I Tried To Write A Hit Song In A Week

♫ I don't care what you think ♫ I play my own game ♫ Even when you are gone out (coughs) - Need some water. I make videos for a living, but once in a while I make music. I don't have any formal training. I mainly write like punk-y Indie songs in my spare time. I want to make a serious attempt at writing a contemporary pop song. So I'm gonna talk to Grammy nominated producer, Ricky Reed, about how to write a pop song. He's a multi-instrumentalist who writes his own music, but also have written hits for artists like Jason Derulo, 21 Pilots, and Meghan Trainor. So how long does it take? Can you do it in a day? Does it ever happen in a day? - Oh yeah. It's actually pretty common. At the end of the day that we wrote Meghan Trainor's "No", it sounded probably 95 percent like what it is now. - Let's say you're starting from scratch. How do you start? - I love to start with a drum track. I love to find a rhythm that feels new or strange or emotional. - Do you have any advice for me? - I know that you like punk music and Indie music. I also know that you're like witty and funny guy with like a sardonic sense of humor and everything. You can't try to stuff those down and be like, "Okay, I'm gonna just try to go make "a David Guetta song." If I were you, I would try to make a song that had like kind of like a heavy, Indie punk-y edge with like a really weird lyric and actually try to channel that. - Ricky says you can write a good song in a day, but I have a wife and a kid and a day job. So I'm gonna give myself a week to write a pop song and record at night in the garage. Taking Ricky's approach, I'm gonna start with a drum beat. I went to go get some groceries at the grocery store. Some baby food and what not. And I got this beat that goes like boom. (drum music) I kind of have like a melody in my head for a piano line. So I'm gonna try to lay it down with some improvised lyrics. Maybe try some more electronic drums that are in a lot of current pop songs. ♫ I don't care what she say ♫ I play my own game I don't know. I like the beat. I like the melody. But, pretty late, so I'm gonna pack it up and try again later. On night two, I hit a wall. So I started over on night three. Made a song that wasn't the pop hit I was looking for. On night four, I failed to come up with anything at all. And on night five, I did my take on a Daft Punk song. But again, not what I had in mind for a pop song. I can't just keep writing like parts of new songs, So I'm just gonna take the beat from the last one I did, and then try to come up with something. So I made breakfast for the family. This is the aftermath. And I finished the track last night at 2:30 AM. I think I'm gonna make a song about being tired of love songs. So I'm gonna email the office and see what they hate about love songs and have some lyrics. I get some good stuff. Basically about how love songs promote co-dependent behavior and suicidal tendencies. So on the night before I'm going to send Ricky my song, I lay down the vocals and add some other elements. (drum music) ♫ Got the love ♫ Got the Jones (bass music) With a new beat as the foundation, I came up with this bass line that just moves back and forth on the scale with eight notes. Instead of the guitar for the verse, I played with like harmonizing the bass with another bass. Before I get into the verse, I add this intro bit with Auto-Tune pitch vocals. With the lyrics, I took Ricky's advice and tried to start off with something strange. I end up doing a pre-chorus in falsetto with lyrics about how love songs are tired. On the chorus, I used some heavy guitar at Ricky's recommendation. (guitar music) For the chorus melody, I used a variation of what I started out with at the very beginning, so it wasn't all for naught. ♫ I don't care what they say ♫ I play my own game ♫ No I don't really care about a love song ♫ No I don't give a damn about a love song For the second verse, I played with electro sounds. (electronic music) For the second chorus, I do this dramatic string half-time thing. ♫ No I don't really care about a love song. ♫ No I don't really care I get lazy with the breakdown. I do one more chorus to finish it off. So I have a full song. Now time to see what professional music producer, Ricky Reed, has to say about it. - The song is good. - I did the track, and I was like I like the track, and then I added vocals, and I just hated it. - I can hear you thinking a lot through it. There's a few parts that are like really, really, really strong, and I wanna just focus in on the parts that I think are like really impactful and anything where you start to lose me, just pull it out. - On a scale of one to ten, how catchy would you call it? - Eight and a half. - Eight and a half. Okay. - Coming from me, that's good. (laughs) - Okay. - I'm a tough critic. - Structure wise, like? - I'm gonna give you a six on structure. - Six, okay. That's still past the halfway point. Like how radio ready is it? - It's not radio ready. - Okay. - If you wanna walk this into a radio station now you're looking at probably two and a half. - Oh, wow. Cool. I guess we can get right into notes. - First and foremost, I would cut from four seconds to ... - Ricky gives me straightforward and simple notes about how to clean this track up. He rightly accuses me of being inauthentic with the gratuitous Auto-Tune vocals, so I cut those from the beginning of the song. He liked the double bass part, so I'll turn that up. He also told me how to layer the register of my vocals to better differentiate each section from the next. There were a lot of other great technical notes that if you're interested, you can check out the article for the video. So if I do all those notes, how radio ready could I get this song on a scale of one to ten? - I mean, I think we're all the way up in our sevens, eights. - Okay, I can deal with that. But it sounds like a single, right? - Yeah. Exactly. I think a better way to think of it too as far as like instead of competing at radio or whatever it is, think about yourself, really. Like on new music Friday at Spotify, scrolling through songs. The drums come in like if that vocal doesn't drop in about six seconds, I'm gonna either scan forward or I'm just gonna go to the next song. You know what I mean? - Yeah. Yeah definitely. - We're talking about pop music like ... Get to the good stuff. - So I took all of Ricky's notes and the song just sounds a whole lot better. It sounds a lot cleaner sonically and it just gets right to the point. I also made a music video for it, which you can watch in a second. But first, what did I learn from all this? Well I learned the steps to write a hit song and they are, one. Two. Three. Four. And five. - Don't do anyone else's version of a hit song. It's gonna sound terrible. - Just don't overthink it and maybe bring a friend. Ricky says that most pop songs are written by at least two people. - If you can capture the feeling of three or four friends in a room having a great time, and preserve that all the way until it's on the radio, then you have a real hit song. - His input throughout this whole process was incredibly valuable and you can check out his new single on Spotify, and his other work too. Without further ado, here's the final track, "Tired of Love Songs". (drum music) ♫ No I don't really care about a love song ♫ No I don't give a damn about a love song ♫ No I don't really care about a love song ♫ No I don't give a damn about a love song ♫ No I don't really care about a love song ♫ No I don't give a damn about a love song ♫ Head over heels about you ♫ I just can't live without you ♫ No I don't give a damn about a love song ♫ Woo oo a oo oo ♫ Woo oo a oo oo (whiz) (squeak)

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