Suitcase Full of Stars

  • Feb 4, 2024
Meteor Shower at the Motel

This was a tough one! But I like it. I don’t want easy ones.
Every cascading melody I tried writing ended up sounding like some part in a Christmas movie.
I wrote a quick tune about a drug deal going wrong at a seedy motel called the “Pick-Me-Up”. The characters are all paranoid about each other being cops and distracted bc of the meteor shower happening out the window.
I’ve been listening to a lot of South African house music lately so I wanted to make a track like that but my vocal melodies end up sounding like Owl City no matter how hard I try.
I listened to the first version of this during a loooong cold walk to my car at night to try and come up with a ditty for the vocals. I think this definitely helped bc I came up with the middle “in this part of down stars are comin’ down” part right after that.
The end sample is fro PARANOIA AGENT. This was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this assignment involved a cascading melody. I haven’t watched that show in a few years so I listened back to the theme song and it’s kinda there? Not as prevalent as I remember it being.

I wish I had put aside more time to mix and make a proper structure and whatnot. Something weird going on with my F sounds in the vocals. IDK if it was a flex timing thing in Logic or what. I’m writing here to remind myself to investigate. I am also writing here that I’m not gonna do another EDM style song for one of these assignments. EDM tracks are fun to make but I want to expand. I am gonna go hog wild next time.


Show me yours and I’ll show you mine at the Pick-Me-Up
I froze… I’d been searched before
In this part of town, stars are comin’ down
It feels a little different
5 and 0…
You don’t know what you’ll find
When you look to the sky

Looking for feedback on

Is anyone else's brain incapable of writing in anything other than a MAJOR, happy sounding key? I wanna start writing in a minor key but everything minor I write feels boring. Is there a way to overcome this?


EliasSZ February 14, 2024 11:21am

This slaps. I really love the happy sounding key, even despite it being about a drug deal gone wrong. Feels very cinematic to me.

In terms of your question, I dunno. I feel like I get stuck on pockets of progression sounds that I like, whether they’re major or minor, and I always have trouble getting out of them lol. Sometimes you like what you like, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Ryan February 7, 2024 3:24pm

lol the comment about cascading melodies sounding like Christmas is spot-on. I wanted to start my process by writing a cascade, but ran into the same problem you’re describing. Decided to focus on the song instead and write one later. I feel lucky that strategy worked. Curious whether you wrote yours first or in response to what you’d already laid down?

Fact is, this is effective. I feel like I’m dancing with my hands up. But I am sitting down and typing.

Re: your question about writing in a major key, I like @@nick‘s suggestions about purposely writing a not-sad (not “happy” but “not-sad”) tune with minor chords and some pep and see where that gets you. But also, most songs are in a major key so ~literally who cares~. You’ve written plenty of songs in a major key that don’t sound happy.

Ben February 7, 2024 10:01am

this might sound oddly specific, but it does show up in lots of movies, books, tv etc: I love the idea of a scene where shit is going down, or people are fighting, or storylines are climaxing, and then, suddenly, a natural (or sometimes supernatural) celestial phenomenon begins, and both sides become too distracted but the occurrence in the skies, and they can’t help but look up, some of them drop their weapons, some of them weep, some are just too in awe to continue fighting. It’s not exactly what’s going on in your song, but it reminded me of this trope and i loved it.

peter February 6, 2024 7:03pm

this is the paranoid dealers party i want to be invited to…

TylerK February 6, 2024 8:01pm

I’ll bring the money if you bring the stuff.

nick February 5, 2024 12:40pm

love the scene you’re setting. definitely thought it was sexual before reading your description, which was probably on purpose and worked like a charm. what’s the “5 and 0..” line all about? and lol about the cascading line feeling like christmas. the whole snow thing is right there, so understandable.

really interesting comment in your feedback box. i think it’s such a common downfall when you’re trying to write something “sad” that you over-steep every single element in sadness. as an experiment, i would fool around with a minor chord progression, and actively do the opposite of your inclinations. maybe it’s fast. maybe its not about a sad topic. maybe there are trumpet stabs. regardless, just shake off the standard feeling of going to write a minor song by doing (nearly) everything happily. i dont know what will happen, but duh.

Ben February 5, 2024 1:16pm

I’d be so interested in compiling lists of songs that are sad-coded but make use of non-sad tropes (like major chords, horns,) and happy-coded songs that make use of sad tropes.

TylerK February 6, 2024 8:00pm

Any sex undertones in my songs are 100% intentional, good catch haha.

“5 and 0” has two meanings to me. One being the less obvious one that exists in my head – one of the characters has had 5 successful drug deals and hasn’t ran into any trouble yet. So his record is 5 and 0. The other is a reference to Hawaii Five-0 to put out the idea that someone here is a cop.

And good call about the minor activity. Maybe that’s it, I’m going into minor songwriting expecting it to be sad and boring if it’s minor. Maybe I switch to an instrument i’m not familiar with and just let what comes out come out and not try to make it immediately pleasing to my ear. I keep serving desert first, I need to build up some appetizers.