The 6 defining characteristics of a badly written song


Writer Laura Buckler has written this guest post for us. She tackles the topic of badly written songs regardless of whether they are “Christian” or secular in topic. The principles of good and bad song writing remain the same.

Do you agree with her 6 main points?

Can you think of worship songs that do this well or poorly?

The 6 defining characteristics of a badly written song

If you ask a famous songwriter how long it took them to write the amazing hit, they will most likely say something like ‘It took me 10 minutes’. However, what they probably won’t mention is that the writing process did not end there. Actually, most well written songs are a result of numerous re-writes after the first draft.

Regardless of the music genre or topic of the song, several elements must be included in songwriting. For a song to be interesting to the audience and good for the ear, there are many adjustments that need to be done.

Knowing this, it should be quite clearer why many inexperienced songwriters fail to deliver a well-written song. They do not take the time to re-write and hone the song, after which we end up listening to music with various undesirable characteristics.

Jeremy Samson, an expert content creator and songwriter at a writing service says that there are six characteristics that define a song as bad. Here is what you should avoid if you decide to write a song:

1. Too long

Have you ever heard a song that starts perfectly and after a while, turns into lyrics and solos that never end? A song that is too long can easily bore the listener, so keeping your song shorter is always better than turning it into a torture.

Sometimes it is even better to create a song that is too short rather than too long. There are many short songs that became popular, but only few lengthy ones that people learned to love.

And in a worship setting of course there are always opportunities to repeat verses, choruses and the bridge.

2. No hooks

Most popular songs have a hook at the beginning and in the chorus. Therefore, if you want a memorable song, you need an instrumental line in the intro or outro.

This is especially important for songwriters who aim to make producers happy. The hooks are something you must develop prior to hitting the studio.

3. No focus

When a song lacks focus, it just meanders from one chord to another, without forming a distinction between the different sections. In most such cases, the focus is lost because the songwriter gives up on honing the song thinking it is already finished.

When you write your own song, you have a strong connection with it. You love it no matter what. That’s why it is always best to let others hear it and point out to things you can improve, prior to playing it to the producer.

4. No bridge

A bridge connects two or more parts of a song, making a strong connection between them.

An example in the Chris Tomlin song Even So Come is the section beginning “O we wait, we wait for You”.

In most cases, you will hear the verse once or twice, after which there should be a bridge that will replace this repetition with a different verse.

In other cases, a bridge serves to delay the next chorus. The chorus after a bridge is often repeated with the goal to stress that it is the final chorus.
A lack of bridge limits your song from the ‘peak of the song’. Without it, you will not achieve the intense point.

5. Weak chorus

In songs where the chorus and verse are basically the same, it is hard to distinguish when a verse ends and the chorus begins. A chorus must be interesting and different from the verse. Even a slight difference such as change in instrument, anticipation to the chord changes or background vocals can do wonders for the song. Or you can even make a drastic switch by using different set of changes, such as combination of melody or a change in volume.

Anything you can do to make the song more memorable, do it. A weak chorus is the worst trait of a badly written song.

Of course the roots of our contemporary worship songs begun in the 1970s or so with songs that were simply called “Choruses”. Each song was just a few lines but with a strongly melodic and catchy tune. Nowadays such short songs are rare and inevitably include verses, bridge and often the dreaded octave leap to add even more momentum to the song.

6. Poor arrangement

Unfortunately, even the best songwriters make this mistake. When the music is not arranged well, the song suffers. In most cases, this comes in the form of same chords and rhythm played by all the instruments throughout the song.

However, knowing this bad characteristic of songs, there is simple solution to avoid poor arrangement. All you have to do is make sure that instruments do not play the same lick, or add another instrument that will play a counter-line of the original rhythm.

If you do not succeed, the arrangement will be boring and unmemorable. To make it memorable, you must make sure that the song not only starts, but also stays interesting until the very end. In most cases, this requires the addition of fills and lines.

Andy Chamberlain discusses the topic of arrangements for contemporary worship songs over on our Worship Backing Band blog. He argues that most worship songs today are written with radio play in mind rather than congregational singing so need simpler arrangements when you take them into a church setting.


Laura Buckler is current freelance writer and editor at coursework writing service. She had experience in writing popular songs, and now shares her knowledge. Laura is a music lover like all of us and sometimes likes playing guitar.