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How do you come up with unique titles?

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Just interested in other people's methods or brain storming strategies for finding titles. Example...synonym vs antonym, word play, figurative language or even resources used such as book titles, movie dialogue.

And by titles I mostly mean 'ideas' (as in take a color or noun and associate it with something etc)


I write mostly pop but I notice from a distance my titles tend to be veering closer to generic territory and there seems to be a heavier emphasis on unique ideas  now in chart music.


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My 2 cents....an excerpt from an old blog article.



Typically, ideas for songs don’t arrive in a scheduled manner. Many of mine are discovered completely by accident.

They come while practicing guitar, driving, watching TV, speaking to someone about a totally unrelated subject, listening to music, or while waiting to fall asleep.

The trick is to keep good, organized records of all these ideas. That way, when you do schedule time to write, you actually have a starting point (idea).

From that starting point, you can begin to flush out the actual song.


Bottom line...I don't go looking for concept ideas. They tend to find me. Once they do, I do my best to turn them into something relatable.


As for the titles themselves, some of mine are deliberately familiar..."Sunday Christian", "The Usual Suspects", "Pain for Gain", "Bottom Feeders", "Tough Love", "Fool Me Once", "Someday", "The Real World".

By doing that, my hope is that the familiar nature of the titles helps draw attention from potential listeners who happen across them in the online media jungle.

Sometimes, I'll take a well known title such as "The Usual Suspects" & apply it to non-typical subject matter.

In the case of "The Usual Suspects", the title describes a list of typical reasons for relationship failure...not a mystery or well-known movie.


Hopefully, something I said here helps. Good luck and enjoy the process! ;)



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Hi K


   I dont take too much stock in titles. Though I tend to stay away from too generic or too flashy of a title. I mean, who wants to see a title "I Love You" and think, boy, this is going to be a great lyric.lol


      Mine tend to be shorter and to the point with enough vagueness as to not over state what the song is about. One short song on my soundcloud site is called "unused valentine" . Gives you a clue of what its about without giving away the story. Besides, the title is the least important thing about a lyric. It's the subject matter and how its presented in a "creative" manner that counts.


just my two cents worth

R-N-R Jim

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Good question, Kinh. ;) My own perspective is that a good title -  especially when it forms the chorus hook, or part of it - is extremely important. I've often read that it's also important for potential music publishers when they're browsing a catalogue of perhaps hundreds - or maybe thousands - of songs. They'll apparently be more likely to stop and listen to a song with the kind of title that piqued their interest or curiousity, in particular if they're looking for a song to license for film or tv.


I try to keep my titles relatively short, but pointing to the mood and/or the theme, so that they support the content (again, especially if they're part of the chorus or whichever section they're in, depending upon the song's format etc.)


Of course, a title doesn't even need to appear in the lyric itself, although it likely reflects the mood or tone of the lyrical story. But I feel it needs to be interesting enough to attract attention to the song. For instance, twice a year I - and a couple of the Musers here - take part in a fairly intense songwriting challenge (one lasts for 1 month, the other for 3 months), and when browsing the hundreds of songs posted each day in order to comment on several of them, I invariably select the ones that have - for me - interesting or intriguing titles. Other people of course might have different criteria.


To answer your specific question as to 'how': Most of my titles derive from the 'hook' that generally presents itself spontaneously as part of a chorus. I've also used book or film titles that I found intriguing, or sometimes even a news headline that was dramatic or hilarious (usually unintentionally). Or I've overhead something in a conversation. Often when I'm reading a book, a phrase in a sentence will leap off the page, and end up being turned into a title/hook for a lyric. There are also web sites with 'title generators' that are heaps of fun to play with, and can come up with some wonderfully surreal and evocative possibilities. ;) Or web sites like https://en.wordpress.com/tag/lost-love/ or http://postsecret.com. In fact, plenty of good song ideas there as well. Basically, hook/title ideas or inspiration can be found everywhere and at every moment.

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Titles are everywhere. I was reading an article about pensions earlier and the phrase "seven lean years" popped out at me. I immediately played with the possible ways in which I could take advantage of it and then moved on to read the rest of the article.


For me, it's about paying attention to the commonplace as well as to the unique and unexpected.


I also develop them out of necessity.  I have two verses written and half an idea about a chorus to pull it all together.  If I can come up with a good hook that can be supported by the verses I've written, I can build the rest of the chorus, the bridge and a final verse around it. The hook = the title. It's usually a little more difficult doing it that way and I'm not always rewarded with a great hook. 


There are plenty of ways to skin that cat (hey, that can work). 



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