Use similes to spice up your lyrics

The simile is a powerful tool for lyric writers. It is pronounced’s-i-lee’ and comes from the Latin word similes, meaning comparison or similarity.

A simile is an expression that compares two things or ideas that are similar in some way. It uses the words like or as to link them. As an example:

They are used in everyday conversation. Many, such as these examples, have become cliches, but they still serve a purpose. They are quick and effective ways to express ideas. Great songwriters do not use similes to describe everyday things.

It can transform boilerplate lyrics into moments of beauty or even a happy surprise. This creates an ‘I hadn’t even thought of that – “exciting simile” before’ feeling for the listener. It makes a wonderful ‘wow – I hadn’t thought of – ‘exciting new simile’ before!

Like a virgin touched for the first time, a newly formed simile helps us to connect dots we may not have considered before. Like a bridge across troubled waters, a new simile can convey emotion in incredibly beautiful ways.

The work here is the result of serious songwriters who have thought about how to express themselves uniquely. These songwriters are not just reciting the old phrases but also creating new ones that are as fresh as daisies!

What can you do?

You can present your simile in two ways: by using the word like or as. The ‘as similes’ are often doubled, i.e., as something and as something.

The rhythm of your writing and the words you choose will determine whether you use “like” or “as-if.”

It’s now time to compare your ideas or images. You are looking for similarities between two pictures or an idea and an image that the listener will be able to recognize quickly.

You’ll lose your opportunity if the two parts of your metaphor are not instantly identifiable by the audience. We’re not just reading the lyrics, but we are hearing them for the first.

Taylor Swift is a master at using this simile in blank space.

‘You look like my next mistake.’

Unexpected but completely understandable

One of the things I heard on a TV drama made me laugh loudly –

You crept up behind me like a Prius

It is a very modern usage, but it is also highly accurate. It’s fresh.

A second example that I heard was a simile in the form of plus alliteration to make the phrase flow off the tongue.

The room was equipped with a bed that was as large as Belgium

It’s funny and big, so it stuck in my mind. It’s important to consider how vividly you can make your images so that your listeners will remember your simile.

Outkast’s Hey You! was a Billboard #1 hit, thanks to the use of similes.

‘Shake It, Like a Polaroid Picture!’

The more emotional you can make your image when you compare an idea with a simile, then the better. James Joyce gave us a great example. He compares an idea, morality, with… well, you’ll find out!

She dealt with moral issues as a meat cleaver does.

People can make connections between seemingly unrelated items. This is why similes are effective. The trick is that the more surprising and visual the comparison, the more memorable and compelling it will be. This is because our emotional response to the comparison is stronger.

In some cases, the simile is used to create the lyric by highlighting the reason for the direct comparison. This makes it more insightful.

Back To You is a song by Selena Gomez that begins with a simile comparing the feeling of going back to her boy to a stiff beverage. But then the verse continues the simile further, explaining what she means by using words associated with strong liquor – shot/chase/cold/water down.

It took you like an arrow.

Thought I could chase after you on a cold night

Let me water down my feelings about you for a few years.’

The same word can have a completely different meaning in English, depending on the context. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s My Shot uses a simile to compare the young founding fathers of America (Hamilton) to American colonies that wanted to be their own country. Explain what he is saying.

Bob Dylan’s song Like A Rolling Stone is one of the many reasons he won the Nobel Prize for literature. He not only uses this evocative metaphor in the title but also builds a second one right before it and rhymes as he goes. The more abstract simile, like an unknown person, is placed before the concrete one. The last line is more powerful because of this.

If you want to write great lyrics, then you need to be willing to take risks and create something different from what has already been done. Here’s one way. You can do this by brainstorming the characteristics of your idea or image and comparing them to something unexpected, especially something strong in terms of imagery. Rolling stone?

Nirvana threw a wrench in the works by using a smell. They cleverly compare, in their song Smells like Teen Spirit, the scent of a popular deodorant, Teen Spirit, with the frustration and energy of teenagers.

This title simile was an effective way to grab our attention and engage with our emotions. Well done. You can write anything you want with a little imagination and time.

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