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Lessons from Light Switch, 6 Steps of Production

"You turn me on like a light switch..." This song pays tribute to classic sounds from the 80s and hooks you with it's dramatic chorus.

Charlie Puth
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D# min
Charlie Puth

Key Takeaways

🔄 Arrangement

  • The song uses the standard 4 and 8 bar sections throughout, except for the final chorus where he adds 1 extra measure (adding up to 17). This looks strange on paper, but it sounds really wonderful in real life because he stretches out the end of a phrase which gives the illusion that the song is slowing down even though the tempo stays the same, and then he adds a retro drum fill. Learn the rules so you can break them creatively!

🎹 Chords

  • The chord progression is one of the most beautiful parts of this song. Charlie uses lush chords like a 1m7(11) to add extra tension and vibrance to the sound. The progression is fairly simple overall: The backbone of the song is 1m7(11) - 3M(2) - b7M(4) - 4m7.

🎶 Melody

  • The melody and lyrics of this song are simple, repetitive, and catchy. One of my favorite elements of the melody is how he starts to sing the chorus on an anacruses (the measure before the actual start of the chorus) by singing "you turn me..." during the fourth note of the preceding measure.
  • Additionally, he adds a ton of tension to the song by spacing out the words at the end of the chorus "you know how to just make... me... want... you... baby." This pulls me in and adds a lot of rhythmic tension to the words as the song builds up.
  • Lastly, I think he's a master at layering vocals and adding energy to the song through backing vocals. Pay attention to how he uses layers and harmonies in the backing vocals to bring extra energy to the song both horizontally (left to right development of song) and vertically (depth/quality of sound).

🔊 Sound Design

  • So many good things. This song feels like a tribute to the 80s with lush synth chord stabs (I think the chords he's playing and the specific sounds both matter to make up this final vibe he's created), plucky guitar with a clean tone, diamond chords held out on the electric guitar with that vibrant tremolo sound, and the Phil Collins style drum fill in the last chorus.
  • As you can see in the TikTok below, Charlie also used his voice to create a weird "wow wow" sound (haha it's weird to try to type out the sound, I know). I'm not 100% sure how he achieved this sound but I would get it's a combination of a vocoder and an eq that's opening up (like a wah pedal for guitar). I love it. Use your voice as an instrument and see how you can turn it into something unrecognizable as yourself!

🎛 Mixing

  • He uses silence throughout the song in several places. Sometimes it's better to remove sounds and add them in later. Less is more.
  • This is an excellent pop mix. Everything has a place, the spacing feels wide, and each sound has it's own place in that space.
  • Vocals and Reverb: He uses automation on the reverb/delay of his vocals so each section of the song has just the right amount of ambience. The verses start out with completely dry lead vocals, the pre-chorus has a bit more reverb to open things up, then he cuts it at the end of that section since he's dropping out other instruments too, then the chorus brings some reverb back stronger. Use your ambient effects to help tell the overall story and don't rely on just your voice to create ambience.
  • White noise and ambience: You can use other things like white noise, crash sounds, and other ambient sounds in the background to add energy and space behind the headphones rather than blowing up your lead vocals reverb.
  • Perception: This song mixes in little percussive elements very quietly which helps make everything else feel much bigger than it really is. Balance your tracks to create a sense of scale and distance between your sounds.
  • 💡 Light Switch: The main concept of the song uses a recording of a light switch to bring the lyrics to life. Take inspiration from your surroundings and use mixing to enhance those sounds to make them larger than life.

One last thing: Check out this TikTok to see a bit behind the scenes of Charlie making the song (track by track).


I’m freaking out wtf just happened….. 💡

♬ original sound - Charlie Puth

If this song gets 100,000 pre saves I’ll finish it and drop it. Link in bio 💡

♬ original sound - Charlie Puth
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