Avoid Writing a Boring Song

Boring songs do not get listeners. And yet, what do I find myself writing when I have such an awesome idea for these lyrics and it’s gonna be totally amazing? Thaaaaat’s right–a boring song.

Or what about when I find a melody that’s just crazily beautiful and I gotta find words to go with it right now or I’m gonna burst? Yup–I end up writing a boring song.

What prevents such awesome lyrics or beautiful melodies from being interesting? Well, I find that when you focus too hard on the lyrics and message of a song, the melody and chords–what really carries the message to your audience’s minds–go by the wayside. Ultimately, you end up with a really weighty song, like a cake that’s dense and chewy instead of light and fluffy (and yummy).

Conversely, when you work really hard at the melody and chords of a song and forget about the lyrics and message, the words of the song seem not to match up to the beauty of the music. It’s like trying to match a lovely, subtle striped pattern with a garish, huge polka-dot pattern; the delicacy of the former is overshadowed by the brightness and boldness of the latter.

Can You Quantify “Boring Music” or “Boring Lyrics?”

Well, I’m not sure, but I’m going to try. Here’s some examples of how a songwriter can bore audiences to death, at least in my opinion:

Boring Lyrics Boring Music
  • Introductory verse is too long/wordy
  • Too much “meaning” has been crammed into the song
  • Lots of trite or unnatural rhymes/word rhythms
  • Introductory music without words goes on too long
  • Music between first chorus and second verse repeats too much of the intro
  • Melody is reused over and over without any innovation

When your melody/chords sound like they repeat themselves ad nauseum, or the lyrics just don’t sound natural, your audience is going to be turned off (trust me, been there, done that :C ). You can just tell when their minds start to drift away and stop relating to what you’re singing about. Any time your music and lyrics are not in balance, any time they tug against each other for attention rather than supporting each other, your song becomes a drag to listen to.

Well, What Makes “Interesting Lyrics” and “Interesting Music?”

I believe the following examples are ways we as songwriters can make our songs more interesting to hear:

Interesting Lyrics Interesting Music
  • Introductory verse frames the “story” of the song
  • Song contains just a kernel of meaning, and builds emotion around it
  • Rhymes/word rhythms sound natural
  • Wordless introduction lasts just long enough to set a mood
  • Main melodic theme of the song is strengthened between verses with accompanying, grounding chords
  • Main melody is toyed with between verses, or a secondary melody is added

Wait, This All Looks a Bit Formulaic

I admit, this seems more like a mathematical formula or scientific theory rather than the stereotypically ethereal and beautiful practice of writing music. And I agree, sometimes good songs just form–they pop into existence in minutes, and it feels as if its chords and its words fit perfectly together without any help from you. But sometimes, especially if you’re struggling to write a new song, it’s hard to figure out what will be listened to and what won’t be.

That’s why I started coming up with this listing, as a way to educate myself about the creation of music (especially music that includes lyrics). Songwriting, at least for me, is kind of like speech-writing combined with music performance–you’re trying to get across a verbal message, but at the same time couch it within melodies and chords that are easy on the ear. How do you get someone to listen to a speech? You make it relatable and meaningful without being heavy. Same thing with a song–it must mean something and be memorable.


Boring songs, suffering from either lyric failure or melody/chord failure, do not have to stay boring! Thankfully, music and lyrics can be rewritten and revised till they both support each other, and an interesting and lovely song emerges. Believe me, it’s possible to make a previously boring song into something magical to listen to!

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