How to Write a Timeless Hit as a RnB Songwriter
Nothing beats a classic, timeless, amazing rnb hit song. No matter how many years go by or what’s the latest music trend rnb classics are a must. When you hear songs like “End of the Road” by Boyz to Men or “Pretty Brown Eyes” by Mint Condition you can’t help but be taken back to that place in time. Even switching up to more upbeat-tempo rnb songs such as “Rock with you” by Michael Jackson or “Got to give it up” by Marvin Gaye. These songs are simple perfection and will stand the test of time. As a rnb songwriter in this current day and age you may wonder where’s my mega hit? How do I write a song that timeless? What’s the formula? Here are some powerful tips on how to write an awesome rnb hit as an rnb songwriter.
Choosing your topic as an rnb songwriter
As an rnb songwriter the topic you choose to write a major hit is very important. If you want to know the formula to writing a rnb classic that everyone falls in love with you have to have a great topic. The best topic to discuss in the world of rnb music is love. It may sound cliche, but the reality is love is a universal topic. Although you want to be original and not like every other rnb songwriter you have to give people what they want. The best rnb songwriters of all time understood this. If you think constantly writing about love is boring or redundant switch it up. You don’t have to write about love in the standard “I love you” way. You can write about:
- Falling out of love
- A love triangle
- Longing for love
- Confused about love
- Waiting for a long lost love
The possibilities are endless because love itself is such a deep, personal topic with so many layers.
Tell a story
If you’re a rnb songwriter and plan on having a successful songwriting service your songs have to tell a story. Actually every song should tell a story, not just rnb ones. With any piece of art it tells a story. You can’t just jump around of start in the middle. Depending on what story you tell and how you tell it this is what makes your audience fall in love with your work. Think about Tevin Campbell’s classic rnb hit “Can we talk.” He doesn’t just start out singing about how much he wants to talk to the young lady he’s interested in. He starts off singing about how he saw her, liked her, then started to pretend he knew her. Then he went on to tell why he would ask her “can we talk.” Every rnb hit, especially a classic tells a story.
Tempo of your song
When you’re writing a rnb single and you want it to be a mega-hit, pay attention to the tempo. Most rnb classics are written in slow to mid-tempo beats. This isn’t to say you can’t have an upbeat tempo rnb song that becomes a classic. However, most rnb songs (especially from the 90’s) that are timeless tend to be on the slower side. They don’t have to be extremely slow. Just slow and gentle enough to stroke the song and hit certain emotions in the listeners. Also keep in mind a slow song can still have a steady beat and strong base.
The most greatest living songwriters all have one thing in common, beautiful lyrics. To become an amazing rnb songwriter you need to have powerful lyrics. It’s not just about the topic and beat. Lyrics are if not the most definitely one of the most important factors to songwriting. You can’t just say how you feel in a plain, typical way. You have to say it in a way where it’s catchy, original and memorable. Here’s the thing most aspiring songwriters think this means trying to be as fancy as possible with his or her lyrics. It’s actually the opposite. You want to mean what you say and say what you mean. You want the concept and message to be clear and plain, but you want the delivery to be unique. For example when Babyface wrote “End of the Road” for Boyz to Men the concept is quite simple. The song is talking about a breakup. However, the way the breakup is worded is what makes the song unique, catchy and a classic. He’s not just saying “we’re breaking up, oh how awful this can be.” He’s using a road as metaphor to describe the ending. He’s not using big or fancy words. He’s using everyday words, but the technique he’s applying to them is what makes the song simply amazing. This method is also applied to a lot of Smokey Robinson songs. The Temptations “My Girl” has everyday lyrics in the song. But the way structure, the way the lyrics are written and the metaphors used is what makes the song so unique and classic.
Every amazing rnb song has one thing in common, amazing vocals. Whether the artist singing your rnb song you wrote is a male, female, in a group or a solo artist; the vocals are simply amazing. This doesn’t mean every singer that sings your song have to sound like Whitney Houston or Luther Vandross. It means whatever type of voice they have it has to match well with the lyrics, melody and composition of the song. If it’s a group you wrote the song for the harmonies have to be great and in unison.The vocals have to have some type of build up or climax in them. The singer shouldn’t start off too strong.
RnB song chords
If you’re an rnb songwriter that also composes then this tip is perfect for you. Being a rnb songwriter isn’t just about lyrics and a pretty melody that a beat gets created behind. How you compose the melody and harmony is important too. If you know music theory then it’s good to know a lot of rnb songs use minor chords with some major chords mixed in. A lot of rnb songs are minor chord dominated. This is because a lot of rnb songs are slower and more emotion. A lot of rnb songwriters and composers also add 7th and 9th to their chords when writing rnb songs. If you’re not a composer this concept may be difficult to understand at first. The best way to learn this concept is to start learning music theory. Even if it’s just the basics. A good tip to remember is major chords sound happier. Minor chords sound sadder and more serious.
Ad-libs and runs
You can’t be a successful rnb songwriter and not have the singer you’re working with add in ad-libs and runs. Every major rnb hit has at least some ad-libs and runs. It may seem optional or unnecessary, but ad-libs can really make or break a song. Why are ad-libs so important in rnb music? It helps build up the song’s climax. It creates emotion for the audience. It stay true to the culture and roots of rnb music, which originated from gospel, blues and the Black American experience. You ever see someone really into a rnb song they’re singing. Notice how much they enjoy singing the ad-libs. Or how much they enjoy pretending like they’re doing runs as good as Whitney Houston or Wayna Morris of Boyz to Men. Ad-libs and runs are literally some people favorite part of the entire song. So whatever artist you’re working with as a rnb songwriter make sure they do ad-libs when recording your song.
With the new trends in this day and age of music you may think these tips are outdated. You may say “this only applies to rnb artists of the 90’s.” Although the 90’s were they prime for true rnb music, these tips can be applied to any era. These tips are bigger than just writing something “trendy” and quick. If you want to make music that will stand the test of time these songwriting tips are perfect.