Let Her Go – Passenger

Until recently you would only have heard a thoughtful, acoustic-based folk song like this on college radio stations or eclectic NPR shows. Certainly not among Billboard’s Top 10 Pop hits. But there it is, right there with Katy Perry, One Direction, and Pitbull. Wha? If you haven’t heard this song on the radio then you’ve probably heard it on a national TV commercial or featured in series like “Elementary” or “The Vampire Diaries.”

Take a look at the official video on YouTube and then let’s dive deeper into this song to see what makes it work so well and how you can use some of these techniques in your own songs.

Official video on YouTube.

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: Folk / Singer-Songwriter  (What is a genre?)
The lyric, melody, and structure of this song are all reminiscent of the folk genre, with a nod to both authentic English ballads and the folk songs of the 1960s. If you still love to sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” then this song is for you! There’s even a subtle group sing-along on the chorus, almost as if everyone is gathered round the ol’ campfire.

But even though the retro underpinnings are clearly there, the melody has interesting twists that give it a modern edge. If you’ve got a few old fashioned folk songs tucked away (and I know some of you do) consider giving them a facelift with these tricks. Continue reading

Here – Rascal Flatts

There are so many great things going on in this Country hit that it’s well worth spending some time looking into what makes it tick. The melody is tight, well-structured, and unforgettable. Lyrics are focused like a laser on the emotion at the heart of the song.

“Here” recorded by Rascal Flatts
Writers: Steve Robson & Jeffrey Steele

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

The song structure is the one that’s used in so many of today’s hit singles:<


The chorus begins with the line “And I wouldn’t change a thing…” and ends with an emotional payoff in the final phrase “here, right here.” Notice how this phrase is set up with a short pause that gives it more weight and draws attention to it (Shortcut #96).

The pre-choruses both begin with the phrase, “I know now…” The bridge flows right out of the second chorus so it’s a little harder to spot. It actually starts with the last word of the chorus (and the title of the song): “here… in a love I never thought I’d get to.” The word “here” does double duty as the end of the chorus and beginning of the bridge, a great way to keep the song flowing forward and pull the listener right into the bridge. Try this idea in one of your own songs as a transition between sections. Continue reading