Looking for the beginning?

Looking for somewhere to start? Check out Song 1 here!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Secrets Of The Pop Song: more thoughts

The second and third programmes in this very interesting series are now online here, and you can read my musings on the first show here.

  • What makes a song a hit? Boy George says "Airplay."  There's a lot to this.  One thing the programme didn't mention is the amout of money paid by record companies to plug their artists' records (or, indeed, get them onto BBC documentaries writing songs with Guy Chambers).  Lamont Dozier of Motown writing legends Holland Dozier Holland, on the other hand, says "I don't know - and I've had, like, 78 top ten hits."
  • Another guilty pleasure (if harsh) from Boy George, who's actually coming across very well in this series (normally gets right on my wires): "People say 'Oh you've got to admire them because they've been so successful and sold so many records.'  I don't.  Arms dealers do well."
  • Guy Chambers "has written over a thousand songs, and had 21 hit singles."  That's a 2% success rate, which puts things in perspective for whining songwriters like me who complain they're not getting their piece of the pie!  Indeed, while the radio pluggers were going wild about the Ballad from the first show, they were unconvinced about the Breakthrough Single from the second show, and weren't even shown commenting on the third programme's Anthem.  Both of those songs were good... but not great.  And this is from one of the UK's most renowned writers - but where he scores over others is that he'll keep on writing those fifty songs until he gets the one that works.  (Interesting moment in the third programme where after a day of pounding out three ideas with The Noisettes, he wasn't afraid to ditch all three and pound out another three ideas.  Excellent).
Deals with a 98% failure rate very well
  • Is there anybody in the top 40 at the moment who isn't from a stage school, a reality show, or the loins of a record executive?  Nepotism's always been around, and of course A&R people are going to make stage schools their first stop, but the industry does seem to be more than usually saturated... or is that just me being jaded?  It'll be interesting to see what happens when the BRIT school's bubble finally bursts.
  • Writing songs - jamming, making random sounds/words to find a melody
  • Brian Higgins, ringleader of Xenomania, one of the best songwriting/production houses since Stock Aitken & Waterman (just Google them - fantastic track record, no pun intended) - group of half a dozen or so writers, with one decision maker.  Reminds me of Motown's quality control meetings...
  • Round Round by Sugababes: piece of new music formed basis of the track; chorus was taken from a 2-year-old track written by Xenomania co-writer Miranda Cooper.  It's easy to get precious about songs, and see them as whole pieces; but if you have one song with a great chorus and nothing much else, and another song with a great verse and nothing much else, why not try and clag them together?
Tried to find a pic of the Sugababes' current line-up
but nobody knows who's in the group this month

  • Rich Harrison, producer of (amongst other things) Beyonce's Crazy In Love and Amerie's One Thing, talks about starting with an instrumental, then "grunting" a melody over the top of it until it forms itself into something workable.  Seeing a pattern here?
  • Group writing - Tawiah singing her melody/lyric; Chambers suggesting she changes the odd word, then adding his own counter melody.
Another argument breaks out over who wrote the mid 8

  • Jessie J: "80% of my time is taken up with talking about making music, not actually making music."  Seems like a smart girl - reckon she'll be around for a while.  Incidentally, BBC, her career did not "start with writing songs for Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift."  Nobody's career starts there!
  • Quote of the series from Sting: "My critical factors are highly attuned." It's nice to know that as empires rise and fall, Sting will always be a complete knob. :o)
Sumner's Constant
Also on this week were a couple of shows about Ray Davies and The Kinks and a superb documentary on Harry Nilsson - watch it now if you haven't already!

1 comment:

Jess said...

"Incidentally, BBC, her career did not "start with writing songs for Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift." Nobody's career starts there!"

Very true. Great post! x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...