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2. Write one insanely great song
Okay, first I want you to get this very important fact:
A “HIT” DOESN’T NECESSARELY HAVE TO BE “BAD MUSIC”.
And if we’re talking about “hits”, then we don’t necessarily mean “Top 40 music”. Usually the term “hit” is associated with “crap”, but this hasn’t always been the case.
Today this is mostly the case, but this is not what we’re up to. Take a look at some of the Greatest Songs Of All Time (check out the lists on jamplifier.com), and you will notice that most of them have been hits indeed.
Here are a few great hits from the past, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
Imagine – John Lennon
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Hotel California – The Eagles
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Heroes – David Bowie
One – U2
Light My Fire – The Doors
Mr Tambourine Man – The Byrds
I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen
Purple Rain – Prince
Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
California Dreamin – The Mamas And The Papas
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf
Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) – Pink Floyd
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
Highway To Hell – AC/DC
All of those songs were huge hits, but none of them can be considered to be bad music. At the same time you’ll also notice that nowadays you don’t have songs of such magnitude anymore, which is a big problem for the entire industry. In the Golden Age, real artists released insanely great songs that made people go crazy all of the time, thus great music was present in the Top 40, and many of those songs became classics or evergreens.
Great music had a real impact, and people had a choice – music lovers could buy great records while the masses could listen to all kinds of crap, and some of that great music was highly attractive so that even parts of the masses started listening to it. People were buying like crazy, and everyone was happy – including the artists, the fans, and the record companies.
Nowadays the situation is very different, and you mostly have two kinds of songs now:
Chart pop stars are producing hits that are total crap from an artistic point of view.
Real artists are producing good music without any hit potential, thus remaining unnoticed.
And that’s a massive problem, as the single most important product that once made the business model of this entire industry work is now missing:
THERE ARE NO KILLER SONGS ANYMORE.
We need great songs that will make people go crazy again, we need music that has a real impact and that will change the world. And that’s what we will try to achieve in this manual.
Anyway, just remember that each well-known or successful artist had at least one hit or one signature song, and that’s true for both good and bad artists. Not all of those hits made it to number one, or even into the Top 40.
BUT THOSE SONGS WERE SIGNATURE SONGS, AND THEY HAVE BECOME CLASSICS.
Some artists only had one such song, other had a few ones. The Beatles had tons of them, which is quite exceptional. If I say Bob Dylan, then you’ll think of Like A Rolling Stone. If I say Chuck Berry, then you’ll think of Johnny B. Goode. If I say Percy Sledge, then you’ll think of When A Man Loves A Woman. And if I say Pink Floyd, then you’ll think of Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2). Some artists make you think of only one song, when mentioning others multiple songs will pop up in your mind.
Those are songs that stand out, and those songs even stand out when compared to other songs written by those same but very unique artists. A unique song makes a unique artist even more unique. I think you get the point. And you’ll need such a signature song, plus a bunch of further great songs that people will want to hear.
YOU’LL NEED AT LEAST ONE KILLER SONG, AND AT THIS POINT IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT WRITING SUCH SONGS CAN BE LEARNED.
We’ll talk about that in chapter 5.
The goal of this manual is to enable you to write songs that will stand out – songs that people will recognize and that people will want to hear, songs that will make people go crazy, that people will be willing to spend money on, and that will thrive your album sales. Songs that will be meaningful, unique, and relevant.
The goal of this manual is not to write songs that will have to make it into the Top 40 or even to number one. You may make it into the charts of course – but if this is your only goal, then making good music will probably be the wrong plan.
Later on you will learn that making it into the charts or even topping the charts will not be necessary at all in order to become really successful, in fact many artists that have been quite successful over decades have either never or only rarely made it into the Top 10 or even into the Top 40.