A phrase becomes cliché when it is overused to the point where it loses all beauty and meaning. It’s lazy songwriting and lazy communication overall.

But, you don’t need to be afraid of using clichés, you just shouldn’t use them to express whatever concept has become tired and boring. Most of these phrases are still inherently ambiguous, it’s just sometimes people need to be reminded of that fact.

There are many ways to do this – juxtaposition, dysphemism/euphemism, malapropism, irony, or my personal favourite; switching the order of the words in the phrase to create new, often contradictory meaning, (I don’t know which ‘ism’ that would be).

If you’re truly talented, you can use lyrics to set a tired phrase free from it’s cliché status. You do this by examining the multiple, alternative meanings in each verse. At this point you can either tie the concept together in the chorus or save the resolution for a climactic outro.

I’m not particularity good at this, but Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes is! Watch as he takes on the cliché “a little bit of everything,” setting it free from the shackles of banality.


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