Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How to Make a Hit Country Song

Welcome to Nashville
"I used to think that lyrics were the number-one driving force in a good song, but I find that over my years writing these songs, that it's not." - Dallas Davidson.

After reading this article in Rolling Stone with quotes from "Nashville's top songwriters," I think I still shake my head at what some consider a good song.  I honestly cannot remember Billboard, Music Row, Country Aircheck, or any of those chart positions of a song.  Do you remember any of the number one songs were during the month of June in 2012? Me neither.

What I do remember are the songs, the lyrics, the meaning and more of particular songs.  We all have that song that takes us back to a happier time, a sad time, the best time of our life, the love of our life, the loss of a loved one, relationships, and more.

There is a problem with the formula of the "14 Simple Rules for Writing a Country Hit" article that Rolling Stone has out on display.  They should mention that those simple rules are annoyances among traditionalists of music.

#1: Nothing is more important than melody. (Just covered that above)

#2: Work in Groups.  Really?  Why does it take 456,987 people to write the horrible lyric "Baby you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise."  English teachers cringe at this lyric.  What happened to someone sitting down by themselves to write an honest song of their own adventures?  Granted, sometimes a song like "Give It Away" was written by Jamey Johnson, Bill Anderson, and Buddy Cannon comes out great.  And then you have horrible songs that it looks like the room of writers put together words on magnetic sheets and slapped them against a fridge.  Sometimes less is more.

#3: Think Summer Not Bummer.  How many more beach songs, summer time songs , down by the lake songs, cruisin' in my pickup truck chasing moonlight songs, chick wearing short daisy duke songs that fit just right songs do we need to set on repeat?  Kenny Chesney wore fans out with the beach songs and they became disposable predictable songs for him.  Then he threw in "You and Tequila" and we saw another side of Kenny Chesney.  I'm sorry, not everyone is a party animal, beach bum, tailgate Saturday night party goer.  

#4: Country Tends to Follow Pop Trends — Just a Few Years Behind.  Thanks for warning us that country granny will be twerking soon.

#5. Practice Your –Ella, -Ella, -Ella. Turn that station off, off, off. Anything that repeats itself is fun the first time. Then it is annoying the rest of the time. It's not catchy, it's cringing.

#6. Don't Mince Words. Ok, I'll agree with this one.

#7. Unpack Your Adjectives. Only if it goes well together unlike the beautiful bird of paradise that will fly up your big ole huge nostrils in your nose.

#8. Listen to Music Besides Country.  I do listen to quite a bit beyond country. However, to me mixing rap with country is like oil and water. Keep them separate.

#9. Pay Attention to Words Happening Around You.  Apparently they didn't listen in English class after trying to comprehend some of the lyrics in songs these days.

#10. Write What You Know. Apparently chicks only are only blonde hair, wearing tight painted on jeans that fit just right, we all drive trucks, there is some body of water down to find your true love, and we all love Fireball Whiskey and moonshine. 

#11. Quiet Verse, Explosive Chorus Still Rules the Roost. It's all rock and roll man, don't ya know?! It's all fun and games until someone attempts to sing that explosive chorus in a talent contest or karaoke contest and it turns into explosive diarrhea of the mouth.

#12. Don't Be Afraid of Hip-Hop.  I keep wondering if someone has ever asked Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, and other rappers their thoughts on country music.

#13. Break All the Rules!  Go on with your bad self and be an outlaw.  Don't forget the Bleeding Cowboy Font for your band name logo and all merchandise.

So there you have it.  Pack your bags, run to Nashville, gather a few friends, sip on some moonshine, drive a truck, listen to rap, and you might be able to write a hit song for country music.