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July 8, 2019

When It's Over - NSAI feedback

When It's Over is, to me, a novelty song. It came from mucking about with a guitar and trying to be catchy and groovy. That said, it is, according to some people, one of the catchiest darn things ever so I thought I'd get it critiqued as a commercial song.

I actually had a very early draft of this critiqued by Bill Pere (wonderful guy, btw) at the Independent Musicians Conference in Philadelphia in 2007. Bill suggested that I needed to add emotional depth and clarity, which I thought I had done. Here's the version I submitted:

I put it in the "Americana/Folk" category and asked for an assessment as a commercial song. Here's what the assessor had to say:


Song Title - When It's Over

Evaluators Comments -
EVALUATORS OPENING: Hello, it's Evaluator #XXXXX - thank you very much for
using NSAI's online evaluation service. I know you're excited to get down
to the song evaluation and, as we go through it, please remember that my
suggestions are purely my opinion. I will be focusing on the areas that need
attention and give you the absolute best advice and critique that I possibly
can. Also, it is important to remember that this evaluation service is
designed to be a process of your songwriting as a whole - these suggestions
will be for things to think about in ALL of your writing. I will be giving
thoughts and ideas that will make this particular song stronger but it still
might not get to a level ideal for publishers and the commercial market...and
that's completely okay. Remember, it's a process of overall writing and
not just a single song. So here we go - let's get started!

FORM/STRUCTURE: Nice folk structure, good job.

TITLE/HOOK: Cool title, but the hook left me wanting more.

LYRIC: I like that this lyric is different and unique. But it wasn't super
clear to me in the chorus. There's a Steely Dan song called "Do It Again"
that manages to convey what I think you want to say but works off a clear
message and matching melodic emotion to drive the point home. This is close,
but a bit too vague for me to grab on to what you are feeling.

MELODY/METER (IF APPLICABLE): Melody is a nice Americana melody, but I think
missing some of the emotion and space that would make this hook really work.

OVERALL THEME/IDEA: A great start but feels a rewrite or two away from being
as powerful as it could be.


OK, well .. I'm not sure what "The hook left me wanting more means. I guess it means that the songs has unfulfilled potential, right? So "a rewrite or two away from being as powerflu as it could be" is encouraging.

By now I'm getting used to reading that my lyrics are not clear enough. I'm also not sure what "melodic emotion" and "space" means, exactly. I will have to do some research and figure out how to write that. I love that kind of research but I'm very time-poor at the moment. Still, this is, I think, the most encouraging response so far.

Perhaps the lack of calrity comes from the way I wrote it. Unusually for me, this one didn't start with a clear concept or point. It started from a catchy groove and had words added later. The earlier critique I had at ISC made me add a little focus ... but obviously not enough yet.

In summary: Some encouragement but this critique sounds familiar. I will check out that Steely Dan song and do some research and re-write, then re-submit. I shall have a good, deep think about exactly what I am trying to say with this one. THANK YOU NSAI!

What do you think? How would you feel about this feedback and what would you do about it?

Posted by Hughie at July 8, 2019 8:01 PM

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