CJ Solar Talks Songwriting: ‘It’s a Fine Line Between Dumb and Genius’
Singer-songwriter CJ Solar's knack for simple, intuitive songwriting paid off in a big way with 2017's "Up Down," a No. 1 hit he co-wrote that was recorded by Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line. That song is just one example of the payoff potential of not overthinking it in the writing room, Solar explained at the 2019 ASCAP Country Music Awards.
"It's not [easy to write a song that simple]!" he told The Boot with a laugh. "You know, I can't remember [who it was], but one of those legendary songwriting guys said once, 'It's easy to write a song that's simple and stupid, but not one that's stupid simple.'
"It's a fine line between dumb and genius," he adds.
That being said, Solar explains that he's excited to see the country genre trending back toward thoughtful, intricate lyricism. "I mean, I love all kinds of stuff being in the genre. I think there's room for anybody," he goes on to say. "I think people are, especially in the last year or two, leaning back toward that heavier quality of lyrical content, which has been really nice."
This trend has manifested in different ways: There have been a resurgence of traditional-leaning, staunchly country artists, such as Luke Combs and Jon Pardi. Simultaneously, acts including Dan + Shay, Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett have brought pop songwriters from Los Angeles into their writing rooms, borrowing from the influences of writers who didn't come up in the Nashville songwriting community.
While that may lend some pop elements to country songs, Solar points out that it also incorporates a country-driven storytelling style into pop hooks. "I think that's the impact country music has on other genres," he explains.
"I feel like when I write with pop stars, they're like, 'We want the great lyrics that you guys do,'" Solar says. "So it's cool that the genre is known for really being -- even though the joke is that we're all hillbillies -- still being the Shakespeares of music."