Cliches You Need to Stop Using Now
By Robin Yukiko
It happens to the best of us. We’re writing the next great song, and Oops! A cliche slips out. One of these things happens next:
A) We don’t notice it.
B) We think, “Well, it sounds good, so I’ll keep it.”
C) We notice it, then forget to change it/get used to it the way it is.
D) Actually fix it.
Most of us are probably guilty of A through C. But it’s never too late!
Now, you may be asking, “How do I know if something is cliche?”
Have you heard it done before?
Could someone who has never heard it guess the next line?
Did you use something solely for the purpose of rhyming?
Especially with the last one, you are in a dubious position. Using filler for the sake of a rhyme puts you in danger of using a cliche as well as not making sense. Always reread your lyrics to check for silliness, predictability, and awkwardness.
Still not sure if you are treading the same old lyrical paths? Here are some examples that never need to be put to music again:
Calls to “wave your hands in the air…like you just dont care.” (Thank you, Lorde, for pointing that one out.)
Rhyming “love” with “thinking of”. Obviously, if you love someone, you are thinking about them.
Requests to “be my baby” and not to “say maybe”. In real life, “maybe” is a great response!
Referring to “blue sky”. But if you do, please don’t rhyme it with “why”
“Waiting”, immediately followed by “anticipating”. It was clever 50 years ago, but no longer.
Calling anything or anyone “cold as ice”. We get it, but there are about twenty other ways to say cold. And I don’t mean in Inuit.
Any call to “be mine”. People are not possessions.
Rhyming “fire” with “desire”. It was cliche BEFORE the Backstreet Boys did it. Now it can never, ever be used again. Ever.
So, if you find yourself writing these lines, don’t feel married to your lyrics. Feel free to change one or two words to spice it up. Ask yourself what you are trying to convey by using those words. Often, your explanation will yield better lyrics than your first try.
Now, off with ye! Go write something clever!
Robin Yukiko is a Berklee College of Music grad, singer-songwriter, pianist, and music educator. She recently released her second album, Love War, and is enjoying nerdly pursuits. For a free song, join Robin’s mailing list at http://www.robinyukiko.com/contact.