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What Are the Worst Lyrical Cliches All Songwriters Should Avoid?


Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the topic of writing the perfect love songs from earlier in the week brought up a songwriting horror that we’d all like to avoid… Lyrical cliches!

But cliches don’t just have the power to ruin love songs. They can ruin any song at any time from anywhere in the world, by becoming laughable and trite rather than genuine and honest.

So lyrical cliches will be this week’s Open Mic topic of discussion!

We have started a list below with some of the worst, most common offenders in music history, but we want to hear from you to help us grow this list even bigger – so that this can become the ultimate songwriter’s resource guide of lyrical cliches.

Any cliche that you feel is over-played, is dull, can ruin a song, or all of the above is welcome on our list. So please take a look at the list below and add your own ‘cliched lyrics’ ideas in the form of a comment.

1. Message to all my haters

2. Cold as ice

3. Love is blind

4. Lost without you

5. I saw her walking down the street

6. It’s now or never

7. Believe in love

8. Dreams can come true

9. Keep it real

10. I run this town

11. The party never ends (or ‘the party don’t stop’)

12. Cuts like a knife

13. Don’t know what to do

14. With or without you

15. I’m down on my knees

Which Lyrical Cliches Do You Think We Should All Avoid?

We would love for each and every one of you to contribute to this list below by adding your own best (or worst!) lyrical cliches that you think we should all avoid when writing songs.

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38 thoughts on “What Are the Worst Lyrical Cliches All Songwriters Should Avoid?

  1. “Follow me home” “Carry me home” “Carry you home” “Take me home”

    1. haha all good ones. Thanks for contributing!

    2. Why Am I have a song called Take Me Home, and I wouldn’t call it a cliche.

      1. @Watson That’s because you wrote it…

        1. Sorry, I worded that confusingly. The name of the band is Why Am I, I have nothing to do with them.

  2. Angel from above.

    1. Thanks Sandy, thats a good one too! 

  3. I can fly, spread your wings and fly, teach me to fly… pretty much anything to do with flying.


    1. Yes. Yes and Yes. I haven’t heard much of these lately but this was SO overplayed in the 90’s.

    2. It’s a very common theme in hip hop to say you or a girl you’re checking out is fly, or also a way of saying you’re stoned lol I agree no more flying although I am guilty of using it myself in my song “Please Don’t Wake Me Up” lol

  4. Rhyming “ocean” with “emotion.”

  5. sky and why and anything involving butterflies

  6. I read Aimee Mann’s images to avoid in an article somewhere, and thought they were worth clipping to Evernote. Here they are! (I agree completely, but these are all her words, not mine):

    • Weather and the elements. Rain, storms, clouds, snow. If one more person prays for rain, I’ll scream.
    • Geography. Mountains, rivers, valleys, streams, oceans. Usually someone is crossing or climbing one or more of these to get to his or her love.
    • Any reference to angels or hearts.
    • Traveling or rambling from town to town. Either in a train or car with your baby, or alone, searching for, or running away from your baby.
    • Use of the word ‘baby.’
    • Gambling. Rolling of the dice in any way, shape, or form. Ace of spades, queen of hearts, etc.
    • Weapons. Usually guns or knives.

    1. Haha Brian these are GREAT! ‘If one more person prays for rain, I’ll scream’. How true that is. I was actually going to put ‘oh, baby’ on my list but decided to pull it in favor of something else but oh man that is so overplayed at this point! Thanks for weighing in Brian!

    2. oh… I am SO with you on all of these!… especially the rain bit!

    3. Lol…I played apart of a worship team that sang the song…let it rain and literally…it rained for days…

  7. When any line in a song ends with the words “today” or “tonight.” It’s a copout when nothing else fits into the final syllable. “I need you…tonight.” “I want to hold you…tonight.” In this regard, I suppose using the word “now” also fits into this context. 

  8. Anytime a singer sings about finding something “inside of me”. It’s overused and sounds, well, like they’re saying something else (try saying it fast and you’ll see what I mean).

    1. Yeah again this is exactly what im talking about. A statement like ‘inside of me’ is often used as a blanket descriptor for emotion when really it just feels empty and cold.

  9. If you’re a fan of 80’s music, anything that has to do with “Rocking”, ie; “Rock all night”, “I wanna rock you”, “Rock me baby”. “Rocking is typically done “until the morning light”.

    1. Totally agreed – though I will give Queen and ‘We Will Rock You’ a pass any day of the week 😉

      1. We will Rock you is a classic one

  10. I get tired of “everything will change
    nothing stays the same”

    Change and same have been rhymed for to long now…

  11. Great list. The one I’m missing is “I love you”. 

    1. Thanks A.S. for reading and weighing in. Especially now after V-Day, I’d like to see that avoided a bit too haha.

  12. Reading over these, I can think of songs using these lyrics that I wouldn’t call cliche. Maybe the trick is to use it tastefully. 

    1. Jon I believe you’re right. Any of these COULD be used in a song if done tastefully but unfortunately many times they are used as ‘meaningful’ or ‘cleaver’ statements and just come off as trite.. But I certainly see your point as valid.

  13. My personal pet peeve is “all my friends say…”

    Um, no they don’t. Not even in the fantasy world of your lyrics. 🙂

  14. “Don’t know what to feel/what is real,” “Runaway/Break Away,” “Scars,” Anything about the sun like “Run to the sun” or “Behind the sun,” “So far away,” almost anything involving the word “Shine”

  15. Change/rearrange is a shocker that hopefully has died down, but I’ve heard it recently– AVOID, AVOID:)

    1.  Oh, and the classic songwriter’s excuse for dropping in a cliché:  “They say…” (i.e. that all the world’s a stage, everything must change, etc.  Insert your favorite!)

      Who are “they”, and where can we find them to tell them to stop saying?

  16. I hate the phrase,”Keeping it Real.” It is just an excuse to say what the f___ I want with no regard to the sensibilities to anyone forced to hear it.

  17. I agree with the party cliche another one I’m hearing way too much is anything with swag also how is Bling not on this list lol that one was pretty bad for awhile

  18. […] Study what not to do: What are the Worst Lyrical Cliches All Songwriters Should Avoid? […]

  19. Put your hands up.

  20. This may not sound too romantic, but how about something like, “Wave your hands like you just don’t care?” I’ve heard it all before. It has been used by the Backstreet Boys, Tweenies, you name it.

  21. you are everything I want/everything I need…. its been said too many times…. and also sounds horribly overbearing!

  22. “Wake up in the morning” and its derivatives.

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