Listening to love songs is easy — but writing your very own love song is a different matter altogether! How do you do it?
Basics of Writing a Love Song
Love songs manage to bring two of the most important human experiences together. Music and love both trigger the release of "feel-good" endorphins. Imagine what you can do when you combine the two!
The best, most popular love songs that endure with time have some powerful common threads:
- A catchy title to draw you in.
- Lyrics that nearly everyone can relate to.
- The best love songs are an ode to the loved — they don't focus on the writer. They do, however, capture the writer's genuine feelings, and share personal experiences.
- They have a memorable chorus that's easy to sing along to and to get lost in.
- The best love songs build melodic energy over time and have an amazing rhythm.
- Lovers can easily image dancing to the song or enjoying a romantic moment while listening to it — or already have, countless times.
The genre is huge, of course, because people will never, ever, grow tired of love — and there will always be more to be written and sung about beautiful love stories as well as lovers who part painfully.
Great love songs instantly make anyone who listens to them feel at home. Elvis Presley longs for his love to "take me to your heart, for it's there that I belong", a lyric that shows the depth of human emotion. Frankie Valli sings about a love who's "just too good to be true — can't take my eyes off you", something we can probably all relate too.
The Bee Gees show that love touches your entire life with their "I know your eyes in the morning sun, I feel you touch me in the pouring rain". Even Rick Astley, whose famous song has been reduced to a meme, absolutely does the feeling of being madly in love justice with his "never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down".
Are you aching to write a love song of your own? It doesn't have to go down in history to touch hearts.
5 Common Themes in Love Songs
Whether you're an experienced song writer or you're just starting out, perhaps taking up your pen only to write that special song about your love, you'll want to establish a theme. Your love song will hit harder if you're clear about what you want to share in its lyrics.
Love songs with a celebratory theme can celebrate a single person, or love itself. Bishop Briggs' Dream is a wonderful example. The melody is uplifting, and the lyrics perfectly capture how amazing life with the person you love can be.
Eric Clapton's famous and much more muted Wonderful Tonight celebrates the woman it was written for, and the mundane moments that can take on an entirely different meaning when they are shared between lovers. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young arguably do an even better job of that in their Our House, which essentially celebrates a more mature love — a life made easier and more worthwhile with your life partner by your side.
Pleading love songs may ask a lover to stay with you forever, or express hope that your love interest will go out with you. There are countless examples. In some, the writer essentially commands their love to pay attention to them — but in others, they're only lovingly, modestly, hoping.
Florence + The Machine's Never Let Me Go can be interpreted in a number of ways, and is ostensibly about a mermaid. Many lovers will, however, discover a celebration of their bond and a wish that their love will never end; a plea one lover makes to another. The Bangles' Eternal Flame is a subtler example of a plea — the writer hopes that this love will last forever.
These love songs make a commitment and a promise. Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It for You and Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up are both powerful examples, as is Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You.
Bruno Mars' Just the Way You Are (Amazing) is a solid example of a love song devoted to complimenting the person you love. Perfect, by Ed Sheeran, is another example of a love song determined to revel in a lover's wonderful qualities.
Sometimes the passion simply explodes right out of the songwriter's heart, onto the page, and into the audience's understanding embrace. I Drove All Night, by Cyndi Lauper is a classic example that manages to stay classy. Though often misunderstood, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah does exactly the same thing.
These themes are just the start, of course. Other popular themes in love songs include regret over losing your love, young love, and unrequited love.
How to Write a Love Song for Beginners
So, you're madly in love with a guy or gal you're hoping to win over? You want to write a love song for the man or woman you married decades ago, perhaps for your anniversary? You want to let the world know how thrilled you are that you have found true love?
Your heart's exploding — but your pen doesn't seem to want to cooperate. Every line you write feels cheesy or cringe-worthy. You're going for an excited reaction, rather than one that will embarrass you for the rest of your life. What's someone who's never written a love song — or any song, for that matter — to do?
Should you just give up before you even get started?
Of course not. Anyone can write a love song, and armed with the right tips, it can even be pretty great. You're bound to hit a few hurdles, but this step-by-step guide can help you overcome them.
1. Get Inspiration
Many people who are inspired to write love songs already have someone special in mind before they begin writing. In this case, getting inspiration is easy! Think about the person you like. What makes them so wonderful? What are you hoping to be able to experience with them? What do you really want to say to them, from the bottom of your heart?
Write that down. Don't be shy. You're only brainstorming, after all, and anything you don't like can be cut later on — or better yet, transformed into something new.
Not everyone who sets out to pen a love song does so with a particular person in mind, of course. You might be in a High School band group, for instance, and tasked with the seemingly-impossible job of writing a romantic song for a prom.
Anything can serve as inspiration for your love song. Stories you've heard from other people, in the news, and even popular love songs written and sung by the most famous artists of all time can all help you write your own. Write down words or phrases you definitely want to include. Choose a theme for your love song, and broadly stay within it.
2. Crafting the Lyrics of Your Love Song
Your words should have rhythm, and that's expressed not just in the melody of the song, but also in the words. "Just get writing" is an approach that has led many of the greatest songwriters to stumble on a hit — but beginners are bound to face much more of a challenge.
If you already have a rough idea of the chorus, you can start fleshing your love song out by penning the verses. Each can have a sub-theme if you like, and you can make ample use of tools like rhyme and alliteration.
Once you are done with your first draft, it's time to start testing the waters by sharing your lyrics with others. You may get some great inspiration at this stage of the process, and this step will also help you eliminate lyrics that ultimately don't belong in your song.
3. Choose an Instrument
No — you don't have to play the harp to perform a genuinely touching love song. A guitar, cello, piano, viola, or oboe will do the job just fine. If you've got a band, use it. If you play just one instrument, a guitar is your most powerful weapon. However, if you're writing a love song meant to reach the ears of your special someone, any instrument you can actually play is the best.
4. Working Out the Melody
The melody of your love song may come to you long before the lyrics do, in which case you'll have to work hard to make sure that the two match up. If you're a writer, rather than a songwriter, at heart, however, there's a good chance you'll have your lyrics before you work out the melody. That's OK. Just keep in mind that:
- Songs build energy over time, beginning with muted chords and working their way up to a climax.
- Find your harmonic rhythm. Most love songs change chords once every four to eight beats.
- Your chorus should represent the core of your song; something you keep returning to and that others can sing along with. They usually have a higher pitch.
5. Finalizing Your Song Title
Every song needs a title. If you didn't start off with one, you may grab a title from the chorus or anywhere else within the song. What's the strongest point in the song's lyrics? Start there. Occasionally, your love song's title may not feature in the lyrics at all.
6. Share Your Song
Arguably the most frightening part of writing a love song, it's now time to share your creation — with the world, with the person you're in love with, or both. It's normal to be scared, but this is what you did it all for.
Helpful Tips for Writing Your Own Love Song
Everyone who endeavors to write a love song has to find their own "beat", but if you're still stuck, these tips may help you overcome your writer's block:
- Are you already a musician? Play around with some freestyle melodies on the piano or guitar, and see where they take you! Having your instrument around will make the process easier.
- Start with the chorus! Because this is the one part of your love song that will repeat again and again, you'll instantly feel like you have made a lot of progress.
- It's not possible to convey "love" as a singular feeling in one song. Choose a topic, and stay with it. It may be about romance, longing, a new relationship, or even that one thing your lover does that makes you go mad.
- The internet has revolutionized our everyday lives, and song lyric generators can help you craft your love song. Never copy them verbatim, but why not use the lyrics a lyric generator can come up with for inspiration?
- Be authentic — write what you feel, and not what you think you should feel.
- Brainstorm with another artist, especially if you are in a band.
Is writing a song for a girl creepy?
No! If your intentions are creepy, your lyrics might be, too. A genuine love song is never creepy, but sharing it with the person you wrote your love song for can still be very scary.
How to write a love song for a girl?
Write your love song from your heart, and work hard on making it the best you can. If you're not happy, keep working until you are.
How to write a love song for him?
Not all love songs have to be romantic — they can be funny, too. If you know your lover, you'll be able to write the perfect song for him.
How to write lyrics to a melody?
If you're working with an existing melody, make sure that the lyrics seamlessly fit into that melody. Test it out every step of the way, by singing your love song as you write.
What is the ideal length of a love song?
Most pop songs are between three and five minutes long, regardless of how many words the lyrics contain. This "Goldilocks zone" (just right!) allows the audience to enjoy the song without getting bored.
What are the top 10 written love songs?
You'll find countless lists of the Top 10, Top 50, or Top 100 love songs of all time. You'll find some overlap in those lists, but also plenty of unique choices. Making your own list of your favorite love songs can help you write a love song, but the answer is ultimately subjective.