I’m really happy that Emeli Sande – following her Brit Award success – has validated something that I teach in my Songwriting Business Academy (www.songwritingbusinessacademy.com)
It is a contentious point but I maintain that genre is just a vehicle for melody. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for rock, blues, hip-pop, pop, metal, kwaito or any other genre, the melody is the king of the song and it should be able to work in almost any genre (in Eastern and some African music, there are different modal patterns so there might be some variation but the point remains the same).
Genre’s job is to deliver a powerful melody in different styles of music. That’s why a lot of artists often sound like great bands by really nailing the style of the genre, but the songs aren’t strong and so they end up doing well live but struggling to achieve mainstream success. This is often indicative of songwriters spending too much time worrying about the music and not enough time crafting the melody.
Think of Metallica’s version of Nothing Else Matters being performed by The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziThYl6B2vw) , or Travis’s version of Britney Spears’ smash hit “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSDrHV0KsOA) or – one of my personal all time favourites – Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor’s Hurt (that version still makes me cry) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur8j4xWe_44) . The melodies and the songs all work cross all genres!
In a recent interview for www.Radio.com, Emeli Sande challenged herself, “Can I write a big pop thing? And then go and write something that’s completely different in a completely different genre with an artist like Susan Boyle?”
She continued, “And then could I go write for Rihanna as well? I think that if you’re good at writing then you have to be able to do it in any genre. And if the production changes, the song can still stand. I love that challenge.”
So you don’t have to just take my word for it any more. If you have anything to add or any comments, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments in the box below.
Until next week,