Do I have to be creative and think of an original phrase or word when coming up with a song title?
That was such a difficult answer I might have to take the rest of the day off.
Jokes aside, it is true that you can be completely unoriginal with your song title and frankly no one will mind.
When you listen to your favorite song it’s because you love the singers voice, or because you can really relate to the lyrics, or the melody is utter perfection or perhaps the backing music is so epic you put it constantly on repeat just for that.
The title kind of feels redundant, you don’t crave to read the title of the song.
You craze the eargasm!
Why do I need a song title?
Well, think of your song title as your heading, it literally sums up the song in a nutshell.
But also it helps the listener put a name to the song they’re listening to. You can’t really name every song ‘untitled’ because how are we going to distinguish between each ‘untitled’ without having to listen to the beginning of every single song?
So if I can be unoriginal, why I should I try and create an interesting song title?
Here’s an interesting statistic; Spotify adds almost 20,000 tracks everyday to its platform. Imagine if thats 20,000 tracks all with unoriginal names such as ‘I Want You,’ ‘Stay’ or ‘Baby.’
Unless you’re a well known Artist no one will ever find your song called ‘I Want You.’
And that would suck especially if you worked so hard on it!
So what harm can a little creativity do?
How you can be creative with your song title
Before we delve in and create some awesome song titles, we should really look at what makes a song title great.
This can be summed up in 3 main points; imagery, curiosity and possibility:
- Imagery – It allows you to visualise what we think the scenario looks like, with the actual song lyrics allowing you to fill in the finer details.
- Curiosity – Should be engaging and interesting as it allows you to think or wonder what could happen during the song.
- Possibility – It should provoke different ideas or concepts that the song could be based around, however still feel specific rather than general.
If your song title ticks all these 3 boxes then you’ve got a good one.
But how do we come up with a song title initially?
5. Use your hook
We’ll start with an obvious one because it’s the main song title technique that everybody uses, regardless of music genre. These are also known as DNA titles as they are self-contained and don’t need any further context to understand the phrase.
Here are a few examples:
- Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
- Let It Be – The Beatles
- Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
- How You Remind Me – Nickelback
If your song has a really catchy phrase that stands out, and you repeat it on several occasions then that is your hook.
It’s a phrase everyone remembers, hence why we also use it as our song title. If listeners remember the phrase, well they’ll remember the song title, and they’ll find more songs by you a lot easier.
4. A phrase in your opening section
Sometimes it’s best to get it over and done with, your song title can apply to this to.
By using the opening phrase in the first verse you’re listener knows they’re listening to the right song, and it can also set the scene for the rest of the song.
However, this only works if you’re first phrase is relevant to the overall theme of the song.
For example, if you’re song is about reminiscing your childhood when you’d play in the meadows and climb trees and you’re opening line is ‘Lost in a field of marigolds’ then this fits perfectly with the theme of the song.
But, if your opening line was ‘I woke up late’ or ‘I went to visit my parents today,’ these two phrases don’t really paint the same picture about playing in the meadows and climbing trees.
Check out lyrics you’ve already written, does your first phrase sit well with the theme of the song? Does it paint a vivid picture? Does it leave you curious to know where it may lead?
If you think yes, then consider using it as your song title.
3. A metaphor for the entire song
This is a technique I like to use often.
These are great for adding a little creativity to your song, rather than using a standard hook line as your title.
In my song ‘Shaping Mirrors’ the song was inspired by behaving in certain ways to be accepted by other people, therefore you never show the real you to anyone. I immediately thought of distorting mirrors you see at Carnivals or Fairs that make you look tall, short, wide and slim. They change your reflection so others can see an alternative you.
I then came up with ‘Shaping Mirrors,’ a perfect metaphor which conveys the purpose of my song.
You don’t see this type of song title in mainstream music, as they tend to focus on memorable phrases that appear in the chorus, but it’s a fun title to try and create.
2. A phrase relating to or based on the story
Similar to a metaphor we can use a phrase relating to the story but this phrase is also not part of the lyrics.
A great example is Queen’s ‘The Bohemian Rhapsody.’
This title is different to a metaphor because the meaning is literal. In ‘Shaping Mirrors’ we are not creating or designing different mirrors for houses or random buildings like the title suggests.
But in ‘The Bohemian Rhapsody’ we are talking about the life of a bohemian (defined as a person involved in the Arts) and singing about a fantasy life he envisions (defined by the word rhapsody).
You can make easy to understand titles such as ‘My Loving Home’ where your song might be about how safe you feel at home, as home is where the heart is. You could talk about your garden, your decor, your family that lives with you etc. ‘My Loving Home’ wouldn’t be a metaphor because it is a physical thing you’re singing about.
If you’ve written about an item or a concept that is clear and understandable, then use this as your song title.
1. A question
I love asking questions in my song titles. It definitely gets 10/10 for curiosity from the listeners perspective. Especially if it’s a thought provoking question.
Good Tiger’s ‘Where Are The Birds?’ is a great example. You can also combine a metaphor with a question to, creating a whole new level of possibilities of what the song could potentially be about, which is what Good Tiger did.
Getting back to ‘Where Are The Birds?’ it could literally be about searching for birds because they can’t find any, or it could be a metaphor for something that birds symbolize such as freedom, escapism or beauty.
But it definitely intrigues me enough to listen to the song to find out what exactly it is, and a bet a few of you will be googling that song later.
It’s your turn
You don’t always have the use your ‘hook’ as your song title just because everybody else is doing it too, and because well, it’s easy.
Use one of these techniques to create your song title, and don’t forget to remember these key points for your song title:
Good luck, and get creating!