Songwriting Tip: How To Self-Critique Your Own Country LyricPosted: February 20, 2014
If you intend to pitch your country lyric with the hope of obtaining a hit record, know this: it will be scrutinized for flaws by the gate keepers- industry pros like music publishers and screeners- before it ever gets near the eyes of an artist. Here are several fatal flaws you should avoid, preferably before cutting the demo. Review your lyrics to see if they have any of these.:
1.“Too Wordy” Many times your first efforts will be long winded. You can usually convey the same message with fewer words, both in the song as a whole, as well as in individual lyric lines. Cut the fat.
2. “Cramming In” If you’re singing along with your melody and find you’re struggling to make the words quite fit in a given space it’s going to sound that way to a listener. Writing more words in a line than the singer is comfortable singing, unless done intentionally for the effect, is bad writing. Take some out or rewrite the line.
3. “The Song Goes On Forever” If you have crafted five verses doubled up on every chorus and put in both a solo and bridge, your song is going to land at 5 to 7 minutes in length. That’s too long if you’re aiming for radio airplay. Radio likes 2 1/2 minute songs. It may be painful but you need to delete several sections.
4. “A Too-Long Bridge” Often a song is rolling along, holding the listener’s interest but bogs down in the bridge that’s twice as long as it needs to be. Can your bridge convey what you need it to in 8 bars instead of 16? 4 instead of 8? Do it!
5. “Stale Ideas” Does your lyric have a lot of clichéd phrases? Instead of “She drinks like a fish and gets stupid” which everyone has heard before, replace that phrase with something unique and fresh such as, “She’s an alcohol drain, a meatball brain”. And no place is more critical to replace clichés in than the hook.
6. “Reversed Order”. Don’t reverse the natural order of words just to create a rhyme. Country lyrics should be conversational. If you wouldn’t speak it quite that way,, unless your only listener will be Yoda, don’t write your country lyric that way.
While hardly comprehensive, this list will help get your lyric on the right track- b.e. watson