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Hit Songbreak down: Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

May 8, 2008

In this week’s Hit Song Breakdown we tackle Leona Lewis’ massive world wide smash Bleeding love. Oh joy.

I understand that this is a big hit, and that tons’o’people loose there shit when this song is on the radio, but I am not one of those people. Right now there is a ton of shiite on the radio (like always), and when something with a memorable tune and interesting lyrics comes along obviously its going to go places.

Now, there are a few things that helped make Bleeding Love a smash that are non music related.

  1. She won the X Factor. A British TV show kinda like America Has Talent+American Idol. Which pushed her into the instant superstar status.
  2. She is a cross over artist in the truest sense. She’s Pop, R&B, Soul. She’s European, Guyanese, Americanesque, She’s everything.
  3. Shes an attractive young female. . . . . . . . oh come on, of course it helps!

This song is a victory for Major Labels. A big hit song with tons of publicity and radio play. I don’t know if Mr. Payola is involved, but on our local station, Bleeding Love is played, what feels like, twice an hour. If Santogolds L.E.S Artistes was played as often as Bleeding Love it would be a smash hit as well.

Bleeding Love was written by Ryan Tedder (One Republic) and Jesse McCartney

The first line is great for mainstream radio. Not too weird but not too bland.

Closed off from love /I didn’t need the pain /Once or twice was enough /And it was all in vain /Time starts to pass /Before you know it you’re frozen

The first verse sets the stage for the song. its a relationship gone bad story. Its been done, but its always universal.

But something happened /For the very first time with you /My heart melts into the ground /Found something true /And everyone’s looking round /Thinking I’m going crazy

Second half expands on the first. they continue with the Frozen/Melts imagery. Consistency is always appreciated to listeners ears, even if they don’t realize it.

Then they hit the pre-chorus. The melody modulates and they sonically prep you for the chorus.

But I don’t care what they say /I’m in love with you /They try to pull me away /But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein /That I keep on closing /You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open

and so it goes. Of course its a hit, it repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats, and repeats some more. People eat this up with a wooden spoon.

It’s a little long, but then again when you’ve listened to the same song 30 some times they all get kinda long.

I attended a songwriters workshop recently, with Gavin Brown (Three days Grace, Billy Talent) and Jason Blume (Gypsy Kings, Britney Spears). During our time together we spoke about Bleeding Love. Jason Blume co-wrote with Jesse McCartney and Ryan Tedder. He spoke with Jesse recently about this song. He learned it was originally penned for Britney Spears. But looking at the success the song had achieved they could not see another voice singing the words. Which brings us to another very important point. Leona Lewis has a voice. she can really belt them out but ultimately its the words and melody that are paramount.

There is a lot more going on in this song then meets the ear (echos, background vocals, clever instrumentation). But what you find in many of these types of hit songs is that there is an underlying simplicity to them. The song stays in I, III, IV, format and the lyrics are classic with a twist which is what people (mainstream) want to hear. They want to be intrigued but not stumped. They want a melody that harks back to some thing that they have heard before but put in a new way.

So with that said I’ll leave you with Hey Jude by a Korean Kid. It Kicks Leona’s Ass.

Take Control of Your Music,


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