One of the biggest breakout UK artists of this year is undoubtedly Sam Smith. You can’t go anywhere without hearing his name, or covers of his songs, and he’s gathered fans both in the UK and the USA – impressive for a new singer! His solo debut number 1 hit ‘Stay With Me’ was the song that brought him into the spotlight, and now sits at number 17 in our charts, totalling an impressive 24 weeks in the top 40 so far. So let’s take a look at it!

‘Stay With Me’ is a mid-tempo ballad in 4/4 time with soul and gospel influences. Musically it’s incredibly simple, revolving around a Am7-F-C chord progression through the whole song, with a structure of Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Chorus/Chorus. The production is bare at first, with just vocals, a kick drum and piano chords, then builds to include backing vocals, an organ, and even a string section. You can really hear the soul influence in the vocal melody, the use of organ and Sam Smith’s lyrics, and the gospel influence with the gospel choir backing vocals. Lyrically, the song is a heartfelt plea to a lover to stay with him.

So what’s so special about this very simple song? I think Sam Smith’s voice and performance carries a lot of it, he has a rich, soulful tone, a wide vocal range, and puts a lot of emotion into his singing, which suits this song. (The gospel choir also beefs the song up, so kudos to them too!) There’s also an interesting angle in the lyrics, where he says that it’s not really true ‘love’ between him and the other person, but he still wants them to stay so he doesn’t feel alone – that kind of emotional honesty and rawness makes an impact. It’s very much from the soul tradition of simple heartfelt lyrics and big vocals. But perhaps what also makes this stand out is the fact Sam Smith is a man – we’re used to these songs being sung by ‘divas’ like Adele, but when a man comes out with soulful songs, raw emotion and a big voice, maybe it’s more unexpected and so we notice it more! Well, if this starts a soul revival, and the beginning of a tradition of male soul divas, then I am all for it. Gender (or indeed anything else!) should be no barrier to musical style.

 

Favourite lyric – ‘Why am I so emotional? No it’s not a good look, gain some self control’

 

So today we look at ‘Changing’, which has been in the UK charts for 6 weeks and currently sits at number 8. This song is a collaboration between drum and bass duo Sigma and singer Paloma Faith, and also featured Ella Eyre on the writing team! Sigma are relatively unknown in the mainstream, though have had success in the dance charts. But Paloma Faith is a high-profile artist with a few hits and albums under her belt, so this song shows her experimenting with her sound. Let’s take a look at it:

This is an uptempo, high-energy drum and bass track. It has a structure of Verse/Chorus/Hook/Verse/Chorus/Hook/Outro, the big ‘Woah’ hook being great for the club atmosphere this song was intended for. The verse introduces the chord progression Em – G – D – A7, in a descending motion, and harmonically the rest of the song is either this progression or a slight variation. The distinctive beats are what identify it as drum and bass, but there’s also other influences at work here. There are some classical, orchestral influences in the use of the string section, and some definite gospel and soul influences in the piano line, lead vocals and backing vocals. Lyrically, the singer describes the changes happening around her in her life, and her desire to change with them.

There’s some great lyric and arrangement work here, I love the orchestral influence, and the ambiguity in the lyrics – it’s not quite clear whether she wants to ‘move on’ from her lover, her hometown or both, but I enjoy the mystery! But I think what also takes this song from being just another in the crowd of drum and bass tracks is Paloma Faith. She has a powerful, very distinctive soulful voice and she doesn’t hold back here, she isn’t overwhelmed by the track, she soars over it. She puts real emotion into the lyrics, and featuring her could have also drawn an audience that wouldn’t normally listen to this genre. Paloma Faith has had some interesting development in her sound, her first two albums were more in the pop/jazz/alternative genre, her most recent album was a retro funk/soul sound, and now it looks like she’s exploring drum and bass! Well, whatever she does she always brings a lot of heart and character, so I can only sit back and wait to see what she does next.

Favourite lyric: ‘Broken picture frame, I’ve been frozen in, trying to find a better view.’

So Taylor Swift is back! Back with a new single, a new album, and a new sound (for her, at least). The single ‘Shake It Off’ has peaked at number 3 in the UK charts, and I think will hang around the top 40 for a while. The main talking point of this song has been how it’s marked a departure from Taylor’s distinctive pop-country sound, into much more traditional pop. I don’t think this was really a surprise however, if you look at her songs, they’ve been moving in this direction over the last couple years. But let’s look at ‘Shake It Off’.

This is an uptempo pop song in which Taylor sings about her confidence in herself and her resolve to ignore negativity and ‘shake it off’. It’s harmonically simple, maintaining the chord progression Am-C-G through pretty much the whole song, and has a pop structure of Verse/Pre/Chorus/Verse/Pre/Chorus/Hook/Middle 8/Chorus/Hook. The production is centred around the heavy beat and the staccato trombone riff, and you can hear some Motown/funk influences in the use of brass. The whole sound has an upbeat, cheerleader feel, especially in the breakdown middle 8 where Taylor raps, and that seems appropriate for the positivity in the lyrics.

There’s some great songwriting happening here. Taylor Swift has always had a real knack for catchy melodies and well-paced song structures. She uses a lot of repetition, in the verses as well as the chorus and ‘Shake it off’ hook, and that really gets the tune stuck in your head. However, lyrically, I’m not sure that this is her best work. She’s always had real identity in her lyrics, a turn of phrase and an emotional rawness that is distinctly her, but I think it’s lacking in this song and we’re left with standard pop lyrics. I have absolutely no problem with artists growing, exploring different sounds and genres, but it seems a shame to lose your individuality in the process! But it’s definitely an enjoyable, very catchy pop song, and if this is what she wants to be doing then more power to her. Go on Taylor. Shake’em off.

Favourite lyric: ‘It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying ‘It’s gonna be alright”

As I write this, ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj is number 1 in the UK charts, and I suspect will stay in the top 40 for a while. So what’s the secret to the song’s success?

From a musical analysis point of view, the song is actually very simple! It’s a basic chord progression, mostly alternating between Cm and G. The production relies on its pounding, straight beat, combined with heavy handclaps and a funky guitar riff. You can spot some funk influences in this riff and the horn blasts used throughout, and also some soul influences in the way the vocals and backing vocals are performed. The structure is a standard pop one – Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Middle 8/Chorus. And lyrically, the girls are singing about their confidence in themselves, and their certainty that their lovers won’t be able to find anyone better. So what lifts this song from being just another basic pop tune?

I think it’s the artists. You have three of the biggest divas on the pop/RnB scene right now, all with impressive vocal skills. Each is given their own solo section to shine in, and try and outdo eachother! Jessie J and Ariana Grande both have powerhouse voices, clearly influenced by singers like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. They’re capable of strong belting and crazy vocal riffs, which they show off here. And Nicki Minaj has an intense rapping style, spitting rapid-fire lyrics – personally I think her rap in the middle 8 is the section that makes the most impact. Sorry, Jessie and Ariana! This song is a chance for the artists to showcase themselves, so it’s quite suitable that they should be singing about how great they are.

So I guess the point to make here is that sometimes even a basic pop song can be carried off by the vocal personality and charisma of its performers. And if you’re feeling a little insecure about your song, you might want to try a little ‘Bang Bang’ style confidence!

Favourite lyric:  ‘She might have let you hold her hand in school, but I’m’a show you how to graduate’

Bob Marley & Bob Dylan – Two of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Both wrote songs about…

Bringing people together to fight greed:

Bob Marley – Exodus

Bob Dylan – Times They Are A-Changin’

Love and heartache:

Bob Marley – Is This Love

Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

Poor peoples’ struggle:

Bob Marley – Get Up Stand Up

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone

Why were they both so successful?

– They had distinctive vocal styles

– They wrote songs that were relevant to the times they lived in…politics and war

– Both felt like outsiders when they were young: Dylan ran away from home 18 times, changed his name and rejected his Jewish roots. Marley was half white British half African-Jamaican – uncommon in Jamaica in 1950s. Perhaps they worked so hard when they were young because they were striving for acceptance through their music?

– They kept with the times. Both changed their music through their career to fit in with the increasingly more electric sounds

– They were great poets

– They always gave a sense of really believing what they were singing about

 

 

This is our fifth blog post introducing you to more of our top ten finalists from each age category.  We’ve interviewed them to find out a bit more about them and discover why they write songs and where their inspiration comes from.  Here are Becky, Amelie, Sofia and Charlotte, Emma and Praveen…

Becky Arundel, 17 years old from London

“I put all my feelings into my songs but I didn’t even think my songs were good, I just thought I’d enter and see how far I get. I’m so glad I did, it means so much to me. I’m 17 now and I’ve been songwriting since I was 11. Everyday I pick up the guitar and start dabbling around with chords and all of a sudden I’ll start to improvise a melody and I develop it like that. ‘Alive’ is a song I wrote about two best friends of mine. I introduced them to each other and they started getting together and then completely blocking me out, so I was very much alone and felt completely invisible to everybody – so the idea of the song is ‘I’m alive’. Basically what they’d done was bullying in a way, and I’ve never told them. I don’t really express myself by talking to people or facing my problems. I write everything in a song to get it out and hope that they realise it’s about them. Music is everything to me, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I’m on my way to rehearsal right now! I want to do it every minute of every day, that’s why I came to Tech Music School. I’m very much into Amy McDonald at the moment, I love her tunes, but I also like the rock side of music – I like Nirvana, I like Paramore. So my music is like country-rock, but I like to just try and develop myself and be my own person, not copy anyone else”.

Listen to Becky’s song ‘Alive’

Amelie, 11 years old from Lewes

“I’ve been writing songs for a long time so my Dad encouraged me to enter the competition. I write what comes to me at the time, things that are going on in my life and stuff – it’s like a diary, some of the lyrics can be quite personal. ‘Ultraviolet’ was at the very start of this new school and I was feeling completely invisible, and then something happened and everyone started noticing me and I found some friends. I think I’d mainly like to focus on songwriting, I’m too shy to be a singer, so I could write for other people if I get better at my songwriting. Nina Nesbitt inspires me – she writes her own songs about what she’s been through and does them really well. I listen to chart music as well as songs that are less well-known, so I like bands that aren’t in the charts like NONONO and Paramore”.

Listen to Amelie’s song ‘Ultraviolet’

Sofia, 17 years old from London

“I’ve been writing songs for a while and it is so good to have something to show, to know that that it’s not just me writing random songs, that people actually like them. I Googled everyone on the judging panel, seeing what everyone had done and their involvement in the music industry – I thought this is really cool. I started writing when I was 13, I had to have a back operation and the whole process was quite intense, songwriting was my outlet and that has continued to this day. For ‘Leave’, I wanted to talk about the issues of how a woman usually has to sacrifice her job and herself if she wants to be a stay-at-home mum. It is inspired by my own mum, but it was something I’d seen so many people go through. I see all these amazing strong women around me trying to balance both things and it’s really hard. A career in music – that’s the dream. If I don’t end up in music it’ll be creative writing, I know I’ll always be writing. I have old and new influences, so Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard as well as old 60s and 70s records like Joni Mitchell, for the stories they tell, it was a real unique time in music for singer-songwriters”.

Listen to Sofia’s song ‘Leave’

Charlotte, Emma and Praveen, 9 years old from Hertfordshire

“We didn’t think that we were going to get this far, we were actually thinking of not entering because we didn’t want to be disappointed. But we got here and it’s just been an amazing journey from the start. People at school have been cheering us on, we’ve had to sign autographs in the playground! The whole school is excited. Our teacher gave us all a letter and she explained how to do it through the Audioboo app. Songwriting makes us feel relaxed, no one has to tell you what to do, you can just be yourself. It’s a big part in all of our lives, there’s so many things that can inspire you to write songs. We wrote this song around the time that two of our favourite teachers had left and one of our closest friends. It’s about us getting older, we’ll be going to secondary school soon, and we know there will be a lot more big decisions to make and we’ll have to say goodbye sometimes. This competition has made us all more confident, we’ve actually started writing more songs, and we all definitely could see ourselves having a career in music. One of our biggest inspirations is our teacher Mrs Cooper, she writes her own songs as well”.

Listen to Charlotte, Emma and Praveen’s song ‘Leave You to it’

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This is our fourth blog post introducing you to more of our top ten finalists from each age category.  We’ve interviewed them to find out a bit more about them and discover why they write songs and where their inspiration comes from.  Here are Leah, Ella and Jamelia; Michelle and Samantha;

Leah, Ella and Jamelia, 9 and 10 years old from Cheshire

“We have a band called ‘Glamorous’, and we enjoy writing and performing music together. Our songs are very pop, fun and happy. We write songs mainly about being yourself and also about trying to achieve your dreams. Our song that we entered ‘Lipstick’ is to tell people they can put lipstick on and feel beautiful. Lots of people have the same problem, they don’t feel confident without make-up. Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. Lipstick is a good way to see yourself through the make-up. Our dream – we all want to be singers, and we definitely want to continue our band project. We all love music and want to continue doing it. We love One Direction – we like it that all their songs are upbeat and bouncy. We’ve heard a lot about how pop stars don’t always write their own songs, and as well as looking up to these pop stars we realise that there’s a lot of credit to be given to the songwriters behind them too”.

Listen to Leah, Ella and Jamelia’s song ‘Lipstick’

Michelle and Samantha, 11 years old from London

Michelle was interviewed “At first I was anxious when I heard I that was final – because I didn’t know if it was true! Samantha and I live on the same street. We used to play together all the time so we work really well together in music. We wanted to be our own band so that’s why we entered. There was more of us before, but the other one quit, so it’s just us now. We’ve only been in a band for a few months, and we haven’t written many songs before but we just wanted to make music. We started with the words ‘If You Love Somebody’ and went from there. It’s written for people in love, to say, don’t be scared, hold on and keep trying. We like the style of pop music, we always listen to the top ten. I’d love to be a singer one day, Little Mix are some of my favourite singers”.

Listen to Michelle and Samantha’s song ‘If You Love Somebody’

Ezria, 14 years old from London

“I don’t really get noticed at school for music because they aren’t into that type of music, but it was really nice that someone recognized it this time. Songwriting for me is quite easy, it’s kind of a way to release. As soon as I get home from school I write, I write songs in class, it’s all I want to do. I usually write the chorus first and then I normally do a rap for a bridge, because it cuts up the song a bit. I’m quite passionate about quite serious issues like sexism and racism and I think it’s quite a good way to address these issues through music because quite a lot of people listen to music. I wrote Sober for the younger generation. In my school and in other schools that I know, the popular people are the people that smoke weed and take drugs and I think people just do it sometimes to get noticed. There’s lots of issues like body image that young people think if you self harm or take drugs it takes away the pain. But it doesn’t really work like that, you kind of have to get over your issues. I’d say my mum is my role model, her and Beyonce. I’m quite inspired by Jessie J because she didn’t get famous in the beginning, she wrote songs for other people. I don’t want to start by getting famous straight away because fame can change people. I want to stick to my morals and music first of all, though one day I would like to perform too”.

Listen to Ezria’s song ‘Sober’

Orla, 18 years old from London

“The Young Songwriter Competition is one of the few competitions that actually has established people from the industry involved. I entered it last year just to experiment and find my feet and I thought this year I’d try again and the song ‘On Her Own’ which has a really different sound to my previous entry is the song in the final. I tend to write about situations that I’ve witnessed, I find it really difficult to write about personal situations, I’d rather tell someone else’s story and relate it to my own personal thoughts and opinions. I find it interesting to look at things from different perspectives, not necessarily in the first person, that’s what ‘On Her Own’ is about. Over the summer I watched a relationship develop between a guy and a girl where the guy was the one getting more attached and the girl was the one who was more into a casual relationship, and I thought that was cool because normally people attach a stigma to that. I look at really close descriptions, like what the guy is wearing and his personality so that the song is telling a story over a night. At the minute I don’t know if I want to go down the singer-songwriter route or management, I’m exploring them both. But regardless of what I do, I would want to carry on writing because it’s really cathartic for me. I used to be really into folk and acoustic stuff but recently I’ve got really into electronic sounds. I take inspiration from artists like Ellie Goulding, I think it’s really cool how she fuses that electronic sound with using her guitar and different harmonies.

Listen to Orla’s song ‘On Her Own’

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This is our third blog post introducing you to more of our top ten finalists from each age category.  We’ve interviewed them to find out a bit more about them and discover why they write songs and where their inspiration comes from.  Here are Natalie, Solomon and Taylor-George…

Natalie Shay, 15 years old from London

“Being in the final, it feels good to be appreciated as a songwriter and not just as an artist and it’s given me confidence in my songs – now I think maybe my songs are alright. I entered the Young Songwriter Competition because it was one of the few that mainly focused on the writing and I wanted to see how my songwriting would fare. When I’m writing, I’m very self-critical, I’ve written a lot and played it back and decided I don’t like it, more than what I’ve kept. Relationships are a recurring theme in my songs (even though I’ve never been in one!) – I think it’s relatable for everyone, even if you’ve not had one, you’ve obviously experienced those feelings. But when I do like my song, I feel really proud of what I’ve achieved. I love Kate Nash, how her lyrics are so real and tell a story. Deciding to go to the Brit School was a massive benchmark to decide my future – I want to be a musician, preferably an artist, which is what I’m doing now”.

Listen to Natalie’s song ‘Follow You Home’

Solomon Dent, 18 years old from London

“I’m trying to put my music forward a bit more, as a songwriter in particular, which is why I entered. I think of myself as more of a songwriter than a performer. My musical style has evolved over the past few years. It started off just guitar, then more rap stuff (which is closer to the song I entered in the competition) and at the moment I’m working on some acoustic dub-step fusion. As I write from personal experience, I can see how my music now is different to how it was when I was 12. Back then I was writing love songs and now I look back and the lyrics seem more meaningless. Anything even the bad bits, especially the bad bits in life, the most painful parts, they always produce the best music. That’s why I only sit down and try and write when I’m actually feeling inspired – that’s when I get the good stuff. ‘Amigos Amigas’ is a love song about the difficulties of love from two perspectives – there are two melody lines, the higher melody line was my girlfriend’s point of view and lower was mine. I’d love to be a Singer-songwriter and perform my songs myself, because then I can express the song with the true meaning behind it when recording. I often get compared to Ed Sheeran but I prefer comparisons to Jamie T. They both do that singing fast accompanied by acoustic guitar, but Jamie T’s is more raw than Ed Sheeran’s sweet tone, I think his voice is more like mine”.

Listen to Solomon Dent’s song ‘Amigos Amigas’

Taylor-George, 12 years old from Leicestershire 

“It feels cool to be recognized for my songwriting. I’ve been songwriting for about a year properly now. I’ve written about 30-40 songs, but only 20 decent ones out of those. At the point of writing ‘With You’ I had a girlfriend, and I was being a bit cheesy about it. I wrote it for her really. I write love songs, emotional songs, telling-a-story songs. Sometimes I write from personal experience and sometimes I just write them from what I know about the world. It’s good to let out emotions, when you’re writing it’s almost like you’re talking to yourself. I used to love dancing and my inspiration used to be Michael Jackson but now that I play the guitar it’s moved on to Ed Sheeran. I think both of those have influenced my music, it makes me want to write songs”.

Listen to Taylor-George’s song ‘With You’

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This is our second blog post introducing you to more of our top ten finalists from each age category.  We’ve interviewed them to find out a bit more about them and discover why they write songs and where their inspiration comes from.  Here are Vaunce, Georgia, Fintan and Izzy…

Vaunce, 16 years old from London

“I think I’ll always write songs. I think it’s something I have to do, a compulsion. My inspirations are diverse; the writings of Oscar Wilde and Donald Barthelme; the music of Norah Jones, Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails and Bach; the beauty in the sounds of words, the depth of human imagination and desire. Ya know, that sort of thing…. Acceptance, childhood, family, love, art, the superfluous and sexuality are recurring themes. Sometimes my favourite songs to write are those with meanings unknown even to me until they are finished. I have many ways of writing songs and different processes yield different products. Generally I prefer to write lyrics first (although it does depend on the song) and this was the case for Klockwerk Kidz. I’d had one of those days, it was about 2.30am, I wrote all the lyrics out in about half an hour. This song has sentimental value and I enjoy the irony of an anthemic ‘sing-along’ about unfulfilled desire to belong. I write for myself – the more selfish the better. In the end, everything else can desert you but your art always remains – my little piece of the world that no one can take away from me.”

Listen to Vaunce’s song ‘Klockwerk Kidz’

Georgia South, 17 years old from London

“I was really surprised to make the final because I don’t usually write slow songs like ‘Snow Globe’. I also write for my project ‘Braats’, it’s a girl duo and we are pop-punk, up-beat, urban music. I’m a bassist first, and I don’t usually sing. Pharrell and N*E*R*D are my main influence musically, especially from a bass line perspective and I also love Lily Allen’s quirky songwriting. I’ve been songwriting for a while, I’ve actually done some songwriting for EMI’s summer library – just some pop library music. I think with songwriting you have to stick to one topic throughout the song, so Snow Globe is about what’s happening around you. You can’t force songwriting, but if you’re writing to brief you have to write what they ask for, although obviously I would rather write from personal experience. I’d love to get a songwriting deal someday as a songwriter/composer, but obviously I know that takes a lot of hard work. Braats are releasing their music soon so I’m focusing on that for now.”.

Listen to Georgia’s song ‘Snow Globe’

Fintan, 11 years old from Kent

“I haven’t experienced something like this before. I’ve never had so many people tell me that ‘your songs are great’. Before becoming a finalist, no-one had heard of me. I nearly entered last year with a couple of friends, we heard about it on First News, but it didn’t work out. I really wanted it badly so I decided to enter again this year. I must have written thousands of songs. I started when I was like 4, but I wasn’t very good! I listened to more people that were in the charts and I began to grown in my ability with music. I really like Lady GaGa and I’m very connected with online sites like Youtube and Soundcloud. I always get updates on the latest chart stuff. I write for my own pleasure and to lift a weight off my shoulders. ‘Your Position’ – is about this kid who was just like me, I felt like he could’ve been born on the same day, only he basically got a record deal. I felt that I could be as amazing as him, but I didn’t pick the right time and opportunity to make my music career happen, so it’s about jealousy. ‘Take My Picture’ is about daydreaming, it’s what I experience everyday. There isn’t a day that passes when I’m not daydreaming. I see all these people on TV and on the screen, and I realise I really want to be like them, and I know that the way I can be like them is to grow in my ability in music”.

Listen to Fin’s song ‘Your Position’

Listen to Fin’s song ‘Take My Picture’

Izzy, 12 years old from Dorset

“To be in music as a career would be fantastic, that or drama. I’m more of an arts person, I can’t imagine myself being a nuclear scientist or anything like that. Being in the music industry would be more than I could ask for. I started playing piano when I was 6 or 7 and I wrote my first song at that age, but I was just messing around as small children do. I tend to write piano ballads. I love listening to piano-based songs, that’s my favourite kind of music. The charts are fine, but I’ll write what I want to write. I write about whatever I’m thinking, the first thing on my mind, I just write as I feel at that time. Normally I start with chords, then tune, then lyrics are last because I struggle a bit with lyrics. For ‘Fade Away’ I actually wrote the piano when I was a lot younger, about 10 or 11 kind of age, then recently I went back through old songs, got a melody for it the accompaniment and went from there. My biggest inspiration is Birdy, and I like singer-songwriters like Ellie Goulding and Jessie J because I admire that they are independent and do their own thing”.

Listen to Izzy’s song ‘Fade Away’

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We’ve interviewed our top ten finalists from each age category to get to know them and discover why they write songs and where their inspiration comes from.  Over the next 5 blog posts you’ll get to know each of our finalists…..

Brendan Cleary, 18 years old from Cumbria

The number one goal for me is to be a singer songwriter – and I realise that the competition is quite fierce there. So any opportunity I get to write, I take. I saw the judges for The Young Songwriter Competition and there were some really big names on the panel. Songwriting is what I want to do and I thought maybe this could bridge the pathway to getting involved in the music industry. John Mayer is a big inspiration – especially his acoustic stuff. I also really like Ed Sheeran – and I often get compared to him, I don’t want to copy what he does as he is there’s only room for one of him and he is so good at what he does. I do get a buzz from writing, it’s like performing live. My song ‘Amaze Me’ is a love song I wrote when I was 16 about a teenage crush. I guess you could say songwriting is a kind of release – there’s a chance to say something that would be too soppy to say in person! I recently went out to Australia and I was really inspired whilst out there. So whilst I write about teenage love songs I’m starting to think about writing on a more global scale, about my perception on the world.

Listen to Brendan’s song ‘Amaze Me’

Kaitlyn Haggis, 16 years old from Hertfordshire

I really like the Young Songwriter Competition because it isn’t based on votes like a lot of other competitions are, those competitions tend to become based on social media popularity rather than actual talent. I entered last year as well but there were so many more entries this year, so it’s really good to make the final. I’d like to perform my own stuff as a singer-songwriter, I’m into a range of music – I like Tom Odell but then I’m also really big on Foo Fighters at the moment! I listen to a lot of proper country music, so I write quite a few country songs that I don’t sing myself, but I write them with a country singer in mind like Carrie Underwood. When writing ’Across the Sea’ I was going out with someone who lived a very very long way from me and I wrote the song for him. I just write about stuff that happens to me, it’s mostly about boys if I’m going to be completely honest. It’s my primary experience in life being a 17 year old girl, and I think my best songs come out of that.

Listen to Kaitlyn’s song ‘Across the Sea’

Lior Solomons-Wise, 11 years old from London

When I want to write a song, generally songs just come to me, I don’t sit down and say ‘I’m going to write a song about this or that’ I just start writing it and by the end I have a picture of what it’s going to be and I can edit it. I love playing music and I love singing, it kind of takes me somewhere else where I can be by myself. Most of my songs are kind of mellow and quite sad, well at least they sound sad but actually some of them are happy, some of them are joyful. ‘Where Has My Life Gone’ is about somebody who is homeless. The song expresses my feelings about when I see homeless people in London, and how I wish they could have a better life than they do. I imagined what it would be like to be a person who had nobody to love them and nobody to help them. I’ve been writing songs for quite a long time now and it feels good to be known, it’s good to actually get a proper opportunity. This competition has really pushed me up so I believe that I can achieve more.

Listen to Lior’s song ‘Where Has My Life Gone?’

Romy Sipek, 12 years old from Norfolk

One of my big ambitions in life is to be a singer and to write my own music. I really like Taylor Swift and I listen to all the chart music, all the ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music’ albums which have all the single releases. I’m leaning towards the more electronic sound in my music that I hear in the charts. It’s amazing to be recognised in the top 10, I didn’t really think I’d get into the final! I’ve now written and recorded 7 or 8 songs. I write the songs myself and my piano teacher has a friend with a studio nearby, so we work together making the transition from the original song to the finished recording. I write about what I feel really. If I’m feeling something really strong I get emotions and write them down and they become songs. ‘Devil From Above’ is about people changing to be someone they’re not, I wanted to put across a general message that people should be themselves.

Listen to Romy’s song ‘Devil From Above’

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