How I wrote ‘She’s So Lovely’ by Scouting For Girls’ Roy Stride
The pop-rock band’s frontman explains how their debut hit took two years of tweaking and “dicking around on the piano”
Over the course of the last 10 years, British pop band Scouting For Girls have sold over two million records, with four singles and four albums reaching the UK Top 10, and have racked up four Brit Award nominations and an Ivor Novello nomination. Hailing from West London, Roy Stride, Greg Churchouse and Pete Ellard have been friends since the age of five. Principle songwriter Roy has also had cuts for acts such as One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, Union J and Seafret.
The popularity of the band’s catchy debut single, She’s So Lovely, saw it peak at No 7 on the UK Singles Chart and stay in the Top 10 for six consecutive weeks. The song also went on to be used in numerous commercials and television series, including America’s Ugly Betty and the BBC’s Gavin & Stacey.
Here Roy tells the story of the irresistible pop song that launched his and his band’s careers…
“I had a little bedroom studio in Harrow and I worked for Carphone Warehouse. That would’ve been around 2005, and then we were gigging as Scouting For Girls, trying to get a deal, for two years.
“The [sings] ‘she’s so lov-e-ly, she’s so lov-e-ly…’, is the magic bit, which just came when I was dicking around on the piano. It was all about melody, to begin with. I’ve always been a massive fan of Brian Wilson, who’s all about melody and harmony. Also, I’m not a great musician so all the chords are pretty simple – there aren’t any minor fourths in there!
“Then the lyric just took shape. With a lot of songs, I like to spend a whole day just working on the lyric. I’ll write verse, after verse, after verse… Sometimes it’s utter shit, but you don’t worry about it, because you’re just writing. You do as much as you can and then suddenly you go back and realise it’s actually really good, or sometimes that’ll trigger something else.
“I use everything: MasterWriter, RhymeZone, Urban Dictionary, a thesaurus, anything that’ll give me an edge. But sometimes I’ll just start in my head. The fun bit is doing the melody and the production, and all that, but the hard bit is the lyric. There’s never a right answer and it could always be better – it’s about where you draw the line and you’ve got no more.
“We tried various different versions. The first one didn’t have the middle section, so we added that, and the song used to be about five minutes long when we played it live. Because we were playing it live for about a year before, we got it down to the perfect three minutes that held the crowd’s attention.
“The lyric was much sweeter then, it was like, ‘I love the freckles on her nose/I love the way she wears those clothes.’ My manager said, ‘I think the lyrics are too sweet. You should make them a bit sassier; a bit more edgy.’ So then it became, ‘thirty’, ‘flirty’ and ‘that girl looks really dirty,’ and he loved that. It grew and grew like that.
“We recorded a demo and I remember being in Ikea, after we’d been signed, and hearing it playing in there as I was walking around! I’m like, ‘This isn’t the right version!’ I don’t know how it happened, but we’d had our own little record label and we were literally giving the CD away to everyone. Actually, I remember hearing it on Radio 2, really early on, and I nearly crashed the car! It was the first version and we’d just been signed.
“Recently, I looked on Spotify and for about three days it was still in the top 200 most streamed songs in the country. That’s insane! You could listen to anything by The Beatles or Led Zep and, for some reason, people want to listen to She’s So Lovely!”