American Songwriter Judges Offer Insights Into Judging the May/June Lyric Contest Winners

In response to feedback from the American Songwriter Community, the esteemed contest judges were asked to share some insights into their winner selections. Read below for insights into how the panel of judges picked the winners for the May/June Lyric Contest.


1st Place: “Ain’t No Wrong Way” by Rachel Gore with Thomm Jutz
John DeNicola: Some nice cadence and rhyme and also seems very singable and straightforward
Judy Stakee: I loved your story and hook. You used rhymes wonderfully without sacrificing the content and your message was understandable and clever.
Scotty McCreery: Love the flow of this song. The verses just rolled right off the tongue. A great lesson too. Between the message of the song and how well this song sings, that’s what puts it at the top of my list.

Read lyrics HERE.

2nd Place: “Blue Roses” by Mamie Foreman
Linda Perry: With lyrics we can get lost in trying to be poetic, trying to sound brilliant, trying to be masterful with our words and I like “Blue Roses” because it seems like this person just wrote these lyrics that were true to them. It’s simple yet makes a statement and feels relatable.

Read lyrics HERE.

3rd Place: “The Watchman of Spokane” by Clayton Ryan

Marcus Hummon: I particularly loved ‘The Watchman of Spokane’ for its driving narrative…the lost art of the ‘story song’. I could almost hear Gordon Lightfoot singing it!
William Fitzsimmons: I chose “The Watchman of Spokane” as my number one because it told a story full of immediate and compelling imagery with a massive amount of emotional weight, even though it was about experiences I’ve never literally been through. The naming of characters, clever (but not cute) rhymes, and the pace of the storytelling were wonderful. Like a Jimmy Webb song, I didn’t need to have been through what the characters had to feel like I was there and felt everything that happened. Just lovely.

Read lyrics HERE.

4th Place: “Little” by Pat Watters
Judy Stakee: Besides loving the message, I love your hook line, the progression of time and the AABA form you use.
William Fitzsimmons: I chose “Little” as my number two for its efficacy and efficiency of language. The repetition of the word little, and using it for two different meanings tickles the brain and makes one listen closer to what’s being communicated (namely, to appreciate our children for the short time they’re young). It doesn’t need a large amount of words to convey its message. Short, sweet, and strong.

Read lyrics HERE.


ANNOUNCING: The July/Aug 2022 Lyric Contest has launched. To celebrate, entries are 40% off until Saturday (use coupon code NEWCONTEST)


Honorable Mention: “War On Rewind” by Liam Hale
Marcus Hummon: In looking at this collection of lyrics, ‘War On Rewind’ stood out as wildly original, and striking in its imagery. It stands alone as a fine work of poetry, as well as a lyrical setting for a worthy melody.

HM: “Wild Blue” by James Maltese
John DeNicola: This gives insight and creates images in our mind with Poetry. Would be an easy lyric to marry a melody to.

HM: “Harlan County Math” by Hal ODell, Greg Wilson
Martin Sexton: We can’t fix the problems without first being aware of them. We need songs like this to shine the light of day and let the healing begin.

HM: “All Hat No Cattle” by Haley Brown, Jack Hackett
Martin Sexton: Very smartly written and made me chuckle as we all know somebody like this. It reminds us of the old adage ‘don’t take any wooden nickels.
Scotty McCreery: This one made me laugh in a good way. Love it. You don’t have to wonder about how this songwriter feels which is a great thing. Could see Toby Keith singing this one.


ANNOUNCING: The July/Aug 2022 Lyric Contest has launched. To celebrate, entries are 40% off until Saturday (use coupon code NEWCONTEST)


HM: “To Helena and Back Again” by Lauren Smith, Jason Davis
Scotty McCreery: This one really tugged at the heartstrings. Great storytelling. A lot of people who have gone through divorce will relate to this one, and even those who haven’t will empathize because of how well this was written. Great flow. I could sing this as I was reading it down.

HM: “I Will Remember” by Jacob Rice, Mark Elliott
Scotty McCreery: I WILL REMEMBER… As someone who had a loved one go thru Alzheimers this hits home. Even when they can’t remember, still being there for them is huge for both them and for you. Great song.

HM: “Christmas Far From Home” by Jim Chalker
Scotty McCreery: CHRISTMAS FAR FROM HOME… Love this as it tells a story so many of our military men and women deal with every year. Gives you an appreciation for the sacrifices they make for us. Also, aside from just what the song says, it flows nicely and I could see this being a great Christmas classic

HM: “Wedding Band” by Mallory Johnson, Ryan Sorestad
Linda Perry: I like how the writer is using the same words for different meanings. It’s clever. It’s thoughtful, but doesn’t seem too overly poetic.

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