LL Cool J: 10 reasons we love the Grammys host

1. HE’S TRANSFORMED INTO AN ACTOR

Although he found fame as a rapper, LL Cool J has starred in “NCIS: Los Angeles” alongside former child star Chris O’Donnell since 2009. “He’s a character that believes in protecting his family, he believes in protecting his country,” LL told “CBS This Morning” about why he loves playing Special Agent Sam Hanna so much. “His way of life, he’s loyal, he has integrity, he puts his life on the line every day, to persevere and protect the freedoms of the innocent.” LL’s also appeared in major movies like “S.W.A.T.” and “Any Given Sunday” over the years.

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2. HIS MUSIC IS MAJOR

LL Cool J got his big break in Hollywood thanks to his catchy rap songs including hits like “Mama Said Knock You Out,” “Doin’ It,” “Rock the Bells” and many, many more. He was also the first rap artist to have 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums — a major feat in any genre. He even had a pretty epic collaboration with the one and only Jennifer Lopez on a song called “All I Have.” He’s also been nominated for nine Grammy Awards over the years and has won twice.

3. HE’S A FAMILY MAN!

LL Cool J has been married to Simone Smith since 1995. The couple have four kids together: Nina, Italia, Najee and Samaria — who range in age from 15 to 26. “The power of family has to outweigh a career,” LL Cool J told Good Housekeeping about the secret for keeping his family happy and together. “I make time for my kids,” he explained in another interview about being a hands-on dad. “I do the regular things that moms do. I run my house, I drive my kids to school.”

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4. HE ADORES HIS WIFE

Even after more than two decades of marriage, LL Cool J and Simone Smith are still head over heels in love with each other — which is a rarity in Hollywood! The couple met when they were teenagers living in New York and have remained together ever since. Over the years, LL’s been by Simone’s side as she battled cancer and launched a charitable jewelry line — and she’s had his back as he navigated his career and launched his own charity endeavors. They really are #relationshipgoals.

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5. HE’S AGELESS

LL Cool J just turned 48 in January 2016. But you’d hardly know it from looking at him! LL, tell us your secrets!

6. HE HOSTS “LIP SYNC BATTLE”

LL Cool J hosts the celebrity-favorite competition show “Lip Sync Battle” on Spike. It garnered the network’s highest-ever premiere ratings and has recently been renewed for a third season. We can’t get enough of this show!

7. HE WORKS OUT HARD … AND HE’S PROUD OF IT!

LL Cool J admits that he works hard for his physique. Some of his secrets? The rapper-actor works out four days a week with a trainer, mixes cardio with weights, eats healthy, sleeps about six hours a night and naps every single day. Maybe we should give that whole nap thing a try…
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8. HE’S CHARITABLE

Over the years, LL Cool J has lent his name and donated money to a lot of charitable groups that are doing good work. He’s worked closely with the Red Cross, Saint Vincent Meals on Wheels, Chrysalis and Jump and Ball, to name just a few. What a guy!

9. HE’S AN AUTHOR!

The jack of all trades has written four books. LL Cool J’s autobiography “I Make My Own Rules” was released in 1998. He then went on to write a children’s book, “And the Winner Is …” — he is a dad after all! — in 2002. A few years later, he co-wrote “LL Cool J (Hip-Hop Stars)” with a hip-hop historian. But that’s not all! The health-conscious actor also penned a fitness book in 2010: “LL Cool J’s Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle: A Full-Circle Guide to Developing Your Mind, Body, and Soul.” There’s something for everyone!

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10. HE PROTECTS HIS LOVED ONES!

In 2012, LL Cool J took down an intruder who entered his home while his family was sleeping. After hearing a commotion downstairs in the middle of the night, the rapper-actor went to investigate, found a burglar and beat him up — the man ended up with a broken nose and jaw — before the LAPD showed up. “He is committed to keeping his family safe and is cooperating with authorities,” LL’s rep told TMZ at the time.

Jane Seymour and more stars who look at least 10 years younger than their ages

Shockingly, Jane Seymour will be 65 on Feb. 15, 2016. In honor of the former Bond Girl’s big birthday, we’re taking a look at stars who could pass for 10 or 20 years younger than their actual ages. Take Dr. Quinn, for example: The erstwhile Medicine Woman barely aged in the decade between 2006 and 2016. Now keep reading for more!GT

Jennifer Lopez has clearly stumbled upon the fountain of youth. She’s 46 now but could easily pass for 36 — if not younger! That’s her at age 30 in 1999 on the left.

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Will Smith is almost 50?! He could still pass for 36, which he was in 2004.WS.jpg

Ralph Macchio is a freak of nature. He’s 54 now but has barely aged since 2007 — or since 1984 when he first starred in “The Karate Kid.”

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Wanna know why Pharrell Williams is so happy? It’s probably because he hasn’t aged a day since 2005. Can you believe he’s 42?

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If Gabrielle Union told us she was 29 — like she was in 2001 — we’d totally believe her. (She’s actually 43.)

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Enrique Iglesias said it best: He’s a freak! The Spanish singer is 40 but looks almost exactly the same as he did at age 30 in 2005.

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Lucy Liu has barely aged since 1991 when she was 31 years old. Now she’s 47 — and oh-so genetically blessed!

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Lucy Liu has barely aged since 1991 when she was 31 years old. Now she’s 47 — and oh-so genetically blessed!

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Seriously, HOW does she do it? “Clueless” star Stacey Dash will be 50 in 2016, but could easily pass for 35 — which she was in 2002 — or even younger!

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Paul Rudd was 37 in 2006. Can you believe that means he’s almost 50 now?!

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The ladies love Cool James because apparently, he’s a vampire. Rapper-actor LL Cool J is actually almost 50, but only looks a few years older than he did at age 23 in 1991.

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Wrap your head around this: Halle Berry will be 50 in August 2016. But she still looks 36, which happened to be her age in 2002.

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Lady Gaga ‘broke down’ in studio!

Lady Gaga “broke down” recording her track about rape.lady_gaga-jpg

The ‘Pokerface’ hitmaker – who was raped at 19-years-old – unveiled the song ‘Til It Happens to You,’ which she recorded for documentary ‘The Hunting Ground’, which explores rape on college campuses, but songwriter Diane Warren has revealed the 29-year-old found it incredibly hard to get through the full session.

Diane told PEOPLE magazine: “It was very emotional for her. She couldn’t even talk through it at times.

“I had heard she’d gone through this, so I knew she was the right artist. She broke down a few times. She was very emotional doing the song. She put her whole heart and soul into it.”

Meanwhile, the award-winning singer previously admitted she didn’t tell anybody about the incident for a long time and instead turned to drinking to try and blank it from her memory.

She explained: “I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t tell anybody. And I didn’t even tell myself for the longest time.

“And then I was like, ‘You know what? All this drinking and all this nonsense, you have to go to the source, otherwise it just won’t go away. It will not go away.”

Woman faces six years in jail for not being a better wife.

The husband says that his wife never cooks or cleans and as a result he doesn’t feel loved or taken care of and somehow this is criminal. Apparently this qualifies as “mistreatment of family” and is punishable by jail.

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Assuming this is true and not some kind of hoax, the whole thing seems rather absurd. It is hard to imagine a marriage in which an unhappy man wouldn’t just talk to his wife and, I don’t know, pitch in if she is overwhelmed once in a while. When I hear a story like this, I wonder if she is overwhelmed or depressed or suffering from some kind of mental issue that makes it difficult to function. Meanwhile, this guy just feels badly for himself. Nice guy.

And while most of us are not living in rural and traditional Italy, certainly the idea of the “good wife” is pervasive all over the world and still, despite so many years of progress and work, involves keeping a nice house, cooking, and making sure the children are well-fed and perfectly coiffed. Anything less than that will earn you some looks in the carpool line. Even in suburban New Jersey, just a few miles outside on New York City, I know I have been judged for not being more focused on my home and our children’s appearance.

It’s just not my thing. And I don’t feel badly about that. Other than the once a week cleaning we get from the person we hire to clean our house, our house is rarely cleaned. Sure, we do the dishes and wipe down the counters and make the beds, but the operative word is “we.” The upkeep of our home is both of our responsibility. We have three kids and very busy schedules. My husband doesn’t get to take a pass because he’s a man.

We need to get past the idea that keeping the house is always the woman’s job. Quite frankly, most women have better things to do with their time and if men have an issue with that, they can step up, too. That’s what a marriage is.

Oscar Nominations 2016.

Oscar Nominations 2016: View The Complete List of Nominees.

See the full list of Oscar nominations 2016 here! They were announced live by Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee. Best Picture nominees for the 88th Academy Awards include: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room and Spotlight.

The Revenant received 12 nominations and Mad Max: Fury Road has 10. The Actor in a Leading Role category brought in a talented mix of stars with Bryan Cranston, Trumbo, Matt Damon, The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant, Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs and Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl.

Actress in a Leading Role category is just as star-studded, with Cate Blanchett, Carol, Brie Larson, Room, Jennifer Lawrence, Joy, Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years and Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn. See the full list of Oscar nominations for the 2016 Oscars right here!

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

Mad Max: Fury Road - Oscars 2016

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

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DIRECTING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Amy

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom

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FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul

Theeb

A War

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out

the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok

Stutterer

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SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Oscars 2016

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

The Process Of Writing A Song.

The Process Of Writing A Song.

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Who Should Read This Article About Song Writing Process?

This article is for all those songwriters who either don’t use a formal song writing process, or the song writing process that they are using is not quite working for them. If your songs aren’t as popular as you would like, if they are not connecting as you would hope, they are being misunderstood, or you are finding that many of your songs are never completed, or that the standard of your songs varies greatly, this is the article for you.

This article discusses the use of song writing phases to enhance the quality of your work and the speed that each work is created. It also provides tips on song writing process, observations and suggestions about writing key aspects of a song, information to help both nurture and focus your creativity, and help towards finishing more songs to a higher standard without losing the benefits your creativity has brought to the song.

Motivation For Using A Song Writing Process

There are many ways to write a song, almost as many ways as there are songwriters. Some song writers follow a formal or semi-formal process, but most songwriters tend to work in an random, ad hoc way. It probably comes as no surprise, but having such an unpredictable method of writing songs leads to less perdictable results, with more variation in the standard of the songs, and less songs being fit for purpose. While there is no correct way to write a great song, there are techniques that consistantly work, and using a process will increase the number of songs that you start that make it through to being finished songs, that you are proud to represent you to the rest of the world.

There are many factors that contribute to the success of a song. Not everything is within the scope of the songwriter, but the foundation of a successful song, is the song itself. It is the one part of the process of taking a song from an idea to being a successful it song that is completely under the control of the songwriter. True, there are songs that achieve a degree of success due in the main part to marketing and hype, plus large numbers of fans for an existing artist performing that song, but such success tends to be short lived. There are always exceptions.

Listeners care about the end result. They don’t care if the writer grew trees and re-invented paper and ink to do it. Nor do they care whether you used a rhyming dictionary, or if you prefer to sweat as you try and pull words from the vocabulary stored in your head. What has been repeatedly demonstrated is that they care about music that moves them, that they connect to. Songs that can mean something to them, the listener. Some listeners do want to think the song meant something to the writer, but most don’t hold that as a strong opinion. They want to be entertained and engaged.

They also want to share the music they like with others with similar tastes as a validation and ego boost if nothing else.

The Drawbacks Of Not Using a Song Writing Process

Writing ad hoc, with no process, doesn’t help you organize your thoughts. It also doesn’t help you to focus on all the elements and perspectives that give a song polish and longevity.

The myth about using a song writing process is that somehow by using one your songs lack emotion and honesty, that they are not genuine and the songwriter was motivated by reasons beyond creating good songs. That somehow a song created with a process is tainted. Such feelings show a lack of understanding that all writers employ creativity in one way or another, but creativity is a process. The difference here is whether you use an informal process or apply a formal process to your writing to aid creativity, to help you improve the quality of your work, and the speed you work at, and, importantly, to help you improve your songwriting skills over time. If you are serious about your song writing then you will care about the quality of your work, and care that you improve over time. To achieve those things, amongst others, you have to care about the process of creating a song, be prepared to look at your working practices and improve them, and learn to look at your work objectively.

We use informal methods to do things all the time. It is second nature and ingrained in most things we do. However it takes effort and discipline to use a formal process.

At first using a formal process can feel awkward or alien, but by using it over and over you will quickly find that you become familiar with it, you will work much faster, much more efficiently and with more accuracy.

The standard of your songs will improve at a faster rate and the depth and breadth of your song writing skills will also improve at a faster rate than with informal methods alone.

True, not all processes are equal. There are good ones, and bad ones, and processes that kill creativity and processes that support creativity. Some processes will suit you as an individual, others will not.

The method outlined in this article is straightforward. It leaves plenty of room to use informal methodologies, in fact it embraces them.

So the only real drawback is the effort it takes to implement the process and improve that process over time. Like anything you repeat, by far the most part of that effort is in using it the first time. After that it comes down to having the discipline to keep using it. As time passes the results speak for themselves until using and adapting the process becomes second nature and almost effortless.

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely.

Some Of The Benefits Of A Song Writing Process

Using a song writing process makes writing a song easier and more effective.

In using some flexibility in your song writing process, you can use just as much, if not more, creativity in your song writing. Write songs your fans will enjoy, because from the start of the process you write with them in mind as your listeners. This is no different to having a conversation with a stranger versus having a conversation with someone you know.

The trick is to use a process that helps the writer be creative in the way that works for them, while building in aspects that helps the writer both broaden and focus their creativity as needed, gives a framework for working, helps them look at their song from a number of perspectives, helps them polish their song to be the best it can be, helps them avoid writer’s block, reduces the number of unfinished songs and songs not fit for purpose, and ultimately helps the writer achieve the aims for any individual song.

So why not use a process to help you work more efficiently? There is nothing to be lost and a whole lot to gain.

A Draft Song Writing Process

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It is a good idea to develop more than one phase in your song writing process. Unless you are focusing on specific parts of the process as a LEARNING EXERCISE ONLY, the aim is to write complete, quality songs, with a minimum number being shelved marked as incomplete or dumped in the trash as a poor idea.

Getting the benefits of a process for song writing doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t mean less creativity is involved, or that less genuine emotion is expressed, or that somehow it is less authentic. It simply means that you have organized your thoughts and the order in which you do things.

Using song writing phases can really help you get the best of both worlds: the “in-the-moment” authenticity; songs that are finished more quickly and of a higher standard. By introducinging simle phases it allows us to more easily create the song we want to write, instead of the song that appears after some more or less random evolution.

Can a song randomly evolve be successful? Of course it can, but it is a less dependable outcome than songs written using a song writing process.

Core Song Writing Phases

  1. The Ideas Phase
  2. The Draft Phase
  3. The Development Phase

The Ideas Phase

Effectively Capture Your Ideas

How many tunes, hooks phrases, titles, and lyrics do you think are lost each year simply because we forget them? A fleeting idea crosses our mind, the moment passes and the idea is probably lost.

It’s easy to under estimate just how useful being able to instantly capture an idea can be, or to over estimate how well we remember the ideas we come up with through each day.

If you don’t have a mobile recording device then it’s time to go get something you can use for mobile recording. Something you can take with you everywhere you go. A modern smart phone is an ideal recording device for both audio recordings, and written lyrics.

Collecting Melodies and Lyrics Ideas

You can write a good melody while walking about, driving, in the shower, while you make food. At almost any time.

Keep your recorder with you at all times, or at least handy (don’t take your recorder into your shower! Not much of a surprise but water and recording gear do not go together.). Whenever you come up with a melody, record it as soon as possible.

The same goes for lyrics, titles and hooks. Either keep a notepad with you, or get a notepad app for your phone. When a line comes to you, write it down as quickly as possible, simply as a collection of individual lines and phrases.

This will give you a growing collection of melodies and lines of lyrics, titles and hooks.

The Draft Phase

You do not need to have ALL the ideas you use within a song before you begin the drafting phase.

It is during the draft phrase that you best capture raw emotion in songs. I would encourage the use of any tools which help you get into a flow, generate new ideas to supplement ideas you have when you start the drafting process etc.

Drafting is an essential step, but it is not the final step. Often stopping after the draft phase is an excuse by songwriters who have shiney object syndrom, forever wanting to churn out songs, always wanting to move quickly to the next idea, leaving a large number of songs unfinished.

Drafting and Developing Your Melody

When writing melodies it is a good idea to connect melodies with emotion. You might start with a short riff that suggests an emotion and take it from there, or you might start from the outset feeling that emotion before writing a note. Let the emotion and your ear guide you.

If you start from a riff, emotionally, what does it suggest to you? Is it happy? Sad? Angry? Sexy? Whatever it is, get in that emotional zone. If it’s got a sad feel, think of things that make you feel sad. Being in that emotional place while writing a melody can have a profound impact when that melody eventually gets played to a listener. Very quickly your melody establishes the mood of the song, or section of the song. By reflecting how you felt at the time of writing, listeners will far more easily connect to the song and feel something close to what you felt when you wrote the song.

As you develop the melody, try to do some rudimentary song structure development. By that I mean, try and identify a good chorus melody, a good verse melody, and a good bridge melody. Try placing them in an order that supports the mood of the song. These are all DRAFT melodies for a song. Hopefully they will have a good emotional connection, precisely because you wrote the piece in that state of mind, using emotion evoked by the melodies and melodies fed by the emotion.

Emotion And Your Song

It is a good idea to take the listener on an emotional journey. Songwriters achieve this, intentionally or not, by varying the mood and the intensity of emotions as the song progresses. The exact combination and order of emotions varies according to topic and writer, but there are some characteristics that are common to many successful songs and other pieces of music:

Base your melodies on fairly strongly felt emotions to extremely strongly felt emotions. Wishy-washy emotions become too vague and confusing

At it’s simplest think of each section of music as having a distinct emotion. For example, a song about thinking back on sad circumstances and learning from what happened might plan to have the background story from the past delivered during the verses, a chorus that makes a thoughtful and hopeful comment on the verse set in the present, and a bridge that puts them in perspective by connecting them with perhaps a revelation that helped turn a sad event into something hopeful.

The verse melody may well overall evoke a strong sad emotion. The chorus might be more thoughtful and hopeful in nature, while the bridge is more unexpected, more surprising, containing some sad and some upbeat tones.

That could be translated into smooth and flowing passages, almost painful resolutions with most of the melody being within a short range of notes, the use of cadence or half-cadence in the chords, faster flowing melodies in the chorus with the melody covering a wider range of notes, while the bridge could contain larger transitions.

Moving on from there and developing the melody, we first arrange the melodic sections in some song form, for example ABC (verse-chorus-bridge) derived as a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge chorus, chorus layout. If we then replace each section with the emotion felt during the corresponding section we can visualize the emotional basic dynamic of the song.

Changing Emotional Intensity and Energy

Building on that we can evolve the melody and harmony in such a way as to vary the energy and intensity of the emotion as we travel through the song.

Yet again here there are common trends in songs:

  1. Songs generally build energy and intensity as the song progresses.
  2. Songs generally go from lower pitches and tones, to higher pitches and tones as the song progresses.
  3. Often there is a step up in energy and emotional intensity when the chorus starts.
  4. Usually there is a step down in energy and intensity when leaving a chorus. If the transition is to a bridge this may not be the case.

For more discussion about this please read our article “Keeping A Song Interesting

Drafting Titles and Hooks

Take a look at your draft titles and draft hooks while still in that emotional space. Preferrably fresh after working on the melodies.

Do any of the titles or hooks work with the emotion of the song? If not, time to brainstorm some more titles and hooks. What is important?

  1. Something that has a meter that reflects the chorus melody
  2. It should contain an emotive word or phrase about how you feel (when in the song).
  3. It should be memorable
  4. It shouldn’t reveal exactly what the song is about. Keep an air of mystery.
  5. Pose a question in the listeners mind that they can only answer by listening to the song. This can be done in many ways. For example,
    1. Make the hook a question.
    2. Make a statemet that infers a question
    3. Make an ambiguous but emotive statement

So by now you have a draft title and main hook that works with the melody. You have a draft verse melody and a draft chorus melody.

The trick is, not to be precious with your work so far. It is only a draft. Be prepared to make the changes necessary to make the song work.

Drafting A Chorus

Now, write a draft chorus, using your title / hook. This may mean times where the meter of the lyrics does not exactly work with the draft melody. Luckily all your work so far is draft.

Generally, melody wins the day. Only change the melody IF the meter from your draft lyrics will enhance your melody and stay true to the emotion. Yet again it is a good idea to be in that emotional place when you write the chorus.

IF your lyrics change the melody, go back to the melody and check it in isolation…. ie with no words. Try and see if the new meter will create a melody that still contains the raw emotion.

If the existing melody is string, then you need to re-think your words.

Your Chorus should deliver the main message of your song for the strongest delivery of the message.

Drafting Verses and Bridges

Once you nail a DRAFT chorus, start on the verse. This is the part of the song where you ideally want to deliver the story, the setting, the backdrop… it’s where you ellaborate on the theme of your song. Your theme is just that… I can tell a sad story in many ways, set in different situations etc. Your verse is where you have all that… it should:

  1. Not blow your entire story line in the first verse.
  2. It shouldn’t answer any questions posed in the title.
  3. In early verses, pose some questions in the mind of the listener, either directly or indirectly.
  4. In the last verse, or bridge lyrics, that is when you answer any of the bigger questions. Sometimes it can be good to leave a little ambiguity.

It is this leaving unanswered questions in the earlier part of the song that helps draw listeners through the song, makes them want to hear more, so they can understand the song.

The Last Verse Or The Bridge

The last verse or bridge is where you make sense of the song. It works really well when it reveals the key fact, adjusts the previously understood chorus (a twist), or it connects seemingly unconnected verses with the chorus. In ballads the last verse usually completes the story.

The Development Phase

Editing

Now you have a draft song. Don’t leave it there. Editing is a skill. It’s the one facet of songwriting that really focuses you on the quality of your work. Editing is a cycle. Go around it several times.

It is a sad excuse that simply by looking to improve a song by editing that, somehow, the integrity of the song is undermined. Editing is about making a song be the best it can be, to ensure that any emotion and message are delivered with maximum impact.

Ask questions of your lyrics and melodies. For example:

  1. Do they logically and emotionally flow?
  2. Do they make sense?
  3. Do they convey strong emotion? (Strong being the best for a strong connection with the listener).

 

Editing and Quality

It is during the edit process that you really focus on improving the quality of the song. It is you, the song writer, that sets the level of quality of your work, no one else. The edit process is the final gate, or should be, on deciding a song is fit for purpose.

Don’t skimp on your edits. Why? Because people do notice when a song isn’t quite working. Even when you get passed obvious stuff. As listeners they may not know why it doesn’t work as well as it should, if you know them they may know but don’t want to upset you, but they will know when a song doesn’t come up to the mark.

For song writers, setting a high standard for their work is very important. Getting a good, balanced perspective on their own work to really set the bar high is not straightforward. Why? Attachment. Writers get attached to their work to the extent that they struggle to get any sort of perspective on their work other than their own, inherant perspective.

The more commercial a writer you are, the earlier in the song writing process you are likely to consider elements like your target audience and the perspective of listeners. At a minimum these elements should be considered during your edit cycle.

 

Edit Cycle

Go around an edit cycle a few times to hone the song to be it’s very best. A bit of polish goes a long way. It is far better to have fewer songs of high quality than 100 songs of an okay quality.

Editing is strongly tied to the critique process.

  1. Critique what you have (either yourself or other songwriters)
    1. Observe
    2. Analyse
    3. Consider Solutions
  2. Make the changes YOU think are needed to enhance the song.

Try to think about your song from the perspective of a variety of listeners.

Try NOT to be too restrictive on changes. You can always go back. Just remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Songwriters, especially those who have less experience, are often too tied to what they already have. For example, during the ideas or draft phase you write what you think is an excellent / interesting melody or lyrics. That may even spark the draft song into being a song in the first place. However as the song grows into a fuller song that melody or line might no longer fit with the rest of the song quite as well as it should. At this point the fact that the songwriter is strongly attached to the genious of that one line, and so avoid making a change that the song really needs, all because of their own attachment to that one bit of melody or line of lyrics.

It’s better to make the change and at least try to get something that works with the song. The only real other alternatives are:

  1. Re-write the rest of the song to be more in-keeping with the line you cherish
  2. Leave it not quite fitting the song as well as it should.

Perhaps the line can be tweaked, but if it needs a complete re-write of the line, you could always try using that line in another song!

Nothing ends up in the trash. Ideas that aren’t used just end up back in your ideas bank, ready to be used somewhere else.

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Getting Critique

It is a good idea to go around an edit cycle at least once before seeking critique, if only to help improve your critique skills when it comes to your own music, but it is also useful to develop your ability to be less invested in your lyrics being a set way. The less invested you are, the less tied you are to a particular line or a particular phrasing, the more you will be prepared to do during edits to improve your song.

To get critique, post your songs to the Songstuff Community boards, or perhaps you know people who could offer critique? Go around the edit cycle a couple of times using critique in each cycle.

 

Giving Critique

The beauty about giving critique to other songwriters about their songs is that you truly develop your ability to critique your own work, by allowing you to improve your critique and editing skills WITHOUT being attached to the work you are critiquing! It lets improve your level of observation, the depth and detail of analysis, jusge how appropriate your solutions are and helps you get better at saying to yourself “make the edit and try out the change”.

It also helps you to develop your ability to shift perspective, precisely because you are not attached to the work you are looking at.

To be good at giving critique (especially on your own work) you have to look at your work from different perspectives while going through an Observation, Analysis and Solution Finding cycle for each perspective, or at the very least to consider your solutions from different perspectives.

It is these points that make giving critique as valuable to songwriters as gold dust is to a pan handler.

It takes time to develop good skills in giving critique. Critique is NOT a verdict. It is a discussion, and in that discussion you are as likely to encounter new thoughts and ideas, new rationales and skills from genres you are not a master of, drawing on the experience of all those involved in the discussion, as you are to finding out why suggested solutions might not work before you go spend time trying them.

The point is to help the other songwriter on one level, but far more to the point, it helps you, the songwriter, improve your own works.

 

Do I have to give critique on the work of other songwriters?

The short answer is no. If anything, this article should at least reduce some of the fear or disdain that some songwriters feel towards using a song writing process, and hopefully it allows you to make a more imformed choice. If you choose not to use a song writing process, it is your loss. A big loss at that.

 

Is Your Song Fit For Release?

Ultimately you are the one who decides what goes out the door. Each song potentially represents you on a world stage. That means it is up to YOU just how seriously people take your music. If they don’t take your work seriously, be they listeners, or other songwriters, musicians and bands, or publishers, labels and production houses… it is down to YOU.

 

Conclusions

Using a song writing process is not simply to help you to make decisions. It is to help you make informed decisions. Understanding helps you to operate at a higher level. Learn to work quickly AND effectively.

Using the draft process, outlined above, you can begin to work with the core elements of the process, and have some ideas as to how you can evolve the basic process to completely fit with you the songwriter.

 

 

 

Culled from Songstuff Songwriting and Music Community.

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