a challenge for any song, but especially a ballad. There are a number of simple but very effective lyric and melody techniques at work here, ones that you can adapt for use in your own songs.

TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:

• Sustain melodic interest in a ballad.

• Give a personal lyric universal appeal.

Read the lyrics here: All Of Me – John Legend

Buy it or listen on your preferred music site (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.).
Watch on YouTube

Recorded by John Legend
Writers: John Legend and Toby Gad

Genre/Style

“All of Me” is a power ballad in the Pop genre. It’s also classified as Adult Contemporary, which is a radio format. As its name implies, the Adult Contemporary format features songs that appeal to a broad adult age range, from 25 to 55. Surprisingly, though, this melodic ballad with minimal production also topped the Pop and R&B charts.

There’s a mix of influences here and it’s a little hard to tell who is influencing whom. Certainly this song reminds me of Adele’s huge hit “Someone Like You” but that song may have been influenced by John Legend’s own Neo-Soul hit of a decade ago: “Ordinary People.” And, let’s face it, everyone here is paying their respects to Lionel Richie.

Song Structure

This song has the same structure as most of today’s biggest Pop and Rock hits, yet it doesn’t really sound like one of those hits.
The structure is:

VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS

VERSES: Verse 1 starts the song off with the line “What would I do without your smart mouth?” It’s a great opening line, immediately drawing the listener into the song with an intriguing question and a glimpse into a complex and very realistic relationship.

Verse 2 begins with “How many times do I have to tell you, even when you’re crying you’re beautiful, too.” Another unusual statement that makes us curious to hear more. Continue reading