How Hunter Hayes’s Album Tells A Story In 14 Songs

Country music is characterized by its storytelling lyrics. Artist Hunter Hayes is no exception. His 2014 album Storyline puts a unique spin on this concept: the album tells an entire story in fourteen songs.

The story that Hunter tells is one of young love, lost love, and redeeming love. Each song focuses in on one particular scene of the story. Follow along with the storyline to learn how you, too, can make your album into a story.

1. Wild Card

Like the first chapter of any well-written novel, this first song introduces the two main characters. The first verse describes the love interest as a wild, mysterious, even somewhat insecure young woman who sets the narrator’s heart on fire.

It’s funny when you tell me you don’t think you’re all that interesting
I beg to differ, with you I’m out here on the edge of my seat
And every minute guessing, holding my breath you’re fueling that fire

A storytelling album must begin with a strong introduction to pull listeners in.

2. Storyline

This song introduces the story’s conflict. Everyone around the couple discounts their love because of their youth. However, he is determined to write their story for himself. By introducing the conflict early, Hunter proves the merit of his story as more than a simple “and they lived happily ever after.”

It’s ours to write, it’s our love and it’s our life
And right or wrong, we’ll write our own storyline

Introduce the conflict early in your story so that listeners know why it’s a story that they should want to hear.

3. Still Fallin

This song develops the characters further. Even after everything they’ve been through, he is still falling in love with her.

And every day with you is still a mystery
With the sweetest story’s falling from your lips

Whether your characters are real people or solely from your imagination, you need to develop them so that listeners feel as if they know the people you are singing about.

4. Tattoo

The story reaches its climax right here. He is so in love with the girl that it’s changing who he is. However, there is no mention of her reciprocating his desire to make a lasting promise of their love.

Your name, your name sounds so good next to mine
And I think, I think I’m gonna put it in all my rhymes, yeah
‘Cause with you, I’m gonna do quite a few things that I never thought I would do

The climax is the height of action in your story.

5. Invisible

In this song, the narrator is finally realizing that the woman he loves so dearly doesn’t see him the same way. In fact, she doesn’t see him at all. This is where the action of the story begins to fall.

There’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now
Someday you’ll look back on all these days
And all this pain is gonna be invisible

Music invokes emotions. Your story should play to this strength.

6. …interlude

Like the intermission of a play, this instrumental track takes a break from the storytelling. However, the somber melody sets the tone for the next chapter.

Keeping the tone of your story consistent with the instrumentation you use from track to track.

7. You Think You Know Somebody

After being left by the girl he thought he loved, the narrator questions everything he previously thought about her. This change makes both of them dynamic characters.

If you love me like you said you did well you’d still be standing here

Dynamic characters are what makes a story real. If the characters don’t grow and change, then your listeners will quickly grow bored with the album.

8. Flashlight

The narrator realizes his shortcomings and seeks hope in this inspirational track. These lyrics progress the story from remorse to redemption.

If nobody cares, tell me how is it I keep getting saved this way

Don’t be afraid to flip your story on its head. Do the unexpected. Be inspiring.

9. When Did You Stop Loving Me

This is the song where the narrator finally confronts the woman who broke his heart. Rather than sympathy or forgiveness, he only seeks the answer to the question of why she left him.

Tell me when did you start drifting away
And have you loved me less
With every single day

Write at least one song in which your protagonist processes his emotions. This will increase listeners’ empathy, drawing them further into your story.

10. …like I was saying (jam)

This instrumental track is an introspective continuation of the previous song. Here, the narrator faces the self-doubt that the breakup left him with and reaches the point from which he can finally move on.

Emphasize the theme of your story across multiple tracks.

11. Secret Love

In a plot twist, the narrator falls in love with someone new. However, to protect himself from the pain of his previous relationship, he keeps this one confidential. Notice how the instrumentation changes in this track compared to the rest of the album.

With our hearts on the line, we give in and we get away

Once again, do the unexpected to keep your listeners’ interest. Twist the story around to bring about a better ending.

12. Nothing Like Starting Over

This song is where the story finally reaches its point of resolution. Suddenly hit with the realization that he has moved on, the narrator is excited to start his life over again.

Hit me last night like a ton of bricks,
if this is really it, this is starting over

Don’t tell listeners that your character has come out of the story changed. Rather, show it through a song in which he or she begins to think in a different way.

13. If It’s Just Me

The narrator lets go of the woman who broke his heart once and for all in this track. He takes the blame for what went wrong in their relationship and releases the hopes he had for them.

I’ll take the blame, take the shame, walk away, no questions asked
Leave the best of me with you and you can leave me in your past

Be sure to resolve your story. Because this is not a novel in a series, a cliffhanger ending may not be the wisest choice.

14. Love Too Much

The final track of the album is lesson learned for the narrator. Though he blamed himself for the loss of his relationship, he learns that he was not at fault for being too in love with her. As a result, he vows to share his caring heart with the people who need it most.

Cause everybody’s got a story, a past, or a song of glory
Just take a look around
Somebody needs you now
You’re somebody’s hero somehow

Use the last track on your album to reiterate the lesson that your characters learned. This is what listeners should take away from the story of your album.

Hunter Hayes’s Storyline follows the outline of a well-written novel. By structuring your album similarly, you, too, can use your music to tell a story.

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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.

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