All My Days – Alexi Murdoch

Alexi+MurdochHere’s a successful singer-songwriter song with simple production and an honest, moving lyric. Alexi Murdoch has sold over 50,000 CDs through CD Baby making him one of their biggest sellers of all time. He self-releases his music and has turned down several offers from major labels. Most of his sales came as a result of the film & TV uses of his songs.

You’ve probably heard his song “All My Days” without realizing it. It’s featured in a commercial for Sprint and has also been used in several TV series, including CSI, Scrubs, and The OC.


Recorded by ALEXI MURDOCH
Writer: Alexi Murdoch

Lyrics are available online.
Shortcut # refers to my book “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV.”

GENRE
The genre is Indie Singer-Songwriter, a style the film and TV market absolutely loves!

 There are many similarities to English folk revival and folk/rock artists such as Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, and John Martyn. The simplicity of the recording and intimate vocal style both owe much to the work of Nick Drake, an artist Murdoch has cited as an influence. Drake is another artist whose work was introduced to a broad audience through TV commercials and films.

SONG STRUCTURE
The structure is: VERSE / VERSE / VERSE / VERSE / TAG out.

This is a traditional folk song structure. The song doesn’t have a fully-developed chorus. Instead, it relies on a memorable, repeated refrain line – “All of my days” – after the first and third lines of each verse to provide the hook. 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

Hands Tied – Toni Braxton

This is a great example of a current Urban AC (Adult Contemporary) song. Toni Braxton needed something to put her back on the charts – something with a current sound after her mega-hits of the 1990s. This song has a melody with loads of rhythmic interest and a fresh approach to the lyric theme. Take a listen and then we’ll discover what made this song so appealing to today’s listeners.


Recorded by Toni Braxton
Writers: Heather Bright, Warren Felder, and Harvey Mason, Jr.

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

STRUCTURE
Here’s a perfect example of the VERSE / CHORUS / VERSE / CHORUS / BRIDGE / CHORUS hit song structure! The repetitive verse builds rapidly to a HUGE chorus with tons of catchy hooks and a wonderful payoff line at the end that keeps going and going and going… only to fall immediately into the start of the second verse.

Try this trick in a song of your own: extend the last line (the payoff line) with repetition or by stretching out the words until it leads right into the next section.  Continue reading