Pop This category is for chart style top 40 popular music. It includes slower pop ballads, as well as up-tempo pop songs. This is the most commercial of all the categories and it is for songs with mass (often younger) audience appeal. Our judges and producers have excellent contacts who are looking for new songs. Past winners of this category had major publishing deals as a result of entering the contest and have gone on to write for major artists, appeared on prime time TV shows, toured, and worked with top producers. Neil Fitzgerald´s winning UKSC song was signed to the world's biggest independent publishing company whose other signed writers include Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Bjork, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Garth Brooks. UKSC winner Belle Humble wrote songs for Paloma Faith, Alexandra Burke, films and TV, topping the charts in the USA, South Korea and Japan with over 300 million (300,000,000!) plays on YouTube alone with millions more on other platforms. Ken Brown teamed up with producer and UKSC judge Stuart Epps for a new version of his winning entry. Jaron Natoli was showcased to millions on prime time TV. Alysha Brilla was nominated for a Juno Award. After winning the contest Katie Kittermaster was signed to tour nationwide with BoyzLife, Ronan Keating and others and she is now a UKSC judge. There are many more examples.
Singer / Songwriter This is the 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. Important: in this category the vocal performance is judged together with the songwriting as a complete package. 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 with the UKSC, was invited by Sting's producer Kipper Eldridge to his studio where he offered to co writerwith her, Perez Hilton and also Calvin Harris championed her and her song had over one million plays. A well known 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 has since supported the UKSC as a video presenter and is now a contest judge.
Lyrics Only The is a 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, but music composing songwriters are also invited to enter their lyrics to their songs in this category as stand-alone lyrics entries (some songwriters enter Lyrics Only and also enter a recording of the same song in one of the other categories). Lyrics entries have the same chance of winning as entries in any other categories. The Overall Grand Prize Winner of the contest in 2020 for example, "Angels In Disguise" was a lyrics entry, and another Lyrics Only entry, "Silver Linings" by Mark Wilson, was an overall winner one year. Lyrics Only category winner Susan Murant has gone on to great success, has since recorded with top songwriters Nashville, and has joined the UKSC as a judge. There are many more examples of success for lyricists. NOTE FOR LYRICISTS: Check out the other lyrics opportunities in the contest: the Crisis Song Lyrics Category and the Collaboration (Lyrics) Category.
Love Songs These songs can be in any style - 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 commercial style (you will need to turn up the volume when listening to the winning song "Together" as a very poor quality recording was entered).
Official Release Any song in any style may entered in this category so if you have entered a song in another category, and it is also a released track, you should also consider this category. The only rule is that the track must be released for streaming or download on major platforms such as Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, Apple Music, CD Baby, Amazon, Google Play, Napster etc. Any distributor can be involved: from an independent distributor such as Distrokid, CD Baby, TuneCore, Ditto, AWAL, etc, to a record company or publisher, or any other distributor or distribution method.
Adult Contemporary - AC Artists that are often described as AC include Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeren, Sting, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Celine Dion, Simply Red, Bryan Adams - it is a huge and varied list and a very popular genre and category. Acoustic based singer/songwriter material is also 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. A recent winner in this category, Apart by Neil Fitzpatrick, was signed by the world´s biggest independent music publishers after winning, and Neil was featured in a national UK TV series about songwriting after being recommended to the series producers by the UKSC.
Instrumental All styles and forms and genres of instrumental music are 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.
Crisis Songs This popular category was introduced in 2020 in response to the Global Covid Pandemic to keep songwriters busy during lockdown. Any songs, in any style, about the current COVID-19 world crisis are welcome in this category. Of course Covid is not the only crisis we face, and you may also enter songs about other crises facing the world today in this category. We will be watching closely and we will promote and share our favourites.
Crisis Song Lyrics This is similar to the Crisis Songs category above - but it is for Lyrics Only entries. The winner of this lyric category in 2020, Angels In Disguise, was made the overall winner of the 2020 event and has been part of a social media promotional campaign featuring his UKSC winning lyric!. Any song lyrics in any style about any aspect of the current COVID-19 world pandemic crisis - or any other crisis facing the world today! - are welcome in this category. We will be watching closely and we will promote and share our favourites.
Co-writer (For Lyricists) Write your own new lyric to the melody by the British composer Tim Crew - the winner of last year´s Melody Only Category. Listen to Tim´s recording of his melodyhere. Collaborate as a co-writer by entering your lyrics to fit this melody. You can submit this as either a) written lyrics only, or b) a recording of words and music together (do it all yourself or use a backing track we will provide on request). Or try writing a new lyric for Barbara Kay-Smith´s Yesterday melody, chosen as the outstanding melody in last year´s Songwriting Challenge. You can listen to that track here. Again, submit a written lyric or a recording.
Co-writer (for Composers) Write a new melody to top lyrics from last year´s event. Check out the lyrics here. Collaborate as a co-writer by submitting your melody to fit any of these lyrics. NOTE: Your entry in this category must be a recording. If you are unable to sing or to find a singer you may submit an instrumental with the top line playing the melody (this melody must fit the words exactly).
Unplugged / Acoustic This category is for unlugged, acoustic, non electric, songs of any style. It could also be a raw acoustic version of a produced song entered in another category. There have been some great acoustic entry winners in the past: for example Bloody Good Xmas by Jamie Hawkins created so much interest on winning the category that it was rush released as a Christmas Single and it quickly hit #2 in the Amazon charts - see the video on YouTube.A finalist song in the Acoustic Category, Down To Earth by Kate Diaz, was used as a theme tune by Music Aid International and others.
Folk All folk songs including traditional folk, regional styles, world folk styles, modern folk, easy listening folk/acoustic styles, Check out Dr James by Katriona Gilmore, an outstanding song in a classic old traditional English folk style, or the very topical and contemporary lyrics of the 2020 Folk winner in US American Traditional folk style, or the powerful and descriptive imagery of the 2019 acoustic winner Kenmare Bay. You will find many past entries in the UKSC, in this and in other categories, on Google and other search engines with a quick search.
Melody Only This is a category where budding Elton Johns and Bernie Taupins can find each other and create a new song together. If you have a good melody, but you can´t get the right words, this is the category for you. Many of the most popular and successful songs in history, maybe most of them, were written by co writers, with one person writing the melody and the other person writing the lyric. The trick is to find the right collaborator. The winner of this category will have their melody promoted and featured and we will invite lyricists to writer words to your melody. We will find the best match of lyrics for your song and put you in contact with potential lyricists. We will send the completed song to our contacts in the industry.
Teen The UKSC has a very strong history of outstanding younger entrants going back many years. For example Natalie Chua 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 Award and great success. Jaron Natoli from Melbourne was only 13 when he won both the Rock and the Pop categories with his songs and was seen and heard by millions on nationwide Australian TV shows. When 15 year old Kate Cosentino won with her outstanding song Just Remember it caused a stir among many in the music business. Seventeen year old Katie Kittermaster won with her song T-Shirt and was soon performing the song on a sell out nationwide tour with BoysLife and enjoying a successful musical career. Katie is now a UKSC judge. All entrants in this category must be in their teens, 13 to 19 years of age, at the time of entry. (Note: songs by younger, Pre-Teen writers, should be entered in the Open Category - see below - with a note about the writers age).
Open Category 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 other categories. Entries have included opera, classical, ethnic and world music, songs for children, educational songs, musical theatre and comedy. Remember - anything goes. We have had some outstanding entries in this category and some big successes - for example after winning the category the song "Sempre Vicino" was covered and recorded by The Canadian Tenors and released internationally. Another past winner of this category, Natalie Chua, was signed by Simon Cowell - she was only 11 years old when she won this category and she was signed by Simon Cowell for his band Angelis, and went on to receive a Platinum Album for album sales over 500,000.
Rock 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 producer Richard Niles and is now pursuing a career with the US band Parias Day. Rock / Indie Category winner Jaron Natoli, was featured on the hugely popular nationwide network TV show Today Tonight and seen by millions in his native Australia, together with UKSC judge Stuart Epps, when the results were announced.
Christmas Songs 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 and went straight to number two in the Amazon download charts after it created a cult followig through the contest. UKSC Christmas SOng winner My Favourite Time Of Year by Leigh Haggerwood was signed as the Christmas theme music for a national UK television channel, was playlisted in over 140,000 stores worldwide, has had many millions of monetized online plays and is now one of the official "Most Popular Christmas Songs of All Time" on YouTube!
Country 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 winning country song He Only Broke My Heart by Molly Hunt is in a contemporary pop/country style while the winner I'm So Blue by Rob Cariddi has the feel of a timeless country classic from an earlier era.
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.
Jazz / Blues All styles are welcome, from ballads and big band, to experimental and modern. The category is suitable for all types of jazz from traditional to contemporary jazz based easy listening, experimental jazz, or heavily jazz influenced rock band styles (eg Steely Dan). You may also enter instrumental jazz pieces in this category. Blues entries can be hard core blues, or light acoustic blues, traditional, retro, latin influenced blues, raw basic blues, complex songs or simple 12 bars. Instrumentals are also welcome in this category.
EDM 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.
Music Videos In this category it is the video, and not only the song, that is a 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 category. 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).
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.
Retro This category was introduced because many songwriters said they had written songs in older styles that they did not think were 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 a Retro style.
World Music 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 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.
Work In Progress This category is for songs that you are working on which are not completed or finished yet. Let us have your ideas, sketches and your rough first recording. You may have only a basic chorus with "dum de dum" lyrics, or only a melodic idea with a few pieces of lyric, or a song hook and not much else yet. The essential thing is that these are not complete and finished songs - this must be very obvious. We will choose songs that show potential for additions, for rewriting, for new lyrics, for new sections, development, changing, collaboration, re arranging. We may even pass them on to our contacts and producers for development and co writing if we think they show promise. Don´t be shy. You may have a classic in the making and not realise it.