How to Write a Hit Song in the 21st Century

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

  1. I agree about the disappearance/ vanishing of melodies, especially melodies with a few more notes and the monotonism and repeatism of lot of songs. And also have to say that it's not so easy to do some formulaish stuff with just less ideas.
    Right now I'm trying to do a hiphop-piece and I studied some ingredients which have to be there. First take missed the point. Too many breaks and changes.
    Hm, starting again after listening and watching some typical stuff... there is so much in minimalism there, some hats in triplets for a short time, or just some rare ticks here and there. Though it still sounds often too monotonous and builds on only one theme.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  2. kmaster

    kmaster Now in LA: let's get coffee!

    That's how we say "always" in LA ;)
    Soundhound and MrLinssi like this.
  3. Studio E

    Studio E Eric Watkins

    There are people doing amazing things these days. They just don't get near the attention they should. This guy made me pay attention to lyrics again for the first time in 30 years.

    dflood likes this.
  4. dflood

    dflood Active Member

    Jun 14, 2017
    Ya, I feel like if you are going to sing, make the words mean something. Just a suggestion.

    Studio E likes this.
  5. Studio E

    Studio E Eric Watkins

    It’s always good to meet another Isbell fan. He’s kind of given me a whole new path of listening enjoyment, and one that feels really important.
    dflood likes this.
  6. Illico

    Illico Samuel Le Tonquèze

    omg pretty good result ! haha
  7. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I like how, at 2:14, he glosses over, "...pad it out a bit and sprinkle some magic production dust over it..." That's like saying, "Now that you've got most of the gears, add a few more parts, sprinkle some magic dust, and you, too, can build an automatic transmission."

    I like the OP's post because it is a humorous observation based on truth. A lot of modern hits, when dissected and mapped out on paper, truly seem to have been stamped out of a cookie cutter:
    • Short, unique intro that is instantly recognizable
    • Starts simple and builds with instrumental elements
    • Chorus is reached within 30-40 seconds
    • Structured around three to six (usually four) chord progression
    • Lyrics are extremely simple (literally 1st-3rd grade reading level)
    Pop music is believed to have evolved to this formula because of the decreased attention span of today's youth. They want the message of the song delivered clearly and quickly.

    Max Martin says that the greatest thing is when an amazing singer sings something very simple, and creating something simple yet interesting is very difficult to do. I believe that's true. As much as I don't like the oversimplifcation of lyrics and the formula approach, the "magic production dust" that goes into these songs is often nothing short of amazingly creative.
  8. Divico

    Divico Senior Member

    A friend just sent me this. NSFW!
    Great summary of the above mentioned recipe. The music is just pain in my ears. The video ... Well almost soft porn... on youtube.
    This ones even better ...

    Moderator note: Two videos have been removed from this post as we do not find this forum to be a suitable place for them. The videos in question are available elsewhere online as:
    - "Music Video - Rae Sremmurd - Throw Sum Mo" (unofficial)
    - "Young Dolf - Want It All.mp4"
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2019
  9. MrLinssi

    MrLinssi A glorified bedroom musician.

    Oct 1, 2016
    Jesus F. Christ...
  10. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

    Sep 14, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Those videos are very funny (the English guy and the love song).

    Of course, this is the classic:

    Living Fossil likes this.
  11. jules

    jules Julien Duc

    Feb 6, 2013
    This (very funny) video sums it pretty well, imo, especially the part about lyrics :
    dzilizzi and AlexanderSchiborr like this.
  12. And another one. Repeat Repeat Repeat.

  13. Living Fossil

    Living Fossil Senior Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    The music is questionable, but that serve at 2:05 in the second video is really very week.
    I have no idea why youtube doesn't delete this.
    It will spoil generations of aspiring tennis players.
    Hywel likes this.
  14. OP

    YaniDee Active Member

    Dec 3, 2017
    Wow! Great example of how little it takes to be a "musician' these days. It doesn't get any simpler and repetitive..He stays on one note for half the song, and then "modulates" up to the next note. The only thing it's got going for it is the first entry of the low bass frequency..and the tiger.
    Think of how much the Beatles put into a 2 minute song..
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
    Thomas Kallweit likes this.
  15. cqd

    cqd Member

    May 23, 2018
    Making music is so ten years ago..

    Making youtube videos about making music is where it's at these days..
  16. GtrString

    GtrString Active Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    If audiences doesnt pay, they cant get the a-game. You get what you pay for, thats modern recorded music. Live is where real music is happening, and thats where people put their money!
  17. Parsifal666

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

    Sep 7, 2015
    E. YeeHaw, Indiana
    I kind of gave up on love songs after this, the ultimate.

    James H likes this.
  18. halfwalk

    halfwalk Member

    May 13, 2017
    That form of minimalism is kind of its own art form. By contrast, I've heard some member compositions here where it's like "Wow that's impressive... but it sounds like you just tried to squeeze every device you've ever studied into that 11 minute thing" and I find that sort of thing kind of turns me off to the song, no matter how impressive it may be.

    On the other hand, put on some A Tribe Called Quest and people in the room can't help but at least nod their heads to it. It sets a mood, and then gets out of the way. And I think that's kind of the point of a lot of the mainstream music we hear now; it's about conveying a certain mood/texture/feeling/style, rather than trying to weave a narrative arc or a complex story (like a lot of the stuff we seem to emulate around here, e.g. Williams/Horner/Elfman/Silvestri et al).

    Yeah, that brand of hip-hop might lack the level of development and structure you seek as a trained musician/composer, but that was never its goal. And yeah, we can talk about how today's pop artists don't make music like the Beatles did. But you know what? They don't want to. And that's fine. If you want The Beatles, go listen to them. Their records aren't going anywhere.

    So if you go looking for this deep substance in a place where none was actually intended (i.e. today's pop hits in question by the OP), then it's really about a mismatch of expectations. Some people are fishing for king crab in a swimming pool, and then blaming the pool when they don't catch any.

    My point is, even the mindless drivel out there is just fine, as long as you accept it for what it is instead of treating it like what you think it should have been. It serves its purpose just fine, or else it wouldn't be as prevalent and successful as it is.

    And besides, there's tons of excellent music being made today that does (in my opinion) live up to, or even surpass, the standard of quality that made the classics, well, classic. You just won't hear it on the mainstream radio stations.

    (I mean the proverbial you, of course.)
  19. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires To the stars through desire....

    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
    Ah, a classic!
    Parsifal666 likes this.
  20. TigerTheFrog

    TigerTheFrog I'm supposed to be working now.

    Nov 18, 2016
    Brooklyn, NY
    If you're going to run the Axis of Awesome clip, you can't leave out this classic:

    Gaffable and dzilizzi like this.

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