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What Makes A Good Song

So, these are some of the factors that I think go into a good song. I don't think say are all necessary and of course it is down to personal preference, but I hope it helps.

  • The Chorus

I said this in a previous post and I'll say it again - a good song has a good chorus. The chorus has to melt in with the verse and bridge, it has to stand strong on its own, it has to stick in people's heads, it has to portray the meaning of the song as a whole. To me, the chorus is like the tagline of a book. You know how underneath the title, novels will have a one-liner to draw you in and to let you know what you're getting into? Well, that's the chorus. What's your song's one-liner?

  • Lots of hook

Before going to a one-day songwriting course a couple years ago, I thought that a hook was the chorus - I was wrong. A hook is any repeating melody within a song. Take Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball for example, this song is full of small hooks that make up bigger hooks.

Take the first verse; "we clawed, we chained" that repetition there of the melody is the first hook. Then, the first verse splits into two big hooks with "we clawed...never asking why" and "we one could deny". And again this entire melody of the first verse is repeated in the second. The same goes for the chorus.

Because of the actual definition of a hook, you will probably be making them constantly without even realising it. But if you listen to a "good" song, really analyse it - there will be a lot of hooks in there. Lots of repeating melodies - so that the listener can latch on to it more easily.

  • Change up of melody

Having said that you need lots of repeating melody (hooks), it is also important to change up the type of melody you are using. There are three basic types of melody;

  1. The melody stays on the same note pretty much the whole way through

  2. The melody goes up or down a scale or a "ladder"

  3. The melody has big intervals between notes - going from a lower note to a very high note. Take Wrecking Ball again, this one has lots of intervals within the first verse on nearly every other word.

By changing up the type of melody you're using, you're keeping the listener interested - but don't forget those hooks! It's a delicate balance.

  • Provoke emotion

This one is a biggy. The whole reason people love music and connect with music is because it provokes emotion. If music doesn't do this then why would someone bother listening to it?

Now, the song can trigger any kind of emotion you want; from sadness to anger to joy to long as the song provokes emotion. You can't be sure that someone else will experience the emotions you intended from your song - or any at all, but a good place to start is to honestly ask yourself if the song provokes your own emotions. Or are you just going through the motions?

  • Fresh perspective

I think this one is pretty important too. Why would someone listen to your song over another if there isn't anything special about it? If you aren't approaching a topic with a fresh perspective? You should keep it in mind when you're writing. Think about being the listener and ask yourself if you're adding any value to them with your song, that another song perhaps doesn't give.

Take Adele's Someone Like You. This is a heartbreak song about parting ways with someone. There are thousands of songs about the exact same thing. What makes this some so popular and so special? She is looking at the end of a relationship with a positive mind and an interesting concept; "I'll find someone like you". I'm sure this resonates with a lot of people and that's why it captures listeners.

  • Genuineness

This is my most important factor. As a listener, I am immediately not interested in a song if I think that it is fake - that the artist isn't being genuine. This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves with music. The whole point of music is to express yourself, so why would you write something that doesn't actual do that and is just a pretence? I think people can tell the different between a fake and a genuine song and I think it makes a huge difference to whether the song is good or not.