I want to touch on a problem that I see happen often when songwriters choose titles for their songs.
I see thousands of lyrics every year from writers who want to work with us but unfortunately we can only accept the best of the best. One of the first things I look at when reviewing a lyric is the title. I’m amazed at how many lyrics have titles that don’t appear in the lyric, or appear in an odd spot in the lyric. Now this isn’t a deal breaker because you can change a title and you can’t copyright a title, so you don’t have to worry about finding a title that’s never been used.
Back to my point. A title should be created by using the first or last line of the chorus, or both, if you use the same line for the 1st and last line of your chorus. The title should encompass the nature of the song. The title should entice the listener to want to hear the song. Another fun fact is a higher percentage of hit songs use ‘one word titles’. This is not set in stone but there was a study done on the subject and they found that ‘one word titles’ were more consistent in hit songs than multi-word titles.
So to wrap this up, stick to the content of your lyric with your title. Listen to the radio or look at hit song lyrics online and I’ll bet the farm most titles come from the last line of the chorus.
In the spirit of Christmas, lets take a look at a popular Christmas favorite.
“The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” sung by Nat King Cole (1961)
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
This song doesn’t follow the typical VS/CH format that virtually 99% of songs do today. This song format was popular at the time…VS / VS / BR / VS. The last VS is repeated being the payoff verse…and there’s your title.
Have a great Christmas and feel free to enter our free monthly lyric contest. -Jim Cristaldi
Nashville Song Service
PO Box 210831
Nashville, TN 37221