Introduction to the Visual Arts

Writing a (romantic) Pop Song

Love Story, Taylor Swift

I know.

You were beginning to worry that in all your time here at Long Beach State no one was ever going to ask you to summon your inner Taylor Swift and write a romantic pop song.

Don’t worry.

Your time is here.

Ain’t about how fast I get there

Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side

It’s the climb

Hannah Montana

To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we talked about Art Idea #3You Can Find Art Anywhere, we noted that pop singers like Hannah Montana seemed to have a real kinship with romantic poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson. I argued that lots of inspiratioal pop songs and rock power balads sound like romantic poets just with more vernacular vocabularies.

In the end only kindness matters


You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Writing Lyrics, Billie Eilish

You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients-list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ‘em up and reconnect them. You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this. You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.

David Bowie

Romanticism Activity

For our Romanticism Activity, let’s write a pop song! Unless you’re a musician, you only have to write the lyrics, you don’t have to do the music too. If you are a musician, you can optionally do the music too.

Your Song

Your song can be about anything you like. But try to indulge in some romantic thinking. By "romantic" I’m not necessarily talking about "romance", although it could be that, but I’m really referring to the cultural perspective of "romanticism". In class we discussed realism and romanticism.

Writing Your Song

There’s tons of info online about writing pop songs!

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play

And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

I shake it off, I shake it off

Taylor Swift

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,— that is genius.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your Blog Post

  • Post Your Lyrics!


  1. What were you trying to think about in your song?
  2. What was your process for writing your song?
  3. Was it easy? Hard? What you expected? Surprising?
  4. How successful do you think your song is?
  5. Do you think you will ever write another song?
  6. If you did write another song, what do you think it might be about?

EC Options

  1. Write Music to go with your song. Present it as musical notation on your website. Up to +30,000 EC
  2. Write Music to go with your song. Present your lyrics and music as an audio performance on your website. Upload to SoundCloud or CCMixter and "embed" in your blog post. Up to +60,000 EC.
  3. Write music to go with your song. Team up with classmates to make a music video of your song. Upload to YouTube or Vimeo and "embed" in your blog post. Up to +90,000 EC.
Devil Can’t Write No Love Song, Garth Brooks & Will Ferrell

I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain