Melody and lyrics songwriting is how songwriting is supposed to be, if you ask me.
With the melody-and-lyrics method, one person writes the lyrics (preferably the artist) and then maybe the artist collaborates with a partner or two on the best melody.
None of this assembly room stuff.
But it’s hard to know why I have this aspirational format I’m clinging to – or why I am being nostalgic about it.
I mean, talk about specialization though…
In country music, the melody-and-lyrics method is still the standard method of writing songs. (Nashville is in some respects the Brill Building’s spiritual home.) But in mainstream pop and R& B songwriting, track-and-hook has taken over, for several reasons. For one thing, track-and-hook is more conducive to factory-style song production. Producers can create batches of tracks all at one time, and then e-mail the MP3s around to different topliners. It is common practice for a producer to send the same track to multiple topliners—in extreme cases, as many as fifty—and choose the best melody from among the submissions. Track-and-hook also allows for specialization, which makes songwriting more of an assembly-line process. Different parts of the song can be farmed out to different specialists—verse writers, hook smiths, bridge makers, lyricists—which is another precedent established by Cheiron. It’s more like writing a TV show than writing a song. A single melody is often the work of multiple writers, who add on bits as the song develops.
-John Seabrook, The Song Machine