Any good song can make you tap your foot. Only great songs tap into your emotions.
Do you want to write great songs?
I’d love to share the little I’ve observed about creating art that appeals to people’s senses, and why it is important to us, your fans. Easily, the difference between an artist and an Artist is the ability to be vulnerable. An Artist is a creator. Have you ever thought about what it means to create something? Think about the iPod! Apple could have kept on making computers, but there would always be Toshiba, Sony, Dell or Acer competing right beside them. Apple chose to create something that didn’t yet exist. That is where the art truly lies! Songs about partying, sex, drugs and clothes already exist. Yes, they’re fun and catchy and serve their purpose. But without vulnerability, there’s nothing you can say that hasn’t already been said. No one thought about being the “Man In The Mirror” before Michael Jackson painted that picture. No one had the words “Ghetto Gospel” in their head before Tupac rapped it. “Popping bottles”, however, is not new.
Now more than ever, the pressure is on to have a hit. (And really, it’s our fault. We’re so demanding!) Not only must you create a song that is widely appreciated, but you must do it over and over, or face the real threat of irrelevance. There’s pretty much a formula for creating songs we’ll hear on the radio, but sometimes what you want to say doesn’t fit the formula…right?
Consider McDonald’s. When you buy a meal from McDonald’s you know exactly what you’ll get and it tastes the same every time. They slap that burger on the bread for order #253 and that’s it. You eat lots of it and you get fat and sluggish. Now think about Thanksgiving at home. There’s a variety of dishes, made from scratch, with care and love. You aren’t an order number. You’re “sweetheart”. You eat it and feel nourished and you bond over this meal. Music can be thought of in the same way. People can’t live off fast food hits. We all need those home cooked lyrics and melodies.
When I’m fed up with my circumstances, as all of us get, I don’t reach for the latest single from Chris Brown. Though it is debatable whether or not these hoes are loyal, it all becomes irrelevant when the water bill is due and I’m broke. It’s certainly not relevant when my heart is broken, and offers little solace or inspiration when I feel insecure or rejected. And don’t we all feel these things at some point?
There’s a place for everything and I’ll hesitantly admit that “Loyal” is my guilty pleasure. That beat is just sick, really. But imagine if Chris Brown never sang “Don’t Judge Me”, or Rihanna never sang “What Now”. Imagine if Eminem never bothered to reflect and write “Headlights”, or Kanye never wrote “Jesus Walks.” These are just a few examples from the 2000’s. We can go further back and see the trend. The songs your fans tend to cling to are the ones that serve as soundtracks to our lives – the breakup, the crazy summer, the new love, the new job, the rough patch!
Gandhi said “Speak only if it improves upon the silence”. If you’re not adding your voice and experiences to your music, reflecting and presenting your take on various themes and topics, then nothing you say matters in the grand scheme of things. Sorry.
To those artists who are simply too afraid to “go there”, I’ll say this: I imagine it’s difficult to dig into the heart of what you’re feeling and seeing around you, but just imagine the reward of knowing I heard it, and felt less alone! Just like dogs smell fear, people sense realness, and we’ll back you till the end if we sense that you’re being real with us. You’re holding back, and you know it!
Remember what it’s like to be one of us! Think about the music you go to when your soul is worn out. Remember what it feels like to find a song you connect with, and put on repeat for a week. Those songs that describe how much you love him/her – write one of them. Those songs you play in the gym to get you going – write one of them. Those songs you play right before an exam or interview – write one of them. Those songs you cry listening to – by all means, write one of them. That thing you’re afraid to say – say it, because there is someone afraid that they’re the only one who feels it. If you find yourself in a moment that lacks that perfect song to go with it, write it! Someone is waiting on that song, to add to the soundtrack of their life.
The world will never run out of club bangers and baby making music, but if you bow to the pressure of popularity and forget to be vulnerable, we will run out of art.
p.s Adele won a Grammy for Album of the Year, with 21. So I guess mastering the Art of Vulnerability has its benefits!
© Camille “Adaeze” Evelyn