The Song Foundry

107 Song Prompts for When You’re Really Stuck

by Ed Bell | May 24, 2018

107 Song Prompts: Man with black face connecting two live electric wires

Songs prompts, oh, song prompts.

If I’m honest, I have mixed feelings. I don’t really do writing by numbers. I get nervous around anything for songwriters that sounds like spoon-feeding. And I think the most important thing a songwriter – well, anyone – can learn is to think for themself.

That’s why most of the content on the site is about the big, fundamental ideas every songwriter should know about. (Including this article  about how to come up with your own song ideas.)

But, you know, sometimes songwriters feel stuck in a rut . Sometimes songwriters aren’t sure  where to begin . Sometimes songwriters need a burst of inspiration to get them back on track.

And if that sounds like you, I have some good news: I made you a big list of songs you can write. Specifically, 107 songs you can write.

Do I hate myself for doing it?

Maybe a little.

But will it help you out if you’re not sure where to go next? If you’re ready for a new challenge or two? If you’re looking for some new inspiration in your life?

So we’re good.

107 Song Prompts - Guy with big thumbs up.

If you’re new to the site I recommend you read my article on how songs tell stories , and how a song’s style, idea and hook work together before you do anything else. They’ll help you get the most out of the song prompts I’m about to share with you.

Otherwise, have a browse. See which song prompts inspire you. Go write some songs, live your dream, change the world.

And remember: these ideas aren’t gospel. You can use the song prompts as is. You can make changes to the song prompts. You can ignore the song prompts entirely and go where your curiosity takes you. Do what’s right for you, compadre. Life is yours for the taking.


  • Write a love song. Any love song.
  • Write a love song from you to a current or former lover.
  • Write a love song from you to a desired or imaginary lover.
  • Write a love song from someone else to his or her lover.
  • Write a love song about an unusual kind of love.
  • Write a love song about a complicated kind of love.
  • Write a love song that never uses the word ‘love’.
  • Write a love song that never uses the word ‘you’.

Break Up Songs

  • Write a song where you break up with someone and you’re really happy about it.
  • Write a song where you break up with someone and you’re really sad about it.
  • Write a song where you break up with someone and you’re conflicted about it.
  • Write a song where you break up with someone but you’re terrified of doing it.
  • Write a song where you break up with someone suddenly after learning something new.
  • Write a song where someone broke up with you and you want them back.
  • Write a song where someone broke up with you and don’t want them back.
  • Write a song where someone broke up with you and you’re not sure if you want them back.

Relationship Songs

  • Write a song that says ‘I’ve never met anyone like you before.’
  • Write a song that says ‘Show me some respect.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I don’t care.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I don’t want to know.’
  • Write a song that asks ‘Baby, what’s wrong?’
  • Write a song that says hello.
  • Write a song that says goodbye.

Story Songs

  • Write a song that tells the story of someone you think is really interesting.
  • Write a song that tells the story of someone you think is misunderstood.
  • Write a song that tells the story of someone you really dislike.
  • Write a song that tells the story of someone you know personally.
  • Write a song that tells the story of someone you read about in the news.
  • Write a song that tells the story of an existing fictional character.
  • Write a song that tells a story about you, but from someone else’s perspective.

Microphone in dark background

Personal / Artist Songs

  • Write a song that introduces us to you as an artist.
  • Write a song that introduces us to someone else as an artist.
  • Write a song based on your key life philosophy.
  • Write a song that tells us something nobody else knows about you.
  • Write a song about a major event in your life.
  • Write a song about a major change in your life.
  • Write a song about what you want in life.
  • Write a song about your biggest hope in life.
  • Write a song about your biggest disappointment in life.
  • Write a song about growing up in your particular neighborhood.

‘I Am’ Songs

  • Write a song that says ‘I’m happy.’ (And tell us why.)
  • Write a song that says ‘I’m sad.’ (And tell us why.)
  • Write a song that says ‘I don’t know.’
  • Write a song that says ‘Nothing’s gonna stop me.’
  • Write a song that says ‘Something awesome is coming.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I’ve been holding myself back all this time.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I need help.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I never saw that coming.’
  • Write a song that says ‘I was right all along.’

Public Service Announcement Songs

  • Write a song that makes people feel happy.
  • Write a song that makes people laugh.
  • Write a song that makes people want to dance.
  • Write a song that makes people say ‘I love you’ more.
  • Write a song that motivates people.
  • Write a song that encourages people to be themselves.
  • Write a PSA song of your choice – think ‘Always Wear Sunscreen’.

Lady with Loudspeaker outside

Other Story Songs

  • Write a song from a parent to their son or daughter.
  • Write a song from a son or daughter to their parent.
  • Write a song for two friends.
  • Write a song for two enemies.
  • Write a song for two siblings.
  • Write a song for two lovers.
  • Write a song about getting married.
  • Write a song about eloping.
  • Write a song about moving to a new town.
  • Write a Christmas song.
  • Write an Easter song.
  • Write a Kwanzaa song.
  • Write a Hanukah song.
  • Write a ‘We make a great team’ song.
  • Write a ‘What would I do without you?’ song.

Start with a Lyrical Hook (Title)

(For a recap on how lyrical hooks work, check out this article .)

  • Write a song with a one-word hook – think ‘Jealousy’, ‘Hello’, ‘Fever’.
  • Write a song with a two-word hook – think ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Space Cowboy’.
  • Write a song with a hook that’s a phrase – think ‘No Good at Goodbyes’.
  • Write a song with a hook that’s a complete sentence – think ‘I’m Outta Love’.
  • Write a song with a hook that’s a question – think ‘Where Is the Love?’.
  • Come up with a totally original word or phrase – think ‘Love Foolosophy’, ‘Ghetto Gospel’ – and make that your hook.
  • Take the lyrical hook of an existing song, change one word and make that your hook.
  • Take the lyrical hook of an existing song, make that your hook BUT write about a completely different story or situation.

Start with a Melody

(For a recap on how to write a great melody, check out Episode 11 of our series On Songwriting on the video page .)

  • Write a perky melody, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a simple melody, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write an expressive melody, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a melancholy melody, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a melody that repeats a single rhythmic motif, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.

Coffee mug saying 'Begin' on table

Start with a Groove

(For a recap on how to match your groove or musical style with your song’s story, check out this article .)

  • Write an upbeat groove, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a melancholy groove, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a funky groove, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a weird-sounding groove, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a chilled-out groove, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a groove based on two alternating chords, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a groove based on a simple three- or four-chord progression, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Write a groove based on a chord progression from an existing song, figure out a song story that fits it, then write that song.
  • Set a drum loop playing then freestyle lyrics over the top until that gives you a song idea. Then write that song.


  • Write a song about life on other planets.
  • Write a song about your pet rock Ignacio.
  • Write a song about the Northern Line Extension to Battersea.
  • Write a song about the life and death of Hildegard von Bingen .
  • Write a song about a sweet potato that looks like Michael Caine.
  • Write a song that never uses the letter ‘m’.
  • Write a song that has a 60-second sackbut solo.
  • Write the song you’ve always wanted to write.
  • Write the song you’ve just decided you wanted to write.
  • Write the song you’ve never wanted to write.
  • Write the song you still don’t want to write.
  • Write the song you’re totally petrified to write.
  • Just write something . Anything. Anything you like.

Feel free to add your own song prompts in the comments below. And if, one day, you manage to write all 107, well, I’ll buy you a taco.

Happy writing!

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200+ Song Prompts: Quick Ideas to Help you Take Off

200+ Song Prompts: Quick Ideas to Help you Take Off

Learning how to write songs , even for the most experienced songwriters, can be difficult at times. After all, you can only write songs about specific situations so many times, and staying inspired can be challenging enough on its own.

Thankfully, we've compiled some of the best song ideas to help you stay inspired while writing songs. This way, you can let your song idea flow freely and focus on other aspects like developing a strong chord progression or helping the lyrics flow from chord to verse .

Below, we'll share over 200 of the best song ideas so that you can start writing your own lyrics immediately. Let's jump into it!

How To Use Song Idea Prompts

So, how do you use these song ideas in the first place? For many songwriters, these song ideas can help them break past writer's block. You'll find that some of the best ideas can inspire a full song title, an entire story, or multiple songs just by evoking a certain emotion.

Whether you're feeling unsure about what you should write about or just don't have a strong song idea to begin with, a songwriting cue can give you the activation energy you need to start writing.

The most important thing is that song prompts make it easier for you to get out of your own way. Songwriting inspiration can strike anywhere, and if these prompts prove anything, it's that you already have a great idea inside of you -- you just need to have the courage to write it out.

200+ Song Ideas

Without further ado, here are some of the best song ideas to use as inspiration for writing music. Each songwriting prompt can be customized and catered to your specific situation -- remember that these are just intended for general inspiration.

1. People watching

There are so many songs about people watching or simply being an observer for good reason. The next time you find yourself sitting at a park bench, bring a pen and paper so that you cam tirm upir great ideas into new songs.

2. Your favorite food

Food is one of the unexplored areas by most songwriters and it may just inspire something great from you. You could also take a food and weave it into a narrative, as songwriter Jack Johnson did with the classic "Banana Pancakes":

3. Gaining wealth

Showcase your struggle! What difficulties have you faced as an artist? How will that change for you over the years? Imagine a future where money is not an issue and put pen to paper.

4. Your backstory

Everyone has a unique story to tell. Start singing your backstory as an introduction to future listeners. What should your fans know that makes you unique as an artist?

5. Falling in love

This is a tried and true method used by just about all songwriters and it's no surprise why -- falling love is an intense, vivid experience. The next time you feel yourself falling in love, write in your journal or notes app so that you can capture the experience in a song later.

6. Your dog

Who wouldn't want to pay homage to a man's best friend? You can create lyrics that serve as an ode to your furry friend, or turn this prompt into a love song about "puppy love". Sometimes, the best models of love come from our pets.

7. First date

Write a song about the first date with your significant other. Or, if you haven't been as lucky in love, write about the worst first date you've ever had. Either will make interesting love songs.

8. Your sibling

No one knows you like your sibling. Practice lyric writing by crafting a song surrounding your relationship with your brother or sister.

9. Confidence anthem

There are plenty of famous singers and other songwriters who have built their entire careers off of writing songs that radiate confidence. Join the club and write the next hit that will get just about any listener pumped up.

10. A breakup

We naturally have plenty to say following a breakup. Instead of regrettably texting your ex, turn your ideas into song lyrics instead! Art is one of the best ways to process feeling sad or feeling stuck in a challenging situation.

11. Religion

Are you religious or spiritual? Write about how your perspective has influenced how you approach the world. You don't need to make traditional spiritual music either, just look at Kanye's music which is frequently full of religious references that stemmed from his experiences.

12. Isolation

Everyone feels isolated at some point in their life. Take your experience of feeling isolated internally or externally and turn it into a song. The ironic part is that isolation songs often connect you to others.

13. An anniversary

Sustaining love is something worth celebrating. Write about a romantic anniversary or an anniversary of a meaningful event in your life.

14. A toxic relationship

Unfortunately, many of us fall into toxic or unbalanced relationships. The best part of these relationships is undoubtedly getting out of them and using them as inspiration to writing a song.

15. Your celebrity crush

Whether you're more into Taylor Swift or Harry Styles, there are plenty of celebrities to crush over. Let your feelings write themselves and convert your adoration into a new song.

16. Acceptance

Some situations in life can only be handled with acceptance. Write songs covering your journey to your journey of acceptance and the progress that comes as a result of it.

17. A one night stand

Write a song about your latest one nightstand. Who knows? This moment in your personal history could be the reason you're heard by new fans.

18. Revenge

We all have evil ways. Write a song about how you would like to get revenge over a certain situation. Songwriting might be exactly what you need to get those words out of your system.

19. Your dreams

Document your dreams in a song or two. At the very least, your music will serve as a time capsule that showcases your headspace is at different points in time.

20. Your relationship with your parents

Whether you had an amazing relationship or a challenging one with your parents, write a song about it.

21. When someone you like chooses someone else

This is one of the most painful human experiences, that unfortunately, happens all too often. Share your story of heartbreak by writing a ballad about the experience.

22. Partying

Have you recently had a night that felt like it would last forever? Capture your night out by writing a song.

23. Politics

Write a song about your nation's state of politics and how you feel about it. Politically charged song titles and lyrics are bound to strike emotions in listeners.

24. A dance move

You know the "Cupid Shuffle" and the "Harlem Shake", what's next? Create a dance move and write a song about it.

25. Your future soulmate

Meeting the love of your life can understandably take some time. Write a song about everything you want your future soulmate to know about loving you.

Not every romantic encounter leads to love... Let your feelings write this one.

27. Self-loathing

It's normal to go through ups and downs throughout your journey. Sometimes, writing a song about your struggles can make it easier for you to work through it.

28. Commentary on society

Is there anything about the society that you wish could change? What commonly accepted situations do you find odd? Use your commentary on society to write a song.

29. The ocean

The beauty of the ocean has been the muse of endless songwriters. Write a song about the ocean or other nature that's inspired you.

30. The city

If you're lucky enough to live in a city, you know that there is endless inspiration all around you. Write about hopping on the metro, the energy of the city, or even a love letter to the location itself.

31. A letter you never sent

We all have things we wish we never said and things that we wish we had the courage to say. Write a song in the form of a letter addressed to someone or something you have unfinished business with.

32. Diss track

The history of diss tracks goes back to the creation of music itself. Write a cheeky diss track to one of your current rivals or someone you hope to face in the near future.

Everyone carries some form of regret and that's okay. Take your pain and write a song with it.

34. Friendship breakup

We too often write about romantic breakups without considering the effects a friendship breakup can have on two people. Write a song about two friends who took different paths.

35. Teenage angst

From fifth grade to graduation, there are plenty of opportunities to cultivate teen angst. Take some of your experiences from this pivotal period for writing fodder.

36. Unconditional love

Unconditional love means loving someone or something even when it isn't easy, despite the circumstances. Write songs about receiving unconditional love or providing it for someone else.

37. Small talk

Small talk can make a great song title and topic since it's something everyone can relate to. Write about all the things you talk about with a person when you're just getting to know them.

38. Dating apps

Dating apps have become the standard for romance. Write a song about how you feel about this transition and what it's like to use one of these platforms.

39. Use an idiom

If you find yourself stuck, use a common idiom to help you build a track. Just listen to "Let's go crazy" by Prince:

40. Mental illness

A great way to destigmatize mental illness is to write a song about your experience with it. Even if you aren't directly affected by it, you can write about supporting someone on their journey to mental wellness.

41. Introvert vs. extroverts

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Perhaps you're an ambivert. Write about your unique perspective and perception of the world.

42. A TV show

TV shows can inspire hit songs, and it's easy to become a favorite TV shows' cast of characters. The next time you sit down to watch your program, be on the lookout for song ideas.

43. Being abandoned

Songwriting can get us through some of the most difficult experiences. Write about a time when you felt abandoned and how that made you feel.

44. Nervousness

What makes you nervous? In as many words as possible, describe your experience with nervousness and turn that into a full song.

45. Mourn a loss

Songwriting is a great time to reflect on your experiences, for better or worse. Write a song surrounding the loss of a feeling, idea, or person.

46. Feeling carefree

Sometimes, we just need a song to make us DANCE! Craft a groovy chord progression and write a song about feeling completely unbothered.

47. Maintaining balance

How do you achieve balance in your life? Are you still figuring that out? Write about your experience with finding balance.

48. Your bucket list

What do you want to do before you leave this world? Create a musical bucket list with all the lyrics detailing your innermost aspirations.

49. Having a bad day

Everyone has ups and downs. Take a bad day and write a song about it. Who knows, it might land you a major hit like Daniel Porter:

50. Your biggest weakness

Get vulnerable in your next song by sharing your greatest weakness. Great songwriting ideas can stem from our strongest insecurities.

51. Holding a grudge

Even the best of us hold grudges from time to time. Write lyrics about your experience holding a grudge against a person, a way of life, or a transition in your life.

52. Being worried

There are plenty of things to be worried about in the 21st century. Write a song acknowledging your worries for the future.

53. Education

Who said learning can't be fun? Write a song that can help teach others about a subject you know a lot about.

54. Love languages

"Love languages" is one of many great song titles. Write about your communication style throughout romantic relationships.

55. A letter to your future self

Write a song to your future self. Talk about your hopes for the future and who you hope to become in the lyrics.

56. Vacation

We all need a break from time to time. Write about a vacation you've been on or one you hope to experience in the near future.

57. Taking a test

Have you ever struggled while taking a test? Turn your experience into a song or talk about someone testing your love, feelings, or intentions.

58. The environment

Write songs about the current state of the environment. This could be lyrics about what you hope will improve or what you love about the world around you.

59. Parasites

Parasites are an extremely intriguing song topic on their own. You could write about a literal parasite, or use it as a metaphor for an unbalanced relationship.

60. Fixing something that's too broken

Have you ever stayed in a relationship when it was clear that it was over? Turn this idea into a fully-fledged song about your experience.

61. Your children

Being a parent is such a unique experience. Try writing about your experience having children, becoming a parent, or even writing an open letter to your future kids.

Remember that time you broke your mother's favorite vase and didn't tell her? Take your guilt and turn it into a confessional lyrical hook.

Shame is another extremely powerful emotion. Incorporate any strong feelings of shame or embarrassment into your songwriting arsenal.

64. Being sick

Recovering sickness leaves many of us with painful days and way too much time on our hands. The next time you find yourself limited to bed rest, why not start brainstorming your next song?

We all have haters, even if it's on a small scale. Use hate as fuel to create your next inspirational creation.

66. Your mentor

Is there someone in your life that's made a positive impact on where you are today? Write a song expressing gratitude for your mentor.

67. A guilty pleasure

Is there something that you love in secret? Use your guilty pleasure to write a song about why you love it and what makes this forbidden find so alluring.

68. Insomnia

Unfortunately, many of us have trouble falling asleep. The next time you're experiencing insomnia, use your inconvenient energy to write a song.

69. A relationship that never happened

There are lots of relationships that never quite made the cut. Many of us can name "the one that got away". Use your melancholic feelings to craft a nostalgic love song.

70. Going to space

Many of us dream of leaving the Earth to experience the rest of the universe. Craft a song about how it would feel to explore outer space.

71. Being ignored

One of the most infuriating experiences is being ignored by someone you care about. Write a song about what it feels like to be out of someone's spotlight.

72. Your favorite quote

Do you have a favorite quote? Craft a storyline around it and write a song about it. You can even incorporate the quote into the lyrics of the song.

73. Crying in the club

Moving on from someone you love can be challenging. Write a song about a time when it was clear that you weren't over someone even though you wish you were.

74. Current trends

Pop culture is perfect for providing endless song inspiration. Write a song about the latest trends.

75. A superpower

Do you ever wish you had superpowers? Which ones? Write a song about what it would be like to be a superhero or have supernatural powers.

76. What it would be like to fly

If you could fly, what would you do? Where would you go? You can write a song purely off of this dreamy concept.

77. Infertility

Infertility is one of the most difficult experiences a human can face. You can write a song to help process your emotions or reflect on a friend's story of pregnancy.

78. Rewrite a nursery rhyme

Take a common old song or nursery rhyme and put your own flavor on it. The dichotomy between an innocent song and your rewrite of the topic can make for powerful music:

Fame undoubtedly fascinates us as a culture. Whether you want to avoid it or find fame, write a song about it.

80. Salvation

Have you been forgiven or given a second chance by someone you care about? Write about your story of salvation.

81. Being a workaholic

Some of us become so entrenched in work that it's hard to make room for anything else. If your day job has turned you into a raging workaholic, write a song about your experience and how you want to break the cycle.

82. The suburbs

The best songwriters can find beauty in the mundane. If you live in the suburbs or a fairly monotonous town, write lyrics detailing what it's like to be there.

83. Single and not ready to mingle

Sometimes you don't want to write a love song, because you don't want to fall in love. Write a song about being happily single.

84. Virtual reality

In the age of the metaverse, virtual reality is more relevant than ever. Craft songs about the separation or merging or digital and real life.

85. Holding someone's attention

Attention is a currency. Write a song about captivating someone's attention, or at the very least, trying to.

86. Obsession

We all have our own secret obsessions. Fortunately, that can make excellent writing inspiration.

87. Relocation

Moving to a new area can signify a whole new chapter of life. Write a song about migrating from one area to another.

88. Rebounding from a past love

Recovering from a breakup isn't always linear. Talk about your experience recovering from heartbreak in your next song.

89. Your favorite scene

Is there a movie or TV scene that brought you to tears or stays firmly implanted in your memory? Craft songs surrounding the theme of the scene.

90. Cyberbullying

It's all too easy to experience cyberbullying in today's day and age. Write about your experience with hate online.

91. Being bad at goodbyes

Saying goodbye isn't always easy. Thankfully, writing sad songs about the experience is one of the best ways to process challenging feelings.

92. Selfishness

Is there a time when you felt like you needed to be selfish? Do you know someone who is nothing but selfish? Document your experiences through your lyrics.

93. Your hometown

There is something special about where you came from. Use your hometown as an inspiration for your next set of lyrics.

94. Being a fly on the wall

Have you ever been a silent observer of an intense situation? Write a song about being a fly on the wall.

95. Losing yourself

Sometimes we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves. Some of the best song ideas stem from our journey to self-discovery.

96. Being watched

Does it ever feel like someone has their eyes on you? Write a song about the eerie feeling of being watched.

97. Love at first sight

Sometimes, a movie moment happens in real life. Write a song about finding love at first sight.

98. Forbidden love

Love doesn't always come easy. Write a love song about trying to start a relationship when the love is forbidden or difficult to nuture.

99. Finding closure

We all dream of finding closure through our past relationships. Even if you never found it, write a song of what closure would look like to you.

100. Running a business

Do you have a dream to run a business? Or perhaps you already do! Regardless, take your unique perspective and turn it into a song.

101. Influencers

We are currently in the age of influencers. Write about how you feel about this new profession or your experience as one if you are one.

102. Comparison to others

It's hard to avoid the allure of comparison. Craft a song about how you compare yourself to others for better or worse.

103. A hidden talent

Do you have a talent or skill that not everyone knows about? Write a song surrounding your special skill.

104. Medical challenges

Do you have a unique perspective as someone who faces constant medical challenges? Use songs to share your experiences.

There's something mysterious about sleep and the act of dreaming. Use your dreams as ideas for future songs.

106. Reconnecting with an old flame

Write a song about how it would feel to reconnect with someone you once dated. Even if you don't intend to act on it, writing the words might be the fix you need to process your past.

107. Something misleading

Have you ever experienced something only to find that it wasn't what you were expecting? Write a song about a misleading experience and what you learned from it.

108. Poverty

We all come from somewhere. If you had to work hard to get to where you are today, encapsulate your journey in a song.

109. Getting drunk

When was the last time you got hammered? Put your sloppy night to the tune of a catchy chord progression.

110. A night out

Any night on the town can make excellent inspiration. One song might revel in the glory of a fun evening, while other songs might lament about one too many nights on the town:

War has inspired songs for centuries. Create your own melody and commentary surrounding a current war and your ideas around it.

112. Visiting the underworld

Imagine what it would be like to visit hell or the underworld. Why would you go there? What would you see? Write a song about what you think your experience would be like.

113. Capitalism

There are many different structures of power, but one of the most common ones in the Western world is capitalism. Write a song about your position within this structure and how you feel about it.

114. Your daily routine

Distinguish your music from someone else's song by writing about something that's personal to you. Even mundane things like your daily routine can make excellent lyrical inspiration.

If you're seeking a one-word title that will strike chords in many different people, look no further than "taxes". Write about your feelings about taxes or what purpose they serve in society as a whole.

116. Expectations vs. reality

We all have expectations that don't necessarily match up with reality. Write songs about experiencing something that didn't exactly align with your vision of it.

117. Jealousy

Jealousy is one of the most powerful emotions, which is why it inspires so many songs. The next time you feel jealous, turn it into an opportunity to write a new song.

118. Being the villain

We all have villain energy deep down inside of us. Even if you don't outwardly express your dark side, write a song about what it would feel like to be a villain.

Growing older can be a beautiful and equally challenging process to come to terms with. Write a song sharing your experience or some lessons that you've learned over the years.

120. Cheering up your friend

We all need someone to lean on from time to time. Write a song to cheer up a friend who is going through a sad or difficult time.

121. Your cravings

Is there anything that you've been craving but can't get your hands on? Write about your desires and what you would do to get a taste of your craving.

122. Feeling lost

It's normal to feel lost at different times in your life. Listen to your inner voice during these periods and transform your sorrow into a new melody for your next song.

123. Dissatisfaction

Has anything been bothering you lately? Or left you feeling sad? Write a song about your feelings of dissatisfaction and what you wish would happen in the future.

124. Being in a cult

The word "cult" instantly inspires sounds, words, and images. Craft a melody and lyrics around what it would be like to join a cult or escape one.

125. Your supporters

Your fans want to hear how they have helped you become a better musician. Use your words to pay homage to your fans and supporters.

126. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can mean lots of different things to different people. Craft a song about what that looks like to you.

127. Write about writing

When in doubt, go meta! Write about the struggle of writing and who knows, you might just end up with a complete track.

128. An existential crisis

Our lives are full of crossroads that may lead us to rethink our entire existence. Catalog these experiences in your music.

129. Teach something

Is there something you feel needs to be said? Give the public a musical lecture through the words in your latest track.

130. The hustle

Artists have to hustle to make their lives work. Write about your experience coming up in the music industry:

131. Winning the lottery

Who wouldn't want to win the lottery? Tell your listeners what you would do with the money if you ever became so lucky.

132. Betrayal

We all have been affected by betrayal in one way or another. Share your experience or someone else's song perspective by narrating a track through their shoes.

133. Beauty standards

Beauty standards can be challenging to navigate for both men and women. Share what your experience has been like and how these standards affect your perspective.

134. A current struggle

Is there something challenging that you're currently dealing with? Why not share your struggles in song?

135. Your wellness routine

What do you do to make yourself feel good? How do you treat yourself? Send a message of self-care on your next track.

136. Holidays

Some people love the holidays, others find them particularly depressing. Whatever camp you're in, capture your experience via song.

137. The power of music

You know the power of music better than anyone else. Share what you love the most about making music, writing it, and sharing it with others.

138. Speaking to your past self

Is there something you wish you could say to your past self? Use a song to write a letter to a younger you.

139. Nothing

Sometimes, songs don't have to be about anything, in particular, to be good. Craft a song using nonsense words, syllables, or sentences that just don't make sense.

140. Lost love

Do you have someone that was so close to love, but didn't quite make it there? Perhaps you're missing an old flame. Write about the heartbreaking experience of lost love.

141. Gratitude

One of the most wholesome songwriting ideas is to find a way to express gratitude. Say thanks to all those who have loved and supported you.

142. Road trip

Make the perfect road trip song for cruising down the highway! Sing about where you're going to and who you hope to become.

143. Victory

It's just as important to celebrate your victories as it is to look back on past failures. Look back on how far you've come.

144. Saving yourself

Some people don't need a hero -- they are their own hero! Write about a time when you were the only one there for yourself.

145. Your trauma

If you're willing to be vulnerable, writing about your trauma can help you work through the pain. Even if you don't release it, it can still be a cathartic process.

146. Having faith

What do you believe in? How do you maintain that faith? Discuss your beliefs and why they make you who you are today.

147. Self-sabotage

Anyone can become trapped in a pattern of self-sabotage. Talk about your experience and share what helped you break away from this cycle.

148. Throwing away your phone

What would the world today be like without phones? Write a piece from the perspective of someone who has never used this modern technology.

149. Paying rent

We all have bills, but rent is arguably one of the most difficult to pay. Talk about paying rent and relate it back to your future hopes and dreams.

150. Hollywood

Instead of writing a song to a person, write your lyrics to a place. This can a sad song, love song, or humorous-- as long as it's authentic.

151. An addiction

Addiction can affect just about anyone. Whether you're addicted to love or something more nefarious, share your experience in song.

152. Eye for an Eye

Many people know that it's often the most productive to offer forgiveness... but that doesn't always happen. Tell a story in your song about wanting to seek vengeance.

153. A life-long love

We all dream of finding a lifelong lover. If you haven't found that special person yet, write. a song to them to enjoy in the future.

154. Copycat

Have you ever met someone who copied just about everything you did? Talk about your experience with copycats.

155. Being a hero

Have you stepped up to a call of duty? Do you hope to someday? Share your desires for being heroic in a song.

156. A book character

Book characters can come to life in a song. If you don't have any lyric-worthy ideas of your own, write about one of your favorite character's experiences.

157. Making progress

How has your progress over the past year? Share your journey of growth and where you hope to go next.

158. Something you shouldn't have said

We all have things we've said that we wish we could take back. Share what you wish you could've said at that moment.

159. Cheating

Have you ever been cheated on by someone you love? Perhaps you were the cheater. Spill the beans on your next track.

160. Money problems

We all run into money problems at one point or another. Luckily, plenty of people can relate to this experience, so it's great material for a track.

161. Playing a sport

Do you love to play sports? Where do you find your athlete's "high"? Write about the thrills of participating in your next song.

162. A job interview

Believe it or not, a job interview can serve as excellent lyric inspiration. You could even structure your song as though you're interviewing the listener.

163. A terrible date

Everyone has at least one terrible date experience unless you're very lucky. Turn the bad date into a relatable song.

164. Nostalgia

What do you have nostalgia for? Whether it's 90s cartoons or the disco of the 70s, express your desires for the past in a song.

165. Fashion

Different art forms can undoubtedly influence each other. You can write songs about fashion or any other visual art form.

166. False promises

Has anyone you know ever gone back on one of their promises? Have you gone back on your word? Write about your experience of betrayal.

167. A cause you care about

At the end of the day, your lyrics are your voice. If there is a cause that's near and dear to your heart, feel free to incorporate it into your music.

168. Driving

You probably have a couple of songs that you love driving to. Write a song that's perfect for moments on the road or talk about a trip through your lyrics.

169. Domestic Life

Find beauty in the mundane. Write a song about loving the monotony of domestic life.

170. Having a doppelgänger

Have you ever met someone that looks just like you? How did that make you feel? Document your experiences in song.

171. Love triangle

Everybody loves a good love triangle. Even if you're not in one, you can write about this contentious subject.

172. Being a robot

What if you were a robot? What would the advantages be? What would be the disadvantages? Talk about your experience as a cyber machine.

173. Getting in trouble

We all get in trouble from time to time. Transform a difficult experience into a positive one by using your darkest moment as inspiration for your song.

174. Pet peeve

What's your biggest pet peeve? Do you know anyone who does that action? Write a diss track towards the cause of your pet peeve.

175. Use an accent

What better way to step into the shoes of someone else than to use an accent that isn't native to you? Look up singers who utilize accents in their music, like Kate Nash.

176. Paparazzi

Are you counting down the days until you're followed around by the paparazzi? Speak as the subject or the cameraman.

177. Infestation

The word "infestation" on its own conjures up plenty of feelings. Write a song about a literal infestation or use it as a metaphor. You can even lookup videos on YouTube for inspiration if you dare.

178. A near-death encounter

Hopefully, you haven't had a near-death experience, but if you have, it was probably very powerful. Describe your near-death experience through word and melody choices.

179. Gender roles

There's no doubt that society imposes certain roles for each gender. Talk about your experience and how you feel about your gender expression.

You can tell when someone else's song is about plain fun. Make a song that makes everyone want to get up and groove.

Prom night has long inspired tunes from teens. You can write a song about how magical overrated you make the night out to be.

182. Age gap relationships

There are plenty of people who are attracted to relationships that may seem odd to the outside observer. Write about what it's like to be in a relationship with a significant age gap.

183. Dancing

Who doesn't love a song about getting out on the floor? Create a song that's an ode to getting out on the floor.

184. Fantasy

Do you have any secret fantasies? Do you wonder what it would be like to be part of the supernatural? Craft song ideas surrounding your wildest dreams.

185. Being a cowboy

Cowboys have a unique allure to them. After all, who wouldn't want to ride around in fancy boots on horses? Write a song about what it would be like to experience this lifestyle.

If you could commit a crime what would it be? Write about your crime fantasy from start to finish.

You could write about literal drugs, or use it as a metaphor for just about anything. Love, fame, success, or anything that's addicting can be written using "drugs" as a metaphor.

188. A movie

Movie characters, plots, and themes can all make amazing song ideas. Put yourself in the shoes of a famous person and write from a different character's perspective.

189. Getting engaged

Write words for the love of your life! Getting engaged is such an emotional experience, so you're bound to have plenty to say about it.

190. A meme

Incorporating a random page of meme history into your songs is a great way to get listeners interested. You can even sample the meme so long as it isn't copyrighted.

191. Building a beat

If you're more a producer than anything else, talk about the process of beat building. You can even incorporate items into the instrumental as you talk about them.

192. Your last name

Your last name carries your history and potential future. Highlight what that history embodies for you in a song.

193. Rethinking your life choices

Is there something you recently had an epiphany about? Describe your experience rethinking certain life choices.

194. Something with double meaning

Find words that have a double meaning depending on their context. You can create a two-word hook that showcases a short phrase or punch line of the two meanings.

195. A night at a party

Parties can be fun for some, and excruciating for others. Share some of your perspectives in your next song.

196. Being left on read

Have you ever been texting back and forth with a potential match only to be left on read? Let your inner lead singer take control of the narrative and write a song about it.

197. Rejection

Rejection is undoubtedly a painful experience, but it can also be an inspiring one. Use your words to process a time when you were turned down.

198. Chores

What is something that feels like a chore to you? Write about an emotional chore, or just talk about literal chores.

199. Forgiveness

Who deserves forgiveness? Is there someone you want to forgive? Write a song to them and tell the story of your relationship in the lyrics.

200. Violence

Violence can certainly spark some emotions. Write about a time you witnessed violence or even thought about engaging in it.

201. Use a metaphor

When in doubt, use a lyrical device like a metaphor to jumpstart your song. You can even lookup common metaphors to serve as inspiration for your song title or lyrics.

202. Social media

Social media can inspire many feelings for different people. Create a song about your experience with social media and how you feel about the concept itself.

203. Running from authority

Channel your inner rebel. Write a song about a time when you went against the grain or decided to challenge authority.

204. Intimate encounter

Have you ever had a relationship that was purely physical? Write about your intimate encounter in a song.

205. Your goals

Where do you wish to be in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? Document your goals in a song to hold yourself accountable.

206. Ghosting

Unfortunately, being ghosted is all too common these days. You could write about what it’s like to be ghosted or use a metaphor of a ghost in place of a past lover.

207. Your imperfections

We all have parts of ourselves that we wish would improve or change. Take your perceived imperfections and write lyrics about them.

Even great songwriters can struggle with feeling stuck in the creative process. Thankfully, using one or more song ideas can be exactly what you need to break out of writer's block. Enjoy using these lyric ideas to jumpstart your creative process.

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101 Songwriting Prompts: Quick Ideas for Writing Hit Songs!

Posted by Brian Thrasher | Songwriting Basics

101 Songwriting Prompts: Quick Ideas for Writing Hit Songs!

Let’s face it: songwriting is HARD sometimes. So if you need some quick ideas to break out of a rut or find inspiration, you’re in luck!

According to John Braheny in his incredible book The Craft and Business of Songwriting , there are 7 basic song plots (ie topic areas) that most hit songs follow. With them in mind, I’ve put together a handy list of 101 songwriting prompts – broken down into these 7 popular song topics – to help you come up with incredible new song ideas.

You’ll also find a bonus section at the end of this post with some miscellaneous song prompts that don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories, but can STILL help you craft an original, compelling song that the world will love! Check them all out!

101 Songwriting Prompts for 7 Plots (Plus a Bonus!)

  • Miscellaneous

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Love Song Prompts

The most popular song category by far is  love , because music helps you capture the feeling of this emotion better than almost anything. There are also so many different kinds of love songs – here are just some possibilities to get you started!

1) First date

Write a song about the first time you went out with someone special for the very first time. What was it like to meet them, where did you go, what did you do? Are you doing it in the present, or reminiscing about your first date many years later?

2) Familial affection

Write a song about someone in your family. How do you feel watching your children growing up, both needing your support and seeking independence from you? What would you do if you lost your siblings? Relationships with parents are always compelling; are you determined to be different than them, or have you become your mother/father?

Song Example : Daughter by Loudon Wainwright III

3) Puppy love/crush

Write a song about your first crush. How young were you two? Did you pass notes in class or exchange glances when the teacher’s back was turned? 

4) Wedding anniversary

Write a song addressed to your spouse on your anniversary. How has your love grown (or not) over the years? Is there tension in the air, or is he/she the love of your life, no questions asked? Is your spouse your rock, or your hard place?

5) Making love

Write a song exploring sex and what it means to you. How does it make you and your partner feel, in the moment and about your relationship? Is there a creative euphemism you can use to get across the message while still being radio-friendly? 

Song Example : Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard (plus millions of other songs!)

6) Love letter

Write a song in the form of a letter. Is it a romantic ballad expressing unrequited love, a message of regret that you’d rather burn then send, or a letter from a secret admirer?  

7) Celebrity crush

Write a song about a famous person you admire. Why do they deserve an ode to them? Are they your muse, idol, or hero? What would you do if they loved you back? 

8) Seasonal Love

Write a song about enjoying the holidays with a loved one. Is it nice to get cozy by the fire while it snows outside? Does your blanket buddy like one marshmallow or two in their hot cocoa?

9) Can’t quit you

Write a song about a love that you can’t seem to shake. Even though you know you’d be better off going, what’s keeping you there? Does it excite you that the love feels wrong? 

Song Example : One More Night by Maroon 5

10) Short-lived Love 

Write a song about a fling you had. Was it a one-night stand or did it last a whole summer? Did you always intend to keep it short, but now you’ve developed a deeper connection? Is it liberating or unfulfilling to have short-lived love?

11) Toxic relationships

Write a song about a truly unhealthy relationship. You love them, but at what cost to you? Are you risking your dignity, your sanity, or your physical safety? Why do you turn to love in the worst places?

12) Friends: the family you choose

Write a song about how you love your friends. What do they represent to you? What challenges can you overcome as a group? 

13) Head over heels

Write a song about falling deeply in love. How does it feel to be submerged so suddenly in affection? Is it purely euphoric, or is there a powerless there that scares you?

14) Self-love

Write a song about how much you love yourself. Are you proud of your body, your mind, or your talent? Are you a firework, brave, or ready to roar? 

Song Example : Shake it Off by Taylor Swift

15) I love my (actual) baby

Write a song about how much you love a young child. How has having a baby changed your perspective on life? Do you want to be there for your child but worry you won’t – or worse – can’t?

Song Example : Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel

16) Creepy love

Write a song where you are in love to a disturbing degree. Where is the line between romantic persistence and sexual harassment? Does not giving up on love make you a stalker?

  Song Example : Every Breath You Take by The Police

17) Love at first sight

Write a song about falling in love with someone you see across the room. What about them caught your eye? How will you approach them? Do they reciprocate your feelings, reject you, or hide their feelings?

Song Example : Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon

18) Man’s best friend

Write a song about the love you have between you and your pet. Is the song from your perspective or your pet’s? Who needs the other more? Where did you first meet, and if your pet has passed on, what was that like? 

Hate Song Prompts

The other side of the coin with love,  hate  is a very popular genre. Powerful emotions like hate lend themselves to louder vocal performances, like those in punk and metal bands, but can be found in any genre. 

1) Betrayal by lover

Write a song about a time you’ve been betrayed by someone you loved dearly. Was it a surprise that you should’ve seen coming? Do you regret ever knowing them now that they’ve revealed their true self? Now that your heart is broken, how can you pick up the pieces? 

2) Teenage angst

Write a song about the difficulties of coming-of-age. How are the pressures of school, friends, and first loves getting to you? Growing up is scary, and now there are cameras everywhere watching us perform. If the world is going to hell in a hand basket, how does a powerless teen feel? 

3) City dissatisfaction

Write a song about hating the city you live in. Is your city so big that you feel like you’re lost in the crowd, or so small that everyone knows about your mistakes? Do the landmarks in your town remind you of your ex or some other trauma you experienced there? Are you stuck there, dying to leave, or already on your way out?

4) Self-loathing

Write a song about how you hate yourself. What have you done that disgusts you to your core? Is it your fault, or are you the product of a bad system, family, or relationship? Is there any hope, or are you already a lost cause?

Song Example : Creep by Radiohead

5) Diss track

Write a song about someone you want to disrespect. Is this a friendly rivalry where you roast the other for fun, or do you have a genuine bone to pick? What about them do you want to disparage – their principles, physical characteristics, and/or body of work?

6) Frustrated in love

Write a song about how you love and hate someone in equal measure. Have they taken advantage of you but you like the feeling anyway? What’s it like to be trapped between a rock and a soft place? 

Song Example : Maggie May by Rod Stewart

Write a song about how you’ve made a mistake you can’t fix. Can you handle the guilt you feel, or is it making you rot from the inside out? What coping mechanisms do you turn to – sex, drugs, alcohol – that might only make the problem worse?

8) Political disagreement

Write a song about something political that you hate to see. Does it make you mad to see young people sent to war? Why do the rich never seem to have the rules apply to them? Is the system broken, or is it actually working as intended?

Song Example : B.Y.O.B. by System of a Down

9) Hating hate

Write a song about how hatred itself is poisonous to your soul. Is hate ever the solution? How could you explain the feeling of hatred to someone who never experienced it? What about it hurts the hater more than the hated?

Song Example : Relay by Fiona Apple

10) Pet-peeve

Write a song about something insignificant that makes you upset. Do you confront someone over it? Do you think people who do it deserve to burn in Hell? Is your song’s narrator justified or just bitter?

Loneliness Song Prompts

Loneliness  is relatable. Whether you’re all by yourself or alone in a crowd, everyone has felt it and knows how it weighs on your heart and soul. That darkness, balanced with the hope of finding someone to be with, is perfect fodder for a hit song.

1) Lonely in love

Write a song about when you were aching to be with someone romantically, but it was not to be. Did they want you just as badly but couldn’t get to you, or did they not even know you exist? Was this recent, or a has your loneliness been fermenting for years?

Song Example : Alone Again, Naturally by Gilbert O’Sullivan

2) Alone and loving it

Write a song about how being single has it’s advantages. Maybe you’ve just broken up with someone and you aren’t nearly as upset as you expected. Is being alone bittersweet, or maybe entirely sweet, now that you aren’t dependent on anyone else for your happiness?

Song Example : Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

3) Love triangle loser

Write a song about a love triangle where you’re the third wheel. Did you love and then lose your significant other to a new suitor, or were you always on the outside? Have you given up, or are you still determined to find love in the face of rejection?

Song Example : Perfect Situation by Weezer

4) Dear John

Write a song to break up with someone. Do you wish things had gone differently, or was your match doomed from the start? Is it you, or is it me? 

5) Rejected

Write a song about the feeling of rejection. It could be about love, but it could also be about an offer of friendship, a new job, or a connection to a relative. Was the rejection undeserved, or is your narrator an unreliable storyteller? 

Song Example : Rude by MAGIC!

6) Stranded

Write a song about being stranded, either metaphorically or literally. Why are you in this situation? What’s it like not being able to find company of any kind, good or bad?

Song Example : Message in a Bottle by The Police

7) Self-imposed exile

Write a song about how you no longer can stand to be around a certain group of people. What have they done to force you to choose loneliness? Do you bristle at the thought of being lumped in with them?

8) Ostracized 

Write a song where your narrator is experiencing the cold shoulder from one or more people. Is the silent treatment enough to drive you mad, or can you wait it out? Is getting ignored worse than a direct fight?

9) In space! 

Write a song where you are sent to space. Are you awe-struck or terrified? How does it feel to have thousands of people working on Earth to get you to a place where you’re totally on your own? 

Song Example : Space Oddity by David Bowie

10) Walk in the woods

Write a song about returning to nature. What kind of nature appeals to you – a forest, a shoreline, or a mountaintop? How can weather be used to convey the internal conflict that’s driven you away from civilization?

11) Two can be as bad as one

Write a song where you’re with another person, but you can’t quite seem to connect. Is it a new acquaintance or an old lover? Can you feel lonelier with them than when you’re alone?

Song Example : Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg

12) I’m just a little unwell

Write a song where you explore the lonely side of mental illness. Why do you feel you’ve gone insane? Are you the problem, or is it everybody else? How do these mental disturbances manifest themselves in your daily life?

Song Example : Zitti E Buoni by Måneskin

Happiness Song Prompts

Happiness  is what we all hope for and lots of hit songs capitalize on that feeling. Whether you want to write bubbly pop songs, triumphant ballads, or nostalgic strains, we’ve got happy songwriting prompts to get you started.

1) Celebration!

Write a song about having a party. Who are you inviting? What’s the reason, or is there no reason at all? Is this a night to remember, or a night no one will be able to? 

2) Hollow happiness

Write a song about how cracks are showing up in the veneer of happiness. Are you forced to act happy by society or pressure in a relationship? Do you actually have everything you wanted, but still aren’t happy? Was happiness fleeting or never real at all?

Song Example : Shiny Happy People by R.E.M.

3) Victory! Triumph! 

Write a song about winning. What have you achieved? Has it been a long road, making your victory all the sweeter? What obstacles stood in your way and how did you overcome them? How does it feel to be a winner?

Song Example : We Are the Champions by Queen

4) Not a care in the world

Write a song about being carefree. Have you found the secret to happiness, or are you just so fed up with stresses that you aren’t going to give a damn anymore? Is it a feeling of euphoria or just relief?

Song Example : Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

5) A night out

Write a song about having fun during a night on the town. Are you with your friends or beau? Are you getting drunk or dancing on the club floor? 

Song Example : Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae

6) Spiritual enlightenment

Write a song about how your religion comforts you. What’s it like being a part of something bigger than yourself? Is it a relief to have an answer to life’s biggest questions? 

7) Fame and fortune

Write a song about the high-life. What’s it like enjoying the finer things in life? Where do you live? What do you eat? What kind of car do (or your chauffeur) drive? Is that wealth all for you, or if not, for whom will you make it rain?

Song Example : Rockstar by Nickelback

8) Nostalgia

Write a song about the good ol’ days. What was so good about the world when you were young? What people, places, and things look a whole lot better through rose-tinted glasses? 

9) What music means to you

Write a song about how music feeds your soul. Were you lost until you found music? Does having a guitar in your hand or a microphone at your lips make you feel like the king of the world? 

10) Enjoy the simple things

Write a song about how something seemingly insignificant brings you great joy. Do you have an object that reminds you of a past love? Do you have a hobby that makes you smile even on your darkest days?

Song Example : Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

11) What’s this?

Write a song where you are in a world of wonder. What do you see? Is the happiness just an illusion or is it really there? Are you inspired to make the real world a bit more magical?

Song Example : Fireflies by Owl City

12) Euphoria 

Write a song about absolute bliss. Is it emotional, mental, or sexual? Does time stand still or does it fly when you’re having fun? Do you wish the moment would never end? 

Sadness Song Prompts

When your heart is broken, it’s raining on your head, and your ice cream falls off the cone, you’re dealing with  sadness . Putting that feeling to music can be cathartic for you and your audience. A thousand careers have been launched on the backs of sad songs.

  1) Lost love

Write a song about your significant other dying. What do you think about when you wake up in the morning and the bed is empty? How many tears does it take to fill a river? Will you ever laugh again? 

Write a song about the general feeling of dissatisfaction. What objects in your life have become symbols of a boring existence? 

Song Example : People, I’ve been Sad by Christine and the Queens

Write a song about your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. What did you discover that ruined the day from the start? What went wrong, and how badly did it go? Were you really upset about not having coffee, or were you actually upset about your girlfriend taking the coffee machine when she left you?

4) School sucks

Write a song about how school gets you down. Does your crush not notice you? Do your classes bore you? Is the vice-principal always on your case and your parents just don’t understand?  

5) I’ve got the blues

Write a song about the feeling of depression itself. What’s the world look like when everything is under a rain cloud and shaded in blue? What have you lost that makes you question whether it’s worth getting out of bed?

6) Life’s not what you had hoped

Write a song about how life is letting you down. Did you keep thinking that your situation would improve only to discover you peaked in high school? Did the good times come and go before you had a chance to enjoy them?

Song Example : Story of My Life by Social Distortion

7) Unthinkable loss

Write a song about a non-romantic loved one passing away. Who were they in life and what’s the world like in their absence? Can your song work as a eulogy for the person? 

Song Example : Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

8) I want something more

Write a song about hoping to escape your bad circumstances. Are you stuck in a small-town but have bigger dreams (that may or may not actually ever come true)? Do you have reasons to keep hope alive, or is the dream just a coping mechanism, not a realistic option?

9) Kids today

Write a song about how life for today’s kids will not be as good as when you grew up. Do you cry for your own child’s future? Is there a lake you used to love that’s not polluted or a forest you’d hike that’s burned down?  

Write a song lamenting the end of something you care about. What saddens you about a friendship drifting apart, a coffeehouse going bankrupt, or an era ending? How sad can you make other people feel about it?

11) Guilty plea

Write a song about guilt eating you. Did you do something wrong on purpose or accidentally? Do you feel guilty when you’re sad but even more so when you try to be happy? 

12) Holiday blues

Write a song about how a holiday depresses you. Are you alone on Valentine’s Day or tired of the commercialization of Christmas? Are you going to sit on your couch and gorge on chocolate Easter eggs? 

13) For shame!

Write a song where you have done something that makes others ashamed to be around you. Is it fair of them to alienate you? Is there a hole deep enough for you to hide? 

14) Shattered

Write a song where something you believed in is totally destroyed. Will you ever be able to trust again? Was it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? Is there any feeling of liberation now that you’re free?

Song Example : Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus

15) Dust in the wind

Write a song about how temporary the world around you is. Can a person be happy when they know that happiness will inevitably end? Will chaos always overtake order? Why bother doing anything? 

16) Too afraid to try

Write a song where failure looms so large in your mind that you are paralyzed. Why are you worried? What’s your impossible choice? When is change scarier than becoming stagnant? 

Jealousy Song Prompts

Music lets us indulge in some of our darker feelings, and chief among them is  jealousy . When you want what someone else has, whether it’s status, wealth, or a boy/girlfriend, it’s fun to imagine what it’d be like to steal them. Here’s some ideas to get you started writing jealousy songs. 

1) Jealous crush

Write a song about wishing you were with another person who is already in a relationship. In what ways do you compare to the person they’re with, for better or worse? What do you feel when you see the two of them together – murderous rage, deep self-loathing, or a longing to be someone else? 

Song Example : You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift

2) Why are THEY successful?

Write a song about how someone’s success is undeserved. What could you do so much better than someone else, if you only had a chance? How’d they get successful in the first place – was it their attractive body, their family connections, or their immorality? 

Song Example : Money for Nothing by Dire Straits

3) You’re going down with me!

Write a song about wanting bad things for other people. If your life has issues, what curses can you wish for other people? Would blotting the sun out really make you feel better, or is schadenfreude better on paper than in practice?

Song Example : Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones

4) Is she really going out with him?

Write a song disapproving of someone else’s choices? What have they chosen that grinds your gears? Are you really upset about the negative effects the choice causes for your subject, or do you wish they had chosen you instead?  

5) Bite me!

Write a song about how others are jealous of you. Do you enjoy showing off your success and letting others turn green with envy? What about you drives others crazy? 

6) I’ll steal it. No one will ever know! 

Write a song about acting on your jealousy and stealing from someone else. What’s your plan for your heist? Is it impulsive or well-thought out. Does it turn out well for you? 

Song Example : Steal that Car by Alice Cooper

7) You’re better than me

Write a song about not feeling good enough compared to someone else. What kind of compliments can you give someone else that actually insult yourself? 

8) Dollar signs in your eyes

Write a song where you dream about the life of leisure you wish you had. What’s it like being on the outside looking in? How much better would your life be if you had bubbly champagne in your poolside bar?

Song Example : Beverly Hills by Weezer

9) Hands off!

Write a song where you are protecting something/someone of yours that you think others are jealous of. What/who is worth taking from you? What lengths would you go to keep it? Are you rightfully defensive or just paranoid?

Song Example: When You’re In Love with a Beautiful Woman by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

10) Anyone but me

Write a song where you’re jealous of people with relatively bad lives. Why would you rather be the lonely cat lady or the struggling street artist? Do they have something you don’t have? If so, is it abstract or tangible?

Revenge Song Prompts

When you’ve been wronged, there’s only one thing that can make you feel right again:  revenge.  Revenge is such a natural story arc: trust, transgression, and finally vengeance. Fitting all of that in a song can be challenging, but doing so makes for a memorable musical experience. 

1) Take it in stride

Write a song about being wronged but you making it right. If you’ve been cheated on, do you destroy their favorite things or spend all their money? Can you tell their new girlfriend what a chump they are? How’s it feel to light his car on fire and walk away without looking back?

Song Example : Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) by Blu Cantrell

2) This calls for violence

Write a song about how violence is the answer to your problem. How far will you take it – a slap, a punch, a murder? What did they do to deserve this fate? Do you feel better for choosing violence or do things escalate quickly from there?

3) I’ll protect you!

Write a song about avenging someone who has been wronged. What’s your connection to the person who needs saving? Are you a real hero, or are you doing it for selfish reasons? 

Song Example : 99 Biker Friends by Bowling for Soup

4) Success is the best revenge

Write a song about how far you’ve come despite your detractors. Who were the people keeping you down and how did you beat them? What about your life is so good now that even your critics would have to concede you’ve won? 

Song Example : Started From the Bottom by Drake

5) Self-sabotage

Write a song where you’re the target of your revenge. What have you done to yourself that deserves retribution? Are you punishing yourself so you’ll make better decisions in the future or just out of anguish? 

6) Fire and fury

Write a song where you’re consumed with rage. What lengths will you go to seek recompense? Is your rage directed at one person, or has an entire system broken you? 

Song Example : Your Obedient Servant from Hamilton

7) Forgiveness 

Write a song where you have an opportunity to exact revenge, but choose to forgive instead. What kind of drama can you mine out of a last-minute decision to forgive? Is forgiveness more therapeutic than revenge?

8) Fight! Fight! Fight!

Write a song where you enter into a competition and are losing. How will you make it on top by the end? What are some stakes that can make the battle more suspenseful?  

Song Example : The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band

9) They’ll all pay

Write a song about how you’re going to get revenge on a group of people.  

Song Example: Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People

10) Compare revenge plans

Write a song where two characters take very different approaches to a tragedy. Why should one turn to revenge when another doesn’t? Is the tension between victim and transgressor as interesting as between two victims with different coping mechanisms?

Song Example : Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert

11) Now who’s cheating?

Write a song where you cheat on your significant other. Does cheating bring you the thrill of revenge, or do you feel you’ve sunk to a new low? Is an affair still cheating if they cheated first? 

BONUS: Miscellaneous Song Prompts

Not every song follows a simple plot. There are many songs that use more than one of the above story arcs and there’s just as many that don’t fit nicely into any of the categories at all. Here are some more creative writing prompts for those who want help writing an original song.

1) The world at large

Write a song about a time and place. Who and what are important at this specific where and when? What are the quintessential symbols of your chosen era that you can immortalize in song?

Song Example : We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel

2) Ode to an object

Write a song praising a specific thing or concept. What about it deserves your affection? Does your fondness represent something deeper about you that you can reveal obliquely? 

Song Example : Alcohol by Barenaked Ladies

Write a song about writing songs. What’s a good metaphor for songwriter’s block? How’s it feel when the music seems to stream from your brain and fingers effortlessly? 

Song Example : Waiting on a Song by Dan Auerbach

4) Do-do-do-do-do

Write a song with lots of nonsense lyrics? How can lyrical folderol represent a feeling better than actual words? What kind of made-up words can you make memorable with the right melody?

Song Example : Around the World by ATC

5) Life in the Internet age

Write a song about how your online life affects your real life. Do people online get to you? Is social media making the world a more connected place, or is it causing more harm than good?

Song Example : Don’t Feed the Trolls by Jonathan Coulton

6) This one’s for the nerds

Write a song meant specifically to appeal to the nerds among us. What aspect of pop culture bring out our inner nerd? Is being a nerd completely free of stigma, or does it still retain some of its old insulting connotation?

Song Example : White and Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic 

7) Nose to the grindstone

Write a song about working a day job. Does it interfere with your musical goals? Is is fun to be ambitious or is it weighing on your soul? 

Song Example : 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

8) Money Money Money

Write a song purely about cash flow. Why do you need more money? How can you get more cash? Have you done something criminal to get the money? 

9) Nonsense

Write a song that sounds cool but doesn’t actually have any clear meaning. Your song might still have meaning, but can you make one that’s strange enough that a listener can’t be sure? Can you make imagery that’s psychedelic or fantastical?

Song Example : Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles 

10) That’s illegal

Write a song where you’re engaging in clearly illegal activity. Will you get caught? Are you proud of what you’ve done? Is it liberating or are you doomed to look over your shoulder for the rest of your days?

11) Dance dance

Write a song about what dancing means to you. Are you afraid to get on the dance floor and prefer to stick to the wall? Are you cutting the rug as soon as you hear the beat? Are you dancing by yourself or do you want to dance with somebody?

12) Just drive

Write a song about your experience driving around town. Who do you see? What are the stories of the homeless man or the single mother carrying groceries? Is the city how you remember it?

Songwriter Prompt List Wrap-up

I hope this list was helpful! Whether you were able to read through these prompts all in one sitting or bounced around to find the ones that spoke to you, my recommendation is to actually take ONE songwriting prompt in this list and give it a try!

Sit down, set a timer for 15 minutes, and do a brainstorm of musical or lyrical ideas based on the prompt. The rule is, you can’t second-guess or filter yourself during those 15 minutes – just write!

You can also check out our list of 13 unconventional songwriting exercises for more inspiration.

Now, I know it can be hard for songwriters to commit to an idea and see it through, but it’s honestly the ONLY way to get better at your craft.

For more advice on coming up with a new song, be sure to check out How to Start Off a Song – it’ll give you some ideas on 11 different song intro ideas! (And for guidance on rhyming lyrics in your songs, check out our guide on the question Do Songs Have to Rhyme ?)

Lastly, why not bookmark this page so you can come back here any time you need inspiration?

Best of luck, songwriters!

One of my favorite ways to come up with new songs is just sitting down at the piano and playing until an interesting idea captures my imagination. I recommend trying Piano for All to help you take a kernel of a song idea and turn it into a finished masterpiece!

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Daniel Thrasher - Improve Songwriting

I've always been a creative guy, and songwriting is one of my greatest passions. Over the past decade, I've written dozens of songs, performed them live, and recorded in my home studio. I made this website to inspire and help others who want to make better songs!

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It’s Not All About Love: 30 Song Topic Ideas For Songwriting

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In the mood for a spot of creative songwriting?

Once you get that creative spark, you’ll be bleeding your pen dry in a matter of minutes.

It’s an amazing feeling.

Until you notice the past 14 songs you’ve written are about your breakup, just worded slightly different.

Sometimes we can have a one track mind and we focus on that too often, whether it’s being in a state of heartache or being completely in love, it’s all we think of.

Now if you’re writing an album dedicated to your breakup, that’s fine.

But if you want something a little different I’ve put together a list of 30 topics ideas so you’re not stuck writing about the same thing over and over again.

Read and enjoy the post!

30 song topic ideas for songwriting that are not about relationships

30. getting lost in a daydream.

Sometimes our dreams are better than reality. You can control every conversation, the surroundings, the complete package. They are perfect. You can draw upon the feeling of being in complete control.

29. Losing grip on reality

We can play mind games with ourselves and struggle to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. It can lead to outbursts, confusion and conflicts.

28. Satisfaction of completing a task long overdue

We’ve all had that feeling of finally getting a long overdue task done. It could be inspired by something remedial like clearing out your garage.

27. Frustration towards a broken item

Your mood is already on a low, then your phone breaks. The item you rely on daily just breaks. Now other things will break because you’re jinxed!

26. Cracking under pressure

You’re reaching breaking point. The stress is building and you’re about to explode. This could be based on pressure at work, or to impress someone.

25. Difficulty of balancing responsibilities

The best example of this is family life. You work hard, take the kids to school but have to maintain the house, balance the finances, perhaps on your own or with your partner. It can be difficult.

24. Feeling alone and alienated

You’ve avoided your partner, neglected your friends and spend most of your time alone in your room feeling unworthy of any attention. It’s a negative emotion, but releasing these feelings into words can help you overcome it.

23. Going on a journey to find out who you are

We are no longer children without a care in the world. As we get older we have to find out who we are, why we are here, what sort of life we’d like to lead. Go on a journey and figure this out.

22. Being stabbed in the back by a friend

I guess we can all relate to a friend who perhaps has lied about you to someone else, and it really hurts you because you thought you were close.

21. Exploding excitement

Perhaps it’s your birthday soon, or you’re going on holiday and you’re super excited. I’d be jumping around, smiling and acting childish to express my excitement.

20. The need for eternal company

Yearning for that one person who will be by your side, through thick and thin, no matter what happens they’ll support you.

19. Inability to sleep/restlessness

It could be eagerly awaiting results from an exam, and you’re struggling to sleep. Or sometimes more worrying like the fear of sleeping.

18. Curiosity turning disaster

You’ve been looking for answers and it has got you into a dangerous situation, which leads to a disastrous outcome.

17. Giving into temptation

It could be something trivial like giving up chocolate, but everything you see is chocolate and you can’t help but give into the temptation.

16. Allowing your walls to crumble

The process of meeting someone who makes you feel safe and secure, and eventually you allow them to get close to you, to get to know you.

15. Feeling of tender and warmth

After a long day outside in the freezing cold, there is nothing better than coming home and snuggling up to an open fire with a cup of tea. Use this feeling as inspiration for the joy of feeling warm.

14. Pretending to be someone else

We all try to be something we are not. We may act overconfident, or independant when really on the inside we are scared. We put on a brave face, when really we are upset and hurting on the inside.

13. Trying to impress others

From trying to impress your Boss for a promotion, or make your family proud of you. We all get the feeling that we need to go the extra mile to impress those who we feel are important to us.

12. Feeling of unworthiness

You have failed so many times and you feel like you’ll never succeed. You feel like you are worthless, you’ll never do anything right.

11. Reminiscing on your past behaviours

This could be good or bad. Look back at your childhood, or your teenage years. What would you tell your younger self? What do you regret? What do you wish you had done or achieved?

10. Questioning where your future will take you

Our future is never set in stone, we make our own destiny. Making a decision on which path to take and what lies ahead is always a mystery and it can be exciting or scary – your choice.

9. Finding the strength inside to break free

We can be our own heroes, we can save ourselves. We just need to look in ourselves and realize we are strong and we can do this. Draw on this emotion and flesh out an inspiration song to help others achieve this.

8. Being in pain because of someone else’s actions

Sometimes we suffer because of someone else’s doing. It could be because of an accident, and you’ve been injured or a situation you’ve had to resolve because the person in question has bailed.

7. Difficulty expressing your emotions

Words are not enough to describe how you are feeling. You just want to be left alone because you feel as though no one will understand the feelings you are trying to explain.

6. Planning your hopes and dreams

You could be young or old, but there is no time like the present to plan for the future. The story could revolve around writing a bucket list, or your aspirations for the future and how you’re going to accomplish them.

5. Conflicting desires

This could be a simple concept such as struggling over what to have for food, you’re on a diet but all you want is cake. Or something more serious like a business agreement where you have a personal connection to the other party.

4. Thinking about a friend you had when you were younger

We all reminise, and we all lose touch with our friends we had at school. Rely on them thoughts, and what you use to do as a child and how you felt.

3. Feeling of empowerment with others

Being around others who inspire you can give you a great sense of empowerment. It can motivate you to pursue your dreams, or be brave and make a decision you would never have made.

2. Confining your feelings resulting in a loss

Perhaps you gambled away your savings, lost your possessions in a house fire, or lost your expensive watch whilst hiking. Draw attention to how someone may feel, and what they might have to do to make this feeling go away.

1. Trying to convince someone to let you help them

You may know someone who is stubborn, or so independent that they never ask for help. Revolve the story around trying to convince your friend that it’s okay to ask for help, and that it doesn’t make them appear weak.

It’s your turn

There you have it, 30 songwriting topic ideas that don’t have to be about falling in and out of love.

Which idea tickles your fancy? What sort of topics do you enjoy writing about?

I’m more of a fantasy and adventure, with a hint of thriller lyric writing girl!

So next time you get struck in the love rut, use one of these topics ideas and you’ll be better prepared to ditch love and focus on a different emotion.

Good luck, and get creating!

Further reading:

  • Tackling The Brick Wall: 42 Creative Ways To Find Songwriting Inspiration
  • 14 Useful Songwriting Tools To Make The Creative Process Easier

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Nicola Bleu, the founder of Your Creative Aura is a songwriter and an online music educator, hoping to inspire others not to be afraid to express themselves creatively through music. She is also obsessed with penguins, loves horror films and tea.

30 Brilliant Song Writing Ideas


You can write a brilliant song about absolutely any subject. You just need to find a bit of conflict, joy or irony. add some attitude and you'll have a great human interest song to be proud of. Here are 30 subjects to get your teeth into, see what intriguing worlds you can imagine.

1. Songs about you, yourself, who you are, what you are, what you stand for.

This is called an 'I am' song and transcends all sort of genres from rap, hip-hop, blues, religious, rock etc.

You need quite a bit of attitude for an up tempo 'I am' song and they almost always focus on positive attributes. 'I am a fire starter,' 'I am an anti Christ,' 'I am the king of the Faeries.' OR 'I like dancing in the rain,' 'I get my kicks on route 66,' 'I eat cannibals etc.' It doesn't have to be totally truthful, it could be a person you aspire to be, or a persona you'd like to fool around with.

It's probably best not to write a song called, 'I'm loser with no prospects,' because you won't feel good about yourself. Also, that sort of song isn't received well by audiences unless it has very high tempo music, like a parody.

2. The Blues

If you do feel pretty down or annoyed about something then a blues song is the place go.

Blues is all about attitude and it really is OK to be very pissed off about absolutely anything in a blues song. Government, society, neighbours, neighbour's dog or your prospects or anything at all. The whole idea is to tell your audience 1. Why you're pissed off, 2. When it started, 3. What really, really gets under your skin about the whole thing, 4. How you're gonna put an end to it. There's four verses you can have a go at, just there.

Make no mistake, a blues song is THE ACCEPTED GENRE/FORMAT for getting it off your chest.

3. Protest Songs.

Not all protest songs fit the blues genre and you might not like that style. But you can still write a protest song in any genre about absolutely any subject. Lets face it, there's a lot to protest about.

It doesn't have to be a big international issue, in fact you're better focusing on something small local and personal. The same issues will affect thousands of other people so don't be afraid to write a song about dogs fouling the pavement/side-walk.

4. Songs about getting old or growing up.

This could be a sort of protest song but it's a futile protest because there's nothing you can do about it and no-one to complain to.

But ageing is difficult for every person on the planet at every stage of their lives, if you can't find irony, conflict or joy in this subject, then you should probably give up song writing. Virtually every one wants to be a different age than they are or look different than they do, it's a multi billion industry. A very human issue with lots of emotion attached to it.

5. A song about any emotion.

Songs are always an exploration of human emotion but they don't have to be just about love.

Jealousy, joy, regret, shame and fear all make good songs but don't limit yourself to these few. There's a whole circle of them crying out for a story to explain their high and lows.

The trick is, to make a firm mental note of the emotion. Then think of a similar experiences of your own and build your song around it.

6. Songs about any person who is interesting, unusual or mysterious.

'Kashka From Baghdad,' 'Dave the Demented Digger Driver,' 'Anne with her Whistling Cat.' You can go forever with these sorts of characters. They go to prison, have numerous lovers and only go out on Sundays, Only you know this because you live opposite and see what goes on.

You've got privileged information about the person and it can become stranger as the song progresses.

7. Songs about travelling on a plane or train....... bicycle.

Nothing much even has to happen in this type of song. Just mention the sights you see and speculate openly how unusual they are. 'We wanted to stop for pizza cos the sign said so but the bus kept trundling on down the road.'

The great thing about travel songs is that you can get rhythm from the movement of the vehicle.

8. A song about the vehicle itself, especially if it's a motorbike.

Motorbikes are best cos they're risky, sexy and deviant. You're probably up to no good if you're on a motorbike in song. And bikes have a heart and soul unlike any other form of transport. Steam trains also fall into this category because they appear to breath.

But any vehicle which you can personalise will do. If you care about you old David Brown tractor then your audience will too.

9. Songs about a pet.

Dogs, cats, rats and canaries have all been featured in songs. Again it's about personalising them which going to be easy because you already know what strange creatures they can be. You just exaggerate that.

My friend had a dog which collected underwear from neighbours' washing lines and hid them in a secret cache under the hedge. The police were called because it was thought there was a weirdo living in the area but no. Years later, the underwear was uncovered. Danny the Dog was a corset collector.

10. Songs about a restaurant or weird shop.

If you've ever been into one of those creepy old shops with a secret around every corner, that's also a great place for things to go wrong. Again, build unusual worlds populated by strange people who don't behave as you'd expect. Have the shop be a front for some other weird practice like they do in James Bond films.

Make your shop keeper strange too. For example, my father-in-law used to insult all his customers on daily basis and give away freebies if they told him a good joke. People expected banter and laughed at his insults. It was very strange but he made a good living.

11. A song about part of the body.

You can have 'Bad Hair Day,' you can 'Shake Your Thing,' you can have 'Itchy Fingers,' and 'Soulless Eyes.' There's bones and brains and balls to play with and all of them can give you problems and something to write a song about.

Even a simple phrase such as 'My Feet Don't Work Like They Used To,' has lots of legs in it. Ask the right questions for example why, when and how did those feet stop working ? How do you feel about it, how does your lover feel about it and what are you gonna do about it ?

12. Nature Songs.

Nature features in more songs than you can throw a stick at. Especially as it's changing moods are often likened to changing emotions. Spring is full of hope, summer's a celebration of life, autumn/fall is a time of reflection, winter is something to endure.

Birds, bees, butterflies and bears can all be personified into larger than life characters with human problems. The cool thing is that you can add spice to their humanity because they don't have to behave like humans. They can raid bins, and terrorise shoppers just for the hell of it.

Don't forget flowers and wet mushy leaves, they all have their place.

13. Songs about music, musicians or a musical instrument.

Like a motorbike or a pet, musical instruments have personalities. They can be angry, sad, happy or unhelpful and disruptive. They mess with your mojo in just the same way as people so they have stories to tell.

Music itself is also an entity with its own moods and tantrums. You can write about a 'groove' or a 'beat' or a 'rhythm' or 'melody.' Any of the terms used to describe music have personas just waiting to dance their tune.

There's also the musicians that wrote the stuff. You're not gonna go far wrong writing a song about a dead musician, give it go.

14. Dance songs.

Dance is one of oldest and most important functions of music. It goes back as far as humanity so it should be easy to find words to describe how music makes you want to move.

Even if you can't find the words, the advantage of dance music is that you don't need that many words and you repeat yourself more often because it's acceptable in this genre.

15. Songs about society.

Society has fads and fashions which you can easily compare to moods both high and low. Society can be seen as highly sophisticated and demand sophisticated words and music or it be demonised and rubbished like you might do in a punk rock song.

You could pen any blues or protest song about society with all its corruptions and unbelievably complex factions with their unbelievably complex agendas.

Again it's probably going to about conflict, irony or joy. Bikers beating up Punk Rockers, Gay men stealing the bikers bikes or the variety of different acts in the town carnival parade.

16. Songs about drinking or drugs.

Again, this can have an immoral, deviant angle or a defiant or victim's perspective.

Like em or loathe em, drink and drugs are a function of society, they are deeply embedded in almost every culture and more people seem to get hooked every hour. There's tons to go at here because there are so many conflicts. The tripping, the law, the self harm, ruined lives, the pushers; you can take any angle you like.

Remember, your song should be about an emotion and the story around it, so you don't have to write about being drunk or high. You could make a very good song about smuggling or working in a bar being an observer, this gives you the moral high ground, if that's what you want. But it's important not to be judgemental, just tell the story.

17. A song about a village, town, city or place.

Places have important memories attached to them. This is where I met my wife, this is where I had my accident, this is where 10,000 soldiers died in one day, the list is endless.

Also, many ordinary people go about their ordinary lives in ordinary places. For example; John delivers his bread every morning at six, then at seven, the papers arrive just in time for Mrs Alderidge to collect them for her uncle and suddenly you have diary of events.

Another angle is to give the place personality, ask it what it's seen over the years, after all, most places have been around a long time, even if they've seen better days or been abandoned.

18. A song about a house or building.

As above but you could make it even more personal, especially if you lived in it and it was haunted.

Again many everyday things go on in houses which make good song material because they are what everybody on the planet does, they can relate to piles of dishes and the horror under the stairs and that cold spot which never gets warm.

Don't forget it's about attaching emotions and relationships to the place write about, perhaps you're glad it burned down, if so tell your story. Was it the people in the place which cause such strong emotions or do you think the building is cursed ?

19. Songs about dreams, sleep, bed.

If you're lucky enough to have lucid, ridiculous dreams which jump from one situation to another, then write them as songs. They are a direct connection to your emotional memory and how it's trying to make sense of the world so you'd be a fool to ignore them.

Of course there are other things you can do in bed but I've been trying to avoid that because it's too obvious.

Aside from that, your bed should be a source of inspiration because it's the safest place in the world. When you're in bed you can think and create imaginary worlds.

And don't forget the bed itself, writing a song about the construction of it, the size, shape, smell and feel of it will generate feelings in both you and your listeners.

20. Songs about something coming.

Anticipation is what I'm talking about. An event, a wedding, a visit, a change of job, new government, war, peace, a concert or a doctor's appointment. Again the list is endless and again when it comes to emotion, any of these can go both ways.

For example, you may be dreading the wedding and looking forward to the doctor's appointment.

Time is another event which attracts emotional traction. 'When Tomorrow Comes', 'Saturday's Alright for Fighting.' Remember, tell the story and describe what you're gonna be feeling when the time arrives, for example, are you gonna be 'Alright Then?'

21. Songs about time.

I've already mentioned how the time of the year has strong emotional connotations and how events can be locked into a particular time frame. Seconds, moments, minutes, mornings, afternoons, nights, hours, Days, weeks, months, seasons, years, decades. All can be used to structure your song because they provide a context which everybody understands.

Time is also a bit of an enigma because it only exist in abstract terms, you can use it measure change but you can't see it, or hear it, or taste it. In fact the only way you can experience it is when it appears to stand still.

It also appears to be unstoppable, which for us humans is a little daunting and so there are many songs written using time as an inevitable progression. Don't forget though, your song should probably about what happens to your characters with in the time frame. If you try to write a song about time itself, you may find it a challenge because time is such unusual stuff.

22. A song about the fight, the struggle, the cause.

If you're planning a revolution, you'll need a song to rally the troops. This is another historical function of song. Music has been used on the battlefield for centuries, never under-estimate it's power to motivate people.

Your cause may be to pass an exam, find your missing dog or keep your marriage together. Songs about struggle are functional and serve the purpose of keeping us focused. Reminding us of core principals and why we're are struggling to do what we're doing, especially when it gets tough.

You might often find that a motivational song like this features a military style rhythm. Although this can appear a little overused, if you don't ram it down people's throats, it will serve the purpose of stirring your listener's mind into a mood of resolution and determination.

23. Songs about an item of clothing.

She wore a 'Raspberry Beret,' or 'Blue Velvet,' or an 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.' Do these ring any bells ?

Clothing says a lot about us socially and you can read so much into a personality simply by looking at clothes. Notice how the colour is always specified and that's not just aesthetic. Colours speak volumes about how we're feeling and what our attitudes are so there's a great opportunity to illustrate you characters in just a few words.

Don't forget that clothes have social classifications too. For example, blue jeans usually mean blue collar, high heels usually mean high maintenance. And clothes aren't just a girl thing - Blue Suede Shoes, Sharpe Dressed Man !

24. Attitude songs.

Big attitudes make great songs, feeling 'Good as Hell,' We are the champions,' you ain't nothing but a 'Hound Dog.' If you can get your any attitude condensed into a phrase you're going to write very popular, energetic songs which move people.

It's a case of going beyond the emotion and compressing a tiny version of your story into just a few words. If you feel 'love' then you're 'on top of the world.' If you're frustrated, then you can't 'get satisfaction.' If you're angry then you're going to seek 'revenge like a tiger.' Don't be scared of using a cliched phrase, you can often get away with it if it's a hook or refrain or title.

Your listeners will enjoy feeding off your attitude and will buy into your uncompromising stance, they will follow you. But it does take balls because you are bound to offend people too, it goes with the territory of telling it like it is.

25. Songs about a good time, great time, party time, the best time ever.

This is another type of 'event song' but not necessarily in the future. It could be a memory of a party or it could be happening right here and now.

Which ever way you want to serve it, it should be high tempo, cheerful and sunny. It should almost certainly be danceable and you should imagine folks partying to it.

Think about where you'd like it to be played, a nightclub, a festival ? That will help decide if the 'lights are pumping' or the 'sky is listening to our song.' The emotion in this type of song is obviously is that of shear joy and your attitude is that of, 'as good as it gets' or a 'celebration of life.'

26. Songs about Money.

There have been many hit songs, and many thought provoking songs written about money. That's because it's a very emotive subject.

Again you're probably gonna find it easier to write about the emotions and attitudes which start flying around at a casino or after a robbery, or what you're going to do when you get that big win. There are always losers in these situations too don't forget and most people are disappointed with the whole system at some point in their lives.

As with the subject of time, currency itself is going to be challenging to write about but you could give it a personality and have it behave live an animal. You could liken it to a disease or a pack wolves or a lion and have it hunt down victims.

27. Work songs.

Black African slave workers are well known for their influence upon American music. And anyone who's been forced to do hard manual labour for long hours will confirm that a song or chant can often keep your spirits from spiralling into the abyss. Armed forces also use chants for the exact same purpose on forced marches. Your song may not serve the exact same function, but the basics of it will be similar. You can get a rhythm from a repetitive action, movement or sound, then you can do one of three things. 1. Curse your hard luck being stuck with this labour. 2. Dream of better days when you won't have to work so hard. 3. Refuse to give in to negativity liked armed forces, and parody your discomfort with the pretence that that you love breaking rocks all day long.

There's three verses for you to have ago at.

28. Songs about water, fog, mist, clouds, air, weather.

These sort of fit with the nature songs but have a couple of qualities which make them distinct.

Firstly, they're all elusive and difficult to grasp in the same way that emotions are. This make them ideal for metaphors and comparison to feelings. Secondly, they're not alive like animals and plants which means you can write personalities for them which a not subject to any kind of stereo type.

Clouds and weather are especially changeable so are easily likened to thoughts or feelings. Air is so fundamental to our survival that lovers can be compared to it in metaphor.

29. Songs about any kind of tool or electrical device.

Hammers are quite useful in songs, as are spades, spanners (wrenches) and motors of any kind. Brooms and brushes are particularly useful for metaphorically cleaning up problems. They're also synonymous with boring work.

Radios TVs are obvious candidates but you could also have quite a bit of fun with devices which don't work like they should. Computers and printers immediately spring to mind as having a mind of their own. It doesn't take long to realise you could write quite a good comedy song about printer rage in the paperless age.

Tom Paxton wrote a brilliant song about a toy which he never knew the name of.

30. Songs about a figure of speech.

Lastly, don't be scared of using cliche or overused phrases. In literature it's frowned upon but you can get away with in a song, especially if it's your main hook or refrain.

'As one door closes another opens.' 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone.' 'It might as well rain until September.' There are literally thousands of poignant, punchy sayings you could build a story upon.

There also many documented quotations which often have a thumping attitude built in and ready to be exploited. Just be careful you don't breach anybody's copyright.

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Paul Johnson

Musician Wave

100 Topics to Write Songs About

topics to write music about

There are many different ways to go about writing a song, but, the most important thing is that you have to start with a topic. A Topic can be something as innocent as love to something as dark as hate.

The topic should inspire and motivate you in order for the piece of music to come out correctly. This is a list of 100 topics that you can write songs about.

Topics About Love, Self-Love, Love-Related

Topics about a personal relationship or person, topics about hate, dislike, problems, topics about travel, having fun, and weather, other topics for songs.

topics to write music about

As humans, we experience a wide range of emotions on a daily basis. One of the most powerful and prevalent emotions is love. Love can make us feel happy, sad, elated, anxious, and a whole host of other emotions.

  • Unrequited love – Love that is not reciprocated.
  • Loving your job – You have a passion for what you do.
  • Self-love  – Loving yourself, taking care of yourself.
  • Love for parents – Loving your parents, appreciating them.
  • Secretly in love with your best friend – In love with your best friend without them realizing it.
  • Forbidden love – Someone you can’t have or should not have.
  • Love for animals – Your love for animals or a particular animal.
  • Puppy love/crush – A crush you have on someone, innocent love.
  • Celebrity crush – Having a huge crush on a public figure/celebrity.
  • Love at first sight – Falling in love when first meeting someone (seeing someone).
  • Frustrated in love – Unresolved issues in the relationship.
  • Love triangle loser – Not being chosen, losing to someone else for someone’s affection.
  • Finding your purpose – Finding what you love, love doing, passion.
  • What you stand for – Standing for what you believe in.
  • Being true to who you are – Being yourself, not being fake.
  • Alone and loving it – Wanting and enjoying being alone.

topics to write music about

You can also try telling a story, a personal relationship you have with someone or towards something. You can even talk about a certain person in your life or someone you admire/aspire to.

  • Father/Son relationship – A relationship between father and son, does not have to be positive.
  • Painful breakup – Breaking up with someone in a bad way, parting on bad terms.
  • About your partner – Talk about your partner and the relationship you have with them.
  • About God – You believe/disbelieve in god, relationship with god.
  • About your pet dog – About your pet dog and what your relationship is like, what you like about your pet.
  • Past romantic partner – About a past fling/relationship, memories.
  • Dead lover  – Deceased lover, what they were like.
  • Secret lover – A secret love/lover, what kind of relationship you have with them.
  • Someone you lost – Losing an important person and what that meant to you.
  • Someone you’re afraid to lose – Being afraid of losing someone close to you.
  • Toxic relationships – A bad relationship that is hurting both people.
  • Fake friends – About fake friends, what you don’t like about them.

Songs are not always sunshine and rainbows, sometimes they are dark, hateful, about problems in your life. This is generally a fuel for many songwriters and usually results in a compelling story.

  • Hating your job – Despising your work, not doing it properly because you hate it.
  • Problematic Life – Problems in your life, adversities you might face.
  • Jealousy – Being jealous of someone, not having something that someone else has.
  • Going to rehab – Facing hard times (rock bottom), going to rehab to get your life together.
  • Being sober – Being disciplined and not falling back on past issues.
  • Broken dreams – Not achieving your dreams and feeling crushed.
  • Hunger – It can be the fuel for motivation (hunger for success) or physical hunger, not having money.
  • Losing grip on reality – Slowly slipping into ‘madness’ and can’t get a grip on reality.
  • The difficulty of balancing responsibilities -Not having enough time/free time, frustrations.
  • Being alone – Not having anyone/someone.
  • Inability to sleep – Trouble falling asleep and what that leads to.
  • Being stabbed in the back by a friend – Betrayed by someone close.
  • Teenage angst – Being worried at a young age, teenage problems.
  • Hollow happiness – Being happy on the outside as opposed to truly being happy.
  • School sucks – Hating school, not wanting to attend.
  • Too afraid to try – Letting fear control your actions and stop you from doing something you want.
  • Self-sabotage – Not taking care of yourself (physically, mentally).
  • Always being judged – An awful feeling, being judged right off the bat.
  • Complications & Conflicts – Everyday problems, major complications, or conflicts with someone.

topics to write music about

Songs don’t always have to be about something incredibly meaningful, in fact, they can be a simple feeling, having fun, traveling, or about the weather. Sometimes, the melody outshines the lyrics.

  • Traveling on a plane – Love for travel in general, traveling on a plane.
  • Traveling on a train – Train ride across the country and what that can be like.
  • Traveling on a boat – A boat ride or a long cruise, vacation.
  • Traveling on a bicycle – Riding a bicycle and traveling longer distances, exploring.
  • About winter – About winter, maybe feeling sad or happy about it.
  • About spring – Spring time and what that feels like.
  • About summer – Summertime fun and the joy of the sun.
  • About fall – Settling down in the fall, a quiet and peaceful season.
  • A good time – Having a good time with friends/family.
  • Party time – Having a party, having a good time at a party.
  • Living your best life – Having the time of your life and doing everything you enjoy/relish in.
  • A story about an intoxicated night out – Having a drunken night out with friends.
  • Not a care in the world – Living a carefree life.
  • Enjoy the simple things – Finding joy in the simplest of things.
  • What makes you feel good – Doing something you enjoy/love and what makes you feel good.
  • Following your passion – Following your dreams, whatever it is, traveling, having fun, a fulfilling job.

There are countless topics to write songs about. Sometimes it can be from something as simple as sleeping to something as big as world peace. Whatever your fuel, desire, love, passion, hate, songs can be about anything.

  • Who you are – Writing about yourself, who you are, what you aspire to.
  • Getting old – Growing old and not being able to do certain things.
  • Growing up – Becoming more mature or not wanting to grow up just yet.
  • Breaking barriers – Proving people wrong and achieving something ‘impossible’ for you.
  • Coming out – Accepting your sexuality and desires, telling people about it.
  • About sleeping – The need for sleep or the love for napping/sleeping.
  • About smoking – About smoking cigarettes, an unhealthy habit.
  • Dreams – Dreams in general, or dreams about life.
  • World peace – Striving for world peace or making a difference in the world.
  • Being a millionaire – Becoming successful in a particular field and being well compensated.
  • Spending money – The joy of spending money and buying what you want
  • Having a lot of money – Having money and being able to afford anything you want/need.
  • Pretending to be someone else – Not being true to yourself (fake), pretending to be something you are not.
  • About your hometown – The love for your hometown or your dislike of it.
  • Getting lost in a daydream – Daydreaming about something and losing yourself in that process.
  • A famous person from history – Writing about a famous historical figure.
  • Trying to impress others – Trying to prove something to someone and impress them.
  • Forgiving your enemy – Being able to forgive some or not being able to.
  • A song that makes you laugh when you perform it – A happy/witty song that makes you happy or makes you laugh.
  • Feeling of empowerment – Being empowered, standing up for something/someone.
  • First date – The stress, happiness, and anticipation of a first date.
  • Planning your hopes and dreams – Planning out your goals in life.
  • Questioning where your future will take you – The uncertainties of the future or what it might hold for you.
  • Pet peeve – An annoying trait or something you find generally annoying.
  • Nostalgia – The sentimental feeling of returning somewhere or about a past time in your life.
  • Fame and fortune – Aspiring for fame and fortune, the life of fame and fortune.
  • Vanity – Excessive pride of someone/something or admiration (appearance, achievements).
  • Searching & Singlehood – Searching for that special someone, not married and single life.
  • Songs of reconciliation & forgiveness – Forgiving tales or reconciling with a friend/partner.
  • Feeling of relief about moving on – The ability to move on and the feeling of relief of doing so.
  • School days – Reminiscing about or living your school days.
  • Empowering the Youth – Motivating and inspiring the youth.
  • Eating or drinking – About the general need for eating, drinking, relishing in it.
  • To hype up the crowd – To give the crowd something to cheer for and hype them up.
  • Rocking out – Rocking out on stage, studio, performing live, and having a good time.

There are countless topics to write songs about. As a musician, it’s important to be passionate and have something to fuel your desire for writing music. Whether it’s about personal struggles or world peace, songs can be about anything. Sometimes, the best songs are those that are written from the heart. Write about what you know and what you’re feeling, and the songs will come naturally.

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj

I’m the Deputy Editor for Musician Wave and a touring and recording bass guitarist. I love to share my passion for all things music. I’ve been playing music for over ten years and I love exploring it further through writing. You'll also find me on the Musician Wave YouTube channel.

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Song Ideas: How to Get Inspired & Write Amazing Tracks

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Author: Caleb J. Murphy

Last updated: Aug 18, 2023

Reads: 11,407

Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter/producer based in Austin, TX, whose music has been on ABC, NBC, NPR, and in hundreds of indie film projects. His advice for musicians has been featured by Digital Music News, Bandzoogle, BMI, and ASCAP. He also sends a twice-monthly newsletter called 5 Things To Help You Keep Going that features five resources from the internet that will help indie musicians. FULL BIO

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

The Most Common Themes in Songs

How some of the great songwriters write songs, listen more, feel your feelings, write a song about a specific emotion, try stream-of-consciousness writing, use a rhyming dictionary, use a swipe file, brainstorm 5 song title ideas, write a song a day, draw random midi notes, use an instrument you don’t play, write a poem, produce an instrumental, listen to the news for song ideas, reverse another song’s chord progression, rewrite someone else’s song, pick random words from the dictionary, limit the whole song’s melody to 5 notes, turn your most recent text conversation into a song, write a melody using the first 2 notes of another song, try to write a bad song, listen to several songs at once, tell a true story in front of the mirror, re-write a paragraph from a book, write a letter to someone you love (or hate), today is your last day on earth, start digging.

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People also ask

How do I get ideas to write a song?

What should be the topic of my song?

How to make a song fun?

How do you write a chill song?

Sometimes songwriting is like watching Netflix with a terrible internet connection.

It’s pixel-y. The sound is jarbly. You’re trying to see the show but it’s just not working and you’re getting frustrated.

Songwriting can be frustrating, too. You try and try but you just can’t seem to see the song. You feel like you’re out of ideas. Or you have writer’s block. You’re just not feeling any creative juju. That’s what I hope this post can help you with: generating song ideas and finding the song.

To get song ideas, you should:

  • Listen more
  • Feel your feelings
  • Write a song about a specific emotion
  • Try stream-of-consciousness writing
  • Use a rhyming dictionary

In 2014, researchers at North Carolina State University looked at hit songs from the past 50 years to see if they could figure out what made them so popular. And they found 12 themes that ran throughout all the No. 1 Billboard “Hot 100” hits from January 1960 to to December 2009.

Songs from certain timeframes included more of one theme or another theme. For example, in the 1960s and ‘70s, there were a lot of songs about rebellion.

The 12 most common lyrical themes they found were:

  • Inspiration
  • Desperation

So what does this mean for you, a songwriter ?

If you want to increase the likelihood that you song will resonate with listeners, try writing songs within these 12 themes. I think you’ll find this an authentic and natural approach because all of these themes deal with the human experience. So write about your humanity in an authentic way.

There are so many ways to find song ideas! Here are a few: 1) re-write someone else’s song, 2) reverse another song’s chord progression, 3) listen to the news or a YouTube video for interesting phrases, 4) write a letter to someone you love or hate, and 5) imagine it’s your last day on earth, what would you say?

In the book Songwriters on Songwriting , Paul Simon talks about “discovering” a song rather than “inventing” a song. He said he likes to learn what the song is about along with the audience.

Jon Foreman talks about songwriting like digging for buried treasure.

“Every day, you dig,” Foreman says . “And sometimes you come across a lost city. And it feels like something that is a little bit more timeless than something that’s got my fingerprints on it.”

I love this idea. It’s like discovering dinosaur bones. It relieves some of the pressure to invent a song and it frees you up to just go find what you find.

So I’m going to list a bunch of ideas that can help spark your songwriting sessions, but these are by no means rules. These are tools to help you dig and discover — tools to help you uncover your lost city.

Now let’s dive into practical things you can do right now to help you generate more song ideas .

Some of the most common themes of songs are love, heartbreak, death, and coming of age. Researchers also found 12 themes that appear in most hit songs: loss, desire, aspiration, nostalgia, pain, breakup, rebellion, inspiration, jadedness, escapism, desperation, and confusion.

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In Songwriters on Songwriting , Bob Dylan said, “Poets do a lot of listening.”

That’s so true. Listening is a big part of being a Songwriter — hearing the same thing that everyone else hears but seeing the deeper meaning within it.

So try this: go to a coffee shop or cafe with either your laptop or a pen and paper. Find a seat and start listening to the conversations around you. Then jot down as many words and phrases as you can pick up.

Yeah, at first you might think it seems creepy, but you’re not really eavesdropping. You’re just hearing random parts of different conversations and you’re not even associating what you hear with any one person.

Doing this will surely give you some solid lyric ideas.

The Philosopher Alan Watts once wrote about how we should feel our feelings. We should just let ourselves experience them.

“ . . .We do not discover the wisdom of our feelings because we do not let them complete their work,” he wrote in his book Become What You Are . “We try to suppress them or discharge them in premature action, not realizing that they are a process of creation which, like birth, begins as a pain and turns into a child.”

In other words, feeling your feelings can be painful, but it can lead to a lot of good.

Think about how much more meaningful, emotional, and impactful our songs could be if we discovered the insight our emotions gave us.

If you feel happy, feel that happiness. It could lead to a truly happy song that electrifies people. If you’re feeling sad, feel that sadness. It could inspire a powerful blues song or ballad. If you’re confused, experience that confusion. It could end up being a kick-butt rock song or a rap song .

Other people have felt what you felt, so the more honest you can be when writing about them, the more impactful your song may be.

Speaking of emotions, try picking one emotion and writing a song about it. It could be the one you’re feeling right now or one you’ve felt before.

Love . Tension. Pride. Loss. Homesickness. Nostalgia.

These are all very common emotions all of us feel, which is why there are so many songs about them. So pick one and start writing — keep the song just about that emotion.

Generally speaking, you can make a song fun by staying in a major key, writing a more upbeat song, singing simple, repetitive, and catchy melodies, and writing lyrics that talk about being in love and enjoying life.

Stream-of-consciousness writing is just what you think it is.

Grab a pen and paper or a laptop (which is my preference) and just start writing. Don’t filter yourself. Don’t edit. Don’t let your fingers stop typing or your hand stop writing.

Just write, no matter what pops into your head (no one else will see what you write). Even though most of what you write may be gibberish, that’s okay. Within the nonsense words may be a song title or a theme or a lyric.

Even if nothing comes of it, it can still work as a good warm-up exercise before your songwriting session. But, in my experience, something always comes of it.

Writing real is a great way to add focus to your song. This is for when your lyrics get muddled in vague language and attempted poetry.

If you think that’s happening with your song (or someone is completely confused by your lyrics), try writing real.

What’s writing real?

That’s when you write 1-2 sentences — in plain, clear English — what you’re trying to say. It helps if you imagine saying these sentences to the person the song is about. What would you say to their face if you could?

Once you’ve done that, rewrite the confusing lyrics to be a little more focused. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use poetic language, but writing real can help you know what you’re actually trying to say.

Let me say this: you don’t always need to rhyme your lyrics. That’s definitely a powerful songwriting tool , but it’s not a necessary tool. If you force yourself to rhyme in a song, it can actually sound inauthentic.

However, it can be a very effective way to add impact to your song — a way to make things more poetic and memorable.

So if you want to rhyme and you keep getting stuck, try using a rhyming dictionary.

Two really good places to start are the Doppelreim app and RhymeZone. Doppelreim not only gives you words that rhyme, but also other words that sort of rhyme or words that might inspire something else. RhymeZone will give you entire phrases that rhyme with your chosen word as well as phrases that sound similar.

Anytime you hear, see, or read something interesting, write it down. You can directly quote the source, jot down a paraphrase, or write a thought it inspired. Then you can revisit these notes when you’re writing a song.

I do this in a little black book I call my Recycling Center Notebook. Austin Kleon calls it a Swipe File . You can call it whatever you want, but the idea is to capture inspiration ASAP to inspire a song later.

19 Songwriting Prompts

To give you a kickstart on your next song, here are 14 songwriting prompts to try…

You could use a slower tempo. Add a vintage effect to your recording. Use “jazzy” chords, like major 7ths and diminished chords. Layer ambient synth sounds. Write a repetitive and simple chord progression. Build a song on top of a relaxing, simple, and repetitive drum loop. Keep the production simple and consistent.

Pull out your phone or a pen and paper. Come up with five song titles without overthinking it. You don’t have to show anyone these ideas, so write whatever pops into your brain.

Writing a song a day for will force you to focus on finishing the rather instead of trying to make the song perfect. It forces you to go with your gut instinct instead of second guessing every choice you make. You can do this for a set amount of time, like for a week or month.

Open your DAW . Draw some MIDI notes at random. Then play it back. It may sound bad, but there may be a melody in there that catches your ear. This is your starting point.

If you play guitar, get on the piano. If you play the piano, pick up a ukulele. This will make you step outside your comfort zone and push you to make creative decisions you wouldn’t otherwise have. It can also force you to keep things simple.

This method can help if you normally create the music first, or if you write the music and lyrics at the same time. Just write a poem with no music or melody in mind. Once you’ve finished your poem, try to turn it into a song.

This method could spark a new idea if you write the lyrics first, or if you write the lyrics while making the music. Just produce an instrumental track. Make it stand on its own. Once it’s done, try to write a melody and lyrics over top of it.

I read one time that songwriter Aaron Espe does this. and it stuck with me. Instead of sitting and watching the news, turn it on while you do something else. And keep an ear out for potential song ideas.

For example, look at the chord progression of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles: D-A-A7-D / D7-G-Bm-Em-G-A7-D. Now reverse those chords and write your own song to that chord progression: D-A7-A-D / D-A7-G-Em-Bm-G-D7.

If you’re feeling stuck, rewriting someone else’s song is a great way to spark your creativity.

Let me preface it with this: I’m not encouraging plagiarism. I’m simply suggesting this method as a way to 1) educate yourself on how your favorite Songwriters do it, and 2) to help you generate your own idea for a song.

So get the lyrics of a song from your favorite Songwriter and rewrite them in your own words. Play the chord progression backwards and come up with your own melody. Change the time signature. Do something to the song.

Use the song as a starting point, a foundation for your own tune.

Another way to come up with a song idea is to open a dictionary (yes, a physical dictionary), close your eyes, and put your finger down on the page somewhere. Whatever word is closest to your finger will be the starting point for your next song.

That word could be the title, it could be the inspiration for the first verse, or just a general sentiment.

You could even do this multiple times to make a 3-5 word phrase from random words. It might end up sounding weird or incoherent, but it could lead you to a separate, related idea.

Limitations lead to more creativity. Less is often more. So write a song that uses the same five notes the whole way through.

The song you write may be too silly to release. Or you may end up writing a really good song. Either way, it will stretch you as a songwriter.

For example, take the first two notes in the melody of “Hey Jude”…but write a different melody with a different cadence.

Some art teachers instruct their students to create terrible art on purpose. It’s an exercise that helps you focus on the process and forget about the result.

Tom Waits would turn on five radios tuned to five different radio stations. Then he would listen for interesting sounds. Sounds chaotic, but it worked for him.

Write down what you say. Then turn that into a song.

Summarize, organize, and turn that paragraph into a song.

Take that brutally honest letter (that you can burn afterward) and turn it into a song.

Why is the last day on earth? Is it your last day, or everyone’s last day? Are you the only person left?

Remember: these are not rules and they’re not quick fixes that will work for everyone. They’re tools that you can use (or not use) to help you generate song ideas.

They’re shovels and pickaxes and brushes to help you uncover dinosaur bones from the dirt. So go ahead and start digging.

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