Why do your songs suck?

Why do your songs suck?
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I went with that title mostly to grab attention :wink:

However, I wanted to start a thread to have an open discussion about some of the barriers that we run into as we try to take our music to the next level.

What are some of the biggest hangups that you personally have as you create new music? And what are you actively doing to grow your craft?

Are lyrics incredibly difficult for you? Why do you think that is?

Do you find yourself in a rut and repeating the same old stuff instrumentally?

Do you feel like you lack any songwriting skills in particular?



Ha ha Good thread. I’ll be the first to chirp. My songs suck because I lack the skills to mix. I can play my guitars and sing ok, but when it comes to determining proper EQ, Compression, Panning and reverb my suck factor is 9.875. Yes, I should have learned more along the way, but I was too busy trying getting to the next song idea. I have two songs that sound pretty good and that is because someone else mixed them. I am used to pathetic, so it’s all good.




I’ve heard some of your stuff and I’m a fan (so don’t misread what I’m saying :wink: ), but allow me to play devil’s advocate on this one.
It is frequently said that great songs with great performances can pretty much mix themselves… so do you believe that if your mixing skills were of a higher skill level, your music would follow suit?
I’m just trying to get us to dig deep on this topic :wink:


Great point. I pretty much feel my vocal performance dictates if the song has appeal. I have to get in the right zone to do it, and usually it is the first run. Unfortunately I make up the lyrics as I go, so the second takes don’t have the same flavor. I can’t make a song tho unless I hear the music. sounds crazy. Well that would be par for me. Dang, now you got me thinkin???




[quote=“feaker, post:4, topic:1268, full:true”] I pretty much feel my vocal performance dictates if the song has appeal.

So true! I think you’re on to something that gets overlooked by many. I’ve heard a lot of recordings in the past where the vocalist cannot sing the style of the music being played. Just because a vocalist CAN sing, doesn’t mean that their voice/style is suited for the song genre/style. You can watch any of those “american idol”, “x factor”-type shows and see hundreds/thousands of examples of this.


Ark… dreadful and yet compelling subject…
I have brief moments where I like some of my songs but mostly, an overwhelming sense of despair at my own hopelessness…

Writing performing and recording your own material is an incredibly introspective process…


I think I may have a little fear for writing lyrics. While I’m workign on a new project the last few months, I have a few songs ready (structure wise) instrumentaly. I’ve been thinking about starting to write the lyrics, and I’ve got some idea’s where I want to go with them, but when I decide to start on one, I end up writing nothing. The first scenteces already get me over analising or over thinking things, and pretty soon its starting to loose its meaning, so I quit. I know that ‘‘just writing some stuff down’’ is going to fix that problem some day, but it seems that something is holding me from doing so. It’s probably all between my ears, but I don’t seem to have this problem with recording the instrument, and writing riffs and such. I know its kinda like saying I don’t have the balls for it, but I don’t know where this kind of blackage is coming from sub conciously.
Anyone had the same problem ?


Why do my songs suck? Let me count the ways…!

Lyrics are by far the biggest stumbling block for me. This is mostly because I lack anything worthwhile to say that hasn’t already been said a million times before. The few songs with lyrics I’ve done that I think are at least OK have managed some feeble minor difference, but I really struggle to find something to impart.

To a lesser extent, I have the same problem with the musical side. Every progression I come up with seems to be very reminiscent of something someone has already done. A corollary to this is that I am only slowly learning how to add interest to such things with the dynamics of a song, stops and starts, ear candy, little side excursions. My recent thread on the difference between a chorus, bridge, and middle-8 is part of trying to get better in that area.

The combination of too-familiar musical forms and nothing of interest to say lyrically is a deadly prescription for radical suckage.

And @feaker Paul, your songs do NOT suck. The songs are really good! Do you need more experience on the mixing side? Sure. But that is not the same thing IMO as the basic quality of the composition. That’s a matter of production. So there, neener neener neener! :grin:


@Chordwainer what is your genre preference ? :slight_smile:


Like many of the people in this thread I also cringe a little when writing lyrics. It’s one of the most laborious tasks in songwriting for me probably because I don’t want to sound too cheesy or derivative. The problem is that “everything” that has ever been written is derivative. For me the most important part of a song is the vocal melody, it’s timing and expression. Lyrics are secondary for me…BUT, I don’t want to ruin a good vocal melody with crappy lyrics…That’s why I don’t usually enjoy writing lyrics. It feels like a tedious chore.


Interesting… for me, lyrics are the starting point for the song… they come first and the melody etc… follow on… it’s the painstaking editing and attention to detail that does my head in…


I think about this all the time!

One thing I noticed a couple of months ago is that having proper timing is actually important. (Who knew? Haha.) So I’ve been practicing guitar with a metronome a lot, and I’ve made great progress. I’ve also been working on my fingerpicking technique with my right hand with a focus on getting a better tone. I’ve changed my hand position, and grown my nails out a bit to get a nicer sound. These sorts of things make a huge difference! I’ve just been taking more care with my guitar playing, and spending more time in focused practice.

Of course, everything could be better. I’m just focused on my guitar playing lately. I suspect I’ll focus on my vocal skills in the near future as well. Something else I’m doing lately is paying close attention to songs that I love, and seeing what I can learn from them.


“Timing is everything”…That saying is very true in the music recording world.

One of the easiest ways to spot a novice is their poor timing. Since I began recording I’ve become very aware of timing because it’s so important for creating a tight, pro sounding track. Using a metronome is a great way of improving your timing. Recording your playing or singing is also a good way of analyzing your timing, pitch, dynamics, etc. Recording can make you a better musician. Conscientious practice and objective observation can take any musician a long way.


Most of my original stuff is slow to mid-tempo rock centered around acoustic guitar, although they all end up with a lot of electric guitar as well before all is said and done. Americana style stuff is one of my favorite genres (although as a listener I spend plenty of time with other genres).

There are different ways this is (or isn’t) true. For me, songs that are rigidly on a fixed time grid can sound robotic and lifeless. Many great songs drift in their tempo through the tune, as I’ve discovered by loading them as reference tracks in my DAW and scrutinizing closely. It’s an organic thing, pretty much impossible to quantify, and one of the hardest things to get right IMO in a one-person mode in the home studio.

Just wanted to draw that distinction between instruments feeling like they’re playing together, which is what I think @Wicked was probably getting at. I fully agree with that.


Tell me about it. I can’t even write a response to a post that doesn’t already have a response saying exactly what I would have said.

I think it basically comes down to the fact that trying to be too original kills music making for me. I hate the idea of making music that is too similar to something that’s already done. Does the world really need another song with palm muted distorted guitars? I don’t like the idea of making something unless I feel like I can make it better or at least different from what’s already been done.

Also, the idea writing an entire album worth of music in the same genre bores me to death. But then this makes me want to stick every stupid trick I can think of into a single song, then the song becomes a mess.

The really dumb part is that as I write this, it’s obvious that my thought process is wrong. I still get excited when a band comes out with a new album, even if all their songs are pretty much the same. When I’m listening to music, I don’t need to be presented with brand new ideas with every song, I just need something slightly different to entertain me for a couple minutes. So why I think my music needs to be more special than the music I like to listen to is beyond me.


Yeah, lots of 70’s songs and earlier have drifting tempos.

One very obvious example is Suffragette City by David Bowie. It starts off at a certain pace and then it starts speeding up somewhere around the time Bowie starts to sing. It actually picks up speed quite quickly and then levels off for most of the song, though the timing is never really perfectly consistent throughout. I think it speeds up a little at the end too if I recall correctly. It almost sounds like either the whole band was recorded live or the rhythm section was played live and when Bowie started singing they realized the tempo was too slow so they signaled each other to pick up the tempo.

Yes, that’s what I meant, but I still think it’s important to have good timing throughout a song. No human will ever have the timing precision of a machine. But musicians who regularly play without having fairly consistent timing stand out like a sore thumb and they sound really unprofessional, just like playing an out of tune instrument or being a pitchy singer.

There’s nothing wrong with the timing of a song drifting in either direction as long as the instruments all drift together. There’s always exceptions to the rule though.


Hahaha, everything you wrote is so true. I don’t even comment in most threads because even though I have opinions I just don’t think my opinion needs to be heard and it’s probably going to be redundant anyway.[quote=“bozmillar, post:15, topic:1268”]
The really dumb part is that as I write this, it’s obvious that my thought process is wrong. I still get excited when a band comes out with a new album, even if all there songs are pretty much the same. When I’m listening to music, I don’t need to be presented with brand new ideas with every song, I just need something slightly different to entertain me for a couple minutes. So why I think my music needs to be more special than the music I like to listen to is beyond me.

Sometimes I intentionally write something typical and crappy…I feel that getting the junk out of my system prepares me for writing the good stuff. When I say “good stuff”, I don’t necessarily mean “unique stuff”, but unique and good would be the best of both worlds.


I had already been marinating on starting a thread about “Influences”. I think these comments lead right into that, but it’s probably another topic so I started that thread here:

Just as when mixing we use “reference” tracks to get the sound and balance in the ballpark, the same can be done for vocal or instrumental performances, or songwriting, or production techniques. Perhaps this is a way to be “less sucky”? :dart:


Ha ha! I don’t have a song that sucks! There’s a good reason why… I have never written one! What generally happens is my chums Phil and Richard come up with a song, and I put together a bassline for them and sometimes suggest chord structures… Having said all, once I pull my finger out and qualify to have some songs bashed, you can all rip my feeble efforts to shreds…

So what inspires you people to write a song???


I’ve been writing songs for about 10 years. I wrote my first song because I was leaving my friends behind to go to college, and I felt so sad and conflicted about it. Songwriting has always been my way to help make sense of my feelings, and the many difficulties in life. I remember a bunch of times that I wrote a song and it was something that I needed to hear. It’s cathartic, explorative, that sort of thing.

Lately, as I’ve been attempting to build an audience for my music, I focus on writing songs that are based on video games or TV shows or whatever. It’s got to be something that genuinely inspires me in the first place, but then I try to create a piece that captures something expressed in the game/show I’m writing about. And I’m motivated because I know that people will listen to it when I’m done.