US songwriter judges offer insight into judging May/June lyrics contest winners

In response to feedback from the US songwriting community, the contest’s esteemed judges were asked to share some thoughts on their winner picks. Read below to find out how the judges selected the winners of the May/June lyrics contest.

1st place: “It’s not a bad path” by Rachel Gore with Thom Jutz
John DeNicola: A beautiful cadence and rhyme and also sounds very singable and simple
Judy Stake: I loved your story and your hook. You used rhyme beautifully without sacrificing content and your message was understandable and intelligent.
Scotty McCreery: I love the flow of this song. The worms just came out of the tongue. A great lesson too. Between the song’s message and how well this song sings, that’s what puts it at the top of my list.

Read the lyrics HERE.

2nd place: “Blue roses” by Granny Foreman
Linda Perry: With the lyrics, we can get lost trying to be poetic, trying to sound brilliant, trying to be masterful with our words and I like “Blue Roses” because it seems like that person is coming to write these words which were faithful to him. It’s simple but makes a statement and feels relatable.

Read the lyrics HERE.

3rd place: “The Watchman of Spokaneby Clayton Ryan

Marcus Hummon: I particularly liked ‘The Watchman of Spokane’ for its catchy narrative… the lost art of ‘history song’. I could almost hear Gordon Lightfoot sing it!
William Fitzsimmons: I chose “The Watchman of Spokane” as my number one because it told a story full of immediate and compelling imagery with a huge amount of emotional weight, even though it was about experiences I didn’t had never literally lived. The character naming, clever (but not cute) rhymes, and storytelling pacing were wonderful. Like a Jimmy Webb song, I didn’t need to have experienced what the characters must have felt like I was there and felt whatever was going on. Simply lovely.

Read the lyrics HERE.

4th place: “Small” by Pat Watters
Judy Stake: Besides liking the post, I like your teaser line, time progression, and the AABA form you use.
William Fitzsimmons: I chose “Little” as number two for its effectiveness and efficiency in language. The repetition of the word small and its use in two different senses tickles the brain and makes one listen more closely to what is being communicated (namely, appreciating our children for how little time they are young). It doesn’t need a large amount of words to convey its message. Short, sweet and strong.

Read the lyrics HERE.

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Honorable Mention: “The War on Rewindby Liam Hale
Marcus Hummon: Looking at this collection of lyrics, “War On Rewind” stood out as extremely original and striking in its imagery. It is a beautiful work of poetry on its own, as well as a lyrical framework for a worthy melody.

HM: “Wild Blueby James Maltese
John DeNicola: It gives insight and creates images in our mind with poetry. It would be an easy word to marry with a melody.

HM: “Harlan County Mathematicsby Hal O’Dell, Greg Wilson
Martin Sexton: We cannot address issues without being aware of them. We need songs like this to shine the light of day and let the healing begin.

HM: “All, no cattleby Haley Brown, Jack Hackett
Martin Sexton: Very cleverly written and made me laugh as we all know someone like that. It reminds us of the old adage “don’t take wooden nickels”.
Scotty McCreery: This one made me laugh. To like. You don’t have to wonder how this songwriter feels, which is a good thing. Could see Toby Keith sing this one.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The July/August 2022 Lyric Contest is on. To celebrate, tickets are 40% off until Saturday (use promo code NEWCONTEST)

HM: “To Helena and backby Lauren Smith, Jason Davis
Scotty McCreery: This one really struck a chord. Great storytelling. Many people who have been through divorce will relate to this one, and even those who haven’t will understand how well written it was. Large flow. I could sing this while I read it.

HM: “I will rememberby Jacob Rice, Mark Elliott
Scotty McCreery: I WILL REMEMBER… As someone who had a loved one who went through Alzheimer’s, it hits home. Even when they don’t remember, always being there for them is huge for them and for you. Great song.

HM: “Christmas away from home”by Jim Chalker
Scotty McCreery: CHRISTMAS AWAY FROM HOME… I love it because it tells a story that so many of our military men and women experience every year. Gives you an appreciation for the sacrifices they make for us. Also, other than what the song says, it flows well and I could tell it was a great Christmas classic

HM: “Wedding ring” by Mallory Johnson, Ryan Sorestad
Linda Perry: I love how the writer uses the same words for different meanings. Clever. It’s thoughtful, but it doesn’t sound too poetic.

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