Annual Song Contest held by the Dallas Songwriters Association to provide a benchmark for popular songwriting competency. Winners in each category, plus grand prize winners.

CATEGORIES AND JUDGES:Finalists in each category will be judged by music industry professionals from record labels and publishing companies; Grand Prize winner will be chosen by A&R and/or industry professionals of Broadjam.com



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2009 Song Contest Winners

Click on the song title to listen.

1. I Can't Rhyme by Lanny Sherwin, Santa Barbara, CA
2. Delete by Noel Cohen, NY, NY
3. Some Things You Don't Throw Away by Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins,Ellen Britton, Nashville, TN

1. Stonewall by Ward Parker & Robert Dee, Brooklyn, NY
2. The Driver by David Spence, Austin, TX
3. When You Gonna Tell Her by Jaime Leopold, Portland, OR

1. Hard and Unforgiving by Scott Tonkinson & Lance Chandler, Chandler, AZ
2. Stewards by John Watilo, Lewisville, TX
3. Invisible Man by Eric Christensen, Verona, WI
HM May the Road Rise to Meet You by Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins, Nashville, TN

1. Some Things You Don't Throw Away by Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins, Ellen Briton, Nashville, TN
2. Thinking About The Wedding Night by Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins, Nashville, TN
3. The War of 1812 by Lauren Smith, Livermore, CA
3. Gravity by Roger Kaye, Glens Falls, NY

1. Wanderings by John Visconti, Merrick, NY
2. Optimism by Chris Trentham, Kentwood, MI
3. Mixed Emotions by Tedd Turton, Mungar, Australia

1.That Ain't Me by Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins, Nashville, TN
2 Joellen by Louie Cate, Alexandria, VA
3. The Driver by David Spence, Austin, TX

1. I Can't Rhyme by Lanny Sherwin, Santa Barbara, CA
2. Stinky Feet by Lanny Sherwin, Santa Barbara, CA
3. A Cappella by Lanny Sherwin, Santa Barbara, CA

1. Delete by Noel Cohen, NY, NY
2. Spinning by Matt Dahan, Hinghan, MA
3. Swing Out Wide by David Spence, Austin, TX
HM One Minute To Midnight by Karyna Cruz, Denton, TX

1. Photographs by Noel Cohen, NY, NY
2. Shine by Lisa Torres & Steffon Hamulak, Castaic, CA
3. Let Me Believe by Bernadette Conant, Seaside, CA

1. Get Your Cloths On by Peter Bacsalmasi, Calgary, Alberta, CAN
2. Are We In Love by Sinem Varoglu, NY, NY
3. Let's Make It Right by Dom Stasi, Willow Springs, IL

Staring at the Future by Mimi Balkey was the song entry drawn.

Grand Prize Judge, Roy Elkins, Comments

I Can't Rhyme
It's difficult for an instrumental to win a songwriting contest. The only thing more difficult is for a children's song to win. And this year a children's song is the winner. "I Can't Rhyme" is a well crafted song and has a lyric where you can sing along after hearing it the first time. It would never appeal to adults, but one can close their eyes and imagine a room full of kids glued to the singer because of the clever lyric and melodic engagement of this song. This is a polished writer who knows their market well and delivers a perfect song for it. I can't comment on the rhyming schemes because there are none, until the last line. I can comment on the simple, but brilliant sing along melody that you would hum even if the lyrics weren't so sticky. This is not the type of song that just "comes to ya", so I'm sure the writer put a lotta effort into creating this. If it did just "come to him/her", then they truly have a gift and hopefully many kids will be the recipient of it. Great work and I would love to hear more of their stuff.

Great song and dead center of the current mainstream singer/songwriter pop. This song is current and relevant while using metaphors to describe the singers relationship. 25 years ago this hook wouldn't have worked as "Delete" wasn't used in our language like it is today. It's a clever song about love with modern pop lyrics such as "erase ….memory". Nice engaging acoustic guitar intro, with a good opening vocal line, "We were good, so good". This line sets up the entire song and the listener knows what it's going to be about. I thought the writer could have used more metaphors in the lyric, but I thought the set-up, hook and arrangement were stellar. I scored this hook a 10 and very rarely do that. The hook is a melody you can sing without the lyric and a lyric you can say without the melody. Very well-crafted song with lots of current market potential.

Some Things You Don't Throw Away
If someone would have told me that I would pick a song to win a contest with the theme of "hoarding things", I would have laughed. This is probably the most original lyric in the 2010 DSA contest. It could be the most original lyric ever in this contest, at least since I've been judging. Clearly this song was written from personal experience as I can't imagine this coming any other way to the writer. This writer creates the perfect marriage between the music and the lyric and weaves love in near the end. The line "you're gonna find the things that matter most, ain't easy to replace" is one of the best lines I have heard in song. There is so much truth in every line of this song. The melody doesn't work quite as well in the chorus as it does in the verses, but the lyric is so strong I'm not sure it matters. Great job on this!

When You Gonna Tell Her
A simple song with a good hook and melody. Nice opening line which is the hook, "When You Gonna Tell Her". Like the song "Delete", this line sets up the whole song. With that said, we're not really sure what he is going to tell her, which leaves you wanting more immediately. The concept and melody carry the lyric most of the way, as the lyric is extremely simple throughout the song and that's probably why it works so well. "Walking down the aisle, with all roses and smiles you really thought you pulled it off" is a visual and very thought provoking line. If you just read that one line, it can conger up lots of thoughts. I love this and I bet this writer has some other good ones as well. If James Blunt and Allison Krauss were to write together, this is what it would sound like.

Thinkin' About The Wedding Night
This could easily be on country radio and I could see a Dierks Bentley type of act cutting it. Every line in the song has been worked on and crafted beautifully into a perfect country hit. My only criticism is that I think the chorus is a little too long at about 35 seconds including the set-up. I might change up the lyric in the first half of this each time to make it a little less predictable as the hook is very strong. This is a great song with huge market potential. Well crafted and is clearly written by very experienced writer(s).

A Capella
This is the only song that I rewound and listened to again the first time through the list. Not only is this brilliantly crafted, but brilliantly produced. However, this is a songwriting contest and the production isn't considered or it probably would have won. While it is brilliantly done, the manufactured nature didn't quite hold it's own when compared to the other songs above it on the list. With that said, this could have easily won in a different year. I would love to hear more from this writer.

Swing Out Wide
It took me a couple of times through this one to realize the strength of the hook. The lyric is pretty good and very relevant to both sides of most arguments, without choosing one. And that's what makes it unique. A very engaging and memorable melodic hook with words that work. With a little better marriage between the melody and lyric in the verses, this song is much stronger.

Other songs considered
One Minute to Midnight - Strong arrangement & melody

Shine - Memorable hook and good lyric

That Ain't Me - Strong Lyric

Photographs - Strong melody

See the press release on the song contest winners.

See the press release on the 2009-10 song contest winners:

Get a hard copy of the April issue of Songwriters Notes with a list of winners and read about grand prize winner, Lanny Sherwin.

Semifinalists were posted on the song contest website on March 15th.

Mimi Balkey won the drawing for the ipod.



10. You can win a casio privia keyboard.

9. You can win cash

8. You can win a one year DSA membership or more.

7. You can get a free trial membership for entering online at Broadjam

6. Semifinalists get a chance to perform at the Awards or other DSA Showcases

5. Semifinalists and Winners get their names published in Songwriter Notes and the Press Release

4. Entrants can get peer review on their song

3. Winners get their songs on the awards soundcloud site.

2. Contest recognition looks good on your resume

1. We are a small contest, so you have a better chance to win.

Now in it's 30th year!

The DSA Song Contest is one of the longest running international song contests for amateur songwriters. Offering over $5,000 in cash and prizes this year, the DSA has EIGHT categories in all. See Contest Rules for eligibility.


Join -Learn - Collaborate - Grow
DSA is a 501 C-3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to providing to songwriters everywhere opportunities for learning about the craft and business of songwriting. Songwriters Newsletter is published by the Dallas Songwriters Association c/o Sammons Center for the Arts 3630 Harry Hines Blvd Box 20 Dallas, TX 75219.
Barbara McMillen, Editor, Founding President Emeritus http://www.barbaramcmillen.com