Reference List of Songwriting Clichés

One of the surest ways to improve the quality of your lyrics is to avoid the use of clichés. You’re probably familiar with many of them already, but this short list will help you avoid the most common clichés:

Oh, baby
It’s now or never
Let’s take a chance
Your heart is cold
I’m on fire
Dancing with you
If you love something, set it free
Into the night/day
Come back to me
Miss you tonight
Cold as ice
Take my hand
Came into my life
Walked in/out of the room
Hold me close
Want you, need you, love you
At the break of dawn
On/over the horizon
Like the stars above

Now, keep in mind that songwriting clichés are not limited simply to worn-out turns of phrase. There are also clichéd thematic and stylistic devices that you might want to avoid.

Songwriting Cliches

For example, do you typically write all of your songs about heartbreak in a minor key or at a slow tempo? What new songwriting inspiration might you find if you decided to set “depressing” lyrics to a very bouncy and melodic song instead? What if you set positive lyrics to a slow song in A minor?

Another place to avoid clichés is in the stories you tell in your songs. Do all your love songs involve meeting, falling in love, falling out of love and ending up lonely? What if you changed that storyline to falling out of love and then back into it again? Or how about romance during a time of war? Use your imagination!

You’re much more likely to create a hit if you write about these universal themes in new and surprising ways, otherwise, most listeners will tune out. We’ve all heard the same “love hurts and life is hard” stories in countless songs throughout our lifetimes.

Give your audience something uniquely you. You can start today by avoiding clichés with good guitar songwriting lessons!

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