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).
SONGWRITING CHALLENGENEW! This is a new category for 2020. We ask you to write a new lyric or a new melody to an existing famous song. The new lyric and the new melody will have exactly the same structure and metre, so when the winning Lyric and the winning Melody are put together by the UKSC Team they will be a perfefct fit and a new complete song wiill be created. The UKSC will professionallly record the resulting song for the winners! Simple but brilliant (if we do say so ourselves). The first classic song we have chosen to start this challenge is Yesterday by Paul McCartney. Paul says he woke up from a dream one morning with the complete melody for this song. He had a lot of trouble finding words for it (he had working lyrics that had "scrambled eggs" in place of the word "yesterday" !! ) and it was some time before he had the flash of inspiration for that final lyric that we all know while driving a hire car in Portugal. Let us have your alternative Melody and Lyrics for this famous classic AABA song. NOTE FOR RECORDINGS: You can submit a very basic instrumental version that fits the original lyric, or you can sing the original McCartney lyric to your new tune. NOTE FOR LYRICISTS: Copy and paste your new lyric into the box provided on the entry form. Make sure it matches Pauls´s original melody.
Crisis Songs NEW! This is another new category for 2020 to keep you busy during lockdown. Any songs in any style about the current COVID-19 world crisis are welcome in this category. We will be watching closely and we will promote and share our favourites online during the crisis.
Work In Progress NEW! This category is for songs that you are working on but which are not completed or finished yet. Let us have your ideas, your rough first recording, maybe a full chorus with dum de dum verse lyrics, or just a melody with a few pieces of lyric, or a hook and not much else. We will choose the songs with the most potential. We may even pass them on to our contacts and producers for collaboration and co writing if we think they show great promise. Don´t be shy. You may have a classic in the making and not realise it.
Pop This category is for chart style top 40 popular music. It includes slower pop ballads, as well as more obvious up-tempo pop songs. Judges in this category include Shelly Peiken, the Multi-Platinum Album, Grammy nominated hit songwriter whose successes include the #1 hits "What A Girl Wants" and "Come On Over Baby" with Christina Aguilera. 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 had major publishing deals as a result of entering the contest and written for major artists, have appeared on prime time TV shows and have gone on to work with some of the word's top producers. Pop winner Belle Humble went on to write for Paloma Faith, Alexandra Burke and others, major films and TV, and her hits include the worldwide Freestylers mega hit "Cracks" and the massively successful K-pop hit "Russian Roulette" which was a top three in South Korea, Japan and the USA! Her songs have over 300 million (300,000,000!) views on YouTube. (Note: Belle is now a UKSC judge in the Pop Category). Pop Winner Ken Brown teamed up with producer Stuart Epps for a new version of his UKSC entry. Pop winner Jaron Natoli was featured and seen by millions on prime time TV on the popular Today Tonight Show. Pop winner Alysha Brilla was nominated for a Juno Award. Katie Kittermaster toured the UK with BoysLife and won The Commonwealth Song Contest with her UKSC song. And these are just a very few examples.
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 with the UKSC, was mentored by Sting's producer and (UKSC judge) Kipper Eldridge in his studio, and he offered to co writer with her, was tweeted about by Perez Hilton and Calvin Harris and her YouTube views went to over one million. 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 helped and supported the UKSC as a video presenter.
Lyrics Only 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, and music writing songwriters are also welcome to enter their 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 prizes as entries in any other categories. 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. Lyrics category 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 recording in studios in Nashville with him. She recently joined the UKSC as a judge in the Lyrics Category. Winner Mick Evans had music put to his winning lyric (again via UKSC judge Mark Cawley) and the song has been recorded with outstanding results.
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 and has achieved over $100,000 in sales.
Unplugged / Acoustic New in 2020 the Unplugged and Acoustic category is for unplugged, non electric, songs of any style. It could also be an unplugged version of a produced song entered in another category. There have been some great Acoustic entry winners, 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 when the results were announced and it quickly reached #2 in the Amazon Best Selling Download charts - see the video on YouTube.A finalist song in the Acoustic Category, Down To Earth by Kate Diaz, was noticed in the contest and used as a theme tune by Music Aid International and others.
Folk All folk songs including traditional folk, regional styles, world folk style, modern folk, easy listening folk/acoustic styles, Check out Dr James by Katriona Gilmore, an outstanding song in a traditional English folk style.
Love Songs 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 was entered).
Music Videos 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. 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).
Under 18s 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 way back in 2004 in the contests second year. She went on to receive a Platinum Album Award. 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. When 15 year old Kate Cosentino won the Under 18s category with her beautiful outstanding song Just Remember it caused a stir among many in the music business and number one hit songwriter Mark Cawley was quoted as saying he envied her writing skills and wished he had been able to write like that when he was 15. Seventeen year old Katie Kittermaster recently won this category with her song T-Shirt, which then also went on to win the Commonwealth Song Contest after nomination by the UKSC. She was soon performing the song on a sell out nationwide tour with BoysLife and is now enjoying a growing career with many media appearances and headline concerts. Anyone who is Under 18 at the time of entry may enter this category and songs can be in any style.
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 above 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 12 years old when she won this category and 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.
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 contest judge and renowned 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 TV show Today Tonight and seen by millions in his native Australia 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 in 2010 and went straight to number two in the Amazon download charts after it created a cult followig through the contest - and from 2013 there has been a special category just for these songs. Christmas Songs category winner, My Favourite Time Of Year by Leigh Haggerwood, was signed as the theme music for the nationwide ITV television annual Christmas season appeal TEXT SANTA and was playlisted in over 140,000 stores worldwide. It has had millions of hits on YouTube and it is now one of the "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 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.
Jazz Category and Blues Category Previously one category, this was split into two separate categories in 2020. All jazz and blues styles from jazz ballads to classic 12 bars, traditional, experimental and modern. The Jazz category is a suitable category for all types of jazz from traditional to contemporary jazz based easy listening styles, experimental jazz, or heavily jazz influenced band styles (eg Steely Dan). Blues Category entries can be hard core blues, or light acoustic blues, traditional, retro, latin influenced, raw bllues, complex or simple 12 bars. We are constantly surprised and impressed by the variety of entries in both of these categories.
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.
Instrumental 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.
EDM (previously 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.
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 an 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.