Monday, September 3, 2012

Song Title 101

As a Christian songwriter, you were probably brought up with either hymns or worship songs, and are used to those kinds of songs. Those songs often have titles that make you scratch your head. Either the title is the first phrase is the title (even though that's not what we really know the song by), or it has some other random word as the title, which also isn't the chorus or hook of the song.

But guess what, wrong as it may be, we won't be changing the title of Blessed Assurance any time soon (even though for some odd reason the title is just the first two words of the song).

However...this does not mean you should title your newest hit record anything you dang well please!

It's so funny when Herbie the songwriter comes to us here in Nashville with songs he just KNOWS are 'hits'. And what's funnier is that Herbie also is very familiar with what is on the radio that he is trying to emulate (or compete against).

But the disconnect is that the songs the Herbster brings to Nashville sound nothing like the radio hits he knows and loves. They all have a smart catchy chorus that contains the hook (usually the song title). They have smart brief verses, and don't mince words. They get to the chorus fast and by the second time through you can song along.

Herbie's songs are tomes. They contain very good Christian messages, but they also read like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Herb has thrown in every word he can find, often words he has heard for years, said many times before in good Christian songs. There are so many words he can't sing them all without running out of breath.

The chorus is just more words, and not really anything repeated or that you'd remember when we get to it a second time. Just alot of dang words.

Now, I am taking it out on poor Herb, but the truth is that we see alot of songs like this.

I was working with a songwriter the other day and she mentioned she was having trouble writing new songs. I suggested that instead of starting a verse and struggling to think of words, to write a catchy chorus. Start there. Sometimes you just think of a cool phrase and start singing it. Hook, line, and title!

Fill in your verses after you have your hook and chorus. But keep the verses brief and meaningful and headed towards that hook!

But the best reason for a good title? Make sure your fans know what the song is called, instead of walking up and saying "I love that song where you sing "Such Little Faith! Such Little Faith!" And then you say, oh you must mean "Mustard Seed?"

Make it easy Herbie, title your songs right!

Have a great week,

Eric Copeland is a songwriter and arranger and has never actually worked with anyone named Herbie, although he did have a neighbor growing up named that, and did enjoy Herbie the Love Bug movies. Find out more at

1 comment:

Summer said...

GREAT article, Eric - thank you!

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at