Why lyrics and music need to work together

I used to think lyrics didn’t matter at all. I’d write whatever junk came to mind (which my mind is full of) and write it down as completed, justifying my work based on the attitude of much of Kurt Cobain’s work (Nirvana), who’s apathetic approach saw him quickly become one of the world’s greatest songwriters in the innovative grunge genre of the early 90’s.

The problem however, is style. Stylistically, a distilled, existential apathy in pop, dance, soul – many many other genres, as I learned, doesn’t fit with that style of music. Your writing and your lyrics must be in the same spirit as the feel of the music you are writing. There are of course always some exceptions to this rule (as with every ‘rule’ in music) but as a basic principle, start with what feels right first. For example, if you are writing lyrics about your most depressing memory to an upbeat dance track with a happy sounding melody, chances are something will feel a little not-quite-right. However if you swap either those same lyrics or tune for a set of lyrics or piece of music that fits the other stylistically, you’ll be in the ball game, maybe even hitting a home run.

So when it comes to writing lyrics, be present in the feeling of the music and/or vice versa, when it comes to piecing your lyrics together with music, choose according to the feeling you get when you wrote those lyrics or are reading them back. You will find that rather than confused faces from a mismatching of sorts, your song will feel more cohesive and it will better communicate that same feeling to your audience making it more enjoyable and memorable, maybe even (and hopefully so) for many years to come!

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