Play It Again – Luke Bryan

There are always a whole lotta party-all-night, feel-good songs on the Country music charts, especially in the summer. It’s a theme with tons of appeal for Country listeners.

The songwriting on all these hits is solid, of course, but, after a while you might start to notice a certain same-ness to the lyrics. They all seem to have pickup trucks, beer, and girls in shorts. So, wouldn’t it be cool if you could  write a hit song with this commercially appealing theme and set yourself a little apart from the crowd? Let’s take a look at a  Country hit that does exactly that.

“Play It Again,” the summer 2014 hit song recorded by Luke Bryan, has the required tailgate and girl in shorts but the song brings this girl to life in a way that’s vivid and believable. You get a real sense of both the singer’s character and the girl’s. The song plays out like a series of scenes, fun to watch and easy to get caught up in.

Take a listen to the song on YouTube. I chose a video with lyrics rather than images so you can run your own mental movie while you listen. Notice how the song paints pictures for you.

Artist: Luke Bryan
Writers: Dallas Davidson & Ashley Gorley
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

The genre is Contemporary Country. (What is a genre?)

SONG STRUCTURE
The song structure is…
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS Continue reading

Gone Gone Gone – Phillip Phillips

For all you Folk/Rock lovers out there, this is certainly your moment. Between Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and half a dozen other artists, Folk/Rock hasn’t been this hot since the 1960s! So dust off your acoustic guitars, your harmony vocals, get a drummer who can play a cool syncopated beat to update your sound and you’re good to go!


“Gone Gone Gone” recorded by Phillip Phillips
Writers: Derek Fuhrmann, Todd Clark, and Gregg Wattenberg

Lyrics are available online.
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
Here’s a folksy song that builds into a big Americana anthem. This song climbed up the Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC) charts. At Billboard it reached #3 on the Rock charts (which is a very broad chart these days). Figuring out what genre this song is in is a little tough but I’m going to go out on a limb and call it Contemporary Folk/Rock.


SONG STRUCTURE 

The song form is…
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS /  CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS (TAG out on the bridge)

The structure of this song is pretty obvious. Why? Because there’s so much contrast between sections – and I’m not just talking about the production! This is a great song to study for contrast.

Both the pre-chorus (“Give me reasons to believe…”) and chorus (“For you, for you…”) feature a big jump up in pitch at the beginning of the section.

But, more importantly, the pre-chorus melody features an ear-catching change in rhythmic feel, giving listeners a clean break between the verse and chorus.  Listen to the song – you can’t miss it! Both the verse and chorus feature a melody with a mix of long and short notes, strong and weak beats. But the pre-chorus is just straight-ahead, even beats. Continue reading