Your foolproof guide to writing a song for the season finale of a drama
If you watch as much televised drama (read: soap operas) as me, chances are you’re going to start noticing patterns.
Like, the smaller the town, the more chance it has of being hit with an avalanche of natural disasters. The more cast members, the higher percentage of there being foster kids in the mix. The minute a couple has a baby, they are doomed to be written out, because nobody wants to work with a baby, nor watch one grow up on TV. If two new characters are introduced at the same time, they will break up two existing romantic relationships.
The season finales of such shows are always heightened affairs: things blow up, people leave, get married, break up, or die, and you better believe there will be a cliffhanger that will ensure you tune in months later, when you have completely forgotten what happened in the final episode.
For this heightened drama to work, you need a suitably dramatic song. There are a few elements that this song must contain, in order to hit the necessary emotional buttons. In you. You are a machine being programmed; a puppet with strings to pull. You’re an emotion machine, and a highly-predictable one at that. Sorry.
Anyway, here is what you need to do to write one of these songs.
Take the drumbeat from Clocks by Coldplay. You know the one: that galloping, loping thing that every third song uses nowadays.
Take any of The Edge’s lead guitar parts from any U2 song.
Write lyrics about any of the following things: death, missing someone, first love, everlasting love, instantaneous hit-like-a-bullet love, having had your entire world opened up after finding said love, losing said love, shining, dreaming, mountains, leaving, returning, being forever young. Keep these lyrics non-specific, in order to nail the universality needed. Do not use an actual person’s name. In fact, avoid genders.
Make sure the chorus lifts, either in drama, tempo, instrumentation, or — ideally — all three.
Optional: key change, a bass octave slide, vocoder vocals.
Spoiler alert: DON’T watch this video if you haven’t seen all of The OC
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.