Descriptions of each category are below. Click on the links below for more information and examples of past entries in those categories.
(TIP: Have you thought of entering your lyrics in Lyrics Only? Many recorded songs that are entered could also achieve very high or even winning results in the Lyrics Only category if the writers enter the lyric separately on its own).
Chart style top 40 popular music that could also include some slower pop ballads as well as more obvious up-tempo pop songs. This is the most commercial of all the categories and is for songs with mass (often younger) audience appeal. Our judges and producers have excellent contacts in the Pop industry who are always looking for new songs. Many past winners of this category have gone on to publishing deals and have written for major artists such as Paloma Faith and Alexandra Burke and have gone on to work with some of the word's top producers including UKSC contest judges such as Elton John's producer Stuart Epps and the highly aclaimed producer, musical director and author Richard Niles.
Read more about the Pop Category and hear past Winners Here...
Singer / Songwriter
This is a perfect category for performers who are also songwriters. Songs can be in any style or genre. The only rule is that the songwriter sings their own song. In this category the performance and vocals are judged along with the songwriting. (NOTE: This is the only category where the vocals are also judged, in all other categories vocals are not judged). When Emma Fitzsimons from Dublin, Ireland, won with her song Follow The Rainbow she flew to England for a professional music video shoot and recording and production sessions as part of her UKSC Prize Package. She was taken by the UKSC to meet Sting's producer and UKSC judge Kipper Eldridge who offered to co writer with her, was tweeted about by Perez Hilton and Calvin Harris and her YouTube views are now over one million. In 2013 the winner of this category was Hollywood Star Wars actress turned singer-songwriter Bonnie Piesse with her beautiful song Ariella. Bonnie continues to sing and write and she became a UKSC video presenter in the 2014 Awards Video Show. The winner in 2014 was Alysha Brilla who soon after her win was nominated foe a Juno Award. She is currently co-writing a song together with UK Songwriting Contest judge and hit songwriter Mark Cawley.
Read more about the Singer Songwriter Category and hear past Winners Here...
The popular category for lyricists. If you wish you may also add directions about the type of music style / vocalist / presentation etc that you imagine accompanying your lyric (this is optional and not a requirement). You can also add other comments about the song. It is very easy to enter your Lyrics using our special Lyrics Only entry form - just copy and paste in a few clicks. This is a very popular category with specialist lyricists who do not write music, but music writing songwriters are also welcome to enter lyrics in this category (some songwriters enter Lyrics Only and also enter a recording of the same song in one of the other categories). Lyrics entries have exactly the same chance of winning the Grand Prizes as entries in any other categories. For example, the Overall Grand Prize Winner of the contest one year was a Lyrics Only entry called Silver Linings by Mark Wilson. Mark received Sibelius music software (The Sibelius Prize) and a UKSC Gold Disc Award in addition to the usual impressive UKSC Overall Winners' prize package. The 2013 Lyrics winner, Susan Muranty, received personal one-on-one mentoring with hit songwriter Mark Cawley as part of her contest prize package and she is still working wth him and recently spent time with him recording in sudios in Nashville. The 2014 winner Mick Evans has now had some great music put to his winning lyric (again via UKSC judge Mark Cawley) and the song has been recorded with outstanding results.
Read more about the Lyrics Category and see (and hear) past entries Here...
Adult Contemporary - AC
Artists that are often described as AC include Amy Winehouse, Sting, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Celine Dion, Simply Red, Bryan Adams - it is a huge list and a very popular genre. Acoustic based singer/songwriter material could also be suited to this category. Younger, edgier bands, sometimes described as "Hot AC", are also welcome in this category. There has been a very large variety of music entered in this category over the years that the contest has been running - listen to and compare the 2011 and 2012 winners for example, two very different styles of music but both worthy winners. Last year's winning song in this categoy, Apart by Neil Fitzpatrick, has acheived many sales and raised many thousands of pounds for charity.
Read more about the Adult Contemprary Category and listen to past Winners Here...
Acoustic & Folk
Acoustic and unplugged type songs of any style. Also folk including traditional and easy listening folk/acoustic styles (the 2012 winner in this category was in a traditional English folk style). The 2011 Acoustic Category winner, Bloody Good Xmas was re-recorded and released as a Christmas Single reaching #2 in the Amazon Best Selling Download charts.
Read more about the Acoustic & Folk Category and hear past entries here...
These songs can be in any style at all - pop, rock, AC, country, disco, ballad, folk, opera, rock anthems, jazz, gospel - anything at all. The only rule is that the song must be about love. In 2012 there were two joint winners of this category - both in very different styles, listen to them both here. "The Way You Are" is a very catchy contemporary and modern style Love Song, while the other winner "Together" is an oustandingly tender, sincere and heartfelt song in a much older and less commecial style (you will need to turn up the volume when listening to the winning song "Together" as a very poor quality recording as entered).
Read more about the Love Songs Category and hear past Winners Here...
This category was introduced last year in response to many requests from entrants and because so many people are experimenting with videos to go with their songs these days. It is important to note that in this category it is the video, and not only the song, that is the main focus of attention for the judges. You may also enter the same song as an audio recording in one of the other categories and also enter your video of the song in the Video catgeory. Both entry versions of the song will be judged separately. To enter this category we will ask for a link to watch your video which must already be online somewhere for viewing (eg on YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Facebook, Twitter, your own website etc).
Read more about the Music Video Category Here...
The UKSC has a history of outstanding younger entrants. For example Natalie Chua, now a UKSC judge, was only 11 years old when she won the UKSC and was signed by Simon Cowell back in 2004. She went on to receive a Platinum Album for her work Cowell's band Angelis. In 2013 Jaron Natoli from Melbourne was only 13 when he won both the Rock and the Pop categories with his songs and which led to him being seen and heard by millions on the hugely popular Today Tonight TV show in Australia. And last year 15 year old Kate Cosentino won this newly introduced Under 18s category and impressed with the judges with her outstanding song Just Remember prompting UKSC judge and number one hit songwriter Mark Cawley to say he was very impressed and very envious that she could write so well at such a young age. Anyone who is under 18 at the time of entry may enter this category and songs can be in any style.
Read more about the Under 18s Category Here...
As the name says, anything and everything goes in this open category, and there are no restrictions on what you may enter. The Open Category is for songs that do not fit easily into any of the above categories. Entries have included opera, classical, ethnic and world music, childrens' songs, educational songs, musical theatre and comedy. Remember - anything goes. We have had some outstanding entries in this category and some big successes - for example the first ever winning song in this category was recorded and released inernationally by The Canadian Tenors, and another past winner of this category, Natalie Chua, was signed by Simon Cowell - she went on to receive a Platinum Album for sales over 500,000 with Cowell's band Angelis and she is now a UKSC judge.
Read more about the Open Category and hear past Winners Here...
All types and styles of rock including alternative rock and indie music. Past entries have included classic sixties and seventies rock, Indie and Alternative, Grunge, Heavy Metal, Rock Ballads, BritPop, modern contemporary rock and pop/rock crossover. Contestants in this category include bands as well as solo songwriters. Recordings can be of any type: eg studio, bedroom, garage or live show. Many entrants have had success: for example the 2011 Rock Category Winner, Danger Deep Water by Jason Flinter, was chosen to open and launch LABEL EXPO, the prestigious International Awards Show in Brussels and Jason was also asked to write the music for the 2012 EXPO SUMMIT in Capetown - "All thanks to the UKSC!" says Jason. The 2012 winner, Nathaniel Porter was approached and advised by contest judge and renowned producer Richard Niles and is now pursuing a career with the US band Parias Day. The Rock / Indie Category winner in 2013, Jaron Natoli, was featured on the hugely popular TV show Today Tonight and seen by millions in his native Australia when the results were announced. Listen to some examples of past entries below, with more coming soon...
Read more about this Category and listen to past Winners Here...
Many songwriters have tried writing a Christmas song. Most of the world's famous songwriters have penned a song for Christmas - even Paul McCartney and John Lennon each had a go. Songwriters know that Christmas Songs are among the biggest grossing songs in the world with potential for massive repeat sales each year, and lists of the world's most popular and best selling songs always include Christmas Songs at the top or near the top. In the past UKSC entrants entered their Christmas songs in various categories depending on the style of the music - one example is "Bloody Good Xmas" which won the Acoustic/Folk category in 2010 and went straight to number two in the Amazon download charts after it created a cult followig through the contest - but from 2013 there has been a special category just for these songs. The winning song of the newly introduced UKSC Christmas Songs category in 2013, My Favourite Time Of Year by Leigh Haggerwood, was chosen by the producers as theme music for the popular ITV television annual Christmas season appeal TEXT SANTA and it was used again as the theme music in 2014. It is now one of the "Most Popular Christmas Songs of All Time" on YouTube.
Read more about the Christmas Songs Category and hear past Winners Here...
This popular category is for Country music only and it has seen some outstanding entries in many different country styles in past years. The Country category includes all the many different styles and variations of country music and includes traditional country, ballads, foot stompers and pop crossovers. The very powerful 2011 winning country song He Only Broke My Heart by Molly Hunt is in a contemporary pop/country style while the 2013 winner I'm So Blue by Rob Cariddi has the feel of a timeless country classic from an earlier era.
Read more about the Country Music Category and hear past Winners Here...
Jazz / Blues
All jazz and blues styles from jazz ballads to classic 12 bars, traditional, experimental and modern. This could also be a suitable category for contemporary jazz based easy listening styles, or heavily jazz influenced bands (eg Steely Dan). Past winners have included sophisticated jazz, experimental, raw blues, trad, latin influenced. We are constantly surprised and impressed by the variety of entries in this category.
Read more about the Jazz and Blues Category and hear past entries Here...
Christian / Faith
All songs with a religious or faith theme including gospel, Christian, praise, worship etc. All musical styles are welcome in this category - traditional, modern and alternative, pop, rap, choral, soul, rock etc etc. Christmas carols may be entered in this category or in Christmas Songs (or both). Past winners have been in gospel, country, classical, pop, acapella and even electronic/dance styles.
Read more about the Christian / Faith Category and hear past winners here...
All styles and forms and genres of instrumental music ar welcome in this category. Classical, rock, acoustic, electric, theme music, film music, jingles or mood music, songs without lyrics, or improvisational pieces - there are no limits. Any type of instrumentation is welcome - eg a single acoustic instrument, electronic, multiple instruments, all keyboards based, live band/ensemble performances etc etc.
Read more about the Instrumental Category and hear past entries here..
Electronic / Dance / Ambient
For all styles and sub-genres of Electronic and Dance and Ambient music. These include Electronica, Trance, Atmospheric, Minimal, House, Techno, D&B, Space Music, Jungle, Hardcore, Industrial, Breakbeat, Psychedelic, UK Garage, Electro, Downtempo, Chillout, Nu-Jazz, Nu-Disco, Organic, New Wave, Dub Step, Dance Punk, Progressive, Acid Rave, Gabba, Sambass, Funk, Jump, Freestyle, Euro, Snap, Synthpop, Dark Ambient, Industrial, Ambient Dub, Ethno, Isolationist... and everything in between. Last years winner Walk Of Shame was an impressive club track that was entered in both Pop and in Electronic / Dance - it was a finalist in Pop and it won the Electronic / Dance category.
Read more about this Category and hear past entries here..
R&B / HipHop / Rap
All contemporary R&B, and all Hip Hop, Rap and Urban styles are welcome in this category. If you think that your songs may overlap with Pop or Adult Contemporary or Singer-Songwriter or Electronic/Dance you may wish to also enter your songs in those categories.
Read more about this Category and hear past entries here..
Retro new in 2016
This is a new category for 2016. It was introduced because many songwriters said they had written songs in a older style that they did not think was suitable for a contemporary song competition. This category is for these older style songs, for example 60s Pop, 80s Disco, 40s ballads, 50s Rock and Roll. 90s Brit Pop and anything else that is in an Retro style.
World Music new in 2016
World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe including non-Western folk music, ethnic music, traditional and country specific classical music, indigenous music, neo-traditional music, and cultural mixes (eg a mix of ethnic music and Western pop music). Since the term was first used in the eighties it has grown to include hybrid subgenres such as world fusion, global fusion, ethnic fusion and worldbeat.
Indie new in 2016
Another new category for 2016. Indie originally meant music produced independently from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, often with a do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing. It is now also used to describe a genre such as indie rock or indie pop that may not be independently produced and most indie music artists do not fall into a single, defined musical style or genre. The indie rock movement for example encompassed a wide range of styles, from hard-edged bands, through do-it-yourself experimental bands, to punk-folk singers.