The #1 club for musical and creative young people

We’re calling all budding young songwriters to join our Summer Term online songwriting groups. Small groups of like-minded young creatives across the UK & beyond get inspired by Song Academy professional songwriters & take on songwriting briefs to express themselves with lyrics & music….writing their own original songs.

Small groups of 4 children. Sessions from 4:45-5:45pm and 5:45-6:45pm, Monday to Thursday. A precious one hour a week being free to express yourself, developing songwriting talents, confidence and building self esteem.

All groups have children the same age and songwriting/musical experience. Click here for more information and how to book.

Session dates the weeks commencing:
19th, 26th April
3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th May (no clubs on the half term week commencing 31st May)
7th, 14th, 21st, 28th June
The membership fee is £155 for the 10 week term.
A precious one hour a week being free to express yourself, developing songwriting talents, confidence and building self esteem.

Testimonials:
“Thank you Song Academy! You’ve given Daisy a unique outlet to be creative & inspired, plus she’s made some life-long friends. Keep on inspiring young people with your magic!” Clare, Parent

“Song Academy gives me an opportunity to express my feelings through song more effectively. I already enjoyed song-writing before but with the encouragement and guidance of the Song Academy team, I feel much more confident and I love performing at the end of term Gigs!” India aged 15

Click here for more information and how to book.

Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Tom Odell, Miranda Cooper, Chris Difford,
Calum Scott, Tom Grennan & Michelle Escoffery

Listen up, gen Z have something to say! In its 11th exciting year, the prestigious Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition 2021 #SAYS21 is calling all young people to speak up & express themselves, by writing their own original songs! The entry period is from the 1st February until 31st March 2021, you must be aged 8-18 and you can enter from anywhere in the world. The Young Songwriter 2021 is for both aspiring young songwriters who already have some experience as well as young people who want to write their first song.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Do you know any young people who are…
• Writing their own songs & want to get them heard?
• Secretly writing their own songs and need a bit of encouragement to share them?
• Creative & musical and would like to write their first song?

We’re looking for pure, fresh songwriting talent. Songs will be judged on their originality, lyrics, melody, composition, and potential to be a smash hit! There’s no need to enter professional recordings, however a good recording can help to enhance the impact of songs.

Enter between the 1st February and 31st March 2021 for the opportunity to:
• Get noticed by some of the best songwriters & key players in the music industry
• Have your songs heard and stand out from the crowd
• Record your winning song with a top producer in London
• Win £1,000 worth of Yamaha equipment
• Receive a professional music video & photos from the recording session
• Win a Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Studio Bundle
• Perform in The Young Songwriter 2021 showcase at The Tabernacle, London
• Get connected to our vibrant community of young songwriters

More information including the entry form click www.songacademy.co.uk/says21

This competition will be separately judged for UK & Ireland 8-12 year olds, UK & Ireland 13-18 year olds, International 8-12 year olds and International 13-18 year olds.

Official sponsors of SAYS21 are Yamaha, Focusrite, Kobalt, ICMP, PRS for Music and Soundtrap.  Key partners are MUSIC:ED, Association of Colleges, FAC, Good Soldier, Soundcity and Songwriting magazine.

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes: Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Harley Sule (Rizzle Kicks), Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Philips (Rizzle Kicks, John Newman, Maddison Beer), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Starsmith (Ellie Goulding, Lady Gaga, Jess Glynne, Paloma Faith), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

Need help getting your songs ready?

Take advantage of our song feedback service where we provide insightful comments on the three areas of lyrics, melodies/composition and production. Plus, join our online songwriting workshops in February Half-Term. 

Quotes from The Young Songwriter competition judges:

Fraser T Smith (producer/songwriter) says “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Tom Odell (singer/songwriter) says “when I was 13 years old I started writing songs, and over the following years I became more and more obsessed with it, but the thing that always kept me awake at night was how to get them out there for people to hear them. This is why I think the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition is a great way to inspire and help through this process, and its something I wish had been around when I was starting out. I can’t wait to hear the songs!”

Naughty Boy (producer/songwriter) says “young songwriters are the future of music. A great song will always stand the test of time far beyond our years. I think this competition is important because every songwriter I’ve worked with was always waiting to be discovered.”

Miranda Cooper (songwriter) says “The Young Songwriter competition is an amazing opportunity for the next generation of song writers to get their music heard. I am always particularly impressed by the songs submitted by the 8-12 category. I was definitely not writing such accomplished songs at that age!! It’s so exciting to hear new, young talent and I always come away from the judging process feeling inspired. It’s a real reminder of how lucky we are to be doing something we love so much.”

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, says “Song Academy inspires young people to speak up, express themselves, celebrate their individuality & get heard. By connecting them to a vibrant community of their peers who all love writing songs, as well as exposing their songs to key players in the Music Industry, we help to build young people’s confidence, self-esteem and drive to achieve their potential.”

QUOTES FROM KOBALT, SOUNDTRAP AND YAMAHA

Willard Ahdritz, Founder & Chairman of Kobalt says “It’s very important to support, inspire, and celebrate young creators as they start on their path in music. We are happy to be involved in this competition as it provides great opportunities and education for the young contestants. I know many of them will go on to have bright careers in music!”

Leanne Barrell, Marketing Manager of Yamaha says, “At Yamaha, we believe that music can empower everyone to express themselves, build friendships and make a positive impact in the world, so naturally we’re delighted to support The Young Songwriter 2021 Competition. It’s a great opportunity for young people everywhere to get inspired and share their music on a global stage. This is all about the future, and we can’t wait to hear the songs of a whole new generation of musical talent.”

Per Emanuelsson, Director of Soundtrap says “The annual Young Songwriter competition is a premiere event introducing many students from around the world to the art of creative expression through song, and is therefore an event close to our heart. Soundtrap is pleased to sponsor the 2021 Young Songwriter competition and advance the mission of helping students find and share their voices.”

Quotes from past The Young Songwriter finalists:

Laura (Young Songwriter Finalist) says “Being a self confessed bedroom musician the Young Songwriter competition has given me the opportunity to take my songs into the real world.” Roman (Young Songwriter Finalist) says “It encourages young people to believe in themselves.” Sam (Young Songwriter Finalist) says “I like how it is focused on songwriting and not particularly vocal or instrumental talent, especially in this day and age, where that’s a critical factor for success. But if you can write a hit, it’s arguably more impressive than if you can sing one, and I think this competition shows that.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice

Founded 12 years ago, we’re dedicated to the future of music & the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. We enable young people to express themselves and have their voices heard. From their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers & creative thinkers, empowering young people at a formative time of their life.

We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people by helping them find their voice. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast changing & potentially isolating environment, which can cause various pressures and lead to issues with their mental health. Through songwriting young people can communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. This creative and therapeutic process helps young people discover & develop their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered by speaking up and advance their creative and social skills. The songs they write have the potential to spark debate, help their peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen a direct correlation in the increase and advancement of confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

We’re calling all young people to get inspired, creative & productive over this half-term by writing songs! Writing songs is a great way to express yourself, connect with others & try to make sense of what’s happening in the challenging times we live in.  We know that gen Z have a lot to say….and we want to help them express themselves powerfully!

New songs written in these songwriting workshops can be entered into The Young Songwriter 2021 competition! It’s exciting and uplifting to be part of a vibrant, international community of young songwriters – listening to everyone’s songs & having access to exclusive opportunities!

SONGWRITING WORKSHOPS for the week 15th – 19th February:

  • Want to write a song with others first? Join a group of up to 8 young songwriters to write a song from scratch together. Then start writing your own song. 3 hour workshop. £35.50
  • Want to write your own song? Join a group of up 4 young songwriters and write your own original song over 3 days (2 hours each day). 6 hour workshop. £155

All groups have young people the same age and songwriting/musical experience.

CHECK OUT the dates/times & book a place. Don’t miss out!

Please share with all the young songwriters & musicians you know.

 

The Young Songwriter 2021 competition is open for entries from the 1st February to the 31st March 2021. 

 

Now more than ever, young people need opportunities to express themselves. Song Academy has revolved around the tagline ‘Express Yourself’ since being founded 12 years ago, so writing a song called ‘Express Yourself’ felt like a good way to empower young people to speak up, express themselves, believe in themselves, connect with their generation and be part of the conversation shaping their future.

Proceeds from ‘Express Yourself’ will be donated to Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.  ‘Express Yourself’ is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and more!  Go and check it out!

As Fraser T Smith (Songwriter, Producer and Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 judge) says “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

The lyrics and melodies of “Express Yourself’ were written by several members of the Song Academy community and fine tuned by some of the Song Academy young ambassadors and Song Academy team.

Songwriters:  From the Song Academy community: Eddie Atkins, Francesca Morison, Rosie McWilliams, Ciara Mill, Daisy Peacock, Rowan Scourfield, Judah Venable & Jonathan Young
Song Academy Young Ambassadors: Sebastian Croft, Gus Harrower, Cassa Jackson, Kevin Jones, Miriam Nyarko, Jenk Oz, Joshua Shea

Singers:  Eddie Atkins, Gus Harrower, Cassa Jackson, Francesca Morison, Rosie McWilliams, Ciara Mill, Miriam Nyarko, Daisy Peacock, Rowan Scourfield, Joshua Shea, Judah Venable, Max Elliot & Jonathan Young

Guitars, Keyboards and Programming:  Max Elliot

Guitars and Bass:  Rowan Scourfield

Additional Production, Mixing and Mastering:  Sam Cramer

 

LYRICS

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Verse 1
Speak up, you’ve got something to say
Time is passing every single day
Don’t be afraid of your reflection
Aim for growth and not perfection

Verse 2
Shout it out don’t just store it away
The stars in you could get lost in space
When you don’t know how you feel
Just know that it’s OK to reveal

Pre Chorus
It don’t matter where you come from
But it matters who you are
Don’t lose your motivation
Ain’t no better time to start…to

Chorus
Shine like a star
Show who you are yeah
Lift up your voice
So the world knows your heart and
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself
Don’t be defeated
Mistakes masterpieces
You’ve got the power to change what we’re seeing
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself

Verse 3
Don’t be shy, take pride in yourself
Don’t leave your voice lying on the shelf
They tell you lies but you know the truth
When you believe it others will too

Verse 4
Shout it out don’t just store it away
The stars in you could get lost in space
When you don’t know how you feel
Just know that it’s OK to reveal

Pre Chorus
It don’t matter where you come from
But it matters who you are
Don’t lose your motivation
Ain’t no better time to start…to

Chorus
Shine like a star
Show who you are yeah
Lift up your voice
So the world knows your heart and
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself
Don’t be defeated
Mistakes masterpieces
You’ve got the power to change what we’re seeing
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself

Rap
V1
It’s our time to rise up, the voices of change
Cause people on the streets in a fiery rage
equality, the environment, we won’t betray
Hear the change coming, coming ablaze
V2
Health threats abound, don’t let em deter
For the mission is now, no chance to defer
Think about your future, shout out and be heard
For this is our time, our power is our word
V3
Democracy challenged, all over the map
Get yourself counted, don’t let it collapse
Use your love to overshadow the hate
Hear the change coming, coming ablaze
V4
Tomorrow’s bright lights, depend on today
So stick to your causes, show others the way
The future is now, rise up and be heard
For this is our time, our power is our word

Chorus
Shine like a star
Show who you are yeah
Lift up your voice
So the world knows your heart and
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself
Don’t be defeated
Mistakes masterpieces
You’ve got the power to change what we’re seeing
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself

Shine like a star
Show who you are yeah
Lift up your voice
So the world knows your heart
Trust yourself to yeah
To express yourself

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs? Fancy writing your first song? Get ready to enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 competition from 1st Feb-31st Mar 2021!

Every year we get asked the questions “what type of song should I enter into The Young Songwriter competition?” and “do you have any songwriting tips?” so we thought we would put together some ideas and guidelines to help you write a winning song!

The main things that we listen out for when judging The Young Songwriter competition entries are captivating melodies, evocative lyrics, a coherent structure, a catchy chorus, emotive performances, clever use of rhyme, a sense of anticipation, and strong concepts.

It’s important to say at the outset that songs which break all the rules and defy any expectation  can be the biggest hits of all! Therefore, in as much as there are so called ‘rules’, feel free to bend and break them if you feel inspired to!

The power of songwriting is that no matter what inspired the songwriter to write a song, the listener interprets the song in their own unique way, and finds strength from the message and connection.

Here are some elements of the songwriting process which we think are important:

Have a strong theme/concept

One of the key components, and biggest challenges, of songwriting is trying to express common, relatable feelings in an original and interesting way. The more inventive you can be when describing your feelings or experiences (for example, the pressures and joys of growing up and living in our society), the better. It’s a great way to boost self-respect and self-identify through song, and to talk about issues you are passionate about in an engaging way.

Young Songwriter competition entries cover a huge spectrum of topics, from personal experiences and feelings, to wider issues involving the writer’s communities, or even the entire world. Looking back on prior years, a popular theme was the state of the planet and awareness of environmental issues such as climate change. Another theme that came up a lot was mental health, with songs exploring anxieties, depression, drugs, death and high expectations. We also received many entires that explored the need be who you are, embrace your individuality and go for your dreams. Many songs took a stand for equality and freedom from barriers. Love and heartbreak always feature highly in Young Songwriter entries, with many different spins: we broke up, we’re breaking up, we’re about to break up, we’re not going to break up, I wish I could break up with you, we didn’t break up, I wish I had someone to break up with. Also, songs about the pain of toxic relationships and unrequited love.

But not all songs have to be dramatic and poignant – many people wrote songs about aspects of everyday life, like nature, sunlight, boredom, society, the stars, anything! Through lyrics and harmony the seemingly banal can sometimes be lifted onto another plain. It is great to be able to find inspiration in ordinary things, and it’s an amazing skill to be able to present those things in a way that people find exciting.

 

Come up with an interesting song title

A song title is almost like a book cover, so make it interesting! Compare a heartbeat to a flashing light or the feeling of losing fear by roaring it away – the more inventive the concept around the ordinary, the better. Think of recent hits Dark Horse, Wrecking Ball, Pompeii – interesting titles and concepts talking about everyday feelings to do with fear, love and empowerment. It can also be a good way to start a song, having a strong title that sets the theme of the song can inspire more lyrics around it!

We’ve had many interesting song titles in The Young Songwriter competition past entries, including; Biting Into Ice, Concrete Sheets, Sneaks & Geeks, Dead Plants, Like Lava, T-shirt, Packet Full Of Noodles, Armour, Paperclips, Shine in the Darkness, Blue Fingertips, Burnt Peaches, Lies In Makeup, Sungrazer, Hijacked By Parasites, Reset, Little Alchemy, Dopamine, Me Myself and I, Mrs Ocean, Keyboard Warrior, Battlecry, Muddy Clear, Growing Gills, Swim Against The Stream, Muddy Boots & Messy Hair, Ode To Ego, Painting With Colour, Helvetica, Puppeteer, Head Full Of Clouds, Same Blood, Mindless Town, Can’t Buy Forgiveness, Cat And Mouse, Fading Rainbow, The Taste Of Dust.

 

Make the first four lines agree with your title
The great songwriter Ralph Murphy says it very well in his books on the laws of songwriting – if the first four lines of your first verse can link back to your title then you’re onto a winner. Take for example Roar by Katy Perry:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath,
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess,
So I sat quietly,
Agreed politely,

Now you’re gonna hear me roar.

You create an expectation, and then you fulfil it. By doing this, you never lose sight of the message of your song, you keep in mind what you’re trying to say by always referring back to the title, thus never losing your listeners’ attention or the concept you’re expressing in your song. It also helps emphasise the message of the song and helps people remember it!

 

Have a good song structure

Here’s an example of a great song structure:

Introduction — An opening passage, either instrumental or vocals without lyrics

Verse I — Introduces the song’s message and sets the scene

— 4 to 8 bars long

Pre Chorus — Link between the verse and chorus
— Builds up both melodically and lyrically

— 2 or 4 bars

Chorus — Main message of the song
— Catchiest part and most memorable part of the song (normally includes a ‘hook’)
— Most dynamic part of the song

Verse II — Continuing the explanation of the song

— Solidifying the message and introducing new imagery

— Lyrics change, melody stays broadly the same as verse 1, but you can tweak it a bit to keep it interesting!

Bridge or Middle Eight — A contrasting section that brings the song to a new level

— Rhythmically and melodically the song changes

— Looking at the message from a different view point
— Can build up tension leading up to the climax of the song

Chorus — Repeat (can add hooks to the outro of it)
Outro — The closing passage. It can be instrumental or vocal

 

Write engaging lyrics

Young Songwriter finalists write lyrics that show the listener a scene unfolding rather than simply telling the listener how they feel. American songwriter Jason Blume, who has had hits with Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, says whilst there are no rules to songwriting, there are tools to help you craft that perfect hit. And all you need is a simple AID – action, imagery, detail.

Action:

Use verbs (action or doing words) to help illustrate what is going on in your song. For example, instead of saying ‘I miss you and I’m sad’, try and show what missing someone and being sad looks like :

  • ‘I wipe the tears falling from my eyes’
  • ‘I clutch a tear stained picture of you’
  • ‘I drove by where we first met’
  • ‘I couldn’t walk through the door where we said our last goodbye’

The action words are ‘wipe’ ‘clutch’ ‘drove’ ‘walk’.

And instead of saying ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m in love’, why not show what a person in love does?

  • ‘I wrote our names inside a heart, engraved upon a tree’
  • ‘I hand picked and carried home 100 flowers for you and put a vase in every room’
  • ‘I sing your name like a favourite song’

The action words are ‘wrote’ ‘picked’ ‘carried’ and ‘sing’.

Write a list of action words down before starting on your next song and try and use at least 5 of them in your next song to show what your feeling.

Imagery:

Blume says ‘whilst you cannot see heartbreak you can see the images and actions that convey that a person is heartbroken’:

  • ‘She fell to her knees, laying flowers on his grave’
  • ‘He kisses her photo’
  • ‘His tears hit the floor like a waterfall of pain’

The images are ‘knees’ ‘flowers’ ‘grave’ ‘photo’ ‘tears’ ‘floor’ ‘waterfall’. Blume also states that by including ‘tangible items’ and nouns in your lyrics like ‘furniture, clothing, a car, a house, a specific place, food’, you enable your audience to enter your song.

Along with your list of action words, try and write down a list of images and every day nouns to try and include in your next song.

Detail: 

This is the third part of AID that will help you to show your listener what is going on in your song. This time we’re searching for adjectives (describing words) and adverbs (describing verbs) to help the listener visualise your song more clearly. For example, if we were to go one step further with some of our examples from the Imagery section above and add a bit more detail to the floor, or the grave, you have something like this…

  • ‘She falls to her knees on the cold, muddy ground and lays white lilies on his grave’
  • ‘He tenderly kisses the photo of their wedding day in his old rocking chair
  • ‘His bitter tears slowly hit the wooden floor of his kitchen, like a cascading waterfall of pain’

Even with a few additional adjectives and adverbs, the scenes are much clearer to visualise; you can hear the creak of the old rocking chair, you can taste the bitter tears that fall onto the floor and see him in the kitchen, you can feel the cold muddy ground that she falls to – instantly you have transported your listener directly into the scene of your song, as if they are there with the singer, watching over what is happening.

So next time you’re stuck for lyrics, all you need is a little AID to help you on your way!

 

Play around with new melodies and chord sequences

Play around with different combinations until your find the melody you’re looking for. Choose a key for your song and then try out the I, IV and V primary chords as well as the  II III, VI and VII chords.

Hooks
It has been said that the most successful ABBA songs have 5 hooks in each of their songs. A hook is a musical idea, melodic instrumental part, rhythmic phrase or a vowel/consonant sound or word repeated, that catches the ear of the listener to draw them into the song and helps to create its ‘catchiness’. According to popular commercial music today, the more hooks you can introduce throughout the song, the catchier it will be, because it’s constantly enticing the listener and, most importantly, keeping them interested. Listen to the start of Dancing Queen and the vocal ‘ahh’s and piano part before the hooky first line of the chorus, or Jessie J’s Price Tag (It’s all about the money, money, money/We don’t need your money, money, money). Other songs with simple but strong hooks include One Kiss by Calvin Harris featuring Dua Lipa, or Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.

A lot of hooks are incredibly simple and may even be made by manipulating vocal parts, cutting them up or re-pitching them in an interesting way, songs that do this include Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith, or Stay High (the Hippie Sabotage remix of Habits) by Tove Lo. Try and think about hooks for your own song, either lyrically, melodically or instrumentally. They can be incredibly simple and consist of a couple of notes, or a bit more interesting, just make sure they stick in your head!

 

Rhythm

Rhythm is an important part of many songs, it’s what makes people dance, or makes them nod their head and tap their feet. A solid rhythm can be a hook in itself, and it will lay the foundation on which to base the rest of your song around. It will also determine what kind of song it is, is it a fun, dancey song that makes you want to dance, like Get Lucky by Daft Punk? Or is it a slow, wistful song that people will sway along to, like Imagine by John Lennon? It could even be a fast, uptempo song that sounds exciting and triumphant, like Feel The Love by Rudimental ft John Newman.  If the aim is to make the listener dance, try writing a song to the BPM of 120. If you’re writing a romantic acoustic song, experiment with different time signatures like 6/8 as this will get people swaying along to your song!

Another thing to experiment with is using triplets, it can open up a whole new world of melodic and rhythmic possibilities! A good example that we mentioned in the previous section about hooks is Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith, you’ll hear the hi hat doing triplet rhythms where traditionally for that genre you would expect an even number of hi hats (either quarter notes, eighth notes or sixteenth notes).

Beats and rhythms also don’t have to be perfectly on beat, and often a beat that makes you want to dance will be a ‘swing’ or ‘shuffle’ rhythm, this is a technique that changes the length of notes to create a more uneven but interesting rhythm. An example of a swung rhythm is Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King, hear how some of the hits are slightly late which gives a driving feel to the song.

 

Production

The Young Songwriter competition entries are mainly judged on the song itself rather than the production, but there are some entries that use the production to help present their song in a stronger way. For example, a more pop/electronic entry might rely on solid drum sounds and more bass than an acoustic entry. Both are totally acceptable approaches and it’s important to note that you do not need incredible production skills and a top mix in order to submit a successful song, many of the best songs ever written would still be just as good whether they were produced fully or just played on one instrument!

 

Recording

We receive many different styles of recordings, many people record themselves at home, even in their bedroom with a phone! We understand that not everyone has access to recording studios or fancy equipment, and much like the production, if your song is strong it will shine even without an expensive or time consuming recording process. The most important thing is that the recording is clear enough for our judges to hear the individual parts, try to avoid recording in noisy environments that may make your recording difficult to hear, or distract from the song itself. You can record elements separately and combine them in a DAW (SoundTrap, Logic, Pro Tools, Reaper, Ableton or any other suitable software) or record with one microphone in one go, whichever you feel most comfortable with!  If recording onto voice memos be sure to sing as clearly as possible as the judges don’t want to miss out on hearing your amazing lyrics. That goes for all recordings.

 

THE POWER OF SONGWRITING IS THAT NO MATTER WHAT INSPIRED THE SONGWRITER TO WRITE A SONG, THE LISTENER INTERPRETS THE SONG IN THEIR OWN UNIQUE WAY, AND FINDS STRENGTH FROM THE MESSAGE AND CONNECTION.

 

Check out our insightful song feedback service to make sure your songs are the best they can be before entering The Young Songwriter 2021 competition!  Entries can be sent from 1st February to 31st March 2021.

 

 

 

NEW MUSIC ALERT! Congratulations to Alex and Carina on their EP releases ‘Birthday Cake’ and ‘Spaceout!’  We’re so proud to support all of our Song Academy members as they release new music into the world.  It’s incredibly exciting but can also be scary to release new music, so we’re proud to support our members who decide to share their gift with the world!
We caught up with Alex to find out more about her songwriting and where she get’s her inspiration.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing or were you a fan for a bit first?  I was a big fan of Ed Sheeran growing up and I think his music was what inspired me to properly write songs as I was so in awe of how he wrote lyrics. But I think I’ve been writing bits and pieces for as long as I can remember.

Where did your inspiration come from for the songs on your EP?  I tend to find inspiration from things going on around me and stuff I’ve heard about however these songs were all pretty personal and I think that’s why I like them so much.

What’s your favourite part of the song writing process?   Probably when the main scaffolding of the song comes together and I start singing it through. It’s always really exciting to have made something from a couple of random thoughts in your head.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?   I find it a very subconscious process, I’ll often come up with lyric not really knowing what it means or anything, I just think it sounds nice, and then as the song goes on I’ll realise what I’m writing about.

How did you produce your songs?  I pretty much recorded and produced the whole thing myself on logic.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?   Definitely Cavetown, his lyrics are the coolest.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about writing songs but hasn’t started yet?  Or do you have any tips for 8-18 year old songwriters who are already writing?   Don’t overthink it too much!

What do you like about Song Academy?  I’ve met some really lovely people who’ve inspired me with my own writing. It’s cool to find people who also write songs and see each others progress.

Here’s our interview with Carina on her songwriting and where she finds inspiration.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing or were you a fan for a bit first?  I was always a pretty quiet so I never used to be into music, but I’ve always loved to write: stories, poems etc. As I got older I grew more confident and I guess my love for writing evolved into lyrics and music production also. I find it so much easier to convey how I feel and my ideas through music rather than just prose.

Where did your inspiration come from for the songs on your EP?  The bulk of the EP was made during the pandemic – and I’d look on my phone through all these videos and voice memos when life was normal (when I went to nyc and it was raining, friends talking at parties, etc.). It really inspired me to create something out of it, especially because it’s always been a goal of mine to release some music while I’m still a teenager. I think young people have interesting stories to tell, but often don’t get the opportunity to tell them, so I’ve always wanted to challenge that.

What’s your favourite part of the song writing process? The best thing about writing for me is that I struggle quite a bit with dissociative episodes, and it really helps. Dissociation can make you feel like you aren’t real and it becomes incredibly difficult to connect with anything, but writing can counteract that. When I make music, I’m taking something from inside my head and turning it into something that exists outside of myself. That process is very grounding for me and that’s why I do it so much.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I guess it’s different every time, but I ususally get my initial ideas in pretty random places. I came up with the hook for ‘frontin’ when I was sitting in my school library which is funny because that does not match the vibe of the song at all. It always comes first with a little phrase that I find interesting though, like something that my friend will say in conversation or something I’ll see in an advert.

How did you produce your songs?  It took me about 10,000 years. I’m not joking. Essentially my parents have always been very supportive of me doing this, so they helped me to get everything I needed which is amazing – however they are not musical so I had to learn everything mostly on my own, with some help of a very cool producer guy called Ian who my Mum found on the internet. All my songs are written, recorded and mixed in my bedroom by me alone, which means it takes time but it’s also very special to me as well. Ian masters them for me though, which is cool.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?   See that’s an interesting question. There’s a bunch of artists who I take inspiration from for my music but I think my dream collaboration would be with someone who has a very different vibe to me, because it’d be amazing to do something outside of my comfort zone and that I couldn’t do on my own. Either this artist called Toro Y Moi who has this very unique chillwave indietronica sound that I’m obsessed with, or LAUSSE THE CAT who’s an anonymous rapper that came from Soundcloud. He makes soundscapes that tell stories, and they’re so effective.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about writing songs but hasn’t started yet?  Or do you have any tips for 8-18 year old songwriters who are already writing?  There’s really not much more I can say than just be brave and do it. I was so scared to share my music for so long, so I understand what it’s like, but I am so so so beyond glad I did because it’s so rewarding. Being a young person can be difficult sometimes and having an outlet that’s entirely yours and that no one can control but you can be such an incredible thing. I’ve actually recently started to build a label and community with a bunch of my friends, because I believe young people shouldn’t have to be held back.

What do you like about Song Academy?  Song Academy is so important to me because if I hadn’t have gotten involved here, I’d probably never have pursued music like I have. Just the simple act of performing and watching my peers there perform a song once a fortnight is so motivating. It made me improve so much, because instead of writing stuff solely for me to hear, it was for 4 or 5 people to hear now. That alone is so encouraging. I want to try to build that too eventually with my label.

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Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs? Fancy writing your first song? Get ready to enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 competition from 1st Feb-31st Mar 2021!

The Song Academy Young Songwriter Album 2020 is officially OUT NOW for you to enjoy! 27 tracks from this year’s competition all on one amazing compilation album. It’s available on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and more! Go and check it out now!⠀

Young songwriters on the album are:  Alex Carroll, Cathy Jain, Cora Harkin, Demie Bagnato, Eliza Mai, Guy Courtie, Hetta Falzon, Hugo Rankin, Jordyn Richards, Dodd-Noble, Leona Mae, Lilith Bee, Lily Criddle, Max Eastland-Park ft. Kiera Milward, Nadia Ahadi, Naomi Vosika, Pip Lewis, Rachel Dawson, Riley Stevenson, Ruby Mulholland, Sadie Mustoe, Saga Elizabeth Gregory Strand, Skye Bishop, Venice and Belle Herrera, William Massie & Zach Zbar.

This album not only gives young songwriters a unique platform to get noticed by a larger audience and educate them in the digital world of e-commerce and the dynamics of the music industry, but it also provides them with their own revenue source.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Do you know any young people who are…

  • Writing their own songs & want to get them heard?
  • Secretly writing their own songs and need a bit of encouragement to share them?
  • Creative & musical and would like to write their first song?

Then encourage them to enter The Young Songwriter 2021 competition!  We’re looking for pure, fresh songwriting talent. Songs will be judged on their originality, lyrics, melody, composition, and potential to be a smash hit! There’s no need to enter professional recordings, however a good recording can help to enhance the impact of songs.

Enter between the 1st February and 31st March 2021 for the opportunity to:

  • Get noticed by some of the best songwriters & key players in the music industry
  • Have your songs heard and stand out from the crowd
  • Record your winning song with a top producer in London
  • Win £1,000 worth of Yamaha equipment
  • Receive a professional music video & photos from the recording session
  • Win a Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Studio Bundle
  • Perform in The Young Songwriter 2021 showcase at The Tabernacle, London
  • Get connected to our vibrant community of young songwriters

This competition will be separately judged for UK & Ireland 8-12 year olds, UK & Ireland 13-18 year olds, International 8-12 year olds and International 13-18 year olds.  More information is at www.songacademy.co.uk/says21

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes: Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Harley Sule (Rizzle Kicks), Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Philips (Rizzle Kicks, John Newman, Maddison Beer), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Starsmith (Ellie Goulding, Lady Gaga, Jess Glynne, Paloma Faith), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

Click here for more information on The Young Songwriter 2021 competition.

Click here to join our songwriting workshops in December to get your songs ready!

We’ve created a playlist full of inspiring songs across different genres for broadening young people’s knowledge of popular music.  Have a listen and more information on each song is shown below.

Click here for the Spotify playlist

Click here for the YouTube playlist

POP

I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston (1974)

“I Will Always Love You” was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton, who achieved commercial success with it, reaching the top spot of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart not once, but twice. She also wrote arguably her best known song, “Jolene”, on the same day. It is a traditional love song and the lyrics reflect that!

Whitney Houston’s version was recorded for the film “The Bodyguard” in 1992. It is considered to be a pop song with elements of soul and R&B music. The tempo is 134bpm and it is in the key of A major.

Love Story – Taylor Swift (2008)

“Love Story” was written and recorded by Taylor Swift, and she co-produced it with Nathan Chapman. It was the lead single from her second album. The song was inspired by the storyline of Romeo & Juliet but also a situation that Swift was in herself with a love interest and her family. She took inspiration from the plot of Romeo & Juliet but changed it to a happy ending, instead of the tragedy ending of the original.

It is one of the best-selling pop singles in the United States. The tempo is 120bpm and it is in the key of D major.

Thriller – Michael Jackson (1984)

“Thriller” is one of the best-selling singles of all time, and was written by English songwriter Rod Temperton. It has a very theatrical theme, as Jackson was a huge fan of film. It was originally titled “Starlight” but after some discussion with the production team (including Quincy Jones) the title eventually ended up being “Thriller”.

The closest genre is disco/funk. The tempo is 120bpm and it is in the key of C# minor.

Crazy in Love – Beyonce ft Jay-Z (2003)

“Crazy in Love” was written by Rich Harrison, Beyoncé Knowles, Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) and Eugene Record (included as a writer of the original song the song samples, “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)” by The Chi-Lites.

It is a pop song with elements of hip hop, funk and R&B. The tempo is a moderate 110bpm and it is in the key of F major and D minor (the relative minor of F major).

We Found Love – Calvin Harris ft Rihanna (2011)

“We Found Love” is a song recorded by Calvin Harris and Rihanna, but was written and produced solely by Calvin Harris. The song mainly revolves around the main hook “we found love in a hopeless place”, and Rihanna’s vocal is fairly relaxed, contrasting with the high energy beat.

It is considered to be in the electro house/pop genre. The tempo is 128bpm and it is in the key of F# major.

Shallow – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper (2018)

“Shallow” was written as the lead single from the soundtrack to “A Star is Born”, which stars both Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. It was written by Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow), Anthony Rossomando (Dirty Pretty Things) and Mark Ronson. It is a love song written about the relationship between the two leads in the film.

It is considered to be a pop/rock power ballad. The tempo is a moderate 96bpm and it is in the key of G major.

Leave Right Now – Will Young (2003)

“Leave Right Now” was written by Eg White (who has been on the judging panel for several Song Academy Young Songwriter competitions!) and performed by Will Young. It is reportedly written about unrequited love and was one of Will Young’s most successful songs.

It is considered a pop song. The tempo is 84bpm and it is in the key of F# major.

Bad guy – Billie Eilish (2019)

“Bad guy” was written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell. The theme of the song is Eilish talking to her partner and taunting him for being a ‘bad guy’. The lyrics are tongue in cheek and the vocal is almost spoken.

It is considered to be an electro pop song. The tempo of the first half is moderately fast at 132-138bpm and the second half slows down to 60bpm.

Losing You – Solange (2012)

“Losing You” is a song recorded by Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister!) and written by Solange and Dev Hynes. The song is described by Knowles herself as “eclectic with ‘80s references and African percussion influences”. It received almost universally positive reviews from music critics and is Solange’s most popular tune to date.

It is considered to be a dance pop song. It is at a tempo of 114bpm and is in the key of C major.

Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (2017)

“Shape of You” is a song written by Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid, but the original songwriters of “No Scrubs” by TLC are also credited due to certain similarities in the songs. It was the best selling song of both 2017 and the decade in the UK, and peaked at number one in 34 countries.

The song is considered to be pop with influences from dancehall and tropical house. It is at a moderate tempo of 96bpm and is in the key of C# minor.

Someone Like You – Adele (2011)

“Someone Like You” was written by Adele and Dan Wilson for Adele’s second studio album “21”. It is a song about heartbreak and the end of a relationship, and Adele’s coming to terms with it. The song contains only a piano and a vocal, and was critically acclaimed, especially after a performance at the Brit Awards that pushed the song to the number one spot in the UK.

It is considered a soul/pop ballad. It has a slow tempo of 68bpm and is in the key of A major.

Get Lucky – Daft Punk ft Pharrell Williams (2013)

“Get Lucky” is a song written by Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams. It won “Record of the Year” and “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards and is one of the best selling singles of all time.

It is considered a disco/pop song, and it has a tempo of 116bpm, composed in the key of F# minor.

Round Round – Sugababes (2002)

“Round Round” is a song written by Sugababes (Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena, and Heidi Range), as well as one of our very own Young Songwriter competition judges Miranda Cooper, alongside Niara Scarlett, Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Nick Coler, Shawn Lee, and Lisa Cowling. It also includes a sample from “Tango Forte” by Dublex Inc. who are also credited as writers.

It is regarded as one of the songs that changed the direction of British pop music, with “Sound of the Underground” by Girls Aloud (another Miranda Cooper co-write) sharing that accolade. It originally started with a drum track that Brian Higgins had that Miranda Cooper sung a chorus from one of her unreleased songs over.

It is considered to be a dance/pop song at a tempo of 127bpm, and written in the key of F# minor.

Hands Up – Merk & Kremont ft DNCE (2018)

“Hands Up” is a song written by Young Songwriter competition judge Emily Phillips alongside Merk & Kremont, Simon Says!, Eugenio Maimone, Joe Jonas, BullySongs, Josh Record & Ant Whiting.

It features DNCE, with their singer Joe Jonas singing the song. It is an energetic and upbeat pop song with disco and rock elements and has been certified platinum.

It is considered a pop/rock song and has a tempo of 108bpm, written in the key of E minor.

Heal – Tom Odell (2013)

“Heal” was written by Tom Odell, one of the judges of the Young Songwriter competition. It is about wanting to heal from past experiences and needing someone (or something) else to take it away for you. It’s a heartfelt piano ballad.

It is considered to be a pop song at 110bpm, written in the key of Bb minor.

Happiness – McFly (2020)

“Happiness” is a song written by McFly (Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter, Harry Judd and Tom Fletcher) with Jason Perry, Jordan Cardy (aka Rat Boy) and Oberdan Oliveira.

It is an upbeat, happy sounding and soulful pop tune with a big chorus. The intro and chorus are built upon a bright sounding brass sample that reoccurs throughout the song, reinforcing the major, happy sound to the song.

It is considered a pop song. It has a tempo of 106bpm and is in the key of F major.

ROCK

Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye ft Kimbra (2011)

“Somebody That I Used to Know” was written by Wally de Backer (Gotye) and also credits Luiz Bonfá for the use of a sample from his 1967 song “Seville”. It also interpolates the first few notes from the nursery rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. Lyrically it is about becoming distant with a romantic partner that you used to be close with.

It is Gotye’s most successful song and has been certified multiplatinum in ten countries, having sold more than 13 million copies worldwide.

It is considered to be an art pop song. It has a tempo of 129bpm and is in the key of C major.

Tempted – Squeeze (1981)

“Tempted” is a song by the band Squeeze, written by Song Academy judge Chris Difford alongside Glenn Tilbrook. It has been synced in films, adverts, TV series and video games, including adverts for Heineken and Burger King as well as in the video game Rock Band.

Chris Difford wrote the lyrics to the song in a taxi on his way to the airport when he started to write down what he saw. It has been covered by many great artists and still receives airplay today.

It is considered a pop rock song, played at a tempo of 95bpm and in the key of F# minor.

Mr Brightside – The Killers (2003)

“Mr Brightside” is a song written by Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. It was released in 2003 and was fairly successful, but its 2004 rerelease was when it really became popular.

Lyrically the song is about a paranoid man suspecting his partner of being unfaithful, and only has one verse that is repeated. In July 2019, the song had spent a combined total of 209 weeks in the top 100 chart, and it is a staple of many DJ and cover band sets across the world.

It is considered to be an alternative rock song. It has a tempo of 148bpm and is in the key of Db major.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (1975)

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song written by Freddie Mercury, it is considered by many to be the greatest rock song of all time and has been downloaded or streamed over 1.6 billion times.

It is unusual for a hit single as it doesn’t feature a chorus, and moves between contrasting sections that dip into several genres including progressive rock, opera inspired sections, hard rock and progressive pop.

It is considered to be a rock song. The tempo and key changes and modulates throughout.

Paranoid Android – Radiohead (1997)

“Paranoid Android” is a song written by the band Radiohead. The lyrics were written by the band’s singer Thom Yorke after a night he had spent in a Los Angeles bar.

It is comprised of four distinct sections that were edited together using tape, and the original version was over fourteen minutes long. It was eventually edited down to around six and a half minutes long after cutting out an organ solo.

It is often mentioned in lists of the best rock songs ever. It is considered to be an alternative rock song, both the tempo and the key changes throughout.

Counting Stars – One Republic (2013)

“Counting Stars” was written by Ryan Tedder whilst waiting for a studio session with Beyoncé. He said it was inspired by a song that had an “indigenous folk sound” that “struck him like lightning”. Lyrically the song is about the stresses of life and how to deal with them whilst laying awake at night.

It is considered to be a folk/pop song with the tempo starting at 104bpm before riding to 122bpm. It is written in the key of C# minor.

Friday I’m In Love – The Cure (1992)

“Friday I’m In Love” was written by Perry Bamonte, Boris Williams, Simon Gallup, Robert Smith and Porl Thompson.

It is upbeat and happy sounding despite starting as a slower song. After writing it, Robert Smith convinced himself that he had inadvertently stolen the chord progression and melody, so he called around and played the song to as many people he could, none of whom confirmed his suspicions, reassuring him that it was his own melody.

It is considered an indie/alternative rock song and has a tempo of 136bpm. It was recorded in D major, but the studio version sounds slightly higher after Robert Smith forgot to turn off the vari-speed on the tape.

The Chain – Fleetwood Mac (1977)

“The Chain” was written by Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie and Stevie Nicks, and is the only song on the Rumours album that credits every band member as a writer.

The song is made up of “previously rejected materials” and was spliced together from various other songs using tape during the recording process, which one of the reasons all of the members are credited as writers. Despite the method in which it was created, it still has a basic rock structure with distinct sections.

It is considered to be a folk/country/hard rock song. It has a tempo of 150bpm and is played in the key of E minor.

When Doves Cry – Prince (1984)

“When Doves Cry” was one of two songs written by Prince after being asked by the director of the “Purple Rain” film, Albert Magnoli, to write a song that would fit with a particular scene that dealt with parental difficulties and a love affair.

It was Prince’s first Billboard Hot 100 number one hit. The arrangement of the song is unique in that it does not feature a bass line.

It is considered to be an experimental pop/rock song. It has a tempo of 120bpm and is in the key of A minor.

Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel (1973)

“Stuck in the Middle with You” was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, performed by their band Stealers Wheel.

It is written about a music industry cocktail party and is a parody of Bob Dylan’s musical style, it is often wrongly attributed to Dylan. The song was used in the 1992 Quentin Tarantino film “Reservoir Dogs”, which introduced the song to a whole new audience.

It is considered to be a country/folk rock song. It has a tempo of 124bpm and is in the key of G major.

Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd (1979)

“Comfortably Numb” is a song written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters for their band, Pink Floyd. It is one of their best known songs, in particular for its two guitar solos.

The lyrics are part of the concept of the album, The Wall, and are about an embittered and alienated rockstar who is being medicated in order to perform at a show, inspired by Waters’ experience during a Pink Floyd show in 1977.

It is considered to be a progressive rock song. It has a tempo of 127bpm. The verses are in the key of B minor, whilst the chorus has been described as using a modal interchange of that key’s relative major, D major, and Mixolydian of D.

Wonderwall – Oasis (1995)

“Wonderwall” is a song written by Noel Gallagher for his band Oasis. It is arguably the band’s most popular song and according to Noel “it’s a song about an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself”.

It was recorded at the iconic Rockfield Studios in Wales, Liam Gallagher sings the lead vocal.

It is considered an alternative/pop rock song. It has a tempo of 87bpm and is in the key of F# minor.

If We Were Vampires – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

“If We Were Vampires” is a song written by Jason Isbell.

He wrote it after his wife convinced him to stop watching TV and write a song, as he was due to go into the studio soon. He said he knew the song would be very moving for people when he realised how moving it was for himself the first few times he tried to play it to people.

It is considered an alternative country/Americana song. It has a tempo of 97bpm and is in the key of F Major.

When the Sun Goes Down – Arctic Monkeys (2006)

“When the Sun Goes Down” is a song written by Alex Turner for his band Arctic Monkeys. It starts off with a simple guitar and vocal arrangement and suddenly develops into a harder rock full band sound, before reverting back to the guitar and vocal arrangement of the intro for the song’s outro.

The lyrics address difficulties of the people living in a deprived area of Sheffield, and reference the song “Roxanne” by The Police.

It is considered to be an indie rock song. It has a tempo of 168bpm and is in the key of B minor.

Johnny Got a Boom Boom – Imelda May (2009)

“Johnny Got a Boom Boom” is a song written by Young Songwriter competition judge Imelda May. It was the lead single from her second studio album “Love Tattoo”.

It launched Imelda May into mainstream success after a “Later… with Jools Holland” performance. Imelda May explained in an interview that the song was born out of boredom, and that she was in another band but wanted to write her own material.

The song is considered to be a rockabilly song. It has a tempo of 110bpm and is in the key of A minor.

Loner – Yungblud (2019)

“Loner” is a song written by Dominic Harrison (aka Yungblud) Karl Michael, Matt Schwartz and Robbie McDade. It has a very anthemic, alternative feel, and showcases Yungblud’s grungey yet pop sensibilities, with huge hooks and a confident, snarling vocal performance.

It has a traditional band sound with modern production, it utilises distortion and big drum sounds to bring energy and fullness to the song.

It is considered to be an alternative/indie song. It has a tempo of 99bpm and is in the key of Db major

HIP HOP/RAP

Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio ft L.V. (1995)

“Gangsta’s Paradise” is a song written by Artis Ivey, Jr., Larry Sanders and Doug Rasheed, but Stevie Wonder is also credited for the use of a sample from his song “Pastime Paradise” from “Songs in the Key of Life”.

The song has various religious overtones including Bible passages and choral vocals. The first few lines of the lyrics were freestyled by Coolio, and he said the rest came very quickly in one sitting. He also claims that divine intervention played a part and he was a vessel for the song.

It is considered to be a hip hop/gangsta rap song. It has a tempo of 80bpm and is in the key of Ab major.

Own It – Stormzy ft Ed Sheeran & Burna Boy (2019)

“Own It” is a song written by Michael Omari (aka Stormzy), Ed Sheeran, Fred Gibson and Damini Ogulu. It is the second collaboration between Stormzy and Ed Sheeran after their song “Take Me Back to London”.

The lyrical themes revolve around “empowering and uplifting a female love interest” using wordplay and the production has a dancehall feel.

It is considered to be a hip hop/rap song. It has a tempo of 104bpm and is in the key of G major.

Man Don’t Care – JME ft Giggs (2015)

“Man Don’t Care” is a song written by JME and Giggs, it utilises impressive wordplay and rhythm to deliver the vocal over a simple beat that loops throughout.

The lyrical theme revolves around being successful and being the best at what you do, effectively taunting any opposition.

It is considered to be a grime song. It has a tempo of 140bpm and is in the key of E major.

One Dance – Drake ft Wizkid & Kyla (2016)

“One Dance” is a song written by Aubrey Graham (aka Drake), Paul Jefferies, Ayodeji Balogun, Noah Shebib, Errol Reid, Luke Reid, Kyla Smith, Corey Johnson and Logan Sama. This includes writers on the original song “Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz Remix)” that was sampled by producer Nineteen85 for the bridge of “One Dance”.

It is Drake’s first dancehall single as a lead artist, following his feature on the single “Work” with Rihanna. The lyrical theme is about love and relationships in the context of being in a club or dancing with a love interest, with the vocalists each singing from a different perspective.

It is considered to be a dancehall song. It has a tempo of 104bpm and is in the key of Bb minor.

Down with the Trumpets – Rizzle Kicks (2011)

“Down with the Trumpets” is a song written by Jordan Stephens, Harley Alexander-Sule (a Song Academy judge!), Dag Nabbit, Darren Lewis, Iyiola Babalola and Will Davies.

The song utilises a bed of samples and beats supporting a strong rapped lyric for the verses and a simple repeated hook for the chorus.

It is considered to be a hip hop/rap song. It has a tempo of 115bpm and is in the key of E minor.

Milkshake – Kelis (2003)

“Milkshake” is a song written by Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, otherwise known as The Neptunes. It is Kelis’ highest charting single to date and the lyrics utilise euphemism and playground style wordplay along with a simple, catchy melody to bring the whole song together.

It is considered to be an R&B/dance song. It has a tempo of 113bpm and is in the key of C# minor.

Take What You Want – Post Malone ft Ozzy Osbourne & Travis Scott (2019)

“Take What You Want” is a song written by Austin Post (aka Post Malone), John Osbourne (aka Ozzy Osbourne), Jacques Webster (aka Travis Scott), Louis Bell, Andrew Watt and Billy Walsh.

It is a fusion of modern trap style music and guitar based rock, reminiscent of the sounds of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne’s band. The lyrics explore a relationship where one person has let the other person down, and describes the resulting feeling of defeat and sadness.

It is considered to be a trap/rock/hip hop/rap song. It has a tempo of 140bpm and is in the key of C# minor.

It’s Like That – Mariah Carey ft Jermaine Dupri & Fatman Scoop (2005)

“It’s Like That” is a song written by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal and Johntá Austin, with additional credits going to Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell for the use of a Run-DMC sample.

Lyrically, the song is about wanting to relax and have a good time, without giving into stress or hard times. It combines ad libs and rap sections with Carey’s sung vocals.

It is considered to be a hip hop song. It has a tempo of 86bpm and is in the key of Ab minor.

Jump Around – House of Pain (1992)

“Jump Around” is a song written by Lawrence Muggerud and Erik Schrody. The beat was originally produced for Cypress Hill, but rapper B-Real didn’t want to record it at that time, Ice Cube was also offered the beat but turned it down, before it was finally taken by House of Pain.

One of the most recognisable parts of the song is the “squealing” noise that occurs in almost every bar. The exact origin of the sample has not been confirmed but there are rumours as to where it came from.

The song is considered to be hip hop. It has a tempo of 107bpm and is in the key of E minor.

Old Town Road – Remix – Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus (2019)

“Old Town Road” is a song written by Montero Hill (aka Lil Nas X) and Klowa Roukema (aka YoungKlo). It features a prominent sample of a banjo from the Nine Inch Nails song “34 Ghosts IV”, resulting in a writing credit for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Billy Ray Cyrus collaborated with Lil Nas X on the remix after Lil Nas X tweeted saying he wanted Cyrus on the song.

It is considered to be a country rap song. It has a tempo of 68bpm and is in the key of G# minor.

Yeah – Usher ft Lil John & Ludracris (2004)

“Yeah” is a song written by Christopher Bridges (aka Ludacris), James Phillips (aka LRoc), Jonathan Smith (aka Lil Jon), LaMarquis Jefferson, Patrick Smith and Sean Garrett.

It is considered the first song to mix mainstream R&B with southern crunk music, with lyrics revolving around clubbing and nightlife, the simple hook underlines an undeniable chorus.

It is considered to be an R&B/crunk song. It has a tempo of 105bpm and is in the key of G minor.

Stop Killing the Mandem – Novelist (2018)

“Stop Killing the Mandem” is a song written by Kojo Kankam (aka Novelist). It is very politically motivated and describes the struggles faced by black people through an epidemic of violence on London’s streets. The title came from a sign that Novelist had painted for a Black Lives Matter march.

It is considered to be a grime song. It has a tempo of 140bpm and is in the key of Db major.

Intergalactic – The Beastie Boys (1998)

“Intergalactic” is a song written by The Beastie Boys (Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch) alongside producer Mario Caldato, Jr.

The song received a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1999, and reached number 5 in the UK charts. It is a good example of The Beastie Boys’ trademark style of hooks mixed with rapped verses where each member takes turns to do their own verse.

It is considered to be a hip hop/rap song. It has a tempo of 104bpm and is in the key of E minor.

Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill (1998)

“Doo Wop (That Thing)” is a song written by Lauryn Hill. It was her debut single, and has received widespread critical acclaim. Lyrically, the song is said to serve as a warning to African-American men and women who are caught in “the struggle”. The lyrics also promote egalitarianism between the sexes.

The musical style is heavily influenced by the soul and doo-wop genres.

The song is considered to be a hip hop/doo-wop/R&B song. It has a tempo of 100bpm and is in the key of A major.


If you know any musical & creative young people who’d like to develop their songwriting talent and connect to kindred spirits, ask them to check out our online songwriting clubs running from 14th September.

In today’s world, feeling relaxed and being creative isn’t easy. There are so many technological distractions which can easily cut young people off from the real world and encourage them to live in a disconnected social media world, plus big events like COVID-19 and climate change have created fear and uncertainty in our daily lives as well as uncertainty about the future. Imagine your child had something they wanted to share but didn’t know how to express it, or they were afraid that their creativity would be laughed at or frowned upon, or they feel isolated and that no one believes in them. Maybe they are starting a new school and have worries but feel embarrassed or unable to talk about them directly, or perhaps they’ve lost someone close or argued with a friend and don’t know how to express their emotions.

This is where songwriting can help. Music and especially songwriting is a powerful tool that allows people to express emotions, as well as relate to the emotions of others. Songs are written from the heart, mind and soul – whether joyful or sorrowful – and the very act of composing and writing lyrics and melodies can be very cathartic. The Ancient Greeks believed if you had sorrow and you wrote it down in a song for Apollo he would take away the pain! Many musicians and therapists believe that songwriting is a great way to discover and process feelings of all kinds – hope, fear, joy, sorrow, excitement, anxiety – which can all be uncovered as children learn to play with words and melodies. The physical act of writing down what they are feeling can help children deal with their worries and fears as well as express wishes, hopes and dreams.

Music therapist Barbara Dunn said that ‘songwriting is a way to give voice to the essence of who we are, to understand and express ourselves and, to some extent, our relationship to the community and world that surrounds us’. If we can get more young people engaging with their feelings and thoughts, and transforming them into a song with a message that is personal or universal, then maybe they’ll grow up to believe, as John Lennon once penned, ‘there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done, nothing you can sing that can’t be sung’.  Everything is possible.

Song Academy is dedicated to the wellbeing of young people and the future of music. Through our songwriting programmes and The Young Songwriter competition we enable young people to express themselves and be heard. From writing their first song to developing their first album, we nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers & creative thinkers, empowering young people at a formative time of their life.

At Song Academy, young people get a unique opportunity to write with others, understand how other people might be feeling, and so learn how to be sensitive towards others, as well as exposing them to a multitude of different view points and ways of life. On top of this, they are learning how to sing or play instruments and perform to an audience, both individually and as part of a group. This helps them gain confidence whilst extending their knowledge of music theory & composition in a fun, exciting environment. The Song Academy leaders are all young enthusiastic professional songwriters and musicians who delight in helping young people find their own words, melodies and voice.

For those young people who’d like some help developing their songwriting talents, we have an exciting programme of online songwriting workshops running in February Half-Term.  Another opportunity we provide is an excellent song feedback service throughout the year.

Plus mark the date! We’d love all your creative & musical pupils to enter their original songs into The Young Songwriter 2021 competition.  The entry period is 1st February to 31st March 2021.  It’s an inspiring opportunity for them to work towards, with a star-studded judging panel including Fraser T Smith, Tom Odell and Imelda May. As well as getting their songs heard by some of the best songwriters and key players in the music industry and connecting to our vibrant community of young songwriters, they have a chance of winning some fantastic prizes. Prizes include a recording studio session with a top producer in London, a Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Studio Bundle, £1000 worth of Yamaha equipment and a signed Tom Odell album!

Song Academy Summer Collaboration Competition

Open for submissions – entry deadline is 24th August

We’ve had the tagline ‘Express Yourself’ since we founded Song Academy 11 years ago and we want to write a song to celebrate it! We’d like as many young people as possible to contribute to the lyrics, melodies, composition & music video, as possible. This collaborative project will be masterminded by some of the Song Academy young ambassadors. We’d love you to be part of our collaboration & have your voice heard.

Songwriting brief: Please write a song with the title ‘Express Yourself’. Song Academy is about helping every child find their voice. We believe that writing songs is a powerful way to express yourself and communicate what you’re feeling. Songwriting is good for the soul and happiness in life! We’re leaving the brief fairly open so you can be as creative as you want, but we would love for your songs to align with Song Academy’s mission, which is helping every child find their voice, supporting youth’s mental health, helping them to express themselves and championing the benefits of music! We’re looking forward to hearing your songs.

Who can enter? Anyone aged 8-18 year olds, solo or group entries welcome. It’s free to enter!

How to send us your song: Please email your submission before the 24th August to expressyourself@songacademy.co.uk, we can accept SoundCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive or WeTransfer links. You can submit in any format, whether it’s audio or video, or even just some lyrics in a text file!

Please also post your song (or a snippet of your song!) as an audio recording/video recording/music video via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or TikTok, tagging Song Academy (Instagram and TikTok @song_academy; Facebook and YouTube @songacademyUK). Plus the hashtags #expressyourself #songacademycollaboration.

We will pick our favourite submissions and if you are successful, you’ll be invited to a Zoom call on Wednesday 2nd September, 2pm BST with some of the Song Academy young ambassadors and Song Academy team to create the finished song, along with other writers!

We’re looking forward to listening to your songs!

Who are The Song Academy Young Ambassadors?

Here’s a reminder…

Sebastian Croft

Andrea Turk

Cassa Jackson

Gus Harrower

Joshua Shea

Katie Kittermaster

Tabitha Jade

Roman Lewis

Jenk Oz

Miriam Nyarko

Natalie Shay

Kevin Jones

Ronnie Warwick

Lottie Jenkins