New York Magazine

HOW TO: Write a Perfect Pop Song

Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff has crafted hits for Taylor Swift, Lorde, and himself. There is no formula. But he does have a few tips.

As told to David Marchese

“When I was first presented with the idea for this story—where I would explain how to write a perfect pop song—I told my manager, ‘It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t make any sense. There’s no one way to do it.’ But as I was describing why I couldn’t do it, I was also asking myself questions, and those questions made me come around. The big question is this: What is a pop song? The easiest way I can describe what makes a pop song a pop song is that it’s a song you want to hear over and over. Some people will instantly think, Well, that means it’s simple and stupid. The truth is that it’s the opposite. What song have you played 10,00000 times? It’s probably not something basic. It’s probably a song that validates your experience on Earth. For me, a perfect pop song is something like ‘This Year,’ by the Mountain Goats. That’s a song that talks about alcoholism, domestic abuse—experiences I’ve never had—and ties it all together

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