Royals – Lorde

LordeSometimes a single, unlikely word can spark a hit. Lorde describes seeing the word “Royals” written on the uniform of a Kansas City Royals baseball player. It triggered a response – not to the baseball team, but to the word itself. 

”Royals” is a word that’s loaded with associations – wealth, luxury, power, and privilege. It evokes stories of legendary kings and queens, as well as today’s celebrities. And it stirs up interest in just about everyone, which makes it a perfect word on which to build a song. Let’s take a look at Lorde’s mega-hit and find out how to create a hit song from a single word. 


Here’s the official video on YouTube.

“Royals” recorded by Lorde
Writers: Ella Yelich-O’Connor (Lorde), Joel Little
You can read the lyric here.
The Shortcut numbers below refer to specific chapters in my books “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” (“Hit”) and “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV” (“Film/TV”).



GENRE/STYLE: Singer-Songwriter (What is a genre?)
This song has sold triple Platinum and made it to #1 on Pop charts around the world.  It doesn’t sound like most Pop hits, though. Definitely not Katy Perry or Kelly Clarkson. Instead it blends a singer-songwriter style lyric and melody with a groove and tempo that owe a lot to Hip Hop, giving the song a cool Urban edge.

When blending genres like this, be sure you’re familiar with both of the styles you’re working in. Your song and/or production need to draw on authentic elements from each source rather than being an accidental mish-mash that may or may not really capture a genre. Listen to your favorite artists in each style as you write. Draw on those elements that appeal to you, or study an artist who is already blending those styles. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Just Dance – Josh Turner

Josh was looking for Country hits for his new album and found this one through a Nashville publisher. I know a lot of songwriters who pitched for this so it’s interesting to hear what the artist finally chose.


Recorded by JOSH TURNER
Writers: Singleton / Beavers / Brown

Lyrics are available on the internet.
Shortcut # refers to my book “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting.”

RHYTHMIC FEEL
I want to start this song analysis with the underlying rhythmic groove of this song. It’s a shuffle. (Count 1-and-uh, 2-and-uh, 3-and-uh, 4-and-uh.) This is an old-fashioned groove you just don’t hear in today’s hit songs. Mid-tempo shuffles have a laid back, down-and-dirty feel. The lyric says, “Hey, let’s just dance” and, with this beat, you get the idea that the dancing is probably on the sexy side.

Grooves are essentially physical things; they “speak” to the body. Try dancing along with this track and feel how it makes your body move. This is an important aspect of the song that we’re not consciously aware of but makes a big difference in how we experience it. Continue reading