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“We wrote it in about five minutes”: Interrogating the myth of the quickly-written hit song | MusicRadar

Claims that masterpieces have been written in minutes abound, and many (upon further inspection) are revealed to be not as cut and dried as their writers claim.

The article from MusicRadar, titled “We wrote it in about five minutes”: Interrogating the myth of the quickly-written hit song, authored by Andy Price, delves into the popular belief that chart-topping songs can be written in a matter of minutes. It explores various examples and opinions from the music industry to scrutinize this notion.

Key Points from the Article:

  1. The Myth of Rapid Songwriting: The article begins with the famous story of Paul McCartney conceiving the melody of “Yesterday” in a dream, which is often cited as an example of quick songwriting. However, it highlights that the complete song, including melody, harmony, arrangement, and lyrics, took months to finalize. This story is used to illustrate that while the initial idea might come quickly, the process of crafting a complete song is often lengthy and complex.
  2. Industry Perspectives: The article includes insights from Lady Gaga, who claimed some of her hits were written in less than 10 minutes, and from producer DJ White Shadow, who noted that these songs underwent extensive production processes afterward. Dr. Joe Bennett, a forensic musicologist and professor at Berklee College of Music, is quoted discussing the blurred lines between songwriting and production in the modern era, emphasizing that a song is more than just its initial concept.
  3. Songwriting Process and Myths: The piece also features perspectives from artists like Catherine Anne Davies (The Anchoress) and songwriter, musician, and producer Paul Statham. They discuss their experiences with both quick and lengthy songwriting processes, underscoring the importance of refinement and development in crafting a song. The article challenges the notion that quick songwriting is a measure of talent, suggesting that it often undermines the hard work and skill involved in the process.
  4. Impact of Technology and AI: The article touches on the evolving role of technology and AI in songwriting, with concerns about quality and originality in an era of fast production and short attention spans. However, it also acknowledges the potential benefits of these tools in the creative process.

In summary, the article from MusicRadar critically examines the myth of quickly-written hit songs, highlighting the complexities and nuances of the songwriting process. It emphasizes that while some songs may have been conceived rapidly, their development into finished, polished works often involves much more time and effort.

Source: “We wrote it in about five minutes”: Interrogating the myth of the quickly-written hit song | MusicRadar

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