Songwriter Theory Podcast
Episode 16

10 Reasons Your Song Sucks

Joseph Vadala published on

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Episode Writeup:

1. You Used Cliches

If I hear one more song talk about “never getting older” I’m gonna punch my computer screen. For frame of reference, the screen cost me about $200. Worth it.

Guess what? Something can be cold without being compared to ice. Also, things besides knives cut. I don’t want to hear about being “cut like a knife”. Stop it.

If you’re on your knees, get up. Save the knees for your proposal. And not everything happens “tonight”. Just because you work all day during the week doesn’t mean the daytime doesn’t have some experiences to offer.

Stop it. Stop. The. Cliches.

2. You had Nothing New To Say

We don’t need another basic breakup song. We’ve been “blessed” with Taylor Swift for years and years and years of that crap. Heartbreak is a great subject but have something new to bring to the table.

It needs to be genuine to your experience, if you try to water it down so everyone can relate to every line, the magic is gone and you have reduced your song to “nothing new to say”.

Translation: You made your song suck. Stop it.

3. You Forced a Rhyme

Let me guess. The reason some lyrics make no sense whatsoever is that you felt you “need to rhyme”. Well, congratulations, you made your song suck. Stop forcing the rhyme. No one notices if it rhymes and no one cares.

You know what they do care about? How much your song sucks after forcing the rhyme. Stop it.

4. You Forced the Second Verse

Really? You took all those months to write your song. You spent hours dwelling on 2 different interval options for some random riff no one cares about.

And yet your second verse is a miserable hunk of junk that has enough metaphorical duct tape on it to surround the earth.

Stop it. Rewrite and revise that verse until it’s actually good. Not just “a bunch of words that vaguely fit the theme, syllables, and rhyme scheme of the first verse”.

5. You Wrote a Vanilla and Forgettable Melody

Do you even remember your own melody? If it’s never been a tune you desired to hum in the shower, why would anyone else want to? Do you have emotion? Good, then show it with your melodies.

Dang. Nothing wrong with a little passion. In fact, if you have no passion, get out of music and stop ruining it.

6. You Wrote a Chorus that Doesn’t Shine

You know the sun? What does that do? It shines. If your chorus doesn’t shine, no one wants any part of this song.

Your chorus being a let down is like killing the main character in the first combat sequence. Does Batman die the first fight he has with the Joker? Nope. So, be a bro, save Batman, and write a chorus that shines.

7. You Didn’t Bother To Make Sure the Lyrics Flowed

Are your lyrics more awkward than your first dance with someone you liked? Do the lyrics step on toes and not know whether to look at your partner or the wall? Do they even know if they should keep arm distance or come in tight?

Stop it. The lyrics should flow. Not only should syllables be more or less the same, but the emphasis the melody puts on words or parts of words should make sense.

8. Your Instrumentation Is Forgettable

You just had to just do block piano chords didn’t you? Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se. But having a riff once in a while wouldn’t kill you. In fact, it would make your songs suck less.

You know what’s better than a full band making your song better? Your song kicking metaphorical butt with just you and your instrument tearing it up.

9. You Tried Too Hard to Make the Song Something It Isn’t

Let the song be the song. Don’t force it to be a rock song because you’re a “rock guy” and think you’re too cool to write a song sans electric guitars turned up to 11. If you usually have a poppy and catchy chorus, but this song is about despair, DON’T FORCE IT TO BE A CONFUSING HAPPY SOUNDING CHORUS WITH DEPRESSING LYRICS.

Stop. It.

Let the song live. Let the song be what it needs to be.

10. You Stopped at “Good Enough”

You lazy bum. How dare you stop at “good enough”. Edit it AGAIN. Rework that guitar riff. Change up the chords a bit. Make the piano part shine.

Don’t settle.

 

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