wikiHow to Write a Pop Song

Three Parts:Outlining Your Pop SongAdding Music to the LyricsFinishing Your Song

Have you ever listened to a pop song on the radio and thought that you could write one of those? With a little imagination, a basic musical talent, and a love for metaphors, you can begin writing your own pop song in no time. Not every pop song is a hit, as many artists write hundreds in a year while only publishing eight to ten. However, by practicing over and over again, you can get good at writing pop songs and eventually write one that could be a hit.

Part 1
Outlining Your Pop Song

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    Seek inspiration or influence. The goal of a song is to express an idea. This could be very simplistic or complicated, but it has to come from somewhere, and mean something to you. Some of the best places people seek inspiration are at coffee shops, where lovers and/or friends meet up, talk, kiss, and interact. Other songwriters like going out into the woods where they can hear the birds chirping, and experience the awesome solemnity of nature.[1][2][3]
    • Look for a place which suits your needs. If you need interaction, go to a crowded place. If you need silence, take a drive or sit by the lake.
    • Spend some time using all of your sensory abilities. Look to see the colors around you, listen to the sounds you hear, feel the table in front of you, and smell the multitude of aromas.
    • The ideas you come up with don't necessarily have to be serious or intricate. Especially when it comes to pop songs, short, sweet, and upbeat thoughts are especially welcome.
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    Brainstorm different ideas. Grab a sheet of paper and a pencil/pen when you go to seek your inspiration. Every time you hear, touch, smell, or see something interesting, write a word or two down which represents it. For example, I hear a bird calling in the woods so I write down "feather, echo, call, hear me." Compile a large list of these as you travel to different locations and seek inspiration from elsewhere.[4][5]
    • Carry a small 2X4 inch journal in your pocket when you travel. This way you will have a way to keep your ideas contained together, and always have something to write an idea down on.
    • Put stars around, or underline words which weigh on you heavily. These might be words you want to focus on when you later write your song.
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    Focus your ideas on a singular topic. You do not want to write a song about love, death, depression, working, dreams, and learning who you are. One of those works just fine, and will help to focus the minds of your listeners later on. Take your random word lists, and begin to cross certain words off. Begin a permanent list on another piece of paper.[6]
    • Each of these important words should center on one topic. For example, "gravel, breeze, going home, rough road, time, open space" would center around the concept of "taking your own path in life."
    • Begin to connect and number the words in the order you want them in your song. Using the previous example, "1. open space, 2. breeze, 3. rough road, 4. going home." You need some open space so you go on a car ride. During the car ride you experience the breeze of the outside air. However, you begin to feel how rough the road is, so you decide to make your way back home.
    • It is important that the topic you choose is relatable to everyone. Since this will be a pop song, it is going to be popular to a wide range of audiences. For example, topics like sadness or longing might be more relatable to a general audience than depression.
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    Say something old in a new way. Every topic has already been sung about, whether it be love, sadness, happiness, longing, hope, trustworthiness, etc. The key is to either say something new about it, or say it in a different way. This is where the use of metaphor really comes in handy. The descriptions you pick up on can be transformed into a highly engaging topic about an old conversation.[7][8][9]
    • For example, you might notice the way a bird's feathers flutter in the wind. You can then use this detail as a metaphor for the way your life is going, i.e. up and down. Rather than just explicitly saying "up and down" you use a metaphor that explains your thinking.
    • Paint a picture with these metaphors. Do not string a whole bunch of them together randomly. For instance, if you are using the bird metaphor, stick with the bird. Talk about the way it dives, eats, sleeps, breathes, etc. That vivid imagery will capture the imaginations of your song listeners.
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    Construct an outline for your lyrics. Don't worry about rhyming yet, as much as writing your lyrics in complete sentences. Take your important words and build around them with active verbs, adjectives, etc. Write your lyrics as if you were writing a movie script. Tell a story using "you" more than you use "I."[10][11][12]
    • The basic structure of a pop song goes: verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, interlude, chorus. There are two sets of verses where you can really get into telling your story. The first verse will introduce your listener to the story. The second verse can either repeat the same sentiment of the first verse, or change the direction of your story.
    • The chorus has to be the same every time you sing it in order for the listener to latch on to the song. This part of the song should clearly represent the main idea you are driving at. If your song is about going home, tell the listener you are going home, either manifestly (I'm going home) or latently (I'm going back to the place where it began).
    • Remember, some part of the chorus will likely become the title of your song.

Part 2
Adding Music to the Lyrics

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    Attach a rhythm groove to your outlined lyrics. Before you begin tweaking/altering your lyrics, you will want to figure out the general beat of your song. The rhythm will tell your listeners, even without words, the mood of your song. For songs about sadness, or longing, the rhythm is usually slower, while happy songs are generally more upbeat.[13][14]
    • Above each word, write full, half, or quarter notes. This will let you know how long you want to sing each word. Sad songs have a lot more full notes, while happy songs are generally full of quarter, and sometimes even eighth notes.
    • The chorus, of either a sad or happy pop song, will have a consistent rhythm throughout the song. When it comes to verses, sad songs have a more freewheeling style. They can go slower or faster, and change up in between. Happy songs should have both consistent chorus lines and verses respectively throughout.
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    Begin your song with a hook. This is probably the most important part of a pop song. Pop songs are played on a radio, and therefore, there is a short time to "hook" the audience. The hook of your song draws them in and keeps them interested. Sit down at a piano, or pull out your guitar. Begin practicing different riffs. Alternate the riff to suit your particular song.[15][16]
    • One of the best examples of a riff is "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. The entry to this song immediately gets the audience hooked.
    • Note that the riff does not necessarily have to be the same as the melody or rhythm. The hook can be used solely at the beginning to draw the audience in, or it can be used throughout and remain in the background.
    • A song like "Satisfaction" uses the riff throughout, while a song like "Train, Train" by Blackfoot only uses a harmonica riff at the very beginning.
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    Decide on a melody for your song. There is no perfect formula for this as there is a different melody for every song ever made. However, pop songs generally hand a mixture of repetition and variation that make the song easy to remember. Read the words of your song out loud, over and over again, until your mind begins to attach some notes to the words.[17][18][19]
    • One way to find inspiration for a melody is to listen to other pop songs. You might find a melody someone else used, and create a variation on it.
    • After you have figured out a melody for the first line of a verse, apply it to the second as well. Change the melody for the third line, and then come back to the original melody for the fourth. This is a common pattern in pop songs which creates a level of repetition that a general audience likes (1, 1, 2, 1).
    • Remember that melodies will change when you transition from verses to chorus lines. Pop songs have strong chorus melodies which allow the singer to belt out and become emotional (either happy or sad). Have the peak notes of your song fall within the chorus, such as extreme high notes and/or long notes.
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    Create a chord progression. Pop songs generally use 3 or 4 note chord progressions. Type into Google the name of any song followed by the word "chord" and it will tell you what chords were used. For example, the song "Firework" by Katy Perry has the following chord progression: | G | Am | Em | C | Chord progressions for pop songs, like in "Firework" are repeated for the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus.[20][21]
    • You can use chord progressions from other songs, just not lyrics or melodies. However, feel free to add or change one of the notes to suit your song best.
    • If you repeat a chord progression, change the scale you play it in. This creates some level of variation between the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. For example, "Firework" has a steady low chord progression for the first verse. The pre-chorus ranges from low to high, and the chorus is a steady high chorus progression.
    • Once you have figured out what chords you would like, you can go back and attach it to the rhythm and melody. You may want to add/delete words in your lyrics as join together the rhythm, melody, and chords.
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    Add a bridge or interlude. This usually comes after you sing the chorus a second time, and before the third time. It could be a guitar solo or a piano solo. The singer might want to belt out long notes with various modulations in their voice. This interlude should flow naturally from the song, rather than being an interjection.[22]
    • For example, you can build on notes in chorus lines. The first time you sing the chorus, sing notes relatively short. The second time, sing them longer, stretching them out. You can then go straight into a bridge which allows you to sing the same notes for as long as you want.
    • Mix it up. A lot of pop songs might start an interlude with long, belted notes and then transition into a piano or guitar solo. The options are nearly endless.
    • Reel the interlude back in so that you can end the song. Remember, you want distinguished lines between the different sections.

Part 3
Finishing Your Song

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    End your song. A common way to end a pop song is to simply repeat the chorus line over and over again as the song fades away. Many Aerosmith songs such as "Love in an Elevator" use this fading action a lot. It is best used for loud, rhythmic, hard edged chorus lines. Other, more sad songs might end better coming back to your original starting point. If you started off slow and soft, bring it back there, to effectively "close" your story.[23]
    • You can also end your song on an instrumental, however, this is usually an artistic license allotted to bands which already have names for themselves. For example, the ending to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" is over five minutes worth of instrumentals.
    • However, you can play your basic riff a couple of times at the end of your song, just begging your audience to repeat and play again.
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    Copy edit your lyrics and notes. After you have finished adding the music to your lyrics, you will want to go back and add your rhymes in. In modern day pop songs, there is more "free-styling" when it comes to lyrics but there is still a basic rhyme format. The trick of the pop song is to make it easy to remember, and rhymes facilitate that.[24]
    • Type a word into Google and add "rhymes with" next to it. A list of words will pop up and help you decide on which word best fits.
    • Depending on the particular word choices you may have to go back and change some of the melody/rhythm. This is a back and forth, give and take process.
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    Collaborate with family, friends, or partners. Use the strengths of the people around you to help make your song better. Find out whether a person you know plays an instrument. For example, if you are doing a very upbeat pop song, you might want someone who knows how to play a trumpet, or someone who is a good DJ.[25][26]
    • Other friends or family might be able to lend their voices to your effort, and harmonize with your melody.
    • You might also want to ask around for anybody that has an "in" into the music business. Someone who has already recorded an album, or who has worked with a record company, might be able to get your song some radio air time.
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    Listen to your song. Record it on your computer or stereo. Listen back and see if you can follow it. The words should sound crisp and clear as they will be memorized by millions of pop song listeners. There should be clear, distinguished lines between the verses, pre-chorus line, and chorus lines. Your interlude should flow naturally with the rest of the song, rather than intrude on its progression.[27][28]
    • Pop songs, like other songs, are never perfect the first go around. Rerecord the song until it is exactly right.
    • Note how you feel during the song. The essence of a good pop song is if you can feel the emotions you are trying to convey.
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    Come up with a title for your song. This can literally be anything you want it to be, but it should have something to do with your topic. Often times pop songs have titles which use lines from the chorus. This makes it easier for a general audience to look up your song later on. However, if your song is very metaphorical, you may want to give your song a more obvious title.[29]
    • For example, if your song is about depression, but you never explicitly say it in the song, your title should reflect it.


  • Try to go to different places you have never been for inspiration. Take your pocket journal on a vacation to a far off destination.
  • Think outside of the box. It is better to have an "edgy" song than to have a placid, typical, normal song.
  • Consider hiring someone to perform the song for you. While you may be able to write well, you might not be that good at performing. Many times people write songs for already established artists or bands.
  • Keep your song short and sweet. Pop songs are generally around 3 minutes long.[30]


  • Most pop songs will never appear on the radio. The music industry is very complicated and extremely hard to get into. Do not get discouraged if you have a hard time getting people to publish your album.

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Categories: Songs and Song Writing