Monday, June 27, 2005

Lyric Sheeyet!

(The following does not contain anything sexual at all. You have been forewarned. Hehehe.)

In my seven-plus years in advertising, I’ve never really written lyrics for a jingle. I’ve always felt that writing lyrics isn’t my forte. I don’t even attempt to write poems. If ever I wax poetic, it’s usually an effusive flurry of similes, rarely metaphors. I’m really an essay guy.

Last week our boss asked us copywriters for volunteers to write lyrics for a corporate campaign. We were all given the creative brief. The directions were fairly simple, although there were two particular “musts” needed to be incorporated that, at first glance, I found it difficult to reconcile the two. It’s like being asked to incorporate the concept of euthanasia into a lullaby. (That sentence, by the way, used a simile.)

Because I was struggling in my mind to reconcile the two concepts, I decided to volunteer to write. I thought, “The only way I can find a way to reconcile the two is if I force myself.” I volunteered not because I was challenged; I volunteered because I was stumped.

We were briefed on a Thursday evening; we were given until 6pm on Friday to submit the lyrics—sans identification, so that our creative director can choose without the bias of knowing the author (some of our writers here are known for their poetic copy). I started writing around two in the afternoon; within an hour I had one verse and two refrains down, plus the ending coda. I only needed one more verse. By six in the evening I submitted my lyrics on time.

Monday afternoon, our CD met with us to announce her choice. There were three who submitted last Friday, plus one more early Monday morning. She began her announcement by saying that she liked the idea that the authors were unidentified because she judged them purely by the content, although she couldn’t help guessing who wrote which. Then she said of the four, she chose one because the lyrics immediately spoke to her and, more importantly, the author was able to link the two ideas successfully. What’s more, it was crafted in such a way that structurally the ideas echoed from beginning to end.

Then she asked who the author was. When I raised my hand, she looked at me in surprise. “My gosh! You did this? I thought it was __________ (name of our officemate whom we all go to if we wanted lyrics to a song). I’m so proud of you.”

My other officemate said, partly in awe, “My god, Joel! I remember you said you were volunteering because you knew song-writing wasn’t your forte!”

Our CD: “I’m so happy for you! And I thought you didn’t know how to write lyrics.”

Me: “Ano ka ba? I thought I didn’t have it in me!”

What’s the moral of my story? I don’t want to moralize because I’m not a moral person. Seriously, I went into it simply because I wanted to make sense of the whole thing, not because I knew I could do a bang-up job of writing lyrics. In fact, I was more interested in the crafting of the jingle—keep the lyrics simple, repeat words and ideas as often as possible (“Acebedo Optical, Acebedo Optical!” “Boomerang, Boomerang, Boomerang! Booming in action, booming in style, booming all the way!”), make it structurally repetitive, and make sure to link the opening with the closing. The pressure of writing great lyrics wasn’t weighing heavily in my mind; instead, the pressure was for me to make sense of the “musts” in the requirements. I guess when the pressure’s off, I do better. In addition, I was driven to make sense of it all; making sense was personally important and relevant to me.

These insights may help me in the future, especially when I’m trying to solve personal problems that have been bugging me lately. The key is to “fool” myself and take the pressure off me. But how—that I still have to figure out.


Blogger La Bona said...

A very well written blog. Keep it up ...

Hi there

Apologies for posting an off topic question here.

I am inviting your views on ABORTION in order to present a case to help those in the developing world.

I personally see abortion as a NECESSARY EVIL and that unwanted pregnancy is not only a personal problem and it is also a very real problem for the society at large.

Do you think it is right to burden say a 15 years old school-going girl with a new life when she is yet to have any economic mean to sustain herself and obviously, most girls of her age are not mentally ready for a family life. Furthermore, is it fair to rob her of her career, aspiration, dream etc., in the name of preserving a life that is yet to be fully developed?

If you have an opinion, please email it to me at or if you wish, you may post your comment here: Your Opinion Counts!

La Bona

Related topics at DivneTalk ( -
- Do pharmacists have the rights to refuse contraceptive prescriptions?
- When does human personhood begin?
- Are people born gay?

12:39 AM  
Blogger J. said...

Ang tanong, may cash prize ba iyan??? At nang matikman naman. Hehehe.

8:58 AM  

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