Loving my neighbor as myself, thoughts on current and hot topics, inspiration, music, art, and poetry

Songwriting: Hit, Plateau, and Experimental

Updated 1/09/18

There are three kinds of songs for the songwriter. Hit, Plateau, and Experimental. If you have written a “hit” song, you’ll know it, and its easy to identify because it will get immediate, not delayed positive feedback. (Note: In this study, I am using the term “hit” song in terms of a good song vs a bad song, not necessarily a song that is on the billboard top 10 already.” Plateau songs are the ones that have a great a message, but not a good sound, and Experimental songs are not always good sounding, but sometimes are necessary for exercise purposes.

On plateau’s: I call them plateau songs, because the author writes a song with a message they love and are really excited about, and they try to force the song to be a hit by singing it in a higher register , or always high in the octave throughout the song, hence the “plateau.” I am tempted to harshly criticize bands or artists doing this, because it’s so obviously not working, but even if I do, they likely will not listen anyways, because they are way up on their “plateau” of emotion. They often are obsessed with the message to the point that will actually try to force it to be a hit, and it’s not possible. Plateauing doesn’t work, you just have to go back and rewrite the song until it’s right. A good message or very heartfelt message doesn’t mean it’s a hit.  I think some writers are under the impression that if it comes from deep in the heart, people will catch the picture. No, They wont, unless the listener is another plateauer, lol. Now you have two plateauers in the mix doing their thing, and they sound like two dogs howling at the moon or something. Come down from there young strapper!

Experimental songs on the other hand are good even though they may not sound that good, but is kind of designed to help the artist grow on a spiritual level, over time leading to a hit song. Experimental songs are the reason why an album has either eight bad songs, and one or two hit songs, or eight hit songs, and one or two bad songs. It’s really a combination of experimenting and trying to meet the deadline for their next album. Personally, I think artists should only have one or two of them on an album, and the rest hit songs, but it’s just reality that it doesn’t always work out that way. Now if your Pink Floyd, even your experimental songs are usually good. You might be wondering what’s the importance of experimental songs, and I’ve heard DJ’s comment on this before. It’s basically where most new music comes from. It’s like a paint artist who sometimes has to digest the idea over a period of months before they can add that artistic touch.

Hit songs: I think hit songs are songs that are relatable, sound good, and are fun. On top of a good message or expression, fun is really the key to a hit rock song. The singers voice should go high, go low, go middle, and just bring a variety of fun in the melody. In every professional hit song, you will find variety in the melody, and then the singer does their part by adding the finishing touches by harmonizing it in a way that no other can do. I’ve also noticed that most hit songs have a poetic name to it, so that’s another hint for you. Back in the day when I wanted to sample music, I would just look through the song list, and just skip right to the songs that have a poetic name, and like 90 percent of the time, it’s an amazing song. I will end with this, another mans trash is another mans treasure, so I’m not saying that your plateau can’t be a hit, it just really comes down to what you value most, and think others value as well.

So in short, don’t plateau, do experiment, but don’t make your audience pay for eight terrible songs, just so they can get to the two hit songs.


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