Christopher Winston
November 15, 2017

Can you truly relate to lyrics without knowing their meaning? So often, we can fall in love with songs without understanding the lyrics. Music listeners only enjoy a song because of a catchy beat or hook. Music allows the songwriter to connect with the listener, affecting a person’s mood, vibe, or spiritual energy. So as a consumer of music, you may want to be aware of the meaning or purpose of the song.

I appreciate the value of a well-written song because it allows you to truly connect with the lyrics. Have you ever loved a song by an artist today and think how did this become popular? The lyrics that songwriters produce now have changed throughout the years losing its essence.  Lyrics used to make you feel connected to the words, make you think about life or even empower you. Lyrics matter because they have the influence to bring a change and impact someone’s life negatively or positively. A great songwriter aims to make music about personal experiences that will touch millions of people. Songwriters of today have been able to do this like Miguel, Drake, Jhené Aiko, The Internet, and dvsn. They all have the ability to write songs that will make you feel, think, and take you on a journey. So let’s break down exactly why lyrics matter.

Lyrical Content

Lyrics that a songwriter puts into their music are forms of expression. The sole purpose is to get what’s on their mind or heart onto paper. Together it creates something beautiful that the artist can share and change people’s thinking. This allows the listener to see things from their perspective. If the songwriter’s lyrics are relatable they will resonate with you and become therapeutic. If written powerfully the lyrics can refresh the memory of the past and will tell a story of the songwriters’ thoughts. Lyrics take you back to a certain time when you were happy or sad while opening up your senses to be vulnerable. Songwriters like Sam Smith write lyrics that will make you reminisce about the past while being in the present moment of time. Music on its own carries a certain amount of emotional weight but the lyrical content of any song should surround you with emotional details.

The lyrics written today lack the weight that it used to carry. Songwriters in the past would open their life by telling a story about love, struggle, and you could feel the emotion behind the lyrics. Solange, who wrote “Cranes In the Sky”, talks about avoiding painful feelings and having your defense up. The lyrics are an amazing example of how to verbalize what you go through when experiencing an existential crisis. Originality in songwriters is dying out, the lyrics written today talk about the same content. Songs that were written back in the 80s still hold power because of the social issues the artists wanted to address.  Janet Jackson who has written countless hits addressing racism, addiction, and poverty in songs like “State Of The World” and “The Knowledge”.  A songwriter’s’ lyrics speak to the artist’s intelligence, artists like 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G, Kendrick Lamar, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and No Doubt have all written lyrics that still today have impacted so many lives.  

Lyrical Influences

Songwriters have written songs that have become successful and the lyrical content does not have any meaning.  Hanson who released “MmmBop” in 1997 was phenomenally a worldwide hit for a debut single by a band. It reached number one in 27 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico.  The song went on to sell over 10 million copies with its debut. The beat and chorus are undeniably catchy and still remains their most successful single. Rihanna in 2016 released “Work” feat Drake another example that some songs are written simply for catchy beats and hooks. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Rihanna’s fourteenth number-one single and making her the fourth artist with the most number one songs on the charts.  

So would you rather have music from artists that just make you dance or have music with lyrics that make you think or feel the words?  A few artists’ that I personally listen to on the daily and appreciate their lyrical expression are Jhene Aiko, H.E.R., and J.Cole.  “Every Kind of Way” written by H.E.R. speaks about the levels of loving someone and giving him or her your all. The simplicity of the lyrics speaks volumes because I’m someone who loves unconditionally. Jhene’s “New Balance” takes my soul on a lyrical journey with the metaphors and airy vocals, this song connects because the possibility of new relationships come and give you a breath of fresh air.  J.Cole wrote, “Love Yourz” which talks about being grateful for the important things in life, such as love, family, and happiness. I can relate to this because it reminds me to always be humble and never forget my small beginnings. Great songwriters will write songs that can bring you into their world for a short period of time; this is what makes their music personal. 

Lyrical Expression

Music works as the canvas for creativity and the songwriter completes the song by bringing the lyrics to life. Songwriters have the power to write music that can save people’s lives. If they write lyrics with pure authenticity this allows people to connect instantly.  As a songwriter you can write about life, personal struggles, or social issues and the lyrics can inspire people.  The lyrical expression of a song can reveal a songwriters truth, allowing people to relate even more to the lyrics. So many people have gone through similar situations and to hear that in music from someone else is liberating.  The songwriters’ sole purpose of creating music is to reach the masses while spreading powerful messages.

The lyrics that songwriters write are arguably the most important part of the song. The most challenging aspect of songwriting is developing the lyrics, especially if the songwriter lacks creativity. Ask any true songwriter and they will tell you that writing lyrics usually come from personal life experiences. The most successful songs were written about personal experiences. Michael Jackson wrote: “Billie Jean” based on his experiences with women that would claim to be pregnant with his children. The song became an instant hit becoming one of the best-selling singles worldwide. Songwriters who pull inspiration from real life events and experiences can create songs that will last forever. The lyrics in a song help the songwriter release their own personal issues freeing the thoughts from their mind.  

Can you truly relate to a song without knowing its meaning? Listening to music without knowing what the lyrics mean is like putting something together without using the instructions. If you are a lover of music, take the time to fully understand the songwriter’s point of view. It’s so easy to fall in love with a song and not know all of the words. Lyrics matter, and without them you may not truly understand the purpose or meaning of the song. Music allows the artist to connect with the listener, affecting their mood, vibe, or spiritual energy. So as a consumer of music it should feed your soul. 

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