Why Modern Songwriters/Lyricists Suck

Just my thoughts on modern popular music, songwriting and lyrics. A deeper look, not just blaming companies and stuff.

Why Modern Songwriters/Lyricists Suck
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Greetings, people! Johnny Andrew here! I don't know if I can call this a lesson... Maybe something like a hate post towards modern music and publishers! Ok UG, just kidding, please don't delete my post! :D You can say, it's something that can make us think, so it could end up as a lesson, after all! 

I'm now listening to Scar Symmetry - "Slaves to the Subliminal" (Yeah \m/). I'm not the biggest fan of death metal, but certain bands attract me and this particular band always makes me think and turn philosophical! While listening carefully to their music and lyrics, I asked myself, "why isn't everything like that?"... I don't mean that everything should be death metal, but everything could at least offer something more to music and help things evolve... 

Ok, now let's speak more in general. How many times have you listened to an album of your favourite genre, that doesn't make you feel anything? How many times have you listened to songs that exist only to "fill the empty space" of an album? How many times have you listened to songs that do not make any sense, lyrically and musically? Songs that are just a bunch of riffs? Songs that exist only to impress, technically? And last but not least, how many times do you HEAR music and not LISTEN to music? The answer is "probably a lot more times that you can think of right now."

And how come a song can't make someone feel something? How can it make us feel?

1) What does the song support?

A musician is someone who expresses himself through his music. So, he must have something to say! He must have a reason to write for! No, money and fame is not a reason. Let's admit it, these things don't exist nowadays (or if they exist, they are temporary). We don't live in the '80s anymore. 

Every person has its own role and reason in existence. A musician (an artist, if you may) is a person who searches or may have found something in life and wants to share it with the world! He also wants the world to see for itself and not just follow him to gigs.

2) Lyrics and feel

Many lyrics of modern songs are written by a lot of lyricists together. I am not talking only about the modern pop "hit" songs... But pop artists have overdone this! How can a three-minute song repeat one word on half of its duration? I don't mean the repetition is bad... Rage Against The Machine DID repeat their lyrics many times in a song and no one ever complained... And why would someone need 5-6 lyricists just to repeat one word? Maybe, you're doing it wrong, guys... And just stop this "love" thing, could you? Why do you make the most important thing in life seem so stupid and fake? This is just wrong. 

3) Music and feel

I'm an instrumental guitarist and I just love instrumentals. But I hate showing off. Songs with abnormal titles, thousands of notes in the song, ridiculously simple backing track, extreme technique, heavy-as-hell rhythm guitars, etc... Be sincere and answer the following, please... Is there a story? Are all these well-connected? Is this a debut album/song? Maybe a first try to see how it goes? If at least one answer is "yes," then... AWESOME! You are my new god! If all answers are "no," go to No.1. Simple as that. 

4) Theory

If you surf the YouTube, you'll probably find MANY people with amazing talents. But talent is only a small portion... It needs a lot of practice and work to actually tell a story with your song. This means, spending time reading books, spending time learning theory, spending time to apply theory. You NEED theory! There are lots of people that think talent is everything, but I'll just say this: What are the odds of you being the next Mozart? I really pray with all my heart the next Mozart reads this and make a damn change!

5) Listener's side

Hey, listener! Yes, you! You're called like this because you LISTEN! You don't just HEAR music... If you'd go to a museum, would you just look at the paintings or would you observe them? So, why don't you do that with music, too? Isn't it worth it? Well, how will you know its worth if you don't listen to it? Don't forget your role in this game... Shouldn't we stop blaming the "bad guys" that "just want to sell" and take the blame for once?

Well, that's it... I didn't count how many Scar Symmetry songs I've listened until now... haha! Probably going to sleep, so... 

Thanks for reading! See ya next time!

Cheers!

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    iommi600
    Wait... number 1 starts with this: "A musician is someone who expresses himself through his music." And then you hate on musicians who write love songs and technically complex songs? Yeah, I know this may sound shocking, but... they're expressing themselves. 404 logic not found.
    tomrogue13
    He's just saying that he does not like musicians who just shred for their solos. And if thats all they do then yes it is boring. Expression should be more than just shredding
    K33nbl4d3
    People can play what they like. If you don't like it don't listen to it. It's not rocket science. What matters is that the musician enjoys making it and someone enjoys listening to it, which people clearly do.
    DFails91
    Remember, we live in an age where anybody can make music. Look at the monkey we call Lil Wayne. I honestly heard almost all his songs, and they all suck so ****ing badly. Mr. Andrew is saying stop keeping it simple. As for the shredding, how many people do you hear going for that sound nowadays? Very many. But they all sound similar as well. He's just saying things need to change up a bit in music before everything starts sounding the same
    K33nbl4d3
    He can say what he likes, but it's not his or your prerogative to tell people that the music they make or listen to is "wrong" or "crap". You're welcome to hate Lil Wayne's music, I can't stand it either, but if other people want to listen to it they can, they don't need "educating" or whatever. Shredding, well, I can think of about 5 guys since 1990 I've heard getting vaguely popular with full-on shred and even they're practically nobodies in the grander scheme of things. Trends come and go and shred is well past it. But what I'm really not understanding is what you think the actual issue is. Do you think "good music" is simply going to go away because people like styles you're not into, and everything will become a combination of Lil Wayne and Yngwie Malmsteen? As you say, anyone can make music. If you're worried about the state of music, use the internet to find something you like. It's all there.
    Genrecore
    Your concept is great but the execution is terrible. It's very generalized and sub-par in explanation. You make a claim that theory makes better song writing. Where is the HOW and WHY? Simply putting, "read books" and "cos Mozart" is worthless advice. You support your claims without evidence, and when you do, you support it with another claim that requires evidence. I understand this is an opinion piece. As the title claims, "Why Modern Songwriters/Lyricists Suck". However, it wouldn't hurt to reduce bias, furthermore, be more objective. This is at best high school level writing, but don't be discouraged, you brought up an interesting topic and perhaps future delivery maybe better.
    Arby911
    I'm glad you 'wrote' this for free, because it would be sad indeed if UG paid you for this tripe.
    archangels
    "And just stop this "love" thing, could you? Why do you make the most important thing in life seem so stupid and fake? This is just wrong." No one is ever going to stop singing about love. It may sound stupid and fake to you, but it's as real and as deep as can be to someone else.
    TheBegotten
    Eh, I have to agree with him somewhat on this point. You hear love songs, but you also here a very shallow and generic representation of love. Take "Nobody to love" by Sigma (currently top of the UK charts): I know you're tired of loving, of loving With nobody to love, nobody, nobody So just grab somebody, no leaving this party With nobody to love, nobody, nobody A drunken shag after a party does not equate to love. BTW, the song is just that four times.
    slush
    She loves you yeah yeah yeah She loves you yeah yeah yeah She loves you yeah yeah yeah yeah Pop music has certainly come a long way.
    K33nbl4d3
    It's simplistic and it's (arguably, I suppose) boring, but what negative effect of any sort does it have? People listen to it and, one imagines, enjoy it, who cares?
    archangels
    "A drunken shag after a party does not equate to love." And on what authority do you make the claim that you and only you define what love is? And completely ignoring that, when did anyone ever claim that the song you just quoted was a love song? Is it a love song just because it uses the word "love" in the lyrics? Sounds to me like it's a song about being tired of traditional notions of love and wanting something physical. Sounds to me like it has nothing to do with love songs and you're just bringing it up because you don't like the song.
    DFails91
    In all honesty, there's a difference between love and a one night stand. To love is to care about someone far more than yourself. You realize that your happiness doesn't mean shit if the one you care for isn't happy. As for one night stand, well, it's just a **** and leave. Never have to see her again. If you think this sounds bad, then realize that this goes on everyday and you're just choosing to ignore the world around you
    mikie963
    I think what he is saying is that the way some people sing about love is stupid and fake , not love itself.
    K33nbl4d3
    That goes straight back to Led Zeppelin and beyond, the fact is that simplistic representations of love are easy to make a song about. Besides, the article seems to imply that nobody writes "deep" love songs anymore, which isn't strictly true, though obviously it depends on your view of love. The fact is that writing the sort of faux-philosophical nonsense the article's writer seems to enjoy doesn't really work in a decent love song, because its effect is generally in the immediacy of the feeling presented.
    archangels
    I know. And I'm saying that the way some people sing about love is very meaningful to other people. Just because he doesn't like it doesn't mean no one should like it.
    Hansguitaristfy
    I keep hearing "Musicians have to write music for reason" ... I don't think so, I study music at Carleton University, everyone there (even the metal shredders) have come to love everything, for what it is, music. From Pharrel Williams to Queens of the Stone age. Most of those songs are for fun. and thats what the demand in the market is right now for music, is to create fun music, and we all as professional musicians enjoy delivering that. Even if I'm just playing a I IV V progression, music is open and should not be constantly narrowed down to what individuals seek it to be. It is something special and different to everyone.
    kcmoon5150
    Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me Fuck you I won't do what you tell me
    badfish_lewis
    "I'm an instrumental guitarist and I just love instrumentals. But I hate showing off. Songs with abnormal titles, thousands of notes in the song, ridiculously simple backing track, extreme technique, heavy-as-hell rhythm guitars, etc... Be sincere and answer the following, please... Is there a story? Are all these well-connected? Is this a debut album/song? Maybe a first try to see how it goes? If at least one answer is "yes," then... AWESOME! You are my new god! If all answers are "no," go to No.1. Simple as that. " I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Next time have someone proof read your submission first.
    medialint
    I've studied a good bit of theory and I appreciate a good lyric but I still like to crank up AC/DC oi oi oi oi oi oi oi ... sometimes you want to tell a story, other times you just want to scream "hey everyone, let's party!"
    MaggaraMarine
    Different music works for different situations. I have found out that I kind of enjoy listening to all the easy-to-listen-to mainstream pop songs on the radio when I'm driving for example. You don't need to focus on them because they are simple and so easy to listen to. Not all music needs to be deep (or maybe somebody only listens to deep music). Sometimes music can be about having fun. I see nothing wrong with that. Different music for different situations - I would never listen to mainstream pop on my mp3 player. It also has to do with your mood. Sometimes you want to listen to rock, sometimes jazz, sometimes classical... Also, I think the columnist bases his (or hers) opinion too much on stuff you hear on the radio. Since when has all music on the radio been great? Only the "timeless" songs will be remembered. Not all music on the radio in the 80s was great. It has always been the same. There are just a bunch of songs that we will remember and most mainstream stuff will be forgotten. I would say today the music people make is more diverse than it has ever been. That's because of technology - it doesn't cost a lot to record your songs and it's also really easy to share them.
    Bassface7
    Spent the entire read thinking "Oh shut up you whiny prick" Music is entertainment, pull your head out of your arse and stop judging ffs.
    Thomasg2488
    Dumb, just dumb. Contradicting, no explanations, no real logic in it. I guess Sweet Child O' Mine or November Rain are dumb because they express love in someway while using general feelings or stories of what love is supposed to be mixed with sadness or tragedy in the case of November Rain. You can't exactly write songs about EVERY SINGLE THING THAT EXISTS IN THE WORLD. Not to mention most genres of music have their usual lyrical themes. Heavy metal tends to speak about more issues such as war, politics, drug addiction, partying. Oh wait, that falls into rock n' roll, hard rock, pop, etc, etc, etc as well! Gasps! If you want to write about theory in guitar, then you'll have to stick to instrumental, that's where theory is more prominent than in songs that have you're general band setting. Just stop.
    Thomasg2488
    I also forgot to mention, Jimi Hendrix kind of throws some of your saying about musicians having to know about theory out the window when he couldn't read or write music and did it by ear and timing. If a musician knows what sounds good, they tend to be successful.
    crazysam23_Atax
    "that's where theory is more prominent than in songs that have you're general band setting." Um...actually, all theory does is describe what's happening. Just because not everyone in a genre knows theory, that doesn't mean that you can't look at a simple rock song and use theory to analyze it. People have this idea that theory is a set of complex rules or whatever, when it's really not. Theory can be useful in writing music, because you can let the way other composers have written musical pieces inspire you. But theory isn't some hard-coded set of "Do this, not that" rules. Also, Hendrix did know basic theory. He was a big fan of 12-bar blues (and variations). That's theory. Listen to most of his songs, and they are either 12-bar blues or some extended form of 12-bar blues.
    Kueller917
    A musician is someone who expresses himself through his music... No, money and fame is not a reason.
    Those are reasons even if not reasons you might enjoy. Writing a song for the sole purpose to be danced to at a club is still a reason and purpose.
    How can a three-minute song repeat one word on half of its duration? I don't mean the repetition is bad... Rage Against The Machine DID repeat their lyrics many times in a song and no one ever complained
    Exactly. Repitition is not inherently bad. Multiple songwriters for pop singles are usually used to make sure the song will be a hit. It's about mass appeal of course. Take that as you will.
    I'm an instrumental guitarist and I just love instrumentals. But I hate showing off.
    Some people like showing off. I'm also not a fan of shred but there's people that take enjoyment out of playing and listening to it. No other further reason.
    You NEED theory! There are lots of people that think talent is everything
    This is very debatable I know, but what really matters in the end is if you can make the music you want to make. If you can do that without theory that's fine. If you can't then maybe it's something to consider. For the former though, I wouldn't say someone who's happy with their work without theory NEEDS it. Now, I also love music that makes me think, that makes me feel, but it's not the sole judgment of music. A lot of pop songs aren't there to try and be experimental and deep but to be something you have fun with. Sometimes it's nice to have a break from the heavier stuff.
    DFails91
    This is very debatable I know, but what really matters in the end is if you can make the music you want to make. If you can do that without theory that's fine. If you can't then maybe it's something to consider. For the former though, I wouldn't say someone who's happy with their work without theory NEEDS it. That's the type of attitude that keeps you using only using 80% of your creativity. Why not go for the full 100%? Why do you prefer the minimum instead of exceeding greatly?
    ARom22
    Because not all music calls for extreme technical prowess? Besides, that's not what he's even saying. I know it's all a matter of opinion, but for me, some of the greatest and most moving songs I've ever heard were extraordinarily simple and written by artists who weren't all that deeply well-versed in theory. Going back to the point, though, he just said if you can already make the music in your head and be totally happy with what you create, then what gives someone else the right to say you need it? Satisfaction and complacency are not the same thing. Don't mistake them as such.
    SevenADZer0
    Repetition is proven to attract the listener actually. You are writing this as a stand point of technicality but then go on to say not to just be technically then again back to saying you need to learn theory. Also should just refer to the artist as "he"
    crazysam23_Atax
    Eh, this needed a lot of work. As genrecore pointed out...good concept, bad execution. You didn't support your logic or give examples.
    kingjames123
    "Songs with abnormal titles, thousands of notes in the song, ridiculously simple backing track, extreme technique, heavy-as-hell rhythm guitars, etc..." So... I take it you don't like Animals as Leaders.
    Nitnatsnok
    Well I read the title and then I read the article and I saw nothing in the article that said why modern songs suck....
    Campbell22
    Just dropped by to ay this article sucks. You are terrible, go back to listening to metallica.
    District
    I was just about to say how dumb this article was, but then I saw other users had already pointed that out quite clearly.
    v3rmilion
    Do you want me to explain why this is bullshit, or are you not actually interested in anything more than appealing to 15 year old "metal heads" who think everything without a minute-long guitar solo over a blastbeat is "gay and sucks"?
    gunnersandmash
    If you don't think there's any good modern music you're lazy. There are more bands than ever, and easier ways to listen to them. Everyone likes what they like so just go and find it, because if there isn't any out there you're not looking hard enough
    andrew625
    People with "theory" background, please please cut off this pretentious "I know theory so I write/play better." attitude. How much theory did the Beatles use to compose their everlasting records? I don't like mainstream and I agree with your title, but theory does not prove a "better player/composer" It never did and never will. Many phenomenal musicians and legends came from minimal theory background.
    slayer_rule_\m/
    You don't need theory. If it helps if you have a decent understanding but you don't need it to write a good song.
    Danjo's Guitar
    Dear Author who sounds like me when I was in my early higschool years, Please stop making a fool of yourself and chill out about your opinions. Trust me, it will be better for everyone. Just listen to music you like, and if you don't like something, thats okay too, you don't have to tell anyone.
    dmarkovic1
    What? What exactly is this article? Where is the elaboration of the heading? It doesn't have a punchline, or a conclusion of any kind..just random thoughts very poorly constructed into many independent sentences that are not linked by meaning or syntax....hope YOU never write a song
    mattjamesrenn
    agree with what others have said but I also agree that theory is vital for a creative tool. Allows you to express yourself better.