My best tips for writing good lyrics

I’ve written lyrics for hundreds of songs, not necessarily always good lyrics. These are my best tips to write quality lyrics for your band that will provide the counterpart your music deserves. Hopefully, this will help you on their way, or maybe convince you to hire me to write lyrics for your music? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the blog post and my content as a whole.

About me –, music and more

Stefan Nordström - metal musician and content creator
  • Stefan Nordström
  • Musician, songwriter, content creator, digital freelancer
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Bands: Desolator, Soliloquium, Ending Quest, Ashes of Life, Trees of Daymare, The Ashen Tree
  • Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

What constitutes good lyrics?

But what does “good lyrics” actually mean? Obviously, it’s a very subjective thing. Some criterias for good lyrics, according to me, are:

  • Proper language (grammatically correct, proofread, etc.)
  • Expressive/personal
  • Original/unique
  • Fits the music
  • Keep it simple (less is more)
  • Create hooks

Some bands that I think have exceptionally good lyrics are:

  • Antimatter
  • Depeche Mode
  • Immolation
  • Katatonia
  • Nevermore

Generally, writing good lyrics is about writing a lot and developing through trial and error, because a lot of them will suck – even if you have talent and experience. You need to be picky, adjust and perfect. This is why many creative people are a bit obsessive and crazy; there’s always that search for that one last detail that makes a song or another craft perfect. And don’t forget to think of the lyrics as a form communication. You want the listener to fully understand the story you’re telling, right?

5 ways to find something to write good lyrics about

1. Pull from your own experiences and views

For my band Soliloquium, pulling from my own experiences and views on humanity and society has been the way to go. This gives a personal touch to the music, and it can provide extra meaning and message. For me, it’s also a therapeutic way to deal with things, and conceptualize my thoughts, feelings and views on the world.

If you have a way to do this that feels right and fits your music, I’d say it’s usually the best way to go!

2. Get inspired by stories, myths or literature

Many bands are inspired by culture, such as literature or history. The upside to this solution is usually that there’s a lot to draw inspiration from. It’s also easy to connect with listeners who are interested in the topic(s). The downside is that it can be unoriginal and impersonal. A special tip in this area to give your band a local flavor is to find something relevant to your country or region to write about. It can really give your music a cool and original twist!

3. Explore new topics and knowledge

Writing lyrics can also be a way of exploring topics and learning new things. As a professional copywriter, I’ve picked up many interesting things while researching, and this equally applies to lyrics. Pick something and go with it – it might be your gateway to good lyrics. And if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ve learned something new.

4. Go into the role of someone else

Some lyric writers find inspirational by entering the role of someone else, maybe even crafting elaborate imaginary situations. Deftones frontman Chino Moreno is an example of someone who does this very well. But it’s a challenge, and you really need to find the right angle to make it work. However, when it works it can be highly original and truly amazing!

5. Hire someone to write lyrics for you

Some bands, e.g. long-running Finnish metal band Amorphis, hire talented writers to craft lyrics for them. If you don’t have a natural writer in your band, this might be the way to go to get good lyrics. There are experts on niches and topics out there. If you feel this solution is for you – find them and hire them!

The right lyric themes can be become your brand

In the metal and rock world where I come from, there are a lot of tired lyric clichés. Bands with good lyrics and original themes stand out – if you’re serious about your music, you should be serious about your lyrics.

For many bands, the lyrics become the leading theme and way to build the band’s brand. It can be anything from the full-scale viking onslaught of Amon Amarth to the dark ethereal poetry of Katatonia. When the lyrical themes are fitting and high quality, they can serve as the base to build your band and develop the music.

Twist it up with native-language lyrics

Solstafir’s gorgeous video for “Fjara” – a song I can never get enough of.

Another interesting way to do this is to write lyrics in your native language. Bands like Hamferð, Alcest, Solstafir and Kaunis Kuolematon do this very successfully, even though many people don’t understand the lyrics. It can also be a way for those with lacking English skills to write good lyrics.

Should you write lyrics or music first?

A question that always pops up is if it’s best to write the lyrics or the music first. Personally, I tend to go music first, unless I found some really good hook or one liner to base a song on. If you also play an instrument, I recommend outlining the lyric melodies on it. It really helps crafting memorable melodies that you can later fill with your words.

For me, the relationship between exciting melodies and my lyrics has always been an Achilles hell, and I’m doing my best to improve it. Lyrics need to both stand alone as poetry and push the music to the next level, e.g. by providing memorable melodies and hooks.

Do you need help with good lyrics?

Are you looking for good lyrics to fit your music? I might be open to help out. If you’re interested, get in touch with me on Instagram and we can discuss it!

Other blog posts about lyrics:

My thoughts on death metal lyrics ->

My thoughts on doom metal lyrics ->


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