Lyric Writing Basics-

  1. Learn the song. Follow along with the Japanese lyrics, and make sure you can at least sing the song in Japanese in your head. This point is usually the longest, as some songs are easily forgettable, while others are either so good or so annoying that you're singing along the first time through.
  2. Before deciding to dub the song, check out the direct English translation. I like going to, because they offer the romaji lyrics and the English translation side-by-side.
  3. Now it's time to actually sit down and write. The first thing to do is get a copy of the Japanese and English lyrics side by side in a Word or Notepad file (the printable versions at are perfect for use in Notepad). Listen to the song, while following the English translation as directly as possible. Try to listen to the song non-stop, getting a feel for what the overall message of the song is, what each verse is about, and maybe an idea for a few possible hooks.

    (Musical Argot: Hook- The most notable parts of the song that everybody associates with when they think about the song, and the part that everybody seems to be able to sing along to. Usually the first line of the chorus.)
  4. It's not necessary to write the first part of the song first. Sometimes it's better to start out with the chorus, and do the verses later. Whatever is done first, consider the following in order:

    1) Meter
    2) Rhyme Scheme
    3) Translation
    4) Lyrics

    Meter: Meter is the way the verse flows. English speech has a sort of rhythm to it where certain syllables are stressed, can have a higher pitch, and are sometimes held longer. Other syllables are unstressed.
    There are four typical of feet that a meter can be made of (O is stressed, x is unstressed)-
    Iambic- xO xO xO xO xO (Shakespeare is big with this one)
    Trochaic- Ox Ox Ox Ox Ox
    Dadylic- Oxx Oxx Oxx
    Anapestic- xxO xxO xxO

    It takes a good ear to be able to pick these out while listening to songs, but they are there. Try reading lyrics out loud and try picking them up.

    Anyway, there's two ways to handle meter in a song. You can go through each line and determine what notes are supposed to be stressed. However, if you have an ear for music or poetry, it's not difficult to write lyrics and just keep the meter in mind.

    Rhyme Scheme: The is the one that gets people. As much as you all hate to admit it, American music is centered around the rhyme. Rap artists don't get the big stash because of a snazzy violin solo (although meter is a big part in what makes a rap good as well).

    A good song doesn't have to be completely filled with rhymes at every corner, but I'm hard pressed to find any song which doesn't use any at all. To develop a rhyme scheme, listen carefully to the Japanese lyrics. Is there a spot in the music where you just think it would make sense to have a rhyme? Stick one in there! Is there a rhyme? Definitely stick one in there! It's not usually the case to see rhyming in Japanese, but it's not as uncommon as you may think. If you see it, use it. Otherwise, you're on your own to develop it yourself.

    The only real suggestions to make are to stay consistent between verses and don't overdo it. If you get one rhyme scheme for the first verse, you're stuck with it for the second verse. Not overdoing it is easy- since overdoing it gives you more work for less quality. And don't be afraid to mix it up a bit. Use some of the patterns on the lyrics online (or your favorite English songs) for a guide on how mixing the rhymes can help out.

    Translation: What good is an anime song in English if it doesn't have the same message? The key with the translation is to not worry so much about individual lines, but concentrating on preserving the entire general message of the song. The individual lines should be used merely as guidelines to writing the lyrics. They can be kept as intact as the melody, meter and rhyme scheme allow, or they can be scrapped for your own metaphors or descriptions. That's why it's so important to understand what the song is about beforehand.

    Lyrics: Taking the three above factors into consideration, there has to some ideas going in regard to lyrics. Remember that although the song and message is already in place, you are writing poetry. Each line has a certain number of beats, and each line should have a certain power to it. Be creative! Be flexible! Be willing to try anything! And for God's sake have a thesaurus on hand! A rhyming dictionary, available at any corner bookstore, helps too.
  5. After you've ripped your hair out completely and have a stunning piece of derivative poetry, proofreading it is important. Wait... scratch that. I don't mean proof reading. I mean proofsinging. As in out-loud. If there's anything awkward, try to fix it. The ideal result is a song that you won't be ashamed of singing. Whether in the car, shower, or karaoke machine, if you have something that you can sing easily, you have beaten the system!
  6. Submit the song to me so I can put it on the website so the world to sing along to it as well!