22 Writers for 1 Song?!?

The official song of the 2015 Pan Am Games, “Together We Are One” sung by Serena Ryder, apparently has 22 writers to its credit.

I can hear the jokes now: “Which word did you write?”

Seriously, this is the music biz at its worst.  Everybody wants a piece of the action so everyone has to have their name on the credits, even if you were just sitting in the room. It’s greedy and ridiculous. And the songwriter who did the most work or who came up with the idea (we’ll likely never know who that was), is pretty much ripped off because he/she has to share whatever income the song generates, along with getting lost in credits crowded by 21 other people.

The song itself is your standard pop arena anthem with nothing special to it.  Other than the fact there are 22 writer credits.



Be Careful What You Read

Linda Perry
Linda Perry

Here are a bunch of shocking headlines I grabbed lately from various web ‘sources’, emphasis is mine:

    • Beyonce’s Songwriting Abilities Clowned By Songwriter Linda Perry
    • Linda Perry SLAMS Beyoncé For Taking Credit When She Shouldn’t! – Perez Hilton
    • Shots Fired? Linda Perry Takes Aim At Beyonce’s Songwriting – Lipstickally.com
    • Beyonce’s Songwriting Credits are Questioned by Linda Perry But Do Fans Really Care? – Bustle
    • Beyonce Must Prove Herself As A Songwriter – spyghana.com
    • Linda Perry Calls Out Beyonce’s “Songwriting” Skills – Dlisted

…and most shocking of all…

  • Linda Perry Drags Illiterate Porn Star Beyonce For Her Bullshit – arcadey.net

You can check the sources yourself if you want to, which is why I included them. And how did it all start? Well, songwriter Linda Perry, who has written for Christina Aguilera, Pink, Ariana Grande, Celine Dion, Alicia Keys and others, did a recent Reddit question-and-answer session, and one of the questions posed to her was this:

Linda, how do you feel about Beyonce changing one word on a song and getting writing credit. Does that bother you as a songwriter?

It’s a fair question because songwriting credit is certainly a revenue source that artists (and their managers and record labels) have started to take more advantage of in the past few years.  Change a word here or there and ask for writing credits so you can get a bigger piece of the pie.

Let’s look at that idea for a minute though.  If you had someone the calibre of Beyonce wanting to record your song and potentially making a lot of moola, what would you do?  I’m thinking a lot of us would day “sure, go ahead, whatever you want!” with great enthusiasm and flashing dollar signs in our eyes.  I’m also thinking that big name artists like Beyonce know very well that if one songwriter won’t do it, another will.

From the headlines above, however, you’d think that Linda Perry was a self-righteous, nasty-mouthed, ungrateful be-atch.  This is the inter-web folks (yes, I know it’s not called that) and you need to remember that every entertainment-related website is continuously looking for new ways to scream for attention, so I wanted to show you Linda’s actual answer (which others did too, but almost as an afterthought, hoping maybe you’d click on an ad or two in the meantime):

“Well hahaha um thats not songwriting but some of these artists believe if it wasnt for them your song would never get out there so they take a cut just because they are who they are. but everyone knows the real truth even Beyonce. She is talented but in a completely different way.”

Utterly blasphemous, no?  No.  Just an honest response to an honest question.  I don’t love Beyonce, and neither do I hate her.  Sometimes it’s just the web I hate.


And The Nominees Are…

I’m always curious about the songs that end up in movies.  Are they already in existence and just end up being a perfect fit for the movie, or are they written specifically for the movie?

My guess would be either or.  I’m sure a director might be drawn to a song before a movie is completed in some cases…and in others I would imagine there are some politics involved, where they have to use a particular artist, band or songwriter for their movie.

Let’s understand first that “Best Song” is different from “Best Score”.  The score is the music that is underneath the dialogue or helps to drive the emotion or drama of a movie in various scenes.

The very first Oscar for best song was awarded in 1934.  “The Continental” written by Con Conrad with lyrics by Herb Magidson was sung by Ginger Rogers in the movie “The Gay Divorcee”.  Wow, that movie title would have a whole new context these days 🙂

Here is a video clip from the movie:

Of course, the movie was a musical.  But these days, musicals aren’t as common in film form unless they are filmed versions of Broadway musicals or Disney films.

The best song nominations are very often at the end of a movie, during the credits.  Which makes me wonder if a lot of people actually stay long enough to hear them.  Maybe the intention is to keep people in their seats during the credits, or to prevent you from turning the movie off, in the case of a DVD or streamed movie.   I wonder if that actually works?  There are certainly people who like to watch the credits, or who take that time to soak the movie in, but a lot of people don’t bother.

This years nominations are all quite different.  “Let It Go”, from the Disney movie “Frozen” is your typical Disney pop ballad, sung by Idina Menzel and written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and her husband Robert Lopez, who have written songs for Disney before in the movies Finding Nemo and Winnie The Pooh.  In this case, of course, Disney commissioned the song specifically for the movie.  I was curious about it because I wrote a song with that very name about 20 years ago.  I guess without the context of the movie, it’s hard to judge the song on its own merit, but it is not a stand out for me.  I can see, however, that it might appeal to the little girls that the movie is mainly targeting.

Another nominated song is “Ordinary Love” by U2 from the movie “Long Walk To Freedom”.  This is Nelson Mandela’s story, and although I didn’t see the movie, I do know his story well.  When I listened to the song, I more or less expected to relate to the lyrics because of that, but I have to say I was confused by them to some degree.  I do like some of the imagery in lines like “The sea throws rock together, but time leaves us polished stones”, but the chorus lines “we can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love” probably has some sort of mystical meaning to the writers, that go right over my head.   I just don’t think the song is a stand out.

The movie “Juno” which came out in 2007 had a couple of songs in it by the Moldy Peaches.  I know there are Moldy Peaches fans out there because a couple of my guitar students requested one of the songs that was used in the movie “Anyone Else But You”.  The group described themselves at the time as “anti-folk”, “lo-fi” and “garage-rock”.  For me, they were “sophomoric”, but that’s just a matter of personal preference, I guess :-).  This year, “The Moon Song” from the movie “Her”, strikes me exactly the same way.  ‘Nuff said.

My favourite song on this year’s list of nominees, is the song “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” by Pharrell Williams.  Reflecting its title, of course, it’s a very upbeat and catchy song.  It is, by no means, lyrically deep.  But then again, I was drawn to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, so I don’t have to hear deep lyrics to find happiness.

Online there is huge support for “Let It Go” and although that isn’t necessarily a reflection of what the Academy is going to choose, I think it’s a strong possibility that it will win.   There are, honestly, some years that I find the field of nominees lacking.  But then again, I suppose in some years there isn’t a whole lot to choose from.

I’ll be watching…


New I Like Songs Post

There’s a new evaluation of the song “A Team” by Ed Sheeran up at the I Like Songs blog.  If you’ve never heard of Ed Sheeran, there’s a video of him performing the song as well.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran (Photo credit: Man Alive!)

Here’s an excerpt:

“This is a series of five lines that rhyme;  not perfect rhymes on all occasions, but each two syllables long whether they are one word or two.  And on each of those he uses the same two notes, higher than any other note in the song.  Now my rule of thumb has always been to only repeat something three times or it starts to feel like too much, but in this case that rule appears to go out the window.  It just works.”

Check it out!


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New Guitar Blog Post

Just wanted to point you to my other Guitar Blog where you’ll find Part 1 of a series on getting out of your strumming rut.  This is geared towards those of you who play guitar, of course, and Part 1 goes right back to the basics of strumming itself.

Many of you find yourselves always strumming the same pattern, no matter what the song, and this might inspire you to work at changing that.  This post even has some flash animations showing you how to strum so you can play along.

Part 2 will be coming soon, so remember to check back in!