How to Write an Award-Winning Song (or Die Trying)

By June 25, 2019News

I am a proud owner of a BS in Advertising from the University of Florida, which makes me an expert at BS.  I can write a song about anything.  Try me.  I’ve improvised songs about love bugs, mall Santas, and hanging chads*, while onstage with my nerd-famous acappella group, Vox Audio.  If there’s an internal rhyme, I will find that sucker and relish in it.  I’ve rhymed “try to fight us,” with “gingivitis” for a corporate meeting of dentists.  I’ve done a re-lyric of Sam Smith’s tearful “Stay With Me” for satellite TV provider, DTV, espousing the joys of watching all the NFL games with DTV’s Sunday Ticket (see, I’m sensitive AND I love football).  So, when it came time to write a song for Sky Ridge Medical Center to “remind hospital staff to wash their hands”, I felt up to the challenge.

“Make it catchy,” they said.

“Think Uptown Funk,” they said.

“No problem,” I said.

“Me and Layne – who didn’t record this particular track, but is amazing and lets me use his emotional support wiener dog when I sing.”

www.raynesroom.com

Knowing full well Bruno Mars had copped the bass line for his multi-platinum smash from an old ditty called “Ladies Night” from Kool and the Gang, I knew I had to steal a funky bass line myself.  Remember kids, good artists imitate, great artists steal. The funky bass line I had my ear on was one of my favs, “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran.  The bass player for Duran Duran, John Taylor, is widely regarded by dudes as one of the best bassists of all time, and widely regarded by my wife’s friends from the Dr. Phillips High School Class of 1988 as “super-hot,” so I figured that was a decent start.

Since I don’t own a bass, I sang the bass groove and had my studio buddy, Dan “the riff” Reynolds ( 3625productions.com ) make my voice sound like Peter Frampton’s on “Do You Feel Like I Do”.  (Am I dating myself enough with these references?)  So, the bass is just my voice with some funky studio effects, but when you mix it with real drum samples, you can hardly tell. This is why I love the studio. It’s a magical place where you can create anything, and I always sing on key.

Now that I copped a groove, I had to come up with a hook. A hook, for those of you that don’t know, is a line in a song that sticks in your brain, hence Vanilla Ice’s memorable, “check out my hook while the DJ revolves it.” The whole point was to get people to remember to wash their hands, so I went with that.  The word “gotta” is awesomely percussive, so I jammed on that six times per phrase.

Now here’s where my research came in handy.  Apparently, when the hospital staff washes their hands, they aren’t always scrubbing with water and soap.  Sometimes they use an anti-bacterial foam.  This is often referred to as “foaming in”when you enter a patient’s room then “foaming out” when you leave.  Well, that’s a chorus if I’ve ever heard one! Plus, it gave me a chance to use “FOMO” – which is slang for “Fear of Missing Out”, one of my daughter’s favorite expressions.

I have to mention the bridge, because that was me mimicking my favorite song to sing in my cover band, “Play that Funky Music (White Boy).  While not politically correct, Wild Cherry’s funk anthem is still a hit with all ages (if the drunken crowd of salespeople at the ballroom I played last Saturday night is any indication). It also gave me my home run line: “my hand sanitation is exceeding expectation.”  Exceeding expectation is in Sky Ridge Medical Center’s mission statement, so I got bonus points for that one.

Finally, the icing on the cake of this tune, my wife Shalisa, recording studio goddess, came in to add amazing harmonies and riff her face off on the hook.

“The wiener dog never judges my singing.”

So how do you write a song about anything?  Use what you know.  Learn what you don’t know. Steal from the best.  Have a great studio guy and a badass wife.  It’s just that easy.

I’m so proud of this little tune and everyone who helped make the video. We just found out it won the TELLY AWARD for Branded Content out of over 15,000 submissions. I hope when you hear it, the hook gets stuck in your head, you wanna shake your groove thang and you never forget to wash your hands again…ever.

-JJ

Catch the award-winning video here: “Foam In” video

*Yes, that’s a reference to the 2000 election and goes to show you how long I’ve been doing this.