How to Write a Hit Song in the 21st Century

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by YaniDee, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. YaniDee

    YaniDee Active Member

    Dec 3, 2017
    Not a judgement, but a (humorous ..cynical?) summary of some elements of current pop music.
    Frankly, I'm still writing "traditional" music (that's why I'm taking empties to the store for extra cash..)

    Here goes:

    Try not to use more than 3 - 4 notes in the melody..two is pretty good.
    For rap, one note will do.

    Don't make it too "melodic"

    Repeat "motif" as much as possible

    Keep lyrics as minimal as possible (except for rap)

    Avoid "stories" or anything "deep"

    Use "woo" "whoa" "yea" & "uh-huh" liberally.

    You can still use the occasional "millenial whoop"

    Do not to use more than 4 chords..One or two is quite good

    Avoid II V I or even V I

    Avoid all chord extensions

    Avoid "organic" instruments. Guitar or piano is ok for a "retro" sound

    Get some good rhythmic loops

    Master your "copy & Paste" skills

    Don't forget to put beautiful girls in the video & enjoy the cash you'll make!

    As an example..

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
    artmuz, FriFlo, TGV and 3 others like this.
  2. SchnookyPants

    SchnookyPants I never metaphor I didn't like

    Apr 26, 2016
    42.709, -83.020
    Wait! It's the 21st century?
    JEPA likes this.
  3. Jimmy Hellfire

    Jimmy Hellfire Senior Member

    Jun 28, 2015
    Haha. I didn't know "millenial yelp" was a term. I was just ranting about that a few days ago.

    I'm rarely exposed to pop music. But whenever I am, I'm appalled. It's disgusting, twisted, pathetic. It's for imbeciles.
    NameOfBand and Rasmus Hartvig like this.
  4. Tfis

    Tfis Active Member

    Jan 13, 2016
    Use bass drops...a lot of them.
  5. Divico

    Divico Senior Member

    You forgot to add steal and rape!
    When being exposed to pop music on radio in public places or TV I realized how cold blooded these artists steal melodies and more from tracks popular a couple of years later, selling it as their own. Also popular is: Take a classic hit -> rape it til it gets the shape of your genre (make it dubbbbbbstp for example). Let the millenials praise your work (i was born mid 90s so maybe i shouldnt throw stones here :P)

    Imo your example is already too good for todays standards. Too catchy and musical.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
    NameOfBand likes this.
  6. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

    Sep 7, 2015
    E. YeeHaw, Indiana
    Just make sure you don't write Rock music and then you have a chance in the music world today.

    (I write that regretfully, having learned my lesson eight years ago).
    James H, Morning Coffee and enyawg like this.
  7. ein fisch

    ein fisch Dreamer

    Jul 6, 2016
    Switzerland, Zürich
    IMO staying simple as the above (and leave away your ego that wants to make that extremely unique and weird chord progression to show-off with) is pretty much the hardest job for a musician
, brek, Akarin and 4 others like this.
  8. germancomponist

    germancomponist Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    The stupidity is spreading more and more ... :)
    Parsifal666 likes this.
  9. R. Soul

    R. Soul Senior Member

    Jan 7, 2006
    London, UK
  10. Ned Bouhalassa

    Ned Bouhalassa Senior Member

    Sep 30, 2004
    There’s crap in every musical genre. Or maybe your sh*t smells like roses. Also, since it’s so easy, we’re all going to be filthy rich by next month using these formulas, right?
  11. GtrString

    GtrString Active Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    Video with lots of bare skin also required..
  12. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

    Sep 7, 2015
    E. YeeHaw, Indiana
    Post of the day.
    germancomponist likes this.
  13. Tfis

    Tfis Active Member

    Jan 13, 2016
  14. OP

    YaniDee Active Member

    Dec 3, 2017
    Like I said at the beginning of my post, I'm not judging it. The example I gave is catchy, has an awesome beat and i'd dance to it (if I still went out dancing..). As a person who has a music degree and has studied music going back a thousand years ( check out Gregorian chant for simple but effective melody) I am just summarizing some elements of current pop styles. Yes, the implication is that it's simplistic, superficial and frankly, I don't think people will go to concert halls in a hundred years to listen to it. The one thing that really bugs me is the decline of melody, as that is what stands the test of time.
    Gaffable likes this.
  15. muk

    muk Senior Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    This guy is fantastic!
  16. OP

    YaniDee Active Member

    Dec 3, 2017
    I agree, and there's a Part 2. He says it better than I do. He's just missing the Brazilian women to make it big!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  17. halfwalk

    halfwalk Member

    May 13, 2017
    Step 1: Get on the internet and complain about how music isn't good anymore and insinuate that "traditional" music is superior in every way. Try not to sound too bitter or jealous.

    Step 2: Pretend that acts like Radiohead, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Johnny Cash, MGMT, U2, Jason Mraz, Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys, Pharrell Williams, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Madonna, Lorde, Outkast, The White Stripes, John Mayer, Daft Punk, Eminem, The Flaming Lips, Deadmau5, Adele, Linkin Park, Sara Bareilles, Audioslave, Mary J. Blige, The Killers, Imogen Heap, Alicia Keys, CeeLo Green, Gotye, Imagine Dragons, Train, Sufjan Stevens, Snow Patrol, Macy Gray, and anyone else who doesn't fit your description but still put out moderately interesting 21st century hit songs, just straight up doesn't exist. Hey, gotta build that narrative.

    Step 3: Profit!

    I guess I feel like this sentiment basically boils down to: "I don't like what's on the radio." And the solution is simple: turn off the radio. There is truly excellent music being released today, but you gotta find it. Clear Channel won't help you there.

    A fitting analogy might be fast food. We could discuss the culinary deficiencies of McDonald's, or how Taco Bell is basically just repackaging the same 6 crappy ingredients in novel ways. But that's fine, because they didn't set out to make excellent food. They set out to make a profit, and they're doing pretty great at it.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
    BezO, ghobii, Akarin and 3 others like this.
  18. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires To the stars through desire....

    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
    And yet with that formula, you’d still be surprised how difficult it is to write a pop song.
  19. MrLinssi

    MrLinssi A glorified bedroom musician.

    Oct 1, 2016
    Bad stuff in every genre. Hell, I love metal yet I think most of it sucks. But Dave Grohl put it really nicely when asked about the pop stuff you hear in the radio..."I think it's good when you're stuck in traffic, but that's about it."
    Soundhound likes this.
  20. OP

    YaniDee Active Member

    Dec 3, 2017
    I agree...I have thousands of loops I've bought and occasionally I put something together with them, but, as other people have mentioned in other posts , I don't feel "right" about it..I'm not saying it's wrong or there's no place for it. But when a song is 90% loops with a three note melody and a "hook" that repeats 20 times, well, I'm not impressed..
    I'm not talking about bands like that..
    But in the 60s, 70s , 80s, etc every week there were five or more "classics' that would come out, that people are still enjoying listening to 40+ years later! It is what it is..I guess I'm retro.

    Anyhow , Im going to stop defending my views..the post was meant to be humorous..
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
    Gaffable likes this.

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