Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes

If you find yourself looking for new song ideas and inspiration, here’s a tip that works! Watch television. I know it might sound crazy but many TV scenes are built around common emotional situations the audience can relate to. That’s just what you want for your song.

CHOOSE A TV SHOW
Just about any drama series will provide you with plenty of good scenes. Look for emotional interaction between two characters. Watch the scene and note the dialogue – you might even write down a few lines to get your song started.

Comedy series are not as easy to use as drama but they will work. If you choose a sitcom, check out the last 5 to 10 minutes of the show when any conflicts or problems are wrapped up and there’s often a heartfelt moment between characters.

Soaps operas, yes, good old-fashioned afternoon soaps, are a good source if you can manage to watch. (There aren’t many left.) They’re slow moving and nothing much happens but that’s because everyone is busy emoting all over the place. There’s enough emotional confrontation, regret, tearful forgiveness, and joyful reunions  to fill a couple hundred songs!

Action series are fun to watch but chase scenes and shootouts won’t give you much to work with. Like comedy series, the emotion is usually in the last  few scenes.

News shows: News shows are filled with emotionally intense drama that just happens to be real. Talk shows and interviews can also be a source. There’s a great story behind the song “I Drive Your Truck.” One of the writers saw an interview on a news show and was inspired to write the song.

A FEW SONG IDEAS FROM TV
Use my article How to Write a Song in 10 Steps to complete any of the following ideas.

SHOW: Classic Perry Mason TV series
Theme: Be Strong
Concept: You have the strength to meet the challenge. Those who love you will help.
Dialogue:

  • “I know things look tough.”
  • “You’re carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
  •  “Let me help you.”


SHOW: CSI: Miami
Theme: Lost love.
Concept: Love can be taken away too soon.
Dialogue:

  • “I spent my whole life looking for someone like you.”
  • “I lost you before we had a chance to be together.”

(Tip: If needed, change the dialogue to “I” and “you” rather than “him” or “her.” It makes the song’s emotion more immediate and personal.)

SHOW: Bones
Theme: Falling in love
Concept: I want to tell you I love you but I can’t.
Dialogue:

  • “I’m trying to tell you how I feel but it isn’t coming out right.”
  • “I didn’t mean it to sound that way.”
  • “I can’t get the words to work sometimes.”

SHOW: Eyewitness News
Theme: Life lessons
Concept: Learning who you are from adversity
Dialogue:

  • “You never think it can happen to you but it can.”
  • “I was just living my life and suddenly everything changed.”
  • “The things I thought were important just aren’t anymore”
  • “The people you love are the only things that matter.”

For chord progressions you can use, check out my Song Starter page.
Written by Robin Frederick

by Robin Frederick

Robin's books at Amazon.comThis post is based on my songwriting books: Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting, Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV, Study the Hits, and The 30-Minute Songwriter. Find out more about all of my print and eBooks on my Author page at Amazon. In each book you’ll find dozens of useful, real-world shortcuts that will show you how to craft songs that work for today’s music market, plus dozens of hands-on exercises to get your creative ideas flowing.

Reprints of this article by permission.

Author: Robin Frederick

Robin Frederick is the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV. She has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records and Executive Producer of 60 albums. Visit Robin's websites for more songwriting tips and inspiration: www.RobinFrederick.com and www.MySongCoach.com.

1 thought on “Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes”

  1. Someone just asked if it was OK to use names and descriptions from the TV scene. Just to clarify: It’s better to avoid using identifiers like names or specific physical descriptions. Focus on the emotional situation; these are pretty universal. Couples falling in love, breaking up, facing problems. Someone alone dealing with a challenge or difficult decision. Base the lyric on the feelings in the scene. If there’s dialogue, you should be able to use a couple of lines since these are pretty common. Try using them as a starting point. Make changes, add your own lines, build it up with your own ideas. It’s mainly the emotions you’re looking at. Check out some of the lyric writing posts here for more on writing about emotions.

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