Avoid Lyric Fail and fix it before it can happen!
Lyric Fail is leaving weak lyric lines in your song and calling the song “finished!”
You’re working on your next best song… but the second line feels awkward
Instead of changing something, you ignore your own ears… and settle for good instead of going for great!
When you’re writing, especially free writing or brainstorming… it’s best to write down the first thought or idea you come up with. Working intuitively, you’re trying to get down your first impressions…
When you’re editing, hunting for and fixing your “okay” lyrics to transform them into songwriting brilliance is all in a day’s work.
It’s frustrating when you have a thousand opinions about every song you hear and how you’d have written something better…but you can’t find a way to make your good lines great, or push your great song to the next level!
Editing Your Lyrics…
Can be frustrating when you just want to call the song finished! Or even worse, when you know there’s a problem but you don’t know what or how to fix it!
Hunting for Lyric Fails
Comes down to one of two questions:
- What should I change?
- What should I change it to?
Still with me? Good, let’s fix your song…
1. What should I change to avoid that Lyric Fail?
Start with the message of the song… write it down, 2 sentences maximum.
When you can clearly state what you are trying to do, it’s easier to do it!
What is your song about?
Try a couple of versions and keep the best one.
Next, find the strong parts of your song… and keep them.
Circle anything that feels
- Distracts from the message you want to share in the song.
Listen to yourself… your feelings can tell you something’s wrong even when you can’t explain why!
If you feel uncomfortable, bored or uncertain your feelings are telling you something’s wrong in your song.
You Can Already Hear What Is and Isn’t Working…
You just haven’t heard the best version yet!
If you’re honest. you know what is right and what is wrong with your song. Listen to the song and listen to yourself!
Then get a second opinion by testing your songs!
Someone else might have a helpful idea… listen to what they say (and what they don’t say).
Find out what works and what resonates with them.
- Play it for someone you trust,
- Play it for an audience at an open mic / songwriter’s group
- Then talk to people,
- Ask them what lines they remember best
This process has helped me avoid countless lyric fails!
2. What should I change it to so I avoid that Lyric Fail?
First, write down / remind yourself, what:
- Is the song about?
- Story do I want to tell?
- Do I want to say?
- Emotions do I want to evoke?
Answer these questions then go back and check the spots you circled in your song…
My Favorite Lyric Fail Solutions
- Massage the lyrics (small changes)
- Move the lyric elsewhere in the song
- Cut the lyric and use other words in their spot
Massage the Lyrics
Speak it, sing it, dance it…
Squeeze, stretch, pull…
- Words or phrases
- Imagery and metaphors
- Rhyme pairs by brainstorming rhyme words
- Rhymes by changing the last word of ending of a line
My Best Advice:
Sing it… I’ve discovered brilliant new lyrics by singing a wrong word or a phrase that was better than my original lyric. Sing it a few more times before trying to write it down.
Try moving words, lines, pairs of lines, even entire sections in new places in your song.
I’ve used all of these techniques:
• Make the second verse the first verse
• Switch rhyming lines with each other
• Make 3 verses into 2 verses
• Make the first verse the chorus
• Put the hook in a different place in your chorus
• Repeat a line
• Change the number of lines in a section
• Changing the arrangement of: verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, refrain, transitions
The order you wrote the lyrics in isn’t always the best order for the final version of the song!
If they aren’t working for this song, out they go and save them for another song,
It’s okay, those erased lyrics and verses still exist in your notebooks and can find their way into another song!
Repeat after me: “I’ll write many more songs!”
Avoid Lyric Fail: Summary
Your first idea may not be the best idea.
Editing is more difficult than you’d expect
Figure out what to change, then
What to change it to!
Write the best song you can, but don’t expect perfection… the “perfect song myth” has blocked songwriters of all ability levels.
Release the best song you can write!