May/June Songwriting Newsletter Is Out

Songwriting TipsMy latest newsletter is filled with useful, hands-on songwriting info and a great Country hit song for you to study. It’s so packed with tips, “Try It Now” exercises, and ideas to inspire you, it’s almost like getting a free eBook delivered to your inbox.

Song Tip: “Be An Original In a Play-By-the-Rules World” – In this article you’ll find 10 songwriting “rules” with ideas on how to break, bend, twist, and otherwise mess around with them to create something uniquely your own that still has plenty of listener appeal.

Dierks BentleyStudy the Hits“Say You Do” recorded by Dierks Bentley. Find out how these hit songwriters broke the rules and ended up with a Contemporary Country chart buster.

If you didn’t get your newsletter, sign up in the EMAIL FORM at the upper right. You’ll receive a Confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to confirm your subscription, then look for a “Thank You” email with the latest newsletter included. Your email is always private.

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

“Study the Hits” eBook on Amazon.com

Hi folks – I’ve been working like crazy on my brand new eBook: Study the Hits and it’s DONE! There are 30 new songwriting shortcuts and 21 song guides to recent hits in the Pop, Country, Singer-songwriter, and Folk genres. Phew! I am exhausted. But it’s all done and it’s now available on Amazon.com. If you’re looking for something to spark your Pop hits, inspire your Film & TV songs, spur your Country creativity, check it out. It’s 278 pages of songwriter LOVE for just $9.99!

This book will show you how to get your hands on the latest songwriting tools and techniques straight from today’s biggest hit songs. Read about a technique, listen to hit songs that use it, then try these cutting-edge songwriting tools in your own songs.

You’ll find Songwriting Shortcuts that take you inside today’s hottest markets and latest song craft skills:
• 6 Hit Songwriting Shortcuts
• 6 Lyric Shortcuts
• 6 Film & TV Songwriting Shortcuts
• 5 Music Shortcuts
• 7 “Ears-On” Kickstarter Shortcuts show you how to study any hit song and learn from it.

PLUS “Ears-On” song guides to 21 of today’s top hits. We’ll explore…
• 5 Pop and Pop/Rock Hits
• 6 Contemporary Country Hits
• 5 Singer-Songwriter Hits
• 5 Folk & Folk/Rock Hits
… to see what makes each one so successful.

You’ll find “Try It Now” exercises in every Shortcut and Song Guide so you’ll hear and apply contemporary hit songwriting techniques right away.

NOTE: This eBook contains active links to online videos and lyrics. An Internet connection and audio output are recommended.

Sound of Madness – Shinedown

ShinedownLet’s say you’re a hard rockin’ band out there working the club circuit. You’d like to get a record deal but can’t seem to interest a label. Your fans love you. You put on a killer live show and tour like crazy, so why won’t the the music industry sign you up?

You may have everything going for you except one thing — you need at least one or two songs that sound like they could get radio airplay either on the big commercial radio stations or on major college radio stations. Record labels know that getting radio airplay is the key to rapid career growth; it will be a key part of their marketing campaign for any group or artist.

So, what’s the difference between a good song that energizes fans at a live performance and a song that can get radio airplay? Let’s take a look at Shinedown’s hit “Sound of Madness,” a powerhouse of a rock song with huge radio appeal, a strong lyric theme, and an unusual but very memorable, contemporary melody.


Recorded by Shinedown
Written by Brent Smith, Dave Bassett
Read the lyrics here.

STRUCTURE
This song opens with three verses. The first one acts as a kind of intro. It’s sung an octave lower than the rest of the verses and sets up the situation in the song. After the intro, there are double verses before the first and second choruses. Here’s the structure:

VERSE 1 (intro) / VERSE 2 / VERSE 3 / CHORUS
VERSE 4 / VERSE 5 / CHORUS
INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGE / CHORUS / CHORUS

In genres like Pop and Country, Verse 3 and 5 would be pre-choruses. The Rock genre goes for a more straight ahead style that leans more on repetition to make its point.

LYRIC
The double verses in this song give the singer a chance to say what he wants to say. The lyrics are vivid, filled with powerful language and images. Continue reading

I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

A good story has long been one of the hallmarks of a great Country song and today’s Country hits are stuffed full of vivid characters and details. But sometimes, in all the clever word-smithing, we  forget that every great story has emotion at its heart. The best songs are driven by the singer’s feelings.

Here’s a Country hit that packs a huge emotional punch, Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck.”  Listen to the song, then read about it and learn how it draws listeners in and keeps them involved. You’ll also find out how you can use some of those same songwriting techniques in songs of your own.


Recorded by Lee Brice
Writers: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary

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: Contemporary Country.  Both lyric and melody have a current style that’s very Country-radio-friendly.

SONG STRUCTURE: 
The song structure is…

VERSE / PRE-CHORUS /  CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS

The chorus begins with the title line: “I drive your truck…” creating a powerful emotional release and memorable hook. Continue reading