Talk about an irresistible bunch of fun! This song has listener appeal from the first line to the last. It’s a great Contemporary Country party song with a sing-along hook that’s a killer. Let’s take a look at how it all works together.
TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:
• Try a sing-along post-chorus for a party anthem!
• Use images to bring a character to life.
• Fake out the listener with your melody.
Recorded by Montgomery-Gentry
Writers: (Ira Dean / Kim Tribble / Eddie Montgomery)
GENRE/STYLE (What is a genre?)
The genre is Contemporary Country, verging on Country Rock. The song went to #5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The lyric has a conversational, heartland twang with plenty of references that Country Rock fans will adore. Freebird, Harleys, and six-packs are front and center.
This song structure is very familiar to radio listeners, except for one added section. Listen for the vocal phrase that follows the chorus – the irresistible “Hey, y’all!” This extra vocal hook after the chorus is called a post-chorus and is icing on the cake. The chorus itself is very strong and the song doesn’t require another hook. Still, this repeated shout is bound to get an audience up on its feet and singing along, helping to make this a true party song and a big hit with listeners.
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS / POST-CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS / POST-CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS / POST-CHORUS – 2x
The first pre-chorus begins “Well, he’s a big mouth yellin’…” The pre-chorus section has a powerful, repetitive melody that builds anticipation leading into the chorus, just as it should. That’s the function of a pre-chorus.
The song launches into a bridge section with “He’s a hard-drinkin’ man’s man…” providing a break from the wordy verse and chorus with long pauses between lines and a slowdown in the tempo, allowing the crowd to go crazy. This song was written to make the most of an artist’s live performance. Check it out. If you play live shows, try a few of these tricks in a song of your own: a sing-along post-chorus and a slowdown with a pause to get the crowd on their feet.
Everything in this lyric is focused on painting a character portrait that really brings that “one in every crowd” to life. It’s a case study in how to SHOW, not tell, listeners what’s happening and make them experience it. Every line includes an image, example, or detail that adds up to a vivid, larger-than-life picture of this person.
The real challenge of writing a lyric about a character like this is that it’s been done so often. The “life of the party” has been a staple of Country songs for decades. Take a look at how this lyric approaches an old theme with a fresh eye, making the audience see it for the first time. The lyric uses detailed observations and humor to make a point: He’s a six-pack up when he walks in / Tells the band “Crank it up to 10!”
These writers did something very smart: The chorus lyric gives this guy a positive role to play; he “brings the party in us out.” If that line weren’t there the character might just be another irritating drunk. But this concept makes him much more likable.
Notice how the writers use highly specific details, song titles, and proper names to create believability: “Free Bird” “flip-top box of Marlboros” “Golden Tee.” When a cliche does appear (“good time Charley”), it pays off with a fun rhyme (“with a Harley”). And speaking of payoffs, the all-important final line of the chorus has a nice twist in it — “and it’s usually me.” A strong chorus payoff gives listeners a sense of satisfaction and completion. A chorus without a payoff line is like a joke without a kicker!
The verse is a series of short phrases with a natural, conversational melody. After that, the longer phrases of the pre-chorus stretch out, building tension as they lead into a big chorus release. The chorus is in a higher note range than the verse, adding more energy.
The chorus melody opens with two short phrases followed by a long one, then the two short melodic phrases are repeated, leading the listener to anticipate that the 4th line (“there’s one in every crowd…”) will be the same as the 2nd line (“good time Charley…”). In a nice fake-out, the 4th line begins the same as the 2nd line but quickly changes and delivers the payoff (“it’s usually me”). This “fake play” is a favorite with listeners, creating an expectation and then a surprise twist.
- Try It Now
Try some of these lyric and melody writing techniques in a song of your own. Choose a character and create a lyric portrait filled with detail and imagery. Don’t forget to give your listeners a reason to care about your character. Use a ‘fake play’ in your chorus melody; set up a pattern of phrases, then repeat the first part of the pattern but instead of completing it, go somewhere new for your payoff line.
EXTRA READING: To find out more about the techniques used in “One In Every Crowd” read the following…
In Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting:
Shortcut 50: A Hit Chorus: From Big Opening to payoff Line
Shortcut 57: Images: Make Your Lyric Come to Life
Shortcut 58: Images: Let a Family of Associations Work for You
Shortcut # 94: The Fake: Set up an Expectation Then Break It