How To Write A Hit Country Song

melissa koehler live in concert elmira maple syrup festival

Enjoy our chat!


YC: Hi Melissa, how are you today?

MK: I’m good, thanks! How are you?

MK: Okay.

MK: I like to consider myself that, yes.

MK: Haha, probably “Chevrolet” and “Monster-In-Law” off my EP, called Narrator, as well as “Easy” which was a song I wrote about a year ago. Those are songs I’m proud of both lyrically and instrumentally.

melissa koehler narrator album coverCheck out Narrator on iTunes now!

YC: Ah ok, and so then the inevitable question of “What makes a hit song?” .. or a hit country song, because there might be a difference between writing a hit for country, and writing one for say.. alternative rock, I’m assuming.

MK: Country music is lyrically driven. First and foremost, it’s about stories. They can be sad, they can be funny, they can be happy, they can be clever, but they are always about stories. There’s always a point behind it. That being said, all the lyrics don’t necessarily have to be there when you first go to write the song, but your idea or your point, or your concept as I like to call it, has to be there. I think you have to know what exactly you want to write about when you sit down to write a song.

MK: “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves. Hands down.

MK: I have slightly different reasons for liking different artists, but above all I like the artists who aren’t afraid to say things. To me, Kacey Musgraves has a very country sound instrumentally, yet incredibly clever and contemporary lyrics. Other favourites of mine would be Dean Brody. I think he’s an amazing storyteller, from sad stories to happy stories, and he’s not afraid to experiment with melodies that range from pop-country to country-country. I also really admire Kip Moore. He’s got more of a country rock sound, and he writes story type of songs, but then he’s also got a ton of songs with that focus on a point or a message. They all write songs with a purpose, and I think that’s important to do when you’re writing a country song. You start with a topic/point/message/concept, and then you define the sound of that song based on that story or message you’re telling

First verse: That boy made my heart race, was perfect in every way

He bought me a white dress, a house with a picket fence

I complained he didn’t have a flaw,

Well then I met my soon to be mother in law

Chorus: And I never ran so fast, it’s a pity our love couldn’t last

I really tried to like this lady, but she was actually crazy, by dessert I was long gone

That woman was his flaw, I didn’t like what I saw, I didn’t want his crazy mother to be my monster in law

Second verse: She didn’t like the way I dressed, said my hair was a mess,

She said I didn’t love him right, I cried myself to sleep that night

She made me want to run and hide

I had no choice but to say goodbye

Bridge

He swore up and down that she was nice

I’d rather have a broken heart than this lady in my life

MK: Haha true!

YC: I think a lot of hit songs have that resonating truthful quality, and the lyrics are relatable .. maybe not to everyone, but to some people.

MK: Hahah yeah.

MK: Thanks! I think country music is very formulaic, and because I listen to it so much, and love it, it’s just the way I naturally write. I don’t think too much about it. I sit down with an idea, find the music, and then write the rest of the lyrics. If it is catchy I keep it, and if it’s not, I don’t.

MK: Nah, I don’t want to sing a song that’s boring haha.

MK: Bye!

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