man on couch critiquing his song

Critique Your Song

Learn to Critique Your Own Songs

Songwriting Tips

Have you ever asked yourself why you write songs? Maybe it’s because you feel like you have something to say or important to share? For most writers, the idea of having their song heard by an audience (the bigger usually the better), is what keeps them going, keeps them striving to perfect their craft. When you come up with the right combination of words and music, you have the chance to make a connection with the listener. It’s a great way to feel like you’re not alone in the world.

That’s one reason it’s important to evaluate your own songs and make sure you are sending the right message. Critiquing someone else’s work can be really hard, but critiquing your own song can sometimes feel impossible.

But if you can take a step back from your creation to look at it objectively, you will serve your song and your listener well. Here are some suggestions to self-editing your song. If you’re goal is to connect with listeners and your fans, read on.

Tip Number One: Wait At Least a Week and Then Listen to Your Song As If You’ve Never Heard It Before 

Create some space between you and your new song. Then, take out your song and listen to it with fresh ears. Pretend you’ve never heard it before. Are you saying what you’re trying to say? Are you assuming the listener knows what you know? Did you leave out any important details? What does your gut say? How does it make you feel? Is it conveying the emotion you were going for?


The Lyrics

Print out your lyrics and study them word by word. Ask yourself the following:

Do You Have a Strong First Line?

In commercial songwriting, you want to come out swinging. Don’t save your best lines for last. You only have a few seconds to catch the attention of your listener. Make sure your first line is fresh, intriguing and leaves the listener wanting to lean in and hear more. Let them know that there is going to be a story or engage them directly. Make a connection immediately.

Do You Have a Strong Last Line?

Studies show that people are more likely to remember what they heard first and what they heard last and less likely to recall details of something in the middle. You need your beginning and ending to be both important and memorable.

The last line can also leave listeners wanting more, and a solid ending will make them want to hear the song again, so they can feel the way they felt that first time. 

Are your lyrics conversational?

Your lyrics shouldn’t feel forced. Don’t try so hard to find words that rhyme, for instance, that you end up using words that you would never use in real life. Make it flow and feel natural.

What About Your Hook?

Your hook could be the part that makes people really love your song. Some might argue that not every song needs a hook, but this is the part of the song that will keep people humming to themselves hours later. It’s an idea, but it’s short and memorable and can be vital to the overall song. Strong commercial songs have multiple hooks (maybe a lyrical hook, instrumental, etc.). The more the better!

Are the Lyrics Memorable?

Are they different, but not too different? Does any part of it stick in your head after you’ve heard it? Say your lyrics out loud. Sing your lyrics. Are you tripping up over a word or phrase? Rewrite until your lyrics flow off. Maybe use some alliteration to create more interest.


The Melody

Songwriting isn’t just about words. The tune is at least as important and should support the mood and ideas portrayed in the lyrics. 

Is Your Melody Unique?

If your tune sounds like everyone else’s, people won’t find themselves paying attention to it.

Does the Bridge Fit in and Add to the Song?

This is so important, but many songwriters don’t work on it because they don’t understand how much the right bridge adds to a song. The bridge can bring a song to life or give it a second wind. The bridge will catch the attention of the listener in a different way, by adding contrast.


Just Listen

If you find yourself having trouble writing songs, take a break and just listen for a while. Go take a walk or immerse yourself in some of your favorite music. Maybe read some songwriting books by Pat Pattison, Tom T. Hall or Jimmy Webb. Remember, writing songs is a lot about rewriting, so don’t get discouraged! You’ve got this! Starting song is a lot easier than finishing a song, so hang in there until you feel like you’ve done all you can for where you are in your songwriting journey. Then, on to the next!

You might also like these related blogs on songwriting:

About us: Foxhedge Music is a management company and recording studio located in historic Leipers Fork. Our mission is to support and encourage songwriters. We believe they are the back-beat of Music City, while we continue to invest our time and resources in the Music City community. Through the Music City SongStar Songwriting Contest, we want to give songwriters a chance to have their music heard. We’re believers in creativity, chasing dreams and getting the chance to pursue your passion.

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