Unfortunately, I only came across this programme after the first 15 minutes. But it must be said: “Secrets of the Pop Song” is an absolutely amazing songwriting series on the BBC. As the title implies, the idea is to get behind the process of writing pop songs, ie songs that have huge appeal.
The first one (Saturday July 2) was devoted to the Power Ballad with fantastic interviews from producers, lyricist and composers, each throwing in their own two cents. Lyricist Don Black focused on accessibility, Diane Warren underlined the need to say something universal in a new way. Her example was the title “Unbreak my Heart”. Boy George told he tried to block the release of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, as he felt it was “too personal”. It’s interesting to note the importance given to the lyrics overall.
A very significant part of the show was also given over to Guy Chambers and Rufus Wainwright’s attempts to write their own power balled. Chambers is the man behind Robbie Williams solo hits (“Angel” is discussed) and worked with Diana Ross, Sir Tom Jones and others. From the early fumblings (Wainwright had an idea to combine a folk song with rap), the song slowly came together melodically and lyrically. It was also nice to see how it changed harmonically and picked up more depth when instruments and backing vocals were added.If you are coming to this article later, the title is “World War Three” – and sounds like a fantastic song at this earlyish stage.
For those that saw it, what did you think of the use of “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus…” as the actual chorus? I thought it was a classic case of a filler line being left in when it needed more work. Ugh.
The Secrets of the Pop Song, BBC Two, Saturday July 2, 9:45pm – The Ballad
Sat 9th July 9.45pm – Episode 2 – Breakthrough Single
Sat 16th July 9.45pm (tbc) – Episode 3 – Anthem
Find out more about the programme on the BBC Two website. You might be able to watch the series online using the BBC iPlayer.