Get to know the SAYS22 finalists in the International 13-18 year old category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

TOXIC TIME BOMB – AEJ, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Anna-Elea: In school we had a lesson about plastic pollution in the oceans. After doing some further research, I got so frustrated with the current situation that I decided to write a song about it. I asked myself how the band The Police feel about their song “Message in A Bottle” today? We believe the formerly romantic notion of throwing bottles (with messages) into the sea is no longer acceptable.

What got you into writing songs? Anna-Elea: My friend Josefine and I have been singing together for several years. Our headmaster in school introduced us to the idea of writing songs and taking part in songwriting competitions.

What does songwriting mean to you? Anna-Elea: Songwriting is a form of introspection. By thinking about new ideas and topics, you actually learn more about your own personality and your perception of the world.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Anna-Elea: My favourite part of the song writing process is, of course, when the song is finally finished! Up to that point, it’s an emotional roller coaster ride which ranges from euphoria (Wow, I’ve found a cool chord) to absolute horror (Oh no, this song is never going to work).

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Anna-Elea: I usually try to find a melody and let the music speak to me. It’s as if the music suggests the words or the topic of the song. With “Toxic Time Bomb” it was a bit different. The idea of writing about plastic pollution was there before the melody.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Anna-Elea: We first wrote an acoustic version of the song on the piano. Later we teamed up with a local musician who owns a studio and happens to play drums, bass and guitar. We did all backing vocals ourselves.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Anna-Elea: Since our song “Toxic Time Bomb” uses citations from “Message In A Bottle” we would be thrilled and honoured if former members of “The Police” listened to the song were willing to do a collaboration.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? Anna-Elea: We learned about the competition through surfing on the internet.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Anna-Elea: My tips for young songwriters are: Find something that’s constantly bothering you. Think of an interesting way of delivering your view on it. Find people who help you to produce the best version of your idea. Make yourself heard.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We like the song “Talking To The Devil” by NEAV and “Wasted Potential” by Lindsay Liebro. Both artists appear to have a similar take on music, so this might work well in a collaboration.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Anna-Elea: We are grateful that there is such a possibility as the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition. Young talents are encouraged to create art and send a message to an international audience. So thank you very much!

HEROES HAVE SHADOWS TOO – ISAAC STAINES, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was a time in my life where someone very close to me had let me down, and really disappointed me, I was very sad and angry for a long time. Part of my process of healing was to write songs and that’s why I wrote ‘Heroes Have Shadows Too’. I also wrote it because I know it is an emotion that isn’t hugely written about yet happens in the majority of peoples’ lives, people close to them hurt them.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been musical since I was young and was making little shows with friends and family for friends and family and eventually it just evolved.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a very healthy thing for me – the two main factors being spiritual and emotional health. I’m a very spiritual person and writing songs has such a sort of anointing on it. It also helps me deal and process my emotions. Most situations that I’ve been through in my life I’ve written a song about – I write down my feelings in the form of not just lyrics but chords and melodies too. I also simply love it, I find the most enjoyment out of creating and crafting a song!

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? The first strain of ideas. It’s like one explosion setting off 1000 more, the first idea explodes in my head and immediately my head is full of beauty within music and the chords and lyrics and then I’m already thinking about production and then a video to go along with it. It’s that first explosion that is my favourite part in the songwriting process.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I have two ways of writing, a lot of the really good songs that I write come spontaneously – I will have been thinking through something in my life and then I will just sit down and write a song about it. Or, I have a few people that I songwrite with a few times a fortnight and a lot of the time those specific sessions will produce some bangers!

Describe your setup that you used to write #SAYS22 entry? I have over the years busked week in and week out and saved up enough to have a small studio in my bedroom – it includes all the essentials, guitars, mics, midi keyboards, pianos and a drum kit.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? ‘ I have three artists that I would love to collaborate with;
1. Fleetwood Mac – my favourite band of all time, they are all very old and rarely play together so it would be a hard situation.
2. Ed Sheeran – Ed has an insanely unique way to tell stories and you can definitely feel the emotion in every word of every one of his songs.
3. Charlie Puth – I’d love to be able to simply sit with Charlie for a while and pick his brain on music theory and production, two areas I think he has a lot of skill in.

What would you say to someone 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? All I would say is who cares? I know it sounds strange but if you’ve got a connection to your song, you like it and know it’s good, who cares if it goes far or not. If you like your song and your craft that is all that matters. In saying that, this competition is a great way to put it out for others to hear your emotional process, hear your story.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite entry so far is from Sonic Daze (Don’t Rile The Young). I like this song because it’s different to everything else in the competition, most of the songs in here are break up songs and they are great but there are always so many break up songs in music at the moment. Being teenagers most of us haven’t really experienced a really bad break up in our lives yet but we are the next generation and we can use this song as an anthem. I would like to collab with them because I believe we have similar intent – both of our songs are different and unique compared to the majority of the lovey dovey or break up songs, we are working toward something new.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I simply think it’s a great worldwide competition that showcases some of the talent and skill of all ages around the globe. It gives the young people a platform where at times we aren’t necessarily heard in the music Industry (our actual songs and the message behind them).

WASTED POTENTIAL – LINDSAY LIEBRO, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write “Wasted Potential” after I did poorly on an AP Physics test. I had always been an academically “gifted kid,” but I felt that title slipping away from me. My whole life, everyone has told me how smart I am, and it almost felt like I would be wasting my potential by pursuing music instead of a more traditional career.

What got you into writing songs? I wrote my first song in 2nd grade, and I would say I was inspired by artists like Taylor Swift who created the soundtrack for my life.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting is a way to express emotions, a way to sing the things that are hard to say, and a way to connect people around the world. I think songwriting is magical and cathartic and something I will never stop doing.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is sharing it with others and having them resonate with it. It’s so fulfilling and special to have that connection between the artist and fans.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Most of the time, I’ll just pick up my guitar, play a few chords, and sing whatever comes to mind. Usually, my subconcious will start creating the lyrics based on whatever is currently going on in my life.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote this song in my bedroom! It started off with just a verse and chorus, and I instantly had a feeling this song was special. My producer knew there was something there too, so we finished it up. This song took me the longest to write, but it was so worth it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My ultimate dream collab would definitely be Taylor Swift. I’d also love to be able to produce with Jack Antonoff and Dan Nigro.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to do it! I think it’s really important to put yourself out there as soon as you can because you never know who will listen to your song and think there is something special about it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would be so excited to work with any of the entrants! Some of my favorites include:  Boy – Summer Brennan, California – Ally Cribb, Crossroad – Marthe, Heroes Have Shadows Too – Isaac Staines, Lost – Monique Raso, Phases – Peter Pulst, Sundays – Lily Welch

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I’ve never been part of an international competition, so I think it is such a cool experience to be a finalist along with other people from around the world!

THE SKY & I – JANE CALLISTA, 14 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your song? I was inspired to write my song based on my personal experience and what I feel in daily life as a 14-year-old performer (singer, TV host, musical actress).

At this age, many people would ask me, “What would you like to be when you grow up?”

I love singing as well as songwriting, and my family have always been supportive of me and my dreams. Still, some people are often skeptical of me and what I can do–what I want to do because of my young age.

So, this song serves as a reminder for myself that there is no limit to what I can do and achieve. Just like the sky; it has no limit to it. Hence the title, “The Sky & I”.

What got you into writing songs? I got into writing songs so that I could be able to express what I feel and what I see in my daily life into lyrics and melodies.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part in songwriting is finding and writing the rhymes to complete the lyrics, as well as exploring all the possibilities of melodies that match the sequence of chords to find the one I like best.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. The setup I used for the process of writing my #SAYS22 entry was a voice recorder, note pad on my simple mobile phone and piano.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start my song by writing the melody of the chorus by strumming various chords with my ukulele or piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream come true to be able to collaborate with Taylor Swift or Charlie Puth. They’re amazing singer-songwriters.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? A tip from myself to my fellow young songwriters who would like to join next year’s competition, is to always be yourself because that is your own superpower that you can express through your original songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? They are all great musicians, but one of the entries that I enjoyed listening to the most would be “Think Myself to Death” by Joey Wilbur.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? What I like about the Song Academy Songwriter Competition is, it gives the platform and opportunities to unleash the potentials of young songwriters like me all around the world.

OCEAN CHILD – SUMMER STARLING, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? What inspired me to write “Ocean Child” was my love for those catchy heart-warming staple classic songs made for everyone to welcome into their lives. I wanted to project a valuable message that lasts forever through a form of storytelling where the lyrics just fall into place which they sort of did when I wrote the song.

What drew me to the tropical setting was my collection of memories from traveling all over the world throughout my childhood and how I’ve in some way found a connection between my travels and my journey of growing up. Sometimes when I’m in certain places it feels as if time has stopped and I get to observe and reconnect with life. Another inspiration behind the setting was the place I imagine the type of song I mentioned earlier to be played in, friends and loved ones sitting around a bonfire with guitars under palm trees and reconnecting with what matters the most through music.

Everything sort of flowed in the songwriting process and I had a magical sense of connection to it which I think is something you can sometimes tell when you listen to songs, how much the artists believe in the lyrics and understand the meaning behind them. The key takeaway of the song as I explained more thoroughly in my entry form is the importance of staying connected to what you love, wish and dream to the extent of it being a source of guidance and confidence throughout your journey rather than something that holds you back from reaching your true purpose. I also wanted to bring to light the value of love and meaningful relationships with people and multiple aspects of life as they are just as powerful and can support and motivate you when challenges surface. As one grows the complexity of life tends to do so too and I wanted this song to be a reminder of all the treasures that are yet to be found if one chooses to believe in it, not only for whoever listens to it but also to remind myself. If I could only choose one song to sing in front of the biggest audience in the world right now it would be this one. The song is written directly from my heart and one I wish to reach as many others as possible.

What got you into writing songs? Since my first knowledge of music, I’ve longed to write songs and placed a huge emphasis on the creation of music. But what kept me from it was a drought of a place to start from along with uncertainty in the path I saw ahead of me career-wise. Then, as my interest in Taylor Swift’s music and undeniable proficiency expanded, I gained clarity and confidence in my calling and above all songwriting. Her music is nothing but brilliance. She is an artist who has demonstrated that she can do the impossible, achieve anything and outperform herself continually, and that never fails to inspire me.

From then on my everlasting songwriting has been in full speed and I’ve continued to gain a broad variety of influences along the way such as John Mayer, The Killers, and Tears for Fears, all exceptional artists I look up to in different ways. Writing in itself is such a magnificent way of expression and I love that there are so many ways to write. What makes songwriting so endearing is that the addition of music and melody that follow provides an expansive understanding of the songwriter’s intention behind the lyrics. In other words, the combination of lyrics, melody, and music holds the ability for listeners to engage with the songwriter’s perspective of this world and beyond, and the ability to provide that intimate connection is something I choose to pursue.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? One of my favorite parts of the songwriting process is the spark that ignites when a song is just bursting out of me and I get into a flow of songwriting in which I in the best way lose all sense of time and my awareness is solely found within the song. It was one of those moments that paved the way for my song Ocean Child, and it’s one of the parts of songwriting that fuels my motivation to proceed with it more than anything. Sincerely though, I value the whole process of songwriting. Even when I can’t seem to find the right rhymes or stand in the uncertainty of where to lead a story, I know that it’s a part of the process that strengthens me as a songwriter and leads to amazing songs. Songwriting is all worth it to me and something I will always do!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? There are multiple ways for me to start songs in which all that lovely spark can occur. Sometimes I only write the lyrics and then proceed to add melody and chords with my guitar. On the contrary, there are also times where the process embarks oppositely with me playing the guitar first and then adding melody and lyrics, or all at the same time. It can honestly strike me anywhere at any time, right when I’m about to fall asleep, after I wake up, in school, as I’m cooking, and that’s one of the best parts of it. At those times when I can’t spend much time on it, I try to memorize it as best as possible by fetching a pen and paper, recording a voice memo or video, writing it down on my phone, I’ve even admittedly taken notes on my arm as well!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I sat in my bed one evening with my fairy lights turned on in my bedroom and used a diary and a pen to write the song. I wrote most of the song, both lyrics, and melody, and came up with the whole structure in one sitting and then later on completed it with the addition of the guitar as well.
A funny story behind the so-called diary is that I think I bought it intending to write about my everyday life and thoughts as diaries are made for but ended up mainly writing songs instead. The diary holds a special place in my heart because I wrote my first songs in it and there’s just something so special about writing songs manually to me. It feels so intimate and the handwriting adds a layer of personal context.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I intend to collaborate with many of my favorite artists, writers, and bands but one of my dream collaborations would be with John Mayer. John Mayer is another artist that has notably inspired and interested me as a singer/songwriter. The first song I mindfully listened to by him was “Edge of Desire” from the album Battle Studies. What I found the most captivating about it and what I now see in many other songs of his as well is how cleverly he adjoins the instrumental ambiance to his astonishing lyrics and consoling voice. I once read a statement saying “this guy is an emotion” and it speaks for itself. There’s a sense of home and attachment to one’s soul he so fluently incorporates into his music that I aim to channel in my songwriting and musical arrangement. Whenever I view his live performances I acquire an urge and motivation for improvement in my guitar skills as well, as I intend to improve at playing instruments whilst singing. There are so many lyrics of his I know off the top of my head that display his clever songwriting such as “I want you in the worst way, is the gate code still your birthday?”, and to be in the same room as him and adjoining our strengths as songwriters and musicians would be an absolute dream!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say just go for it! It is a perfect chance to display your creativity and individuality! Focus on having fun rather than putting too much pressure on yourself and remember that there are no right or wrong ways to write songs. Another tip is if you can’t decide between different songs to apply with, add both of them. You never know how others will receive the song and what you may dislike about it someone else might love.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? There are so many amazing entries from this year’s competition. I’m blown away by all the creativity and so happy that all these young songwriters have chosen to share their gifts and express their originality. It makes me beyond grateful to be a part of this community. Some of my favorites are “All in” by Daniel Mcarthy, “Belladonna” by Ruby Cooke, and “Topiary” by Oscar Meades. One entrant I’d like to collaborate with is Daniel Mcarthy. I thoroughly enjoyed the uplifting and comforting atmosphere of his song and it reminds me of the music I usually listen to. His message about letting nothing stop you if you see it through you and going all out and being all in is something I stand for as well and the way he delivered it through the songwriting and melodies felt genuine and encouraging. I think my favorite lyric is “Just go out and sparkle, let the whole world marvel the way I do about you”, such a great line to hold near. It’s overall a really sweet and enjoyable song full of heart with memorable lyrics. Both of our songs have acoustic elements and share similar themes and for that reason, I think our sounds and songwriting styles would collide very well if we’d collaborate!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I admire plenty of things about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition. First and foremost is that it’s something made possible for every young songwriter no matter how experienced one might be or where you come from. It’s been more than a joy to listen to the other contestants’ entries and it has made me realize what a wide and colorful spectrum songwriting truly is. Another aspect of the competition I appreciate is how motivating and helpful Song Academy is in the process, from all the information and great variety of resources to the possibility of actual feedback. It is no secret that the people behind this are passionate about songwriting and have the entrants best interest at heart. The competition has been an exciting experience so far and I’ve felt taken care of along the way. This is a wonderful community I’m happy to be a part of!

YELLOW, WITHOUT ME & THINK MYSELF TO DEATH BY JOEY WILBUR, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? All of my songs are based on my own personal experiences. “Think Myself to Death” is by far my most personal song. At first, it was meant to be a song for just me, as a way to express my emotions. I was scared to play it anywhere because of how personal it was to me, but I really hope my song can help someone as much as it helped me. “Without Me” is a song I wrote during the end of a messy relationship. I was torn between letting this person go, and trying to hold on to them. I knew that trying to keep them was bad for me, but that person meant so much to me, and I didn’t want to let them go. “Yellow” is a happy song I wrote about the beginning of a new relationship, where you just love everything about that person.

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 12 years old. I’ve always loved music, and wanted to see if I could create something like what I had heard on the radio. After a few tries I was able to make something that a 12 year old me was happy with. After that, I enjoyed it so much that I just kept doing it.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is one of the most important things to me in my life. It has become an outlet for my emotions, and very therapeutic for me. If I am ever stressed or upset about something, writing a song about it will usually make me feel a lot better, while giving me time to think about it in a healthy manner.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I enjoy having the creativity to do and say whatever I want. I like starting a song from one line that I had saved in my phone notes, and watching it grow as I write, record, and produce it myself.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually a song will start with just a one line lyric or idea that I will think of during the day. I will then start writing with that one lyric and go from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I usually write my songs in my bedroom. I’ll start with a lyric, and write a guitar part that fits the vibe of the song that I plan to create.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I have always been a huge fan of Ed Sheeran. He inspired me to pick up the guitar and start writing. I also love Jeremy Zucker’s music, who has more recently influenced my writing.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Enter your most personal songs that you are proud of. Make something true to you, and other people will relate to it. The judges are looking for good songwriting and want to see something that is real to the songwriter.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I really like Lindsay Liebro’s song “Wasted Potential”. Her music is exactly the type of music that I would listen to on my own. She is very talented!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it gives the opportunity for young songwriters to get their name out there. Not a lot of organizations focus on that, so as a young artist, I really appreciate what they are doing.

TETHERED – THE SEASIDE FEELS, 13 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Our inspiration for this song was a sad story we heard, about a teenager who killed himself when his girlfriend left him. We thought how tragic it was to feel you couldn’t live without someone, even when the relationship was obviously unhealthy and even toxic.

What got you into writing songs? As identical twins, we’ve always made music together. Songwriting together was a natural progression of that. We didn’t sit down at any point and say “let’s write a song”. We just do it when we feel an idea is worth exploring.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to have fun together, to create something unique that expresses our thoughts and feelings. It’s a special thing for us to do together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually start with lyrics, well really poems. Then Venice will usually be the one to come up with a melody. But sometimes it’s the other way round. Sometimes one of us has a melody in her head and the words come after.  We always jot lyrics in notebooks and often they don’t come to more than a few lines. Sometimes they become complete poems but never songs. Then sometimes it all comes together. We never push it, we just let things happen and have fun doing it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? We’d love to collaborate with the band The Rare Occasions, or Cavetown. We love their music and think maybe they would like us! We also love the folk indie band, the Oh Hellos and would love to work with them. We cover some of their songs when we play sets around Dubai.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Anyone thinking of entering next year should absolutely go for it! You have nothing to lose!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We love all the finalists’ songs. It would be really cool if there were finalists in the UAE we could meet up with!

BLUE – AMANDA FAGAN, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote “Blue” during a low point in my life. I had cut ties with someone very close to me because I knew it was the best thing to do for my situation. It was painful to watch that person move on, seemingly forgetting me so soon. This song is packed full of the emotions I struggled to understand. Should I be happy my old friend was moving on? Was I jealous? Did I do the right thing, ending what we had? Or was I just sad and caught up in the nostalgia? One thing I knew for sure was that I was blue.

What got you into writing songs? In 2011, my dad used to compile new songs he’d find on a CD and play them on the way to school for my sister and me. At six years old, one song on the disc stood out to me especially: “Mine.” It was a song off of 20 year-old Taylor Swift’s newest album, “Speak Now.” After that, I just knew I wanted to sing and write like her. My Dad signed me up for voice lessons shortly after and I got a music book full of Taylor Swift songs. In the following years, my Dad would surprise me by hiding “Red” and “1989” in my school bag on the days the albums were released. I’d learn to play ukulele, guitar, and piano in middle school and soon enough I was writing song after song. The reason Taylor Swift’s songs always stood out to me were because she told stories through her music. I wanted to do that too.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means everything to me. Music is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift to be able to write it, sing it, or even listen to it. Songwriting has been a good outlet for my bottled up emotions and creativity. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, music calms me down. When I’m having problems with those close to me, I write about what’s pent up inside of me. When I’m anxious on a Monday morning at school, I find a spot before class to fiddle around on my guitar. Or sometimes I just want to tell a story, whether it be a fictional one or a true one I heard from a person passing on the street, from a face I might not meet again. There are endless possibilities when it comes to songwriting. Let your creativity shine.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process.  My favorite part of the songwriting process is the lyricism. Not only am I a songwriter, but I also love creative writing and poetry. I think that’s why the words are always the part I look forward to most.

How do you usually start a song?  How do you find that spark? I usually start the song with this question in mind: what story am I trying to tell? I don’t have a pattern of lyrics first or music first. I make it up as I go. I can’t say for sure where the spark comes from. The other day I was walking my dog, got an idea of a melody and lyrics in my head, and sprinted home to record a voice memo, singing the same line over and over in my head so I wouldn’t forget it. I have hundreds of voice memos like that on my phone. I get home and work off of what I have recorded. What’s the story? Do I want to change the key? What instruments? What genre? Anything goes.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I used my home studio which consists of my Mac desktop computer, a Rode mic, a mic stand, some sound insulation items I bought online, a midi box, and Logic Pro X. I also had some musicians play instruments in my song. My best friend of 18 years (she’s known me since I was born), Grace, helps me in the production area. She is my producer and my best friend.

Who would be your dream writer/band/artist to collaborate with?  My dream artist to collaborate with would have to be Taylor Swift. I love her writing style and I feel like our music is very similar in genre. I’d love to make a song with her that sounded like something off of her album “Folklore.” I love the vibe and aesthetic of the album.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year?  Do you have any tips for them?  If I had to say something to someone thinking of entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year, I’d say to go all in! Push your nerves aside and submit your song. Don’t compare your value as a songwriter based on a contest. Do it for fun and for the experience! There are countless talented songwriters in the world, all writing about different emotions and in genres. Even if your song doesn’t win, you get the chance to be creative and make something beautiful; you get the chance to discover fellow songwriters and listen to cool music you probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition?  Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you like to collaborate with?  There were so many incredible entries. Some of my favorites were “Yellow” by Joey Wilbur, “Heroes have shadows too” by Isaac Stares, and “California” by Ally Cribbs. All of them had amazing voices. I loved the story Ally’s song told, the simplicity yet beauty of Isaac’s song, and the upbeat banger that Joey made. The song makes you want to jam out and dance! I think it’d be really fun, collaborating with any of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that the Song Academy Young Songwriter competitions give young songwriters an opportunity to be heard.

RISE – MONIQUE RASO, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs?  My song Rise is an uplifting ballad all about not giving up and having the strength to keep on going and being that light to carry on through difficult times.  Lost is all about finding your way out of confusion and knowing that everything will be ok and work out in the end.

What got you into writing songs?  I attended a songwriting workshop and at the end of the day we had to share our very own first original and since then became inspired.

What does songwriting mean to you?  Songwriting means so much to me, it’s a way of expressing my emotion and writing thoughts and life experiences into lyrics. It’s a way to convey messages to the world. Also, the enjoyment of completing a song is pretty cool!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I love playing around with chords on the piano and then finding a melody to go with it and the lyrics. Then after, to go the studio to get the song recorded is lots of fun!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Firstly I start writing down how I am feeling at the current moment or storytelling through life experiences or even the scenery around me and brainstorm and come up with lyrics from that. Then after I play around with some chords on the piano and start singing some melodies over the top and see what comes together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I first wrote my song acoustic on the piano then later teamed up with a producer Nick.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Celine Dion. I absolutely love her music and she is such an inspiration and known for her big ballads. In her songs you can definitely hear her emotions and the messages she is sharing to the world.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Go for it, take every opportunity you can. Believe in yourself and the message you have to share within your song. It is an amazing platform where your music can be found and listened to. Have fun with it!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Everyone is all so amazing and have such incredible originals!   In terms of collaboration, Isaac Staines – ‘Heroes have shadows too’.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It encourages young songwriters all around the globe to have a go at making then submitting their original music and sharing it! It gives us a chance for listeners to hear our stories and the messages behind our song that we have to say and inspires us to keep writing.

ATOMIC BOMB – CALISTA HARMS, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song in quarantine when the world was feeling like it was at its darkest. Almost as if it in its entirety was ending. So I wanted to try my best to put a lighter spin on that in my song by taking this theme of the world ending and turning it into a sort of everlasting romance. with my two characters sharing this mentality throughout the entirety of the song that say well the world might be ending but at least I have you

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since I was little and always wanted to live a life similar to hers so I started songwriting when I was about 12 and I’ve just fallen in love with the craft

What does songwriting mean to you? For me songwriting is an outlet I’m not a person who I consider to be very skilled with words or even just general writing so it feels like songwriting is my only outlet to truly explain how I feel in a moment.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? For me my favorite part of songwriting is the crafting of the story, I can use aspects of my life, things that I have gone through and placed those troubles and woes onto another person in this fictional world that I have created. So that seems to be the most fun part for me

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s different every time but recently I’ve been starting with chords and that seems to be the way I go about the process.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use any fancy Recording studio I just went to a spot in my house that had good acoustics and recorded using Voice Memos.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One song I loved was Boy by Summer Brennan. I feel like we have a similar style to our voices and I love the song she wrote. It would be a dream to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how this contest allows for so much room for creativity and gives us access to share our creative thoughts and ideas with others as well as have a safe space to do so. I would 100% recommend this contest and what I really particularly liked was that I could listen to the other contestants’ songs which I thought were all amazing.

DONE & LIKE A GHOST – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT, 15 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I was inspired to write “Done” by a friend who was frustrated about constantly receiving mixed signals from a friend she was interested in as a boyfriend. I was inspired to write “Like a Ghost” by the tricks our minds can play on us when we have strong feelings for someone.

What got you into writing songs? I have been playing classical piano since age 4 and I started writing little melodies around age 8. Later, when I started listening to more pop music, I also started writing my own songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? I see it as a form of expression and increasingly as a fun activity to share with friends.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Coming up with interesting melodies.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start with a certain topic in mind. Sometimes it is an inspiration from real life, other times it is just a story I create.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote both songs on the piano and later recorded them in my home studio, using Logic Pro X with various instrument and effect plug-ins.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write about a topic you are passionate about, so that you write with maximum motivation.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? “Lost” by Monique Raso is my favorite entry. I would also like to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The fact that younger, less experienced musicians are given a chance to present their music.

FALLING IN LOVE – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was simply the complicated feeling when I fell in love, but the girl I liked had not said yes yet.

What got you into writing songs? My passion for music and the need to express my feeling

What does songwriting mean to you? To me it means telling a story. The music and lyric work together to convey my message.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finding the mood or nuance I want to share, whether it is from music or lyrics

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with finding the theme in shape of some basic notations.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My piano when composing, followed by arranging it using my keyboard

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jamie Cullum

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? It is a very good opportunity to show your music to the world (literally). My tips would be to be honest to yourself when writing a song.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Boy – Summer Brennan (love her voice)

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Opportunity to listen to songs from young composers from all over the world.

TALKING TO THE DEVIL – NEAV, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? A relationship I was in at the time was being threatened by someone else for jealous means. I didn’t understand how someone could act in a way that could hurt others so much so I decided to write the song as a form of therapy.

What got you into writing songs? Ever since I was very young, I would make melodies and silly lyrics. I think once I got into high school, songwriting became therapeutic for me, almost like writing in a diary.

What does songwriting mean to you? I have realised songwriting is as much a need for me as breathing air. It is therapy for me and I love to express myself in that way, hopefully helping others through experiences similar to the ones I write about.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The whole process is so much fun but my favourite part of songwriting would have to be when the song is complete. You can have something that you created that represents a moment in time, an emotion or a story, like a little time capsule.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I am very much a ‘melody’ person so I usually start off by playing random chords or singing random notes until something sticks and I write lyrics over the top. Other times, there will be an idea that I feel a need to write about and so the song kind of just flows from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just grabbed my electric guitar and hit record on my voice memo app on my phone and went for it. The song was later adapted to piano as it suited the song better.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to work with David Byrne (formally from Talking Heads). I think he is just incredible and has made an amazing lifelong career out of music, always adapting and collaborating stay relevant. He has created lots of different types of music across many genres.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to write what feels good, don’t force the song to be something that it is not.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite other entries would have to be Daniel McCarthy, DSWRV and Sisi.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the opportunity that the competition gives anyone and everyone who wants to be heard. I also love how we are given the opportunity to hear other new and young artists that we would have probably never have heard of otherwise.

THE SOUND OF LONELINESS & DIMPLES – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I think, the two songs both came to me naturally, like they were always meant to be.  “The Sound of Loneliness” was inspired by me accepting myself fully, embracing the thought of my authenticity and rejecting the fear of being alone, healing. For many years I thought that loneliness was something unnatural, as if I was supposed to always be surrounded by people, but growing up I realised that it wasn’t the complete truth. It’s okay to be alone. “Dimples” is one of the most intimate songs of mine. Though I am still very young, this song is about my feelings, the way I view the world. For me, love is something soft and gentle, delicate even, so the song “Dimples” was inspired by my perception of love in its purest form.

What got you into writing songs? My childhood left me with many bad memories, as well as my teenage years. Never being supported, being ignored and alone, – I never had lots of friends, I never had the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. Writing songs became the ultimate, only way for me to express my thoughts, my feelings, songwriting was my only friend. At first, I simply wrote songs for myself, to make it easier for me, but as years went by, a desire to support others like me who are struggling, who feel lonely and unloved, that desire transformed to the primary reason why I continued writing songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting always feels like healing. Besides, I always find myself exploring emotions, feelings from different points of view while writing songs, so it’s a process of maturing in a way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the song writing process is the first few words that appear to me. When I write them down, – doesn’t matter if it’s a verse, chorus or pre-chorus, bridge – I get this feeling of certainty, like I know that this song is eventually going to manifest itself, it always feels like a new beginning.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? If I’m being honest, it’s almost never the same process. Sometimes, I sit down by the piano and start improvising without a thought of writing a song, and it just happens. Sometimes, I write the lyrics down and the melody comes along. It’s hard to control, but it’s an extremely interesting process every time, as it is unpredictable. But recently, I found that “the spark” is simply related to the things that surround me and touch my heart. My songs are reflections of my most intimate feelings, reflections of me.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use anything too fancy, it was just a normal sunny day as I sat down by the piano in my parents’ house and played the E major chord. That’s how the song “Dimples” was born. Then I went one tone down and wrote “The Sound of Loneliness”, using the piano and writing the lyrics in my notebook.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Though there are many immensely talented artists, I do have one in mind. Tom Odell saved me countless times with his songs, he was the artist who influenced me to not be afraid of my creative authenticity, write songs that I feel connected to fully. I cannot express how grateful I am to Tom Odell for his works, so I would love to collaborate with him. Also, I’d like to mention late Jonghyun – a member of a group SHINee. His way of telling stories was immaculate, genuine, rare, so he will always be one of my most favourite artists and a dream impossible collaboration.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Don’t be afraid to try. I know, entering any competition is hard and it takes courage, there will always be doubts and anxiety, I had and still have them too, and it’s okay. But you will never know if you never try, and there’s always room for growth. As for the songwriting, – be your authentic self. No one can write songs the way you do, because nobody has the same perception of the world – we are all different. I think, putting your heart and soul into your songs is a way to show the world who you are, and the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition wants to see you for who you truly are.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really loved “Heroes Have Shadows Too” by Isaac Staines. I think, it is really powerful in a sense of emotion, as well as melody. He managed to tell a story of hurting in a way that listening to the song left me with a feeling of being strong rather than being broken.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The fact that the judges carefully listen to each artist, trying to see, feel and hear our stories. I am infinitely grateful for this opportunity and for the hard work of the judges.

SUNDAYS – LILY WELCH, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? As the new year started I began to make a new friend. I decided to write a song about how much we have in common with each other. The time we spend together makes all the stress in our lives go away for a few hours.

What got you into writing songs? I started off by writing poetry when I was younger. As I learned to play many musical instruments, I found my voice and began singing my original words. Songwriting continues to be my favorite thing in the world.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is so important to me because while being an introvert, with songwriting I am able to get all my words out and across to people. I want my words to be relatable and/or emotional for people. Songwriting is also essential in my life because it helps heal me from my anxiety.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? Definitely writing the lyrics. I think it’s so fun to incorporate unique and personal words to tell a story. The words come so easily to me and I love writing about my own personal experiences as a teenager.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? For me, it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes I will be eating at a restaurant or at school, and an idea for a song will just pop into my head. I take my time to write down words in my head and record a quick voice memo and end up going back to the idea later and working on it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Sylvan Esso, Matt Maeson, Billie Eilish, or Bon Iver.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Go for it! It’s so fun to enter a song as well as listen to all of the other entries!

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Oscar Meades. I think we write and sing the same style of music.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how it is open to such a wide age range. It gives so many kids an opportunity to gain recognition.

BIGGER & CALIFORNIA – ALLY CRIBB, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I was sitting at the piano in our cottage, in a tiny town in Eastern Canada when I wrote Bigger. I had been playing around with a few different chord progressions when I stumbled across the chords and was immediately hooked. I played the intro to the song and knew I had something special. In the next couple of days I drafted the first version of the song. I remember sitting there at the piano, thinking about my hopes, dreams, and everything I wanted my future to be. I love Bigger because it sounds like how that moment felt, staring out the window and thinking about all the possibilities of my future if my dreams were to come true.

What got you into writing songs? My dad is a musician with whom I would practice and play music growing up. He brought me up in a very musical home and I always looked up to him. I watched him play piano and saxophone in different bands when I was younger, I used to go to his shows. I quickly realized I wanted to experience the same feeling he got whenever I watched him play. I think in many ways, he influenced the way I write songs today and the attention I pay to detail in lyricism. He was the one who taught me that what makes a good songwriter is the ability to make every line as detailed as possible, while still finding a way to make the listener want to sing along. The listener should feel like they’re right there in the moment you’re describing. My dad is the one who inspired me to make music.

What does songwriting mean to you? I started writing my own songs at the age of 12. During the course of the pandemic, music has been my outlet and escape. Whenever I am going through something significant in my life, I turn to my piano or guitar and start sorting through feelings of confusion or frustration and finding the words and music to give them expression.The feeling I get after finishing a song I’m proud of is a feeling I’m always chasing. I love songwriting because it follows you everywhere. All I need to write something meaningful is a notepad and a guitar. I think there’s something really whimsical and special about that.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? One reason I love songwriting so much is because the creative process unfolds differently every time. Sometimes I start with music. I’ll stumble upon a chord progression I love or strum my guitar until a melody pops into my head that I really love. Other times, a lyric will pop into my head and I’ll immediately grab a napkin and a pen and write it down. I have a list of lyrics on my phone that’ll come to me in the middle of the day (most of the time when I’m in class). It’s so funny how the creative process works. There are days I’ll clear an afternoon in the hopes of writing a song or finishing up a couple of rough drafts, but nothing will come. I’ll just be staring at the piano for hours, unable to think of anything at all. And then there are days I’ll be sitting in the classroom, writing a test, and an idea I love will pop into my head and I know I need to write it down immediately or I’ll forget it. No two songs are written the exact same way, and you never know when creativity is going to strike.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Funnily enough, songwriting inspiration always hits at the strangest times, usually when I’m not trying to write a song at all. Whenever I go through something, it takes me a little while to process it and think it over before I’m able to sit down and write a song about it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My songwriting setup is always extremely basic. It usually consists only of my guitar or piano, a notepad and a pen. That was definitely the case for both Bigger and California. One reason I love playing the guitar is because you can pack it up and take it absolutely anywhere. When I first started writing California, I’d take my guitar down to the beach near our cottage. I think the setting really helped set the scene for the song in my mind, and allowed me to fall into this idea of a small-town love song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Definitely Taylor Swift. I’ve been the biggest fan of hers since I received her album, Speak Now, as a Christmas present from my dad when I was six years old. I’ve always admired her songwriting, and I tend to get a lot of ideas just by listening to her music.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to go for it. There is no downside to putting yourself out there and sharing your creation with others. Regardless of how far you get, you’ll always learn something new along the way and you’ll get good experience out of every songwriting competition you enter.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really love the song Sundays by Lily Welch and the song What If by Peter Pulst.

IN SPACE – ANTEA TURK, 13 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I am always fascinated with not giving up because you can achieve a lot by doing so. So I made a song to express my feelings about how other people can also achieve their goals by not giving up.

What got you into writing songs? I always love how artists can express themselves through music with their heart and soul. So I always wanted to do that in my own way.

What does songwriting mean to you? I feel so happy whenever I want to write a song, because of how free it can be when you want to express and inspire people from how you feel with words through a tune. I also like poetry and how it rhymes, so that also inspired me to make my words fun with different types of rhyming patterns.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love the chorus, because to me, there are so many possibilities to make it catchy and meaningful, since it’s usually the main part of the song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I would think about the special things that happened to me, or the meaningful things that I want to express to the public, that would make me excited to start the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My setup would be from a notepad in my workstation in a software app called Logic Pro.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream if I collaborated with the band QUEEN. I love their music, because of how they express themselves through a really catchy tune that people fell in love with.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would encourage them to participate. My tip for them is to prepare themselves better by listening to the previous years’ SAYS songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Lindsay Liebro, because of how passionate she sang her song, and how her song brings happiness.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it is very simple to enter, and that I am very happy to be selected in last year top 10 finalists!

CROSSROAD – MARTHE SKEIDE, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was the many choices, decisions and challenges related to being young and growing up that inspired me to write this song. I wrote it with the message of inspiring and motivating myself as well as other youths to believe in themselves and their dreams.

What got you into writing songs? Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved singing! I also play a little piano and some guitar. When I was 13, I discovered that I liked writing my own songs and have been doing it ever since.

What does songwriting mean to you? Writing songs comes very naturally to me. It’s just something I have to do, and I think I will never stop doing it. It’s a way for me to channel my thoughts and feelings. I find it very beautiful that I can tell stories, convey messages and be creative when writing songs.

My favourite part of the songwriting process? I love the feeling of excitement that I get when I get a good idea for a melody or a lyric. My favourite part of the process is seeing these ideas coming together to a final product.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find the spark? I usually write songs spontaneously, cause I feel like that’s the best type of songs: the ones that comes naturally. To get started I often pick up my guitar or play some piano to get into the flow. Sometimes I can write songs in like 10 minutes, other times, the process last over a longer period of time.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Spontaneously and on a low budget I got to record my song in the studio with a music teacher at my music school.

Who would be your dream artist/band to collaborate with? Oh that’s an interesting question! There are so many talented singers and songwriters that I look up to: Alicia Keys, SKAAR, Sigrid, AURORA, Bon Iver, Highasakite, Anna of The North, Tom Odell and Adele, just to mention a few. It would have been a dream to collaborate with any of them.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 years who is thinking about entering the competition? Do you have any tips for them? I think that it’s a unique opportunity and I encourage all young songwriters to enter. Don’t be afraid of trying and believe in yourself. Do it for fun and the experience! :)

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition, who would you like to collaborate with? I’m impressed by all the good songs! I especially like the song “Sunday”, by Lily Welch.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young? I think it is a brilliant and unique platform for young songwriters to be heard and explored and I am very grateful to be selected as one of the top 30 in the competition.

FIVE FINGERS – MILAN BHATIA-GUERIN/THE CICADA, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? This song as an individual unit wasn’t directly inspired to be created, rather it came about as part of a larger process. I was inspired to write an album examining the ins and outs of our brains, how we conceive death, how we deal with trauma, and the album that is formed around Five Fingers (the submitted song) tells a story about how three specific characters deal with it. This song in particular follows a sound that I’ve wanted to explore for a while: chaos. The total collapse of will is an interesting topic to think about, both lyrically and compositionally, and that’s mostly what drove me to include this part into the story.

What got you into writing songs? Originally, when I first began making my own music back in 2016, I would not have lyrics. I would slap on some improvised lines so there would be some sort of vocal layer on the tracks, but they never really meant anything. More recently, as my brain began to start… being bad, I looked to lyricism and song production as an outlet. My own inadequacies when it comes to communicating to the people around me fuel my need to write songs about things, not even just my own life, but just stories in general.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting to me is just life. I can’t have one without the other and still be human. It’s come to the point where I’m always actively thinking about my music and finding more inspiration to write more stories and try and escape my own body. Nothing compares to the transcendental experience of writing a song and then living in it. Songwriting has effectively replaced the bones that open and close my jaw, but in a less dramatic fashion than that.

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? My favorite part would probably just be figuring out what to write. When I’ve finally finished a large project, like I did just recently, there’s this sort of giddy freedom that follows suit quickly. There is quite literally an infinite source of music just waiting to be tapped into and that agency to just create is something that never gets old. Eventually, I settle on one topic that I expand upon, but the exploration up until that point is one of the most fun things I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Starting a song never starts with a lyrical process, that usually happens separately. The most important aspect of a song to me is the sound of it all. People will listen to an amazing sounding song with terrible lyrics but they usually wouldn’t listen to a terrible sounding song with amazing lyrics. Once I’ve found a chord progression, a synth, a rhythm, an interesting structure, or basically anything else that I like, I will shape lyrics around it. Eventually, the lyrics start taking the main stage and I finish the song’s aesthetic based off of where the lyrics go. Everything starts with a sound and then explodes outward from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My recording setup was all pretty basic. I have a Samson CO1 condenser microphone that I used for literally everything on this song, from my vocals to my friend’s vocals and viola. I use Logic Pro on my laptop (it’s a free trial, but I’ve been able to renew it indefinitely, so it’s basically like I own it at this point) to do all the recording and mixing, as well as the synthwork. I have a pretty crappy piano in my house but with enough layering and EQ it sounds good enough in the mix. The actual lyrics I think I finished on my phone in bed at 3AM, but I wrote them over the course of a couple weeks, working on a bunch of other songs simultaneously. Everything about the process was claustrophobic and fast, but it was exhilarating too.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? This is an incredibly tough decision, as I have so many different musical inspirations that picking just one is borderline impossible. Phil Elverum from The Microphones would be really cool, as would someone like Laurie Anderson, but I don’t know if they would be good to collaborate with. Honestly, I would probably want to do something with Swans, or at least just Michael Gira, since they have one of the wildest and most compelling sonic palates out there. This is a very difficult question.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the SAYS competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’m not very good at talking to people, especially words of encouragement, but honestly when it comes to songwriting I think the most important thing is to make sure that you like what you’re making. If you’re submitting a song and editing it furiously, just trying to appeal to the judges of some competition, you aren’t doing it right. If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re making, submit it and see how it does, because how other people will interpret it is out of your control. If you really love it, chances are there is someone else who will too, and you might also win a bunch of stuff so that’s an added bonus I guess.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I listened to some other songs from fellow songwriters, although I could not get to all of them. The ones that stood out to me were Lost by Monique Raso, Confession by Cinta Aurelee & Jessica Andrea, Boy by Summer Brennan, and Sundays by Lily Welch. I feel like writing a song with Summer Brennan would be fun, since I love their cadence and the contour of their vocals, as well as just the aesthetic of Boy as a song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? This whole contest is such an important concept just in general. I think that giving young people (especially while they’re still blossoming musically) the opportunity to be evaluated in their craft or even just to let their music be heard is a vital step to take. It’s a bit unfortunate that it doesn’t take production or orchestration into more of an account but to be fair it is a songwriting competition so that’s to be expected. I think organizations like this one are incredibly nice to have in this growing world of music.

BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN

What inspired you to write your finalist song? There was someone I knew, and we had grown apart. After seeing this significant change in our relationship and that person, I wanted to take time and reflect on how I felt.

What got you into writing songs? What got me into writing songs was the storytelling. I remember singing random things to myself in my room all the time and when I was about 12 years old, I realized that I found happiness in this creative outlet and haven’t stopped since.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means to be unapologetically expressive. Songwriting allows me to say anything I need to get off my chest. It is deeply personal and yet still relatable.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part of the process is when I am playing with colorful ways to tell a story. There is no feeling like finding that one line that comes out just the way you wanted it to! Honestly, that is like the most exciting part!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually find my spark by reflecting on past experiences or looking upon current events in society or in my life. I typically start a song by mumbling while I play the piano in my room. I know it sounds crazy, but it is very effective.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My set up was in my room with a pencil, keyboard, microphone and Logic Pro! That’s all you need!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would be Taylor Swift, Harry Styles or Stevie Nicks. They are all such unique writers, and they inspire me so much.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? I was looking for songwriting contests online and found Song Academy. #SAYS22 was unique because it had an international category, and I was intrigued by the idea of being in a competition with talented teens worldwide. The judge panel is super impressive, and with Song Academy’s commitment to promoting young artists and their musicianship, I could only see the benefits in my entering.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to them that the way to stand out is to be authentically yourself. What makes your music yours. Don’t try and be someone else because it will show in your art. Of course, you can have your inspirations but let those influential artists morph you into something that can only be done by you. Don’t second guess yourself, just submit your song!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One of my favorite entries from this year’s competition is Calista Harms. Her lyrics and vocal performance in Atomic Bombs are so intimate and gripping. I would love to co-write something with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that I can hear stories/songs from all over the world. These stories are so emotional and breathtaking, this is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. I am so grateful for the opportunities provided by Song Academy!

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN – CLARA FRANZ-ARAU

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote it a while ago when I had a really close relationship with a best friend who didn’t have the best intentions towards me and always ended up hurting me no matter how there for them I was.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve always loved making art in different ways and love applying my experiences into the art I make.

What does songwriting mean to you?   It’s a great outlet for emotions and a healthy way to express yourself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part is when I write lyrics that capture a situation or emotion perfectly as well as having musicality and a good flow.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Each song is different. Sometimes I start with a theme or a phrase and add chords and then finish the song and other times I make chords and a tune and lastly I add the lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I used a little story behind the song and how the topic of betrayal can be dark and gloomy that seems to lead to no answers. So, in my song I tried to convey the darkness of that feeling as well as wondering If that person will ever be a good person with morals.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to work with Paul McCartney. I love his music style and I have always loved the lyrics and musicality all his songs have.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it?  My uncle, who is a musician, sent me an email saying It’d be a great opportunity to get used to people hearing my songs and getting feedback.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Do it! It’s a good way to get out of your shell if you have one and also beneficial to hear other people’s work to continue to be inspired.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I liked getting feedback and it’s a great way to not be so shy about sharing your music, at least for me it’s been help to step out of my comfort zone.

 

 

 

Get to know the SAYS22 finalists in the UK/Ireland 8-12 year old category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’d just been kicked out of a band that I’d been playing Bass in for 2 years because I was doing well outside the band as a solo artist and I started to get more gigs and more of a following than them and they didn’t like that. I’d put a lot of time and effort into getting us better and better and I was quite hurt by that. I wrote this song mainly based on how people who are jealous of you often try to stop you from doing what you love and just having to turn your back on them and carry on.

What got you into writing songs? When I started playing guitar I guess I wanted to give everything a try so I did.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? Definitely when I’ve finished it and play it after because if it sounds great then the feeling you get makes you want to do it all again!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I get a riff that I like, think of a melody, hum along to it and then write words.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I wrote it in my little songwriting book then put a tune to it on my guitar. I recorded it first and made my own mix using Soundcloud but then I went to a proper studio using the money I made from busking in Manchester.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love Johnny Marr so I’d like to collaborate with him. Other than that I like Blossoms, Sam Fender and the Courteeners.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it, you put your music on a bit of paper, then sing it and then share it with the world. Song Academy are amazing for running this competition which lets people like me share their music!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? DSWRV has got an amazing sound which is so cool. I also liked Meg Curl and her song. Lastly, Woody Collins has got some great effects to his song, sounds a bit like Bowie! I’d like to collaborate with all of them and lots of others in all the categories.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? When I gig or busk, I just enjoy meeting other musicians and hearing other original music. I like the Song Academy gives a chance to kids like me to share their music.

FOMO – HOLLY DAIS, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? ‘FOMO’ means ‘Fear Of Missing Out”. Starting secondary school was difficult. I didn’t say a proper goodbye to my primary school and I found myself in a place with lots of new people, who weren’t always kind. Being a young person in a world where everything is shared on social media makes it even harder, because it is so easy to feel left out. I wrote this song after I wasn’t invited to a sleepover and I saw it online. It made me really think about what I wanted from friendships and after writing the song I felt a lot stronger. I realised I had enough of toxic friendships and I decided that my happiness was down to me, not other people.

When I talked to other people, including adults I found out that lots of people feel the same as I did, worried about missing out on something, even if they don’t actually want to go!
Now I make the decision not to be on social media at all and I am not planning on having any social media accounts when I am legally able to on my next birthday. I want to live in the real world!

What got you into writing songs? During the first lockdown I learned how to play the piano using an app. In the second lockdown I started to pick out my own chords and tunes and I found that adding words to them came really naturally, before I knew what was happening, I realised I had written a song! After that, I couldn’t stop writing songs!

What does songwriting mean to you? Sometimes my head is full of feelings and worries and ideas. Songwriting gives me a way to get all of my thoughts out. A bit like writing a diary. Whether I am happy or sad, excited or scared once my feelings are made into a song I feel free.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I absolutely love every part of the process, from the initial chords and tune, to the words right through to the recording at the end.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? The spark is really like magic, I still don’t really understand how it works! If I am in the right frame of mind I just sit at the piano and I start playing around with chords and tunes. If it feels right then I start to hum a melody, imagining how the words will fit in. My mood usually leads the music; if I am angry, I might play a heavier tune, if I’m happy it might be more joyful. Once I am in ‘the zone’ the words flow, I scribble them down in my notebook and keep going over them until they are just right.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAY22 entry. I wrote FOMO on my own; just me and an electric piano. I worked throughout the summer holidays to earn enough money to spend a day in a recording studio. The recording studio is Momentum Studios run by Josiah J Manning, he produced the track and played the other instruments, whilst I played all piano parts and sang all lead and backing vocals.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My hero is Taylor Swift and I would love to meet her! I love how she tells stories in her songs, and how she shares her feelings and her life with her listeners. It is amazing how she started with Country and has moved into Pop. It seems there is nothing that she can’t do!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Go for it! What have you got to lose?

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? They are all so amazing! My favourites are ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Sambelle Prince, ‘Find A Place’ and by Nelly Rose Bingham and ‘Miracle’ by Georgia Taylor, I love the catchy tunes and stories.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? To me, the most wonderful thing about this competition is that real professional songwriters have taken the time to listen to and judge my song. They will know all the hard work that goes into writing a song. It is truly amazing that my song got picked against so many other incredible entries. Thank you SO much for this opportunity!

BUSTING THE HINGES – SPARROW DURHAM-LOVE, 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I got into writing songs quite recently when I came upon a video of the inspiring Grace Vandawaal. I was loved her uniqueness.

What got you into writing songs? Songwriting for me is about expressing to music what I see around me and what I feel.

What does songwriting mean to you? I was passionate to write my own song because a group of friends at school and I were entering this competition, but I felt that nobody was listening to my ideas, so I thought I would enter on my own!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I usually start with the words and then put music to it over a period of time.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would of course love to collaborate with Grace Vanderwaal but there are lots of other artists I would like to work with.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? My advice to anyone entering the competition would be do it you own way.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Uma Martin that is my favourite so far, I haven’t managed to listen to all of them YET!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the way it has inspired all aged children to write music, such a great idea!

SOMETHING BIG – LEANNE JOAN FERNANDES, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? When I composed this song, I was not aware about this competition. But when I found out about it, I knew my song was perfect for it. What inspired me was the great composers out there and I want to be something big just like them.

What got you into writing songs? I started by singing in the shower and said some random words and somehow formed a song. What really got me into songwriting is all the comments my family inspired me with. I used to and still do covers of other songs and usually send them to my family and hear the inspiring messages they send me.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means success to me because I feel I have the potential to write so many more songs in the future. It does let me express my thoughts and music always makes me happy.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite bit is coming up with the lyrics. The method I use is to first write the lyrics and then come up with the tune, jamming up with my older brother who accompanies me with harmony and joining me in playing the keyboard or guitar to add some beats to our songs done together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? To start the song, I come up with a set of lyrics and then record the composed tune I want. I first look for a topic to write on based on my thoughts and that is how I find the spark to my lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. This was the first song I composed and was not made for the entry but for fun. But when I learnt of this competition I decided to enter it as felt it matched the criteria. For the recording, my dad recorded it on my mum’s phone, my mum was cooking in the background and my brother joined in to sing the harmony and play the guitar while I was singing the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with is George Strait because he bases some of his songs on his life and that is what I did with ‘Something Big.’

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to keep going even if things don’t work out and I would also share my experience with them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I don’t have a favourite as many are nice, but I enjoyed Chloe Turner’s song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that you were able to help young songwriters to strive for success in writing songs and thank you for this opportunity. My mum also did mention about the academy having courses which is very good to get some guidance to learn and improve in songwriting.

SUNSET, SUNRISE – CHLOE TURNER, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I see the sunset and sunrise while walking to and from school

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been into writing songs, I don’t know why but I do know that it’s a way I express myself

What does songwriting mean to you? Expressing feelings you have yourself or others may have.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When you are done and you have the best possible version of your song in front of you

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’ll be doing anything and a tune just forms out my mouth and suddenly I guess I’m singing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAY22 entry. I wrote the song on my messy desk throughout 2 days

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Probably Ariana Grande because she has got the sweetest voice ever.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? My tips would be to write from the heart to make the song really you and go over multiple times to improve on what you’ve done.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? FOMO – Holly Dais

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? it’s a very fun experience to write a song and to see my name and my song on the 30 finalists.

IN-BETWEEN – TIMI HUGHES, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? A girl in my form group at school randomly mentioned one morning that she still watches Peppa Pig when she’s bored. This got me thinking about all the things that I still like to do what are typically associated with younger children – such as reading Dr Seuss books and playing games like Hide and Seek. I thought it would be fun to write a song about turning 12 and how at that age we’re walking the middle ground between child and teenager. I used my friend’s line about still watching Peppa Pig as a basis for the chorus and built my song up from there.

What got you into writing songs? I first started composing songs during lockdown. One of my favourite lessons during homeschooling was when our music teacher asked us to record an audiobook and create the sound effects using things we had at home. I recorded myself reading the Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, experimented with different sound effects to bring the story to life, and then composed a theme tune to accompany the recording on my piano. It was so much fun! Before that, I’d only ever played other people’s music. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I just experimented with what I thought sounded good, and fortunately, it turned out ok.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love experimenting on my piano and coming up with my own ideas and tunes. I love the creativity involved, and I know that whenever I’ve had a bad day, I can sit at my piano and play. I’m the only musical person in my family, so fortunately there’s never any competition for the piano!  I love hearing it all come together at the end!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I find most of my inspiration comes from things other people have said – such as my friend at school saying she still watches Peppa Pig when she’s bored! I then try to turn that into a rhyme that I can later put to music. In this particular song, a small part of the melody for the chorus was actually inspired by the Peppa Pig theme tune – if you listen carefully to the line “still watch Peppa Pig when I’m bored” you can hopefully hear that it sounds a little like the second half of the Peppa Pig theme, albeit with a different rhythm and tempo.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the lyrics first and then just tinkered on the piano until I had a melody that I thought worked. I then recorded myself playing on the piano and singing using GarageBand on my computer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love musical theatre, so if he were still alive, then definitely Stephen Sondheim. I love how clever and poetic his lyrics are. I would also like to collaborate with Richie Webb, who composes all the songs for Horrible Histories. It’s my favourite TV programme and I’d absolutely love to write songs for a show like that.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it. I didn’t expect my song to make it into the finals, which just goes to show that we’re not always able to judge the quality of our own songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I absolutely love Twayn’s song “Sweet 16” in the 13-18 age category. It’s on a similar theme to mine in that my song is about being 12 and wondering what it’s like to be 16, whereas theirs is about actually being 16. But more than that, I just really like the song. The lead singer has got an amazing voice.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s such a great opportunity to have our songs listened to by people other than our friends and family! As I say, I didn’t expect to do very well in the competition and it’s an honour to have been chosen as a finalist, especially considering the quality of some of the other songs.

PATCH IT UP – ROMY, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote Patch it up because I wanted to tell a story about two people who are in a relationship. One wants to leave but is finding it hard because they still love the other person. I had a bunch of chords in my head that were really catchy and I came up with the words of the chorus quite quickly. I liked the idea of feeling heartbroken by a person, but that very same person was able to fix that broken heart, or ‘Patch it up’. I think a lot of relationships can be like this. My song is not a happy love song, but it’s also not about the end of a relationship. It sits firmly in the middle.

What got you into writing songs? When I was very young I had a little guitar and I used to make up songs. They probably didn’t really make any sense at all! One day, when I was 5, I asked my teacher if I could play one to her. I’d seen her singing and playing her guitar in an assembly and wanted to be able to do what she did. I guess she inspired me to play. After I’d learned to play the guitar properly I found it made things easier for me to write songs because the music and the words come to me often at the same time. I’ve written a lot of songs now and I enjoy performing them live.

What does songwriting mean to you? I’ve always enjoyed reading, and poetry, so when I write my songs I like to tell a story. Songwriting makes me feel happy! I love it when I play one of my songs and people ask me who wrote it? Who’s song it is. Today I went busking to raise money for a charity I support, I played ‘Patch it up’ and a young girl asked if it was a Taylor Swift song! That MADE my day! When I am singing my songs and performing, I feel like that’s the real me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finishing it and performing it! Some songs come to me very quickly, they just fall out of my head. I like performing my songs as I get a real buzz from that.

How do you usually start a song, How do you find that spark? Often I think of a catchy hook and then build the rest of the song around it. Other times I just have a bunch of chords in my head that are catchy and build a song around them. I know when my songs are catchy as I can hear my family walking around the house singing them! My brain is always in songwriting mode which can be exhausting at times. Words and music go around and around in my head. This can be really distracting and inconvenient. I have to write things down as soon as they come to me.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Just me and my guitar, I was 11 when I wrote this song and had been playing it for a while. Towards the end of last year I wanted to try and get some good recordings of some of my songs so that I could send them into the local radio station. So I went to a local recording studio. We recorded Patch it up live, in one take. I’d had a baseline in my head which I wanted to add and so Paul at the studio added that for me over my track.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with. Absolutely, top of my list would be Freddie Mercury and Queen because he was an amazing singer songwriter! His songs were all so different and unique, and he was an amazing performer! But in second place would be Ed Sheeran! But only because no one beats Freddie!
What made you enter #SAYS22 and how did you hear about it? My mum had seen it advertised on Facebook but was unsure whether it was genuine competition. But then my music teacher at school mentioned it to me and then we knew it was good to go! I’m so glad I entered now!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter competition next year? Definitely do it. If you’ve written a song and you like it, enter it…because you never know!

Who are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants, (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you collaborate with? Probably Uma Martin who wrote ‘Fried’ because I like how her song flows and my favourite line is ‘My brain is fried like a fried egg’. Also I liked the simplicity of the song, I liked her style and it reminded me of how I play my songs with just me and my guitar.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the idea that you are giving young people in music a chance to share their songs with people in the music industry.

TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’ve always loved everything about space since I was very young. The film Apollo 13, inspired me as it is such a great story. During lockdown I often used to go outside to see if we could see the ISS or just look at the night sky.

What got you into writing songs? I started playing guitar about 5 years ago and I loved writing little songs as well as learning other people’s songs and it felt natural playing around with different chords and shapes. Once I had a good base and a hook I just added, it either needed a melody or some words or both. I’ve been making up tunes since I was 3, although I don’t think I’ll be sharing those.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a great way to express creativity, you can let feelings or ideas come out that can’t be shown on paper.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? It can be quite frustrating trying to find the right word or the right chord, but it’s so satisfying when it all comes together – especially when you play it for somebody and they enjoy it.

How do you usually start a song? I usually start off with a chord progression or a lick. I will grow the song until I get it somewhere where it feel like it needs words. I’ve got lots of musical ideas that need words adding to them.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Take Me To The Stars was recorded using Garageband on my iPad in my bedroom. I used an iRig 2 to get my electric guitar signal into the iPad. We bought a cheap USB mic a while ago and that was used for the vocals. We had to pray that a car wouldn’t disrupt the guitar solo. Once everything was coming together I kept playing it through our stereo downstairs to check it sounded okay at a decent volume through better speakers.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with. I’d love to work with Brian May. I’ve been a massive Queen fan since I was small, and went to see Queen and Adam Lambert when I was 5. Of course, Brian is obsessed with Space too. Or James Taylor, he’s an absolute inspiration and I’m going to see him live in October.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter competition next year? Go for it as there’s nothing to lose. In terms of tips I always like to have the song almost finished before I start recording so I know where I’m going. Make sure you play it for other people and be ready to listen to what they think of it. It also really helps if you can play a little bit on another instrument – I play guitar, but I can play a little bit of keyboards and that really helps when you’re using things like Garageband.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants, (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you collaborate with? I really like Noah Robertson’s entry – On The Run. His guitar work is great and the song really fits together well.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The whole vibe of the competition is that it celebrates songwriting as a craft – even though it’s a competition it doesn’t feel like one , more a celebration of a common skill. It’s also great that it’s judged by people who write great songs and really understand the industry.

FRIED – UMA MARTIN, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I just felt the need to write about mental health. It’s a serious issue and must be addressed. I imagine stress and anxiety, especially in big, busy cities like New York can build up, escalate and eventually run you down.

What got you into writing songs? A songwriting class in school 2 years ago started it all but I haven’t stopped writing since.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s an opportunity for me to voice my thoughts, share my feelings and tell stories.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When the chords and the lyrics come together and create something special and meaningful to me.

How do you usually start a song? I just start playing different chords on my ukulele. How do you find that spark? I find the spark in the poems I write and the places I visit.

Describe your set up that you used to write your SAYS22 entry. In my room, just me and my ukulele.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo, Gracie Abrams, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Give it a shot! It’s a good opportunity to show your songwriting skills and creativity plus you get to know more about yourself in the process. Do you have any tips for them? Write about things you know, about things you find interesting and things you want people to talk about.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? I really enjoyed listening to Leona Mae’s Sold The Story and Cinta Aurelee’s Daisy

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you like to collaborate with? I’d like to collaborate with Leona Mae (Sold the Story), Max Kenworthy (Don’t Leave Me Now) and John Denton (Anthem X). If I could collaborate with a former SAYS Finalist, I’d love to work with Lexie Carroll.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s a good platform for young songwriters like me to express ourselves and see how far we could go with our music. I also like that we are able to listen to the work of other songwriters our age and learn from them.

SPARK – ISLA HANNETT, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write Spark because songwriting is deep in my heart and a big part of my life. I wanted to express how it made me feel, the good and the bad parts of writing music and the emotional rollercoaster I can sometimes go on when getting my feelings down on paper. By personifying it means it is also relatable to others.

What got you into writing song? I would sing little melodies around the house and then one day I thought for fun I would sit at my piano and write a song. I guess since then writing songs has become part of me and I find it helps me through difficult times and allows me to celebrate the good.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means a lot to me – in fact I don’t know what I would do without being able to
get my thoughts out and my feelings down on paper and heard through melodies.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love to see how my thoughts and feelings sound, through the melodies, words and instruments. I find the production part extremely fun layering up all the instruments and seeing my songs come to life.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually have a strong feeling about something in my life or in the world that I want to express or explore and that begins the process of songwriting for me. As soon as I hear a
melody on the piano I feel excited and it flows from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. It always starts at my piano, I will play around with chord progressions and see what works, the rhythm usually comes from the wording and together I blend the two. I then record into Soundtrap with the piano first, followed by my vocals and continue to develop the production from there.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it?  I heard about the competition last year through The Week and enjoyed entering so much that I wanted to be part of it again. I also joined Song Academy and have been enjoying
developing my songwriting skills.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Give it a go! Write from the heart, be genuine, don’t just write lines that rhyme to fit a melody make them mean something to you and others.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed Uma Martins song, Fried, she is extremely talented, her song is catchy, quirky and I think I would really enjoy working with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love it all. The experience from start to finish, the achievement you feel, the excitement knowing your song has been enjoyed by others and being able to listen to other artists and learn from them. Thank you for recognising my song and giving me the chance to progress to the next stage of the competition, it really means a lot to me.

LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH & BROTHERS, 8, 10 & 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Siblings often make music and sing together organically, one day Matthew played the tune and then everyone started singing along, and then decided to write it properly. Cousin’s grandma passed away and Cousin’s mum said the song blessed her.

What got you into writing songs? During COVID, Matthew wanted to learn Happier, Oliver already knew how to play drums so then they became a band and started writing songs after that. They presented their songs to their parents, and they recorded it and sent it to family and friends.

What does song writing mean to you? It is very important to write the thoughts that come to you and it can help other people when they’re feeling sad, or even yourself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Playing through the song together.

How do you usually start writing a song? How do you find that spark? In the living room, playing random tunes, finding a beat that works on the drums and singing along. A natural process.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Keyboard, drums and a singer, wrote the lyrics on an iPad. Recorded the first draft on dad’s phone and the submitted version on a portable audio recorder at school.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Stormzy, Travis Greene for gospel songs, Anne-Marie from The Voice Kids, Santan Dave, Ed Sheeran and Marshmello.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I say go for it, when it comes to writing the song, write whatever comes to your mind, write it on a piece of paper, improvise.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Sambelle Prince, Sisi and Leona Mae.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It gives people a chance to show their abilities in music and song writing.

OPPOSITE WAY – MAYA HELON, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? When I first heard about the competition, I was keen to start the process and as soon as I put pen to paper, I could feel the creative momentum start to take over. I am a firm believer that music has the power to change someone’s life and what better way to contribute through telling my story and perhaps influencing someone for the better.

What got you into writing songs? I grew up in a very happy home and as a toddler I recall that my family were always listening to various genres in the house. This inspired me rhythmically and melodically. I would often dance around the house singing songs in Polish entertaining my Mom and Dad. This stirred an excitement in me to try my hand at telling stories through songwriting.

What does songwriting mean to you? Music is freeing in itself and songwriting gives me the opportunity to delve deeper into my own emotions without holding back. It is very therapeutic.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really enjoy writing in metaphors. Being able to tell a story without using too many literal references is where I find the most creativity.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’ll often look around me. Sometimes everyday objects can inspire the most intricate lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I sat in a quiet room by an open window. I had my recording device (phone), my songwriting book and my singing coach accompanied me on acoustic guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift, Tom Odell, Ariana Grande and Sia.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it! Don’t hold back. There are so many things you can do and to have an opportunity such as this will only elevate you to become more of who you know yourself to be!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed listening to Boy by Summer Brennan as I could really tell that she had control over her voice and had lots of tonality. It inspires me to try and focus on how it could affect my singing if I controlled my voice a little more just like Summer. I also enjoyed listening to Atomic Bomb by Calista Harms as I liked the tonality in her voice and I think it would be intresting to see how both of our voices sound together as I see a few similarites within style and how we perform. I also believe that even our differences can affect our ideas and create something that people would love to listen to.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It is inclusive to anyone who thinks they show potential in writing songs.

SET THE WORLD ON FIRE – RUBY MULHOLLAND, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I decided to write this song when I was in Primary Seven because I was getting ready to move on to secondary school. My sister Molly and I worked on the melody together and she helped me to perfect the lyrics. My sister had a quotation from Saint Catherine of Siena in her school RE book ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire’. We really liked that quotation and used it as the title.

What got you into writing songs? My sister and I both play guitar and I love singing. A few years ago, I got a new notebook for Christmas and I sat down to write a story, but it sounded better as a song. I came up with a melody and my Uncle encouraged me to enter the song into Song Academy 2020. I was delighted to make it through to the final 10. This has inspired me to try and write some more.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a way to express my thoughts and feelings.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love creating a really strong chorus.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It depends. Sometimes it starts with a melody. Or I think about something sad or happy in my life and put it into words. I always research famous quotations to inspire me.

Describe your set-up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My daddy set up the guitar for my sister, the amp and mics in my living room. I sang, Molly played guitar and accompanied me on vocals. Mummy recorded it on her phone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love Anne-Marie and Ed Sheeran. I also love a great band from Northern Ireland called Dea Matrona.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say, “just do it!” If you have written a song, it is a good idea to let people hear it and you never know what it could lead to!

Which other finalists would you like to collaborate with? Conor Marcus, because he is also from Northern Ireland and has entered songs over the last few years.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives young songwriters the chance to have famous songwriters listen to their music!

FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES, 9 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My life… I wanted to make a song about some of the things that I do everyday.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve loved music my whole life and last year when I was 8, I decided I wanted to start writing my own songs. This was after I met my neighbour Helen who overheard me singing last August. She’s a record producer and we first off did a Christmas cover and I was on the radio which was fun and then Helen asked if I’d ever thought about writing my own songs and I had a go. Frankie in the House is my first song. So it’s extra exciting to be a finalist.

What does songwriting mean to you? I don’t think it will be my job, I find it fun. If I’m older and I make songs and I am not famous I don’t really care, it’s for fun really.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is the lyrics, I really like making up lyrics. When I was thinking of writing something I knew it didn’t all need to rhyme, but that it would be good if some of it did. And then I wanted to repeat some of the phrases so the song was easier to remember and more catchy. The music came after, when I was in the studio and I really liked picking the different loops we used for the backing.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’d been thinking about what I could write a song about and I wanted it to be about my life. It’s at the back of my mind all the time now and I have a lyric book to write my ideas down. At first I was nervous about writing words in case they weren’t any good then I was encouraged to just write anything and see what could be done with it. Which is what happened. I had the verse and the pre chorus when I went round to Helen’s and something she said made me come up with the chorus. It was all very quick.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote down some words and then went over the road to Helen, and sang them to her. We only recorded the track once, and that was because Helen had set up the mic when I sang her the idea I had. She then had to work out the key and the beats per minute so we could add a backing. Which she helped me to do using Logic on her computer. There’s been no actual musical instruments used so far.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Definitely Ariana Grande.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? They should go for it, if they want to do it. No pressure if they don’t. If you think you’ve got a good song, you’ll know because you’ll vibe to it. Not be bored by it. As soon as I made my song I sent it to my friends and they all said it was amazing, that’s why I entered because Helen said it would be a good idea and my friends gave me confidence. But it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks really. You won’t know if you don’t try. And I was amazed to get into the finals. And now I want to do more.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? There were some great tracks and I listened to all the others in my category as I feel that it would be best to collaborate with someone around my own age. So these three artists were my favourites, Miracle by Georgia Taylor, Turn Back Time by Sylvie Hammersley-Fox and FOMO by Holly Dais.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like it because I know the people that are judging have written the lyrics of very famous songs that I love listening to. Just knowing they’re listening to my song is amazing. When we got the email I couldn’t believe it, I genuinely didn’t think I’d make it into the top 30. I didn’t even think I’d make it into the top 50! I am really happy about it.

PARADISE FALLS – FINN CRABTREE, 9 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I watched a bird fly past my window while making my song and I thought of an eagle flying over a mountain, so I thought of beautiful places like the mountains and a waterfall, and I thought picking (a technique on guitar) would be good to describe the water drops falling.

What got you into writing songs? I listen to songs anywhere normally and then one day I thought why can’t I be like them, writing songs? So, using my guitar skills I started to write my first song and then it turned out so well that I kept on making them.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a lot to me, and it gives me a place to relax and feel the music.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really like the lyrics because with notes or chords you cant’ bulk the song without description, so I like to be creative and come up with words that will fascinate people.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? You would think of what you want it to be like and you would keep throwing ideas at your page until you find something interesting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Holding my guitar on my bed and in front of me was a window and I wrote the lyrics on the windowsill with a pencil and paper.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Foofighters!! Because their music has a vast variety of music styles which I can get inspiration for my songs.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Give it a try! Not only you might win something, but it opens your musical taste, and you can build up to a potential music career. If one of your songs gets stuck in people’s heads it shows that it’s catchy and the judges might like it

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite song from the thirty finalists was Anthem X and I want to collaborate with John Dennon.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how it’s a way of putting your songs worldwide and to have fun.

FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES (CAROLINA AND NATALIA), 10 & 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We were inspired by hearing female songs, we then realised that all of the songs that women are in there view. Therefore we wanted to try writing in a different mindset (the view of a boy) whilst creating our song.

What got you into writing songs? Hearing songs on the radio inspired us, for we love having the joy of dancing to music and we wanted to create that joy in someone else’s life.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means to us that we can talk about important issues or current affairs in a way that is joyous and has a way of catching people thoughts.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Our favourite part is joining the lyrics to the melody. When this is done we can see our song unfold and all our hard work goes into play.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually start a song by finding a theme of the words which then switches on our brains to our own opinions and thoughts. We then add a catchy melody and fierce high notes to really secure the balance of quality and the important message.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We spread out what we had to do in a course of days. Each day we made more and more progress focusing n different things each time. When we were in the end we were happy of hour achievement and the image of our song was going to create.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Our favoUrite artist to collaborate with would be Camilla Cabello for the songs she sings are based on every day problems which we are trying to accomplish. She also had a particularly hard life before she was famous however she still came out on top.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? We would definitely tell them to try, good talent shouldn’t go to waste. If they love to sing and dance even just instrumental talent the competition is a great way for them to express themselves in a friendly way. Our tip would be to always have someone there for support and don’t be afraid to try, if you don’t life wouldn’t be as exciting.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? If we could our favorite artist to pick it would have to be the song don’t leave me from Max Kenworthy. This is for the song is upbeat and really just wants to make us dance. Her voice is incredible and her song has deep meaning. We would definitely love to collaborate with him.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? We like that it encourages to express ourselves where there is no pressure and we can do what we believe. I love that anyone can enter and the competition is completely fair.

DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – MAX KENWORTHY, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I had been listening to a lot of songs and decided to write something in this style. I noticed that lots of songs are written about a break up so I decided the lyrics would be based on that.

What got you into writing songs? I started when I was eight and was doing a songwriting club at school. I was really inspired and decided to start writing songs at home.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is for me a way of expressing how I feel without saying it and I love the variety of sounds on offer.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is producing my vocals and programming and creating sounds.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start a song with a chord progression either on piano or guitar and then improvise melodies until I find one I like.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My setup is a Mac running Logic, an old Korg N 5 synthesiser, an AKAI MPD218 ( a birthday present) and a shure SM7B microphone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would be Charlie Puth because his songs are very creative and I love the way he talks about songwriting on TikTok and YouTube.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to anyone thinking of entering next year that it’s a really good experience and you get helpful feedback on the song. There is also some publicity with being a finalist. A top tip would be to write loads of songs in different styles.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I enjoyed listening to many of the other songs. I thought Spark by Isla Hannett was very good and stood out.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The competition is well organised and it’s good that they don’t focus on production but also focus on the actual song.

OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? After missing the deadline last year and loving singing I wanted a challenge

What got you into writing songs? I started loving music in general and wanted to try and make my own songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a way to express yourself with no rules.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? When an idea or word pops into my head and when I finish the song and get to sing it through.

How do you usually start a song ? How do you find that spark? I find a theme and usually establish a chorus, which is normally at the start of the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I found a bench at school lunchtime and started writing the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My favourite writer is Taylor Swift because of her inspiring lyrics but since my voice is a similar style I would want to vary it and introduce a rapper to my songs like Lizzo

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? You should just go for it because it’s a fun challenge which stretches you.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? After listening to them I really like Nelly Bingham’s song and would love to sing with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how it’s got a large age range so lots of people can take part in it. Also its reminded me how much I love singing.

YOU NEVER LISTENED – MARTHA & THOMMY BAILEY VINE, 8 & 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Martha: Thommy sat at the piano and started playing a chord sequence that I liked the sound of, so I started singing with it.

What got you into writing songs? Thommy: I like playing guitar and piano and have a passion for singing, so it seemed like the next natural step!

What does songwriting mean to you? Martha: It means I can tell stories in a song. Thommy: It means expressing my love for music and creating stuff.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Martha: Belting my voice out. Thommy: Recording the different tracks and building the song up.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Thommy: I usually start by playing piano or guitar. When I need to find something to do I start a song! Martha: I start by singing a verse and writing it down. I start with a story.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Thommy on piano and Martha singing.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Martha: Taylor Swift!! Thommy: Ed Sheeran or Olly Murs

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Martha: Just go for it! Thommy: Believe in yourself; no matter where you get in the competition, you’re still amazing and I hope you do well.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Martha: Sparrow Durham-Love. Thommy: Holly Dais

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Thommy: It’s an opportunity for young people to show their emotions and ability, and I like listening to other entries because everyone is unique and special. Martha: I like that other people can listen to our song.

MIRACLE – GEORGIA TAYLOR, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  What inspired me to write Miracle was that during lockdown my Mum was vulnerable, and I was worried about her getting very ill. I prayed that she wouldn’t get sick. I believe that someone was looking down on us, saw we were struggling and protected us.

What got you into writing songs?  Since I was very young, probably around 4 onwards I was constantly singing around the house. At 7 I got my digital piano and I realised I connected with singing and writing songs straight away. I have since become determined to be a singer/songwriter.

What does song writing mean to you?  As you grow up you start to feel lots of emotions, some you don‘t understand and song writing helps me feel better about how I’m feeling.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really enjoy finding the perfect chords, I’m also constantly writing ideas and lyrics down in my song writing journal.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I experiment with chords and different melodies on the piano and then the tune starts to come into my head and I start humming it, it then quickly builds from there. I can lose myself for hours creating and experimenting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Just me, my digital piano and a voice recording app on an iPhone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I really like Taylor Swift and Adele as their music expresses their emotions and it’s clear what they are feeling when they wrote the song.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  You only have one life, live it to the fullest and just keep dreaming. Don’t be afraid.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I love songs where you can feel the emotion coming through and two songs that do that are FOMO by Holly Dais and Beautiful Stranger by Sambelle Prince.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s open to everyone, it really shows how much talent there is and this allows them to have the spotlight and shine

FIRE HEART – MIDNIGHT STARZ, 10 & 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We were inspired by our emotions and how we can deal with them and trust ourselves to do the right thing and control it, instead of bursting out, and possibly hurting somebody else’s feelings.

What got you into writing songs? We are from Latymer Prep School and when we found out about this song writing competition, we thought it would be very fun and interesting to try. We also love listening to songs and enjoying music so we just wanted to make a song that put a message across to the audience.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to express yourself (and your friends that you are doing it with) and tell others about your feelings, thoughts etc… We find that songwriting is an easier way to tell somebody what you are thinking or feeling rather than just talking because you don’t just have to say it blankly, you can say it metaphorically

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Our favourite part of songwriting is the finished product – when we get to sing it at the end – record it with mics – it is so fun! We also liked consulting with each other and communicating about the lyrics and how it should be sung.

How do you usually start a song? We start by thinking about what subject we want to talk about, and then we plan out the verses and choruses and see how many we are going to need. Then we start thinking about the words (we like them to rhyme) and start to think about the tune that might match the mood of the song.  How do you find that spark? We think about what we may be feeling or thinking or a message that we strongly want to get across to people and then modify it down to words that we can put in the verses and chorus.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We were in the school music studio which was quite noisy with everyone else doing their songs. It probably would have been better in a quieter space but we tried our best to make the best of it. Sometimes we went outside to practice quietly without interruptions.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would say to just trust yourself and even if you feel like you can’t think of anything, just have a go. We had absolutely no clue of what to do, but we just thought of something that mattered to us and it became more and more easy to think of ideas and words. Go for it and don’t give up!  Do you have any tips for them? Don’t give up but don’t worry if anything goes wrong – you can always fix it. Have a good go at it. Make sure you use all of your group’s skills – if somebody is better at something then they should do that – play to your strengths. You can use this as a chance to improve your creative skills too! Most importantly, try your best and remember you’re doing this for fun!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Sambelle Prince, Cookie Monsters and Ruby Mulholland

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? 5 X Wild

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? We like how anyone can take part, because it is very inclusive. And anybody over 8 yrs old can join and it is really fun! The competition encourages us to use our imagination and creativity to make the best song possible. It is an opportunity to spend time with other people and discover new ideas! And of course you can enjoy jamming with your friends and altogether having a fantastic time!

TURN BACK TIME – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write my song by the experience of losing friends in the transition from Primary to Secondary school.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been writing songs since the beginning of Lockdown – when I was about 9. At that time, songwriting helped to keep me entertained and made sense of the emotions I was feeling.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting helps me to deal with the stresses of life. It makes me feel relieved and relaxed. Without it I would feel trapped. Songwriting allows my emotions to come out.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love it when an idea, lyrics and music come together. Sometimes this happens several times during the song-writing process for example when a single verse is completed and then right at the end when the whole song is finished.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I can’t be forced to write a song. Something has to trigger an idea such as a particular feeling or experience. If I’m doing an activity that I don’t have to think about – such as walking or skiing – songs just come into my head because there is space in my mind.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My entry was written in my kitchen at home on my own. I was sitting at the piano with my book where I write my songs.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? For song writing, my dream collaborators would be: Cat Burns, Claire Rosinkranz or Olivia Rodrigo.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? If the entrant has written multiple songs, I would advise them to play through all of their songs, record them, listen back, maybe play them to family and friends to get other opinions but then go with their own gut feeling. Don’t listen too much to other people! Once a song has been chosen, explore the lyrics and check that they are exactly how you want them to be. Be prepared to adapt the lyrics – especially if you wrote the song a while ago.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite entries from the 8-12 category are: ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Sambelle Prince, ‘Find a Place’ by Nelly Bingham, ‘Fried’ by Uma Martin and ‘Our Secret Heaven’ by Greta Kill. I would happily collaborate with all of these singers.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the big age range from 8-18 – it’s really inclusive. I also like the way you can listen to all of the other entries – it’s inspiring. Finally, I like the way anyone can enter.

FREE – JOHNNY BEAU, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I thought about the idea for this song when I went wild camping with my grandma! I like the idea that when you are on your own you can be whoever you want to be and I thought of the line – ‘don’t be afraid to be free’.

What got you into writing songs? I started to write songs when I was about 9. I preferred making my own stuff up as I found it really hard to learn to read music.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s just how I can express myself. Also, I have some friends that I jam with every week and we share ideas and it’s a great way of spending time.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finding that perfect chord that matches the meaning of the word.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with chord progressions. My lyrics come to my mind all the time. There’s lots of bits of paper in my room full of random ideas.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I usually write songs at the piano but this was the first one I did with guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? It’s so fun to hear all the other songs from others entrants and get inspired by them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I liked the song turn back time- I liked the way she used her voice.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? For me the highlight was playing at the showcase last year it was an amazing event.

WHAT COOKIES MEAN TO ME – GLEBE ACADENT YEAR 3 COOKIE MONSTERS

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Because we all like cookies and we thought, why not write a song about cookies?

What got you into writing songs? Listening to songs that we like, and our music teacher Mr Brom who is always making up songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means fun, epic-ness, joy, inspiration and excitement.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Making up the chords and words, and singing it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? By listening to music that we like and making up our own version of it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We brainstormed our lyrics on whiteboards, and then tried out chords on the ukulele until we found something we liked the sound of, then sang our words over the top.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jason Derulo, Arianna Grande, Becky Hill, Ava Max, Lady Gaga, Mark Feehily, Beyonce, Billie Eilish and the football players Ronaldo and Lewandowski.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write about something that inspires you. Think about your favourite things and write about them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We liked the other Year 3 song about ‘Money Isn’t Everything’.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It was fun! Thank you for the opportunity.

MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was sitting in a very boring English class and all of a sudden the words “dream” and “fate” came up into my mind. I started thinking about “living up to one’s dreams” and about “expectations in life” and that was the beginning of my song…

What got you into writing songs?  Honestly I was kind of forced into it at first as my mum made me try it at 7 years old but now I feel like song writing is something I will do myself, it doesn’t feel like a burden.

What does song writing mean to you?  It feels like a way to escape because you can say whatever you want and it feels amazing when you get a good rhyme.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Writing the lyrics is my favourite part and kind of the thing that gets me started at first which is weird because many people prefer to start with a melody…

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with a couple of words, then I come up with a melody for those and try to make them rhyme together and fit well as if they are not forced.

Describe your setup that you used for #SAYS22 entry?  I used our basement floor because not many people go there and I needed a place where I could listen and not be disturbed.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would really like to collab with lil baby because he’s probably the best rapper right now and makes some really good lyrics or maybe iann dior because he has a bit more of a melody and sings a bit more and has done collabs with MGK but collaborating with lil tjay and polo g would also be cool.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Writer Competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I say just do it, it might feel hard at first but once you get into that rhythm it becomes something you want to do. A tip is just you can do anything you want. Now I feel like song writing is a thing I want to do and I want to come up with these lyrics and melody, I want to finish this song.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants would you like to collaborate with?   Find You – by Fire Flies; Cool song. The two voices sound almost sad but the chords sound bright and happy!

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER – SAMBELLE PRINCE

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My family

What got you into writing songs? I had already loved to sing but when I heard about being able to write my very own songs, I was immediately intrigued.

What does songwriting mean to you? To me, song writing means letting your imagination take control.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is coming up with the topic to write about.

How do you usually start a song? I usually start a song by thinking about things I have experienced or things that are personal to me and use that as my topic. How do you find that spark? I find that spark by just writing down my thoughts and turning them into lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote it from home

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would collaborate with Olivia Rodrigo or BTS.

What made you enter #SAYS22? I wanted to challenge myself and see how far my songs could take me. How did you hear about it? I actually heard about it from the song academy and then told my mom I wanted to sign up.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would tell them to definitely have a go and try it out. Do you have any tips for them? I would say to follow your heart and to have fun with writing the lyrics.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the fact that even if you don’t win, they help you stand back up again and keep going until you reach your goals.

 

 

 

Get to know the SAYS22 finalists in the International 8-12 year old category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

PERSEVERANCE – GIOELE UBEZIO, 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song in a moment of great sadness that I don’t know where it came from, but I knew that I couldn’t let myself go to sadness, that I had to try to be happy. I often play in moments of reflection, playing whatever I feel in my head is something I often do and it helps me to find calm within myself.

What got you into writing songs? This is the first sung song I’ve written, the others were all just piano compositions.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? What I like most about writing music is hearing new, original musical melodies that leave something in the hearts of the people who hear them.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I always start by doing the technical exercises that my teacher gives me, then I get bored and change direction…

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I only used the piano and my voice to write this song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would like to play and meet Steven Tyler, whom I always admire and listen to.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I would like to tell the other children that making your music known is very important because it enriches your soul with all the feelings that others feel when they listen to you.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the seriousness of this competition and the fact that it recognises that even a small child like me has something to tell in music.

HOLIDAY CHEER – ALEXIS & LAUREN ROLEY & THE KOUZINS, 8 & 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I love Christmas and being around my family. I wanted to write a song about being together and how happy I am with them at Christmastime.

What got you into writing songs? It is easy for me to put my problems and what I am thinking about onto paper. Writing songs helps me deal with my problems and worries, and it lets me express how I am feeling.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means everything to me. It allows me to express what I feel so it means a lot.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part is seeing my thoughts on paper.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually think about what I want to write about (from a feeling or an experience), and then I write down the title of the song first. After I have the title, I start writing down the words that come to me. I usually find that spark from an experience I have.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I am usually in my room and I write in my song book journal (where I compile all my songs). After I have all of the words written, I sing the notes/melody (how I want the song to sound) to my grandpa. Then he puts everything into his music program.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream to work with Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to anyone thinking about entering the competition next year is to enjoy the process and do the best you can. Have fun with it!

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finlast) would you like to collaborate with? “On the Run” by Noah Robertson and “Anywhere” by Austin Bruford are some of my favorite entries this year. It would be fun to collaborate with Ilah Gardiner because I like her voice and the message of the song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it gives me a chance to show others about the message I have to tell.

RISING FROM THE FIRE – ILAH GARDINER, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My song was inspired by being in a toxic friendship and how much emotional impact it can have on young people. Rising from the fire was a song I wanted to help empower people in the same situation to get back up and recognise that they are not alone.

What got you into writing songs? Many things actually. My dad used to be in a band when I was younger, so I was exposed to a lot of the music atmosphere. I think after listening to other songs that made me feel a certain way and how many people they can empower people, I wanted to do the same. Once I picked up a guitar and collaborated with my voice, I knew this is what I wanted to do!

What does song writing mean to you? Song writing means a chance for me to express myself and be heard. It also gives me the chance to help and connect with people. The magic that song writing brings has always meant so much to me. And has made me want to pursue my dream as a songwriter to bring that same magic!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part would be realising you have something. Sometimes you work on multiple songs at once and only come out with one in the end. In the early days of writing a song, which is just me sitting and strumming my guitar, singing, when you realise you have potential for your song it is the greatest feeling! It is like the scaffolding of the song!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Many ways. I like to take a problem that is happening and put what is going on into lyrics. Other times I might just have a trigger, which can be a word or phrase e.c.t, that I feel has the potential of being cooperated into a song. Most of the time though it starts with a riff on my guitar. Then I come back to that riff when I feel I have found the lyrics for that riff!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use much really! For my D.A.W (Digital Audio Workstation) I just used GarageBand. It had everything I needed! I could just use the built-in microphone on a computer and still get the sound I wanted! And I used my Michael Kelly guitar!

Who would your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Woah,the possibilities!!! Definitely Birdy as I adore the music she writes. When I was little (4 or 5) I got one of her albums for Xmas, inside the album was written ‘Keep trying and one day you will be like Birdy’. I hope one day I can be! But then I would love to collaborate with Amy Wadge as she is an awesome songwriter and has actually written for Birdy! But then I love Florence & the Machine, City & Colour, Queen and many more!!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Song Writers competition next year? What have you got to lose? If you are looking for a way to express yourself and for your music to be heard this is your competition! You have to start somewhere!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who you like to collaborate with? Probably Elle Longstaff? I love her voice. There is so many people to choose from!!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Song Writers competition? I love how its aim is to get young people to express themselves through music and creates an environment for that as it is quite hard to find. The encouragement is awesome!!

I WISH, I DREAM – TAMARA YASIN, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I have been deeply disappointed by the news on the TV about what happening with the war between Russia and Ukraine. I knew that if I couldn’t help physically, but I should help spiritually. Of course, donating to Ukraine would be great, but also showing people of Ukraine that all of us care would be important. So, I wrote this song to help all of us see that instead of war should be peace and harmony and love should always conquer hate. I hope that this song will bring awareness that even young people care about current situation and praying for peace in the world. The bridge in my song is stating “Humans! Peace is in YOUR hands!” Honestly, I wanted to write “Putin!…’, but it would be too political and not poetical.

What got you into writing songs? Writing songs is like saying a poem but doing it while singing. In songs you can say things that you want to say but in a rhythmic and lyrical way. After a songwriting camp I decided, I should start writing songs, and now I love it!

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is like a paragraph from an essay but includes singing and expressing the paragraph in a way that you can’t say it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is when I say, “ I’m done!” And then five minutes later I’m writing a whole new verse because it didn’t sound right.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Songs for me just pop out at any moment and …Bam, I am scribbling words on a piece of paper. Most of the time the spark comes from the tune that I am humming. I usually get ideas for a song when I am playing the piano or watching the news or even eating dinner!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Arianna DeBose because she is a great singer and dancer, and she was outstanding for her performance for the West Side Story and in many other of her hits!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say “Remember this is all about you, not me or your mom or whoever else. This is art and art are unpredictable, creative, and very fascinating thing. Express your emotions in your songs, and don’t get sad if you ever lose or not get an award. The future has many more opportunities!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really like songs by DEVY, it would be cool to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that I have a chance to share my songs with not only my friends and family but the whole world!

ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I love playing guitar and writing songs. But, it’s hard to write songs when you are just 11 or 12yrs old as you haven’t really had any heartbreaks or anything yet! So this song I decided to write from someone else’s perspective. Someone has done something wrong and they are on the run! They are looking for forgiveness but feel they can’t go back.

What got you into writing songs? I guess playing covers is where everyone starts and then you kind of figure out your own style and you want to write your own music and words to create something original and different. Also having a reason to write a song or a story to tell makes the process a bit more meaningful and a lot easier.

What does songwriting mean to you? I just love being able to create a story through music and song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really like the musicality side of songwriting. Once I’m feeling a certain melody or creating a certain feel on the guitar the words come along and are in flow with the feeling of the music I’m experimenting with.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I spend a lot of time playing guitar. I really like coming up with melodies first, playing some cool riffs and then I wrap some words around it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just have a notebook and pencil with me when I’m writing songs. I’m really lucky, my parents built me a little space (a studio of my own) so I have my guitars and amps in there etc. It’s a great space to create. My song entry ‘On the run’ is just a very raw acoustic recording – just the guitar and I.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I’d have to say Keith Urban, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, James Taylor and John Mayer. What a dream come true that would be!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Just write from your heart and enter!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Too many to choose from! I think all the entries offer so much.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I’m from Australia so it’s fantastic that the Song Academy has an international entry.

BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song about an imaginary girl, who I describe as a ‘Bubblegum girl’, who is overly-positive about everything. The idea behind the song is that ‘it is okay and perfectly normal to feel sad and express your emotions’.

What got you into writing songs? Every since I could talk, I used to sing about everything happening around me. Once I was old enough to write, I started recording them in little notebooks.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to express my emotions and thoughts. Whenever I song-write it’s like a release. I also like to write about stories and the point of view of other people.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is singing it all together when I finish a song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s like a mood, it just comes.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the song in my room and I wrote the lyrics on apple notes while recording my melodies on voice memos. I made the backing track on my computer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream collaborator is Olivia Rodrigo!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! Your song will make someone smile.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? I’m a fan of all the songs but if I have to choose I would go with Nelly Bingham’s Find A Place. Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Tamara Yasin’s vocal is angelic! She would be awesome to collaborate with.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how Song Academy gives a platform to share your songs and listen to other young artists! I am honoured to be one of the finalists out of so many incredible entries.

COME BACK HOME – ZJAMYR

What got you into writing songs? I was inspired by my big brother.

What does songwriting mean to you? To me it means singing a poem or rapping a story.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Arranging the instrumental parts, putting the song together & choosing what fits best in my song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I play around with the plugin “FLEX” on fl studio. I mess around to find an ideaI like.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I used a Rodes Condenser Microphone, fl studio, skytec monitors.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I don’t really have a favourite artist, I love all of them so it’s kinda hard to choose.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’d tell them it’s fun and and you learn from the experience, and to start their career too.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Ooo I have no idea I love all of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think it was challenging and fun! I would love to learn more about song writing.

DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was thinking about some times when I was mean to my sister. Around Christmas time I thought I would write a song for her to let her know how much I love her.

What got you into writing songs? My parents have always had instruments in the house so I grew up with an interest in music. I wrote my first song on the ukulele when I was four!

What does songwriting mean to you? Music gives me a creative outlet to express my feelings. Instead of yelling at somebody I can write a song about them.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love the moment when a chord progression comes together, it makes me feel satisfied. I also enjoy writing lyrics because it gives me an outlet for my creativity.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I try to write based on my own experiences. That makes it easier to understand what I’m writing about and have a heartfelt song. I also keep a notebook with scraps of lyrics that I can look back on and use later.

Describe the setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the lyrics and music for this song in my bedroom on my Dad’s 30-year-old Seagull S-6 guitar. The rest of the instruments were added during the recording process. My dad helped me figure out some of the parts but I played everything myself!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would like to collaborate with Chris Murphy from Sloan. Sloan is the first band I got to see live and I met Chris after the show. He seemed like a really cool guy!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Music isn’t a competition so do your best and have fun with it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favorite song from both 8-12 categories is Anthem-X by John Denton. I would love to collaborate with DEVY. I loved the vibe of her song and I think she has a unique sound. We could probably do something really cool mixing our styles.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I’m really excited for the chance to have so many people hear my song! I don’t know any songwriters near me so it’s great to hear songs written by other kids my age.

ANYWHERE – AUSTIN BRUFORD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I honestly didn’t really know at first, but now that I think about it I feel that I understand why I wrote it. This song came together really quickly when I wrote it on the piano really early in the morning, so at the time I wasn’t thinking about the process which I felt made it such a great song. But, now that I look back at the lyrics I feel like I wrote it about having a relationship with someone and just showing what the outcome would look like, and then reassuring them by saying don’t worry I won’t go anywhere.

What got you into writing songs?  The first time I wrote a song was in grade 3, I played it for the grade and they loved it. After that, I kind of stopped for a while because at that time I was only messing around with it. I didn’t write another song until I heard the song “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, for some reason that just sparked something in my head that made me want to make a song as good as that. Every day since then I have been pushing myself to make an even better song than the one I made the day before.

What does songwriting mean to you?  Songwriting means a lot to me, it doesn’t only help me express how I feel but it also helps me decompress and relax. With songwriting I have been able to make stories, and I have been able to make something beautiful that other people love. This all has inspired me to stick with songwriting for as long as I can.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I have two favorite parts of the song process. My first one is just getting an idea that I can stick with, an idea that I know will end up creating a wonderful song. My second one is being able to produce the song because it’s like the possibilities feel endless and I can really do whatever I want with my song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I really don’t know, I feel like I have found many ways to start an idea for a song. I find that often I sit by the piano playing chords, and once I find a good progression I play a melody over it and just keep writing. Sometimes I don’t even sit down at the piano, I just get on to the music software and start producing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. At that time I didn’t even know I was writing this song to be entered in a competition. At the time I was writing songs for an album and came up with this one. This song just felt so much more natural than the ones I had written before, it came together really quickly. I started off by playing a couple of chords and making a chord progression, and then I hummed a melody over it and wrote the lyrics. I produced the song on GarageBand pretty quickly, and then I kind of stopped for a while and didn’t record the vocals. I didn’t record the vocals until I knew that I wanted to enter this songwriting competition again.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  This is a tricky question because there are a lot of artists in the world to collaborate with. If I had to pick one I would say Ed Sheeran because he’s been one of the first artists I ever listened to, he was also the artist that inspired me to start songwriting. However, one of the most important reasons I kept on songwriting is his movie “Songwriter.” This movie was basically about him traveling around the world making songs for his album “Divide”. I liked this movie because it showed how he made his songs and his process of making them. But, since we’re talking about the collaborating part I would have to say that I would like to collaborate with Ed because he seems like a really interesting person, a good songwriter, and has a wonderful voice.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I’d say that it’s a pretty cool experience and that the people hosting it are really open and experienced, and that you can do many things like getting your song critiqued by others, and it is a great chance to work with your friends. My tips for next year’s songwriters are to always try to be free with what you’re writing, there are no constraints, and also try to be yourself as much as you can because that will make your song a lot better.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I would collaborate with DEVY because they have a unique style of songwriting and probably have written lots of songs in the past too. Her song really stood out to me because I felt it was a bit more professionally produced than some of the other songs. In the end, I want to collaborate with her because I think it would be fun trying to write a song with someone who has a wonderful voice and is a very good songwriter.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the fact that it’s open to people who are living internationally. I also like the whole idea that I can share my music with others that are professional and can help critique it. The songwriting competition is a great experience and I will probably enter next year too.

Announcing the top finalists in The Young Songwriter 2022 competition

Songs reveal the hearts & minds of young people.  Impressive originality, creativity & musical bravery displayed. Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way. SAYS22 gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The future of music is bright and diverse.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies

Drumroll please! The top finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, in its 12th year,  have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  67% of entrants were girls, 28% boys, 2% preferred not to say & 3% had a unique gender identification. Entries were from across the entire UK (82%) and around the world (18%).  The future of music is bright and diverse.

The Young Songwriter competition stands for the craft and art of songwriting in its purest form, enabling young songwriters to aspire to the very best melody, lyric, structure, concept, harmony, mood and impact a song can have. It inspires young people to think about and speak up about things that are important to them personally, in their community and in the wider world and get their voices heard. It’s a supportive community where young people feel brave and can express themselves, celebrate individuality and be themselves. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.

What makes a sensational song is ultimately subjective. The top finalists songs were selected as they stood out for their creativity, invention & courage with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations. Congratulations also go to all SAYS22 entrants for writing some wonderful songs & sharing them with our vibrant community.

Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the finalists’ songs!  Plus the top songs and young songwriters are shown below.

The top 10 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 6th May.  The top 3 finalists will be announced on the 13th June.  The UK/Ireland winners will be announced on the 25th June at The Young Songwriter 2022 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  The International winners will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 26th June at 2pm GMT.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “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.”

As well as The Young Songwriter competition, Song Academy run songwriting clubs in term time, songwriting workshops in the holidays, song feedback reports, recording & production workshops, bespoke songwriting workshops & birthday parties.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-18 YEAR OLDS

ALL IN – DANIEL MCCARTHY
BELLADONNA – RUBY COOKE
BETTER OFF – LUKE ELLIOTT
BOYFRIEND – DSWRV
BREATHTAKING TENSION – CHARLIE HEWLETT
CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI
CONTRAST – VINNIEC
DAISY – CINTA AURELEE
DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE
FLINCH – MEG CURL
GATEKEEPER – BEA
GIRL THAT OUTGREW – ROSIE TRENTHAM
HIDE AND SEEK – KIMICHI
HONEST – CONOR MARCUS
HOURGLASS – BELLA HOWELLS
IRON FIST – WOODY COLLINS
IT’S A FUNNY WAY – AMELIE CLOWREY
LAY A LITTLE LIFE DOWN – ESME HALLWORTH
MACHINE HEAD BOY – STATYC
NEW YEAR’S EVE – RUBY ANN SPIEGEL
RIVIERA – OLIVIA SWINTON
SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE
SOULS ARE RISING – THIS ELEGANT GULL
SUCH A GOOD FIGHT – DAISY-ROSE IRESON-HUGHES
SWEET 16 – TWAYN
THINKING I’M FINE – ANNEKA SHELLEY
TOO FAR DOWN – IVY PRATT
TOPIARY – OSCAR MEADES
UP TO THE SUN – GEORGE DICKSON
USED TO BE – STUART VEITCH

 

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER – SAMBELLE PRINCE
BUSTING THE HINGES – SPARROW DURHAM-LOVE
DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – MAX KENWORTHY
FIND A PLACE – NELLY ROSE BINGHAM
FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES
FIRE HEART – MIDNIGHT STARZ
FOMO – HOLLY DAIS
FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES
FREE – JOHNNY BEAU
FRIED – UMA MARTIN
IN-BETWEEN – TIMI HUGHES
LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH
MIRACLE – GEORGIA TAYLOR
MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING – THE MAWNEY SCHOOL YEAR THREE
MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE
OPPOSITE WAY – MAYA HELON
OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL
PARADISE FALLS – FINN CRABTREE
PATCH IT UP – ROMY
ROAD TRIPS – HENRY MARNHAM
SET THE WORLD ON FIRE – RUBY MULHOLLAND
SOMETHING BIG – LEANNE JOAN FERNANDES
SPARK – ISLA HANNETT
SUNSET, SUNRISE – CHLOE TURNER
TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS
TURN BACK TIME – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX
WHAT COOKIES MEAN TO ME – COOKIE MONSTERS
YEAR 3000 – HATTIE
YOU NEVER LISTENED – MARTHA & THOMMY BAILEY VINE

 

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS

ATOMIC BOMB – CALISTA HARMS
BIGGER – ALEXANDRA CRIBB
BLUE – AMANDA FAGAN
BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN
CALIFORNIA – ALLY CRIBB
CONFESSION – CINTA AURELEE & JESSICA ANDREA
CROSSROAD – MARTHE SKEIDE
DIMPLES – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN
DONE – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT
FALLING IN LOVE – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG
FIVE FINGERS – THE CICADA
HEROES HAVE SHADOWS TOO – ISAAC STAINES
IN SPACE – ANTEA TURK
LIKE A GHOST – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT
LOST – MONIQUE RASO
OCEAN CHILD – SUMMER STARLING
PHASES – PETER PULST
RISE – MONIQUE RASO
SUNDAYS – LILY WELCH
TALKING TO THE DEVIL – NEAV
TETHERED – THE SEASIDE FEELS
THE SKY & I – JANE CALLISTA
THE SOUND OF LONELINESS – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN
THINK MYSELF TO DEATH – JOEY WILBUR
TOXIC TIME BOMB – AEJ ((ANNA-ELEA & JOSEFINE)
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN – CLARA FRANZ
WASTED POTENTIAL – LINDSAY LIEBRO
WHAT IF – PETER PULST
WITHOUT ME – JOEY WILBUR
YELLOW – JOEY WILBUR

 

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS

ANYWHERE – AUSTIN BRUFORD
BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY
COME BACK HOME – ZJAMYR
DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT
HOLIDAY CHEER – ALEXIS & LAUREN ROLEY & THE KOUZINS
I WISH, I DREAM – TAMARA YASIN
ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON
PERSEVERANCE – GIOELE UBEZIO
RISING FROM THE FIRE – ILAH GARDINER
UNBREAKABLE – DANIELA VERTIACHIKH

SAYS22 Official Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, BMI, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up & Fun Kids Radio

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with 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 an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

What’s it like to listen to all The Young Songwriter 2022 entries?

I have been amazed at the songs in this year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition.

Award winning songwriter, Emily Phillips, chairs the main Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition * judging panel and has had the stimulating & challenging experience of listening to and judging all 852 songs entered into this year’s competition.  A team of masters in songwriting students at ICMP and the Song Academy team helped Emily with the judging process to select the top finalists.

Emily has had top ten hits on both sides of the Atlantic and has worked with artists including Florence and the Machine, Sigrid, John Newman, Rizzle Kicks, Big Time Rush, DNCE, SOAK, and Nicole Scherzinger. Emily has also had 4 Hottest Records in the World as chosen by BBC Radio 1, including “Everybody Loves You” (SOAK), which was played on U2’s latest world tour. Emily recently had a no. 1 iTunes hit called “Racing Cars,” with Ruti (winner of The Voice). Emily has just had a Gospel musical for Broadway commissioned by Ken Davenport in New York.

Here’s how Emily described her experience of judging The Young Songwriter 2022 competition.There were hundreds of songs to listen to, a fairly daunting task as judging them requires my full attention for each and every song. Some songs simply invite me to listen to them and others might take a few listens before I fully realise their value. Sometimes songs make us listen again and again and we still can’t exactly say why. There are no steadfast guidelines for what makes a song great, but one thing they all have in common is an ability to connect with the listener. Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way, so if a young artist can capture that lucid state of mind with musicality and integrity, they have every chance of writing a great song.The lyrical subjects once again varied enormously. I can’t say there weren’t a few songs about the end of the world, such is the anxiety of the youth regarding climate change and war. Also there was a preoccupation with how phones erode family life, and how unkind social media can be.  But in more cheerful news, there were also many songs about love, nature, politics, gender politics, families and happiness to name a few topics. Whatever the reason for writing a song, there is no doubt that expressing feelings and turning them into a song can be empowering for young people.

I am always looking for originality in whatever shape or form that may come, as well as beautifully crafted songs wherever possible. As I have said in previous years, we are deluged with music on streaming platforms and so much of that music is copycat generic pop. Great artists historically have been found and nurtured by record companies, where the best AnR aim to give the public what they don’t yet know that they want. In other words, great artists become so because they are nurtured and given the time it takes to master their art. The Song Academy gives young aspiring songwriters a chance to do just that. Being a part of the judging process is an honour which, despite my experience as a songwriter, continues to inspire and inform me for which I am very grateful.

* In its 12th year The Young Songwriter 2022 (SAYS22) competition is the world’s leading songwriting competition for young aspiring songwriters, aged 8-18 (under 19 years), to get their songs heard by leaders in the industry & connect to a talented tribe of young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world.

Keep tuned to the Song Academy social media platforms to be the first to hear all upcoming announcements!

Get ready to enter The Young Songwriter 2022 competition!

Championing youth creativity and originality.  Supporting the mental health of young people.  Listening to the unheard youth and giving them a platform to share what’s important to them.  Connecting young songwriters across the world, to collaborate and lead the future of music.  Nurturing the next generation of creative leaders from diverse backgrounds

Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin & Grace Davies

In its exciting 12th year, the Song Academy Young Songwriter #SAYS22 competition champions youth creativity, giving them a golden opportunity to get their songs heard by a star-studded judging panel, get recognition for their creative talents, connect to other young songwriters and win some incredible prizes.

With over 1,000 entries in 2021, #SAYS22 aims to reach even more young people writing songs in their bedrooms around the world, as well as inspiring beginners from all backgrounds to write their 1st song! The future of music and all creative industries will be a bright, inclusive and diverse one.

Song Academy gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. Each year, the songs entered give a clear indication of the emotions, preoccupations, and insights of a generation. Lockdown, social media, the environment, love, rejection, home life, self-doubt, human rights, family and friends are subjects which often feature. These songs have the power to unite a generation and lead social change, to shape the future.

Fraser T Smith, songwriter, producer 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 it’s something I wish had been around when I was starting out. I can’t wait to hear the songs!”

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

SAYS22 partners include: SAYS22 Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up, Music-News.com & Fun Kids Radio.

The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition is 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.

If you know aspiring young songwriters or musical young people who’d like to write their first song, please encourage

them to enter!  All information is at https://www.songacademy.co.uk/says22/

Announcement to young people:

Calling all aspiring young songwriters, creative writers & musicians!

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs? Fancy writing your first song?

…Then get ready to enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition!

Open for entries from 1st February to 31st March 2022, from around the world.

Get your songs heard, stand out, connect to other young songwriters and win some great prizes (including

£1,000 of Yamaha equipment, a recording studio session with a top producer & song feedback from our star-studded

judging panel).

With judges including Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Plested, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Jimmy Napes, Calum Scott, Sacha Skarbek & Janet Devlin this year is set to be bigger than ever!

Check out our songwriting workshops and feedback services, as well as how to enter The Young Songwriter 2022 competition #SAYS22

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with 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 an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk

Tel: 07710 023743

CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

 

 

Songwriting resources for Teachers – 3 steps to student songwriting

Inspire your students to write their own songs & give them tools to get started.  Songwriting helps students find their voice & find their tribe.

Music is central to youth culture. One of the key questions that young people ask when they first meet is “what music do you listen to?” It matters to them because it’s part of defining who they are. It is also well-researched that music-making develops creativity, confidence, mental agility and mental health in young people. It provides an opportunity for students to shine in the limelight with solo performances and collaborate as one with others when playing in ensembles. In addition, music can be used in other academic subjects as a powerful way to increase young people’s motivation to learn, articulate what they’ve learned, and help memory retention.

In music education, songwriting provides an inspiring context for students to practice the musical elements they’ve learned in the music curriculum and bring them to life with their creative compositions, as well as practicing their skills of figurative speech learned in their English lessons.

The amount of songwriting taught in school music programs varies widely, but it’s an important opportunity that we should try to provide for students. By learning songwriting, students find their voice and express themselves in all new ways. Here are 3 steps to get started with your students:

Step 1 ― Creating a strong concept and an engaging title
Listening to some songs in different genres is a good step for students to get a feel for the style of song they’d like to write and the topics they want to speak up about. This list of songs is a great place to start.

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 students can be when describing feelings or experiences (for example, the pressures and joys of growing up and living in our society), the better. These are two exercises students can try when starting a song:

• Have students select five things in their bedroom (chair, window, guitar, books, etc.) and then turn them into interesting song titles. For example: Bed – Safe Haven, Chair – Where I’ll Stay, Guitar – Broken Strings, Books – Read All About It.
• Encourage students to find a quote they like ― For example, “It is never too late to be what you might have been,” “an obstacle is often a stepping stone,” or “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing,” and use that as the main concept to build around.

Step 2 – Getting started with writing
Thinking of their object or quote, encourage students to focus their senses on it and write freely for 10 minutes non-stop. Anything goes. All seven senses should be involved in the process: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, organic (awareness of inner bodily functions, e.g. heartbeat) and kinesthetic (your sense of relation to the world around you. For example, when the train you’re on is standing still and the one next to it moves, your kinesthetic sense goes crazy!)

After this 10-minute writing exercise, have students think more about the lyrics they’ve written and write some rhyming couplets. Remember that lyrics have a rhythm and using different rhyming schemes can help to shape the lyrics and make songs more engaging. The best two rhyming schemes to start with are A-A-B-B and A-B-A-B.

Once students’ rhyming couplets have been written, they can now count the syllables in each line. If they count the syllables while tapping their foot (creating a tempo), they’ll notice that they’re naturally creating a rhythm. This can be extremely helpful when working out a melody and figuring out how long the song’s lines are going to be.

Next, ask students to think about creating some metaphors with the words that are connected to their song to give it a unique twist. They can write a list of five interesting adjectives, then a list of five interesting nouns, thinking about each combination and writing some sentences. Then, a list of five nouns and five interesting verbs, and repeat the process of thinking about combinations, and so on. Once students have loads of lyrical ideas, they can organize them into different sections to build the song’s story.

Suggested Song Structure:
• Verse 1 — Introduces the song’s message and sets the scene (four lines, A-A-B-B or A-B-A-B)
• Pre Chorus — Link between the verse and chorus, builds up both melodically and lyrically (two lines, A-A or A-B)
• Chorus — Main message of the song, catchiest part and most memorable part of the song (four lines, A-A-B-B or A-B-A-B)
• Verse 2 — Continuing the explanation of the song, solidifying the message and introducing new imagery; lyrics change, melody stays the same as verse 1, possibly with a few small changes to keep it interesting (four lines, A-A-B-B or A-B-A-B)
• Bridge or Middle Eight — A contrasting section that brings the song to a new level and adds depth; rhythmically and melodically the song changes, looking at the message from a different viewpoint (four or eight lines, A-A-B-B or A-B-A-B)
• Chorus — Repeat (can add hooks to the outro of it)
• Outro — The closing passage. It can be instrumental or vocal

Step 3 ― Creating a chord progression and adding a melody
It’s at this stage when we put music together with the lyrics. Sometimes this may involve students playing instruments, but technology is also hugely beneficial in modern music-making. Soundtrap is a recommended tool for student songwriters to add instrumental parts and beats.

Chord progressions are the foundation of pop music. A chord is a collection of notes played at the same time, and a chord progression is when a series of chords are played in a sequence. There are three main chord progressions for songs in popular music:
• I, IV, V (Which is C, F, G when played in the key of C Major)
• I, V, VI, IV (C, G, Am, F in C Major)
• I, VI, II, V (C, Am, Dm, G in C Major)

Once you become familiar with these progressions, you’ll find yourself hearing them again and again in popular songs. For the next step in songwriting, each student should choose a key for their song and select one of the three chord progressions. They can play the chords and improvise different melodies for the lyrics. It works well to have different chord progressions for the verses, chorus, and bridge of the song. If students are using Soundtrap, they can test out many options.

Taking it to the next step
Once students get started with their songwriting, it’s hard to stop. Encourage them to continue exploring and trying new ideas. And, if they feel really strongly about what they’ve created ― and want to continue developing the idea more, they can enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, which brings together students from around the globe. When students find their voice through song, they are excited to make sure it’s heard.

More information on The Young Songwriter 2022 competition and how to enter.

 

Songwriting resources for Teachers – Turning a poem into a song

Turning a poem into a song.  Poetry and songwriting are very closely connected – in fact, many songwriters have stated that they started out writing poems before they wrote songs, and those poems became the basis for their lyrics.

So what do a poem and a song have in common? Both make use of RHYTHM and RHYME.

RHYTHM refers to the speed and pace of words, how fast we say them, and which words we emphasise.

RHYME refers to words that sound the same. You’ll often see rhyming words at the ends of lines in poetry. There are many types of rhymes, including single-syllable – like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ – double syllable – like ‘missing’ and ‘kissing’ – and more.

In poetry, rhythm and rhyme provide a flow to a poem as it is spoken or read. However, in a song, rhythm and rhyme combine with the melodies and production. The rhythm of the words contributes to the overall mood of the song, and the rhyme enhances certain lines, making them more memorable and catchy.

ACTIVITIES TO TRY WITH YOUNG BEGINNER SONGWRITERS

Step 1:  Find a short poem to use – 4 to 8 lines. A limerick might work particularly well. First have the children identify the rhymes, and label matching rhymes with matching letters. (If unsure on this system, consult resources such as https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/z4mmn39/articles/z83g2nb )

Step 2:  Set a pulse beat going, either using a metronome or clapping, and have an individual child or children recite the poem over it. Identify which words were emphasised – this is the rhythm of the words. It may help to underline these emphasised words, for memory.

Step 3:  Discuss melody – what sort of melody would go with this poem? Which words would the pitch move up and down on?
Have the children create their own melodies to fit with the rhythm of the words they have found.
If this is going well, challenge them to find more than one melody, and experiment with the rhythm of the words – lengthening, shortening and emphasising different words than before.

More songwriting resources for Teachers are at

All information on The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, open for entries for the 1st February to the 31st March 2022.

Songs in different genres to inspire you!

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 songwriting clubs and holiday workshops!

The Young Songwriter 2021 album – out now!

Star Judges included Fraser T Smith, Tom Grennan, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Emily Phillips, Iain Archer, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Michelle Escoffery, Eg White, Dan Gillespie Sells & Janet Devlin

Song Academy is delighted to announce the release of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 Album on Spotify, Apple Music and many other distributors through AWAL (Artists Without A Label). The album includes 27 tracks from the winners and selected finalists of the 2021 Young Songwriter competition, which attracted outstanding young talent from 8-18 year olds around the world.

The Song Academy Young Songwriter (SAYS) competition champions youth creativity, giving them a golden opportunity to get their songs heard by a star-studded judging panel, get recognition for their creative talents, connect to other young songwriters and win some incredible prizes.  SAYS21 attracted 1,031 high quality entries from around the world.

The Young Songwriter 2021 album on Spotify

The Young Songwriter 2021 album on Apple Music

Artists/songwriters featured on The Young Songwriter 2021 album

227 by Aleks Kostov
All It Takes by Hetta Falzon
Clapham Junction by Joe Lever
Colourful by Evangeline Durupt
Did I? by Isla Campbell
Drowns Me Out by Taia Thompson
Express Yourself by Song Academy
Fireflies by Lily Criddle
Girl In The Dress by Lois Brooks
Golden Days by Lily Carroll
Graffiti On The Wall by Alexis Gail Roley
Honey, by Clara Freeman
How To Be Vulnerable by Emily Semple
Illusion by Johnny Beau
Laying on Mars by Benjamin Frere
Lost Myself by Jo MacKenzie
My Friend in Miami by Venice and Belle Herrera
People Like You by Pip Lewis
Right To Be Loved by Song Academy
Sing It Out by Song Academy
Stardust by Kelty Parker
Talk by Benjamin Magro
Talks Too Much by Leona Mae
Teardrops by Nelly Bingham
The Astronaut’s Song by Michael Abimanyu Kaeng
Voices by Macy O’Neill
We’re Not Lonely Anymore by Lexie Carroll
Who am I? by Tamara Yasin

If you know aspiring young songwriters or musical young people who’d like to write their first song, please encourage them to check out https://www.songacademy.co.uk/says22/ for all information about The Young Songwriter 2022 competition.

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