The Muse's Muse  
Muses MailMuses Newsmuse chatsongwriting resource home
Regular Columnists

I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It - A Lot!!!
By Khaliq Glover - 12/01/2008 - 03:49 PM EST

Songwriters, musicians, producers, I am going to take you on a time capsule journey to the past. I am going to point out some of the techniques that the great songwriters of the past used craft songs. These techniques are still being used today by brand-new songwriters more than 70 years later.

I recently did a telephone seminar about the craft of songwriting, specifically dealing with lyrics. We examined lyrics from great songwriters of the past such as Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and compared them to present day songwriters. What's interesting is, many of the same things that were done back in the day are still being done right now to craft hit songs.

If you are a true songwriter, you know the value of studying the great masters of the past. True songwriter's don't make the mistake of thinking that these are just "old songs". They know that the craftsmanship that goes into writing a song and lyrics takes a lot of work and clever use of vocabulary.

So, here's the scoop. I used a Cole Porter song to demonstrate techniques such as imagery, alliteration, assonance, dissonance, action verbs, and more. We also examined songs by Bill Withers, the Bee Gees, and Motown classics. All of these songs had similarities and use many of the same techniques, no matter what decade they were written in.

For those of you who are too young to know who Cole Porter is, he was a famous songwriter, who had hit songs on Broadway in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, many of them became eternal classics.

He has a song called "Let's Do It" whose lyrics go...

"When the little Bluebird, who has never said a word starts to sing spring When the little Bluebell at the bottom of the dell starts to ring ding dong ding dong. When the little blue clerk in the middle of his work starts to sing a tune to the moon up above. It is nature that is all, simply telling us to fall in love.

And that's why birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas to, let's do it, let's fall in love.
Cold Cape Cod Clams, 'gainst their wish, do it even lazy jellyfish do it Let's do it, let's fall in love."

Now, I want to point out how this song uses imagery, alliteration, internal rhymes, repetition, and many other songwriter tools all in the first verse and chorus.

Check out the imagery and alliteration in the first line, where he says little Bluebird and Bluebell at the bottom of the dell. And sings spring, ding dong, and "Cold Cape Cod Clams".

Check out the imagery of the chorus when he says. Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it, let's do it, let's fall in love. But, then check out how he uses repetition with the words "Do It" inserted between the alliteration and rhymes. He also uses internal rhyme's on bees and fleas.

I love watching old movies about the great songwriters of the past. If you get a chance, watch the movie called "Night and Day", which is a fictionalized account of Cole Porter's life. Other movies that I love are "Rhasody in Blue" about George Gershwin and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" about George M. Cohan.

These old movies do not reflect reality, but they are very entertaining and inspiring. I just love watching American Movie Classics. True songwriter's can turn the old into new by being observant and creative.

But now, here's where it gets interesting. Let's take a look at the new Katy Perry hit song, "I Kissed a Girl" and you'll be surprised to see some of the very same techniques used in her song just like in Cole Porter's songs.

First, she starts the song with imagery, just like Cole Porter did. The first verse starts out...

"This was never the way I planned. Not my intention. I got so brave, drink in hand lost my discretion. It's not what, I'm used to just wanna try you on. I'm curious for you. Caught my attention.

I kissed a girl and I liked it the taste of her cherry Chapstick I kissed a girl just to try it. I hope my boyfriend don't mind it. It felt so wrong. It felt so right. Don't mean I'm in love tonight. I kissed a girl and I liked it I liked it"

You can just picture the scene in your mind's eye. The lyrics make you see a young girl hanging out at a party with her drink in her hand, a little bit tipsy. You can also imagine lots of girls there, dancing with each other. The Guys never want to dance anyway. The girls are getting a little frisky.

Suddenly a girl catches her eye. She said that it's not what she's used to, but she's getting a little brave (and curious) after a few drinks. We all probably know a little about that college age and the wild partys. It's no secret that girls who are normally shy, just might end up dancing on the table's when they get a little drunk.

Then we get to the chorus...

"I kissed a girl and I liked it". Notice how they put tension in there, like it's a surprise that she liked it. Then notice how they used alliteration on the line "taste of her cherry Chapstick". Now, I wasn't there, but I'll bet that line was CRAFTED to say "cherry Chapstick" instead of lipstick to get alliteration. Remember Cole Porter's sing spring, ding dong, and cold Cape Cod clams?

Then they inject some more tension by saying "I hope my boyfriend don't mind it" - because maybe he will, maybe he won't. They're playing with all kind of emotions and fantasies here.

And next, they have some contrasting opposition with "It felt so wrong, it felt so right". Good girl gone bad. Finally, she ended with "I kissed a girl and I liked it", like it's a surprise. Then, she says, finally admitting to herself, "I liked it" - like it's a revelation.

As you can see, great songwriting techniques haven't changed that much at all. If you want to take your songwriting to the next level, studying the great masters of the past will give you a huge edge over your competition.

If you would like to check out the full audio teleseminar, go to

[ Current Articles | Archives ]

Help For Newcomers
Help for Newcomers
Helpful Resources
Helpful Resources
Regular Columnists
Music Reviews
Services Offered
About the  Muse's Muse
About Muse's Muse
Subscribe to The Muse's News, free monthly newsletter for songwriters
with exclusive articles, copyright & publishing advice, music, website & book reviews, contest & market information, a chance to win prizes & more!

Join today!

Created & Maintained
by Jodi Krangle


1995 - 2016, The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource. All rights reserved.

Read The Muse's Muse Privacy Statement