Showcasing the Song – The Secret to Incredible Productions

I’d like you to listen to (at least a minute of) each of these songs:

Yesterday – The Beatles

Lollipop – Lil Wayne

Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

What do these all have in common? Two things – for one, they all peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard charts. That’s a pretty big deal.

The second thing they all have in common is that the production truly showcases the song – it fits just right, making each song great in its own right.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “how can you even compare a work of genius to a work of garbage?” But that’s just the point.

You see, “Yesterday” by The Beatles is an incredible song. Even by itself – without any fancy production elements – it stands alone.

And, as much as I enjoy Tha Carter III, one of the biggest hip-hop albums ever made, the first number 1 single “Lollipop” is admittedly a terribly written song. There’s hardly any content to it, and half of the singing is just auto-tuned moaning and groaning that can sound rather unpleasant at times. But there’s something about the production that draws people in and makes them want to listen again.

“Teenage Dream” is somewhere in the middle – definitely more going on lyrically, but not quite enough to make it stand out for its creative writing. The production, however, helps just enough to propel this song into greatness.

The lesson here is that it doesn’t take the most profound song or the biggest production to make something great. What makes it great is when the production showcases the song. If it’s an amazing song, it doesn’t need a lavish production to showcase it. If it’s a mediocre song, the production can help fill it out and make it shine.

Keep this in mind when you’re working on your productions – this can really help your songs shine!


3 thoughts on “Showcasing the Song – The Secret to Incredible Productions”

  1. Hey Nathan, I am (as you know) your biggest fan and an actual friend. I have enjoyed this series of blog entries and recording tips, and I agree with you on most everything.

    Honestly, on this one though, I draw a different conclusion than you do. To me, what you are saying, is that if the song is not good, if it is without honest human content or artistic merit, then you can still make the production catchy enough that—given a big promotion budget—you can still sell it to a culture that seems to be in a general decline.

    Even if you put lipstick on a pig, etc…

    sssssssteve in Dallas

  2. It may be true that the production for each of these songs does showcase them, however the reason they each peaked at number one, in my opinion, is for an entirely different reason.

    The fascinating thing about art is that only the masses of people decide what is deemed great or not. Greatness is not decided by the individual.

    So as much as we like to see things through our own personal perspective or taste, we can really only speak for ourselves.

    Of course there are industry politics than can influence chart positioning.

    That aside, the masses have spoken and decided that each of these songs were great in their moment. Therefore, they peaked at number one not because of production but because the masses dictated it so.

    The masses will also decide what remains great over time as well , which may explain why “Yesterday” may remain great while the other two may fade.

    But just know, that is not our individual decision either.

    The masses will speak on that as time marches on.

    Remember just because we don’t understand it, we can’t dismiss it.

    Ironically, at one time all Rock including The Beatles was considered garbage from the individual perspective of those that preferred Blues , Jazz or Classical.

    Thank goodness the masses spoke up for The Beatles as well.

    PS keep the great articles coming. Your perspective is greatly appreciated

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