Writing With Images: John Mayer
& Sara Bareilles

Using images in your lyrics  is a quick and powerful way to connect with listeners. Let’s take a look at a couple of strong image-based song lyrics. To find them, we need look no further than today’s successful singer-songwriters. This style relies heavily on the use of images to express personal experiences and emotions.

SONG #1: “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” – John Mayer
Writer: John Mayer

Read the lyric here.

Watch on YouTube.



THE TITLE IMAGE: The title of this song is an intensely powerful visual image. Who can resist picturing this couple and the destruction happening around them? Continue reading

King of Anything – Sara Bareilles

This song had a long run on the Adult Contemporary (AC) music charts. It has also been used in two popular TV series. Its fresh, insightful lyric paints a picture of a situation many listeners can identify with and the quirky melody is catchy and distinctive.

“King of Anything” recorded by Sara Bareilles
Writer: Sara Bareilles
Lyrics are available online here. Shortcut numbers refer to my books Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting (“Hit”) and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV (“Film/TV”).

The song structure is:

This song is a variation on a very popular hit song structure. Verse 1 is followed by a pre-chorus (“I hate to break it to you…”) then a chorus (“Who cares if you disagree…”). However, the song doesn’t have pre-chorus at the end of the second verse. Instead, the second verse goes directly to Chorus 2. This is followed by a bridge, then back for a couple repeats of the chorus to end the song. Possibly the second pre-chorus was cut in order to get to the second chorus sooner. The verses are quite long and the change in pace under the pre-chorus does seem to slow the forward momentum of the song.

There are a lot of different tricks used in this melody to create an upbeat, catchy, fresh sound. The big attention-getter here is the unexpected jump up in the melody on the first word of the chorus (“Who…”). It’s used once more in the chorus – a good idea since listeners want to hear it again! Try a jump like this in one of your own melodies. It’s a great way to catch the listener’s ear! Continue reading