use good grammar
Unless you have a good reason to deviate from the typical rules of grammar, you probably shouldn’t. There are some songs that come to mind with such bad grammar that it makes the lyrics hard to listen to.
One of those songs is “More Than Words” by Extreme. The song begins with the line “Saying ‘I love you’ are not the words I want to hear from you.” If you had written that sentence in a high school newspaper, your English teacher would still be slapping you to this day… and with good reason. Something like “‘I love you’ is not what I want to hear from you” would have made a lot more sense, from a grammatical standpoint, especially since it’s the first line of the song and it’s setting a standard for what’s to come.
What comes after that doesn’t get much better. Another line within that verse reads “More than words is all you have to do to make it real.” I’m not even sure how to fix that. But you can see how it becomes a difficult listen.
I don’t mean to beat the crap out of Extreme, because I love the song “More Than Words.” Better grammar would have been a nice touch here though, as there’s no reason for bad grammar other than just not knowing any better.
use bad grammar
Reading what I just wrote might make you think that it’s never okay to deviate from the rules of grammar when writing a song, but that’s not the case at all.
As a singer, you are essentially a character in your own story. Different characters speak in different ways. For example, in Amy Winehouse’s song “Rehab,” she sings the line “I don’t have time and if my daddy thinks I’m fine.” Obviously, using the word “ain’t” isn’t considered grammatically appropriate, but in the context of this song, it’s fine. It fits Amy Winehouse’s “character” in this song. She’s gritty and rough around the edges, so of course she would use the word “it’s not” when she doesn’t want to do something. It makes sense.
Something similar happens in the title line of Winehouse’s song “Me and Mr. Jones”. Of course, from a grammatical point of view, the line is incorrect. However, putting “me” first is a common mistake that Winehouse’s character would likely make. Also, if he had used correct grammar, the song would have been called “Mr. Jones and Me,” and Counting Crows already had a big hit with that line.
That’s not to say that Winehouse doesn’t have her share of grammatical issues in other lines of her songs, in the same way that we saw in the Extreme example. However, in the cases we’re talking about here, it doesn’t bother me, because that’s how his character would talk.
The same idea applies to lines like “I can’t get any satisfaction.” Sure, that line is a grammatical nightmare, but it’s okay because it fits Mick Jagger’s nervous character. We expect his character to speak that way. Likewise, I wouldn’t expect Eminem to use correct grammar in his songs.
For that reason, you shouldn’t be going through all your songs trying to rewrite any line you have that uses made-up words like “anger,” Prayed “want“because people DO say those things in North American English. That’s fine. Most of the time the lyrics are meant to sound conversational, like those “fake” words do. In many cases, it would actually sound weirder to hear “I” I’m going to” which would be hearing “I’m going to” because that morphed phrase has become so commonplace. say your ideas.
Also, knowing the difference between “your”, “you’re”, “there”, “they’re”, “their”, etc. would also be smart, but since we only listen to songs, this one doesn’t even come up for you when you write letters, unless someone is looking at your written words. In that case, it would be helpful to know when to use each of these, so you look like you know what you’re talking about.
As you can see, bad grammar can occasionally be fine to use when you’re writing songs (but don’t tell your English teacher I told you so!). If you find yourself twisting typical grammar rules just to make one of your rhymes work, you’re using bad grammar for the wrong reason. If you’re doing it because it’s the way your character would talk to someone, that’s probably fine.