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

Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin

Joshua RadinI usually feature a hit song from the music charts in this section, but this time out I want to take a look at an artist who has built an extremely successful career on Film & TV placements, Joshua Radin. More than 40 of Radin’s songs have appeared in top TV series, including Bones, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy, Beauty and the Beast, Hart of Dixie, 90210, and the list goes on. You won’t find his songs on the mainstream music charts, nevertheless, he has sold over 2.5 million singles and 700,000 albums.

Radin’s songs are atmospheric, mood-based, and emotionally evocative rather than attention grabbing radio hits. They tend to feature refrains instead of big, over-the-top choruses, as radio singles do. The production is simple but carefully thought out, with chiseled performances that lock into a groove.

Each song is a gem filled with insight, fresh twists, and beautiful payoff lines that are perfect for film and TV uses. If you’re a singer-songwriter looking at the Film & TV market, here’s an artist who’s worth studying.

TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:
Turn a simple idea into a compelling lyric.
Add interest to a melody with unpredictable phrasing.
Create an arrangement that supports your lyric concept.

Read the lyrics here: Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin

Buy it now or listen on your preferred music site (Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc.) or watch on YouTube

Recorded by Joshua Radin
Writers: Joshua Radin & Kenneth A Pattengale

GENRE/STYLE  (What is a genre?)
The song’s genre is Contemporary Folk/Rock. It fits right in with songs by Passenger, Phillip Phillips, Ed Sheeran, American Authors, and Iron & Wine. “Beautiful Day” has been featured in three primetime TV series and a Subaru commercial. Radin recently released a second version of this song featuring Sheryl Crow. You can reference either one since they’re essentially the same. I like his solo version better.

In many of his songs, Radin pays his respects to the Singer-Songwriters of the 1960s. The relaxed, conversational vocal style and harmonies, image-filled lyric language, and strummed acoustic guitar track are reminiscent of Folk Singer-Songwriters like Simon and Garfunkel. Yet Radin’s songs fit right into today’s Indie Folk renaissance. If you’re a fan of the ’60s Folk scene but want to pitch your songs to current projects, listen to Joshua Radin for techniques that will help you update your sound without losing heart and soul. Continue reading