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Parents and Pop Songs: 3 Striking Similarities

25 Jul


The Washington Post recently reported on a study that simple lyrics and repetition are the two key ingredients to a wildly successful pop song. In Meghan Trainor’s hit “All About That Bass.” She repeats “that bass” 44 times in three minutes and eight seconds.

Us marketers have known for years that repetition and simplicity works. Us parents know that it takes the same strategy to get through to our kids.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said “Pick up your clothes!” to my kids 44 times in 3:08 before they responded.

Complex instructions like “Pick up your clothes and then empty the dishwasher.” do not work.

Striking Similarity #1: Keep your message simple. Repeat at least 44 times in 3 minutes.

A lot of successful pop songs lately feature a guest artist.

If you can complete the lyrics “Uptown funk you up. Uptown….” then you’re familiar with the smash hit by Marc Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

It catches our ears when we hear someone else’s voice, even if they’re saying the same thing. Hmmmm. Parents, sound familiar? I’m sure we’ve all told our kids to study, study, study, STUDY! with no avail. It isn’t until the words come out of the mouth of a coach, You Tube star or complete stranger that they realize we’re not insane.

Striking Similarity #2: Cut through the clutter by changing the messenger.

Striking Similarity #3: A big hook always helps.

“Don’t tell my heart, my achy-breaky heart. I just don’t think it’d understand.”

– Billy Ray Cyrus

“If you get all As and Bs on your report card we’ll take you to Disneyland.”

– Most every parent everywhere

The bigger the hook, the fewer times you need to repeat it or change the messenger.

In an earlier study, The Washington Post also reported that sex is a common topic of hit pop songs.

And so ends the similarities.


Creative discovery begins with Scrambled Eggs

25 Dec


The song that MTV and Rolling Stone magazine deemed the number 1 pop song of all time was originally titled “Scrambled Eggs.”

It was months after Sir Paul McCartney wrote the melody, that he replaced the working title “Scrambled Eggs” for the name of the song we all know so well. After landing on the name, McCartney said, the lyrics fell quickly into place.

The creative path rarely follows a straight line. Whether you’re writing a song, creating a new work flow system or designing an advertisement, sometimes you need to start with “Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs.” before you get to “Yesterday/All my troubles seemed so far away.”