I Can Write Better Than That!
Remember that the recording artist took the best songs of the 20 past years of writing to make his first album. His second album got what’s left and what he’s been writing on the road. While it might be mega-hit stuff, it also might be left-overs.
What is the song that made him or her famous? What song was so good that the song itself carried the guy or gal to stardom? That’s the one you should be using as your example.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was written by Jimmie Webb, but it put Glen Campbell in the spotlight. So Glen went back to Jimmie for “Wichita Lineman.”
“But You Know I Love You” made Kenny Rogers a household name. When he started to lose audience, he came back with “The Gambler” and we were hooked for another decade. Those are good songs. “The Gambler” is so good, it breaks several “rules” of songwriting, but we don’t care. It’s good.
If the artist is collaborating or is using the material of other songwriters, the material that comes after his hit might be as good or better, so check to see if the songs he is singing are his own or of other writers. If other writers, there’s a shot for you to get yours in there by sending them to the publisher; just make sure they are of the quality that the artist is used to. Any less will not make it to the studio.
It could be, however, that his breakthrough song was written by someone else and then his later albums were complete of his own songs. If he is not the songwriter he wishes he was, his own songs might just be less than you want to emulate. The rule applies: his second album might not be as good as the first.
So the next time you hear something on the radio that sounds like something you wrote, only yours was better, stop and think. Is that the breakthrough hit, or the follow-up song that gets airplay because it was by that artist? Is it his tired, old follow-up, or is it something written by another writer, all or in part?
The music business is littered with “one-hit-wonders,” people who had one hit song and nothing else they recorded made it to the charts. That’s not to say that they didn’t record their later work, it’s just that it didn’t come up to that first, great hit.
It’s probably best not to compare your song to anyone or anything at all, but if you must, take the best and compare it to that. If you aren’t as good as the breakout hit, you have work to do.