A Song Title Should Give You Options

A song title is one of the most important parts of your song.

I usually try and give myself as much flexibility as possible when writing, so I tend to use a working title and tell myself to wait for the hook before I commit.

Since your hook often ends up in your title (though it’s been known not to), deciding on a title first could limit where the song goes – which could result in a predictable, same-old-same-old song. Not what any of us are looking for on a regular basis.

So, here are a few tips for finding the title and giving yourself options:

  1. Let the song help you come up with something unique – use a working title or nothing when you start. Sometimes I’ll just write something like “Clock Song” at the top for a reference.
  2. Keep it as short as possible, but it should still make sense and be compelling. I’m not a huge fan of “cut out some words” since it often leads to poor prosody in your lyric. Remember, it’s about what the song needs, so you could end up with a longish title because you just need a hook that long.
  3. And my favorite: Try to write your chorus with a hook that leaves you with some great vowel sounds in the power positions (spots like the first few words of the chorus or the end of your last line in the chorus).
    • Spots like the first few words of the chorus or the end of your last line in the chorus.
    • This gives the vocalist some opportunities to add some dynamics to your song.

Let’s look at an examples across a few genres. This is a simple way to create a powerful song.

“What Hurts the Most” written by Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson and performed by: Jo O’Meara (Pop), Rascal Flatts (Country), and Cascada (Eurodance group):

The hook is in the power position at the top of the chorus, and allows for a rhyme with an long “o” sound. Creating a couplet (two lines with the same rhyme sound in a row) with the next line “is being so close.”

The chorus also keeps the couplet rhyme pattern to separate it from the rhyme pattern of the verse.

In the Rascal Flatts version, to fully leverage the line “What Hurts the Most,” the song uses a musical break to isolate the lines for a vocal rise in pitch in the third chorus. This was all set up with a strong, open vowel sound.

It’s interesting to see how production of a song can change the impact.

Which one uses the hook the best when coupled with the production?

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