As composer and music producer in this lovely almost-wasteland of a music industry we have in Malaysia, I would like to openly beg and grovel to my fellow composers and producers to STOP WRITING BALLADS. Should a singer want a ballad, kindly suggest for her to cover a previously recorded ballad instead of doing a new one. The reason is simple, there are still great ballads written in 1997 (which sounds like ballads written in 1985), that people have not heard. Better yet, if the singer has previous albums, just reuse the older ballads. Chances are, the listener won't know the difference.
Why do this? It's a very simple case of demand and supply. There are just too many ballads in the Malaysian music diet. There has been a ballad surplus since 1982. And with each new ballad written, some child in Africa dies! So don't do it.
However, if the label or singer insists on a new ballad, make sure the new song and production follow these simple rules:
1. No strings (especially real/live strings...which is really just two guys overdubbing.)
2. No modulation or key change after the bridge where the singer holds the note for 48 seconds to show how amazing he/she is.
3. The key of the song actually suits the singer and is not three keys higher in order to create that "dramatic effect." You call it "effect". I call it a poke in the ear with a sharp stick.
4. There are no synthesiser bells especially bell sounds from Roland synths.
5. Intro is less than 15 seconds and the song should not exceed four minutes.
6. And finally, no timpani or belltree/chimes.
Stop the senseless deaths of African children. Be a man. Do the right thing.