Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriters' Versions Of Original Songs

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 @12:01 PM

Songwriters' Versions Of Original Songs

by Jessica Brandon

Ken Hirsch, songwriter
Ever wondered how the orginal songwriters sounded like? These are versions of various hit songs sung by the orginal songwriters, many of them are not music artists but songwriters.


Diane Warren singing "Look Away" and "I Get Weak". "Look Away" is the name of a 1989 #1 Billboard Hot 100 Chart hit written by Diane Warren. "I Get Weak" is a pop song written by Diane Warren and produced by Rick Nowels for Belinda Carlisle's second album Heaven on Earth. The song reached number 2 on the US Billboard Charts

 

Ken Hirsch performing "I've Never Been To Me" at USA Songwriting Competition showcase's at Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN on May 5 2011. He co-wrote this song with Ron Miller (writer of #1 hit ""Touch Me in the Morning"):

 

Shirley Eikhard performing "Something To Talk About", a song that became Bonnie Raitt's biggest hit and highest charted song in her career:

 

Legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach performs "Alfie". "Alfie" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1965 most successfully recorded by Cher, Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick.


USA Songwriting Competition promotes the art & excellence in songwriting. For more information on the 17th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net

 

Tags: Ken Hirsch, Diane Warren, Burt Bacharach, Shirley Eikhard, Look Away, I Get Weak, Something To Talk About, Alfie, I've Never Been To Me

2011 USA Songwriting Competition Radio Podcast

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sat, May 21, 2011 @12:53 PM


MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

 

Alannah Myles, songwriter

Tune in to the 2011 USA Songwriting Competition Podcast, this features never before heard demo versions of the winners of the USA Songwriting Competition (past & present). Click on the audio player above to listen to the music. 

Music featured in this podcast by:

Kate Voegele – Only Fooling Myself

This version is the demo version before it was re-produced and re-mixed when she was signed to Interscope Records. This song went on to hit Top 40 on the Billboard Charts. 


Ari Gold – Where The Music Takes You Writers: Ari Gold, Joe Hogue 'JOJOHO' & Sean Petersen

This song is a demo version before it was remixed and reproduced and before it hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts. 


Alannah Myles – Give Me Love (see pictured above) Writers: Alannah Myles & Nancy Simmonds

Rosie Casey & Hillary Podell – Is That So Bad
Writers: Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell

Amelia Curran – The Mistress

ASON - Be Inspired

Ian Holmes – More
Writers: Raleigh Hall & Gordon Chambers

Pepper MaShay – Does Yo Mamma Know

Christopher Tin – Baba Yetu

This song went on to win 2 Grammy awards in 2011, making Christopher the only USA Songwriting Competition winner to ever win 2 or more Grammy awards in one evening. 

 

USA Songwriting Competition promotes the art & excellence in songwriting. For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Berklee, Ken Hirsch, Kate Voegele, Ari Gold, Billboard Charts, Alannah Myles, Pepper Mashay, Grammy Awards, Hal David, Christopher Tin, Raleigh Hall, Amelia Curran, ASON, Gordon Chambers

Inspirational Words From Noted Songwriters And Composers (Part 2)

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 16, 2011 @04:10 PM

Desmond Child, Hit Songwriter
Desmond Child, Hit Songwriter

"Live life to the fullest, and then write about it. Dare to suck and put your music out there, and just keep on going" ~ Desmond Child, songwriter of #1 hits such as "Livin’ La Vida Loca", "Livin' On A Prayer" and "You Give Love A Bad Name"

 

"I felt a kinship with country music, because country has lyrics that tell stories" ~ Desmond Child

 

"Don't fall in love with everything you write, many of the times it can be improved" ~ Ken Hirsch, Hit Songwriter of songs such as: “I've Never Been To Me”, “If I Could”, etc and First Prize winner of 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition

 

"Music is structure out of Chaos" ~ Stephen Sondheim, Lyricist

 

‎"I don't recommend analyzing a market or particular artist too much. Write the best song you can and let the professionals figure out what to do with it" ~ Billy Steinberg, songwriter of #1 Hits "Like a Virgin", "True Colors", "Eternal Flame", "Alone", etc.

 

"I guess you could write a good song if your heart hadn't been broken, but I don't know of anyone whose heart hasn't been broken" ~ Lucinda Williams, songwriter

 

"I'd rather write great songs because the word "commercial" is so subjective" ~ Beth Nielsen Chapman

 

"It's not about record companies, it's about finding other avenues to market your music" ~ Mark Mothersbaugh, songwriter, Devo.

 

"You should listen to songs and listen to what works. Listen to why a song is a hit. Check it out--not to imitate it, but there are certain things that work - hooks and melodies. Hear what works through the ages" ~ Diane Warren

 

"I think there's something strangely musical about noise" ~ Trent Reznor , songwriter, composer, former member of “Nine Inch Nails”.

 

"Songs are your best teachers. I try to learn something from every song I hear" ~ Pat Pattison, Songwriting Professor at Berklee College of Music

 

"Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music" ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, check out: http://www.songwriting.net

 

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, Berklee, Ken Hirsch, Diane Warren, Pat Pattison, Desmond Child, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Stephen Sondheim, Billy Steinberg, Like A Virgin, Lucinda Williams, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo, Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, I've Never Been To Me

Songwriters Showcase Bluebird Cafe Photos

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, May 10, 2011 @11:01 PM

Here are some pictures from the Bluebird Cafe showcase we had last week hosted by Brian Austin James. It was set as "Songwriters-In-A-Round" format.

 

Here is a Video of Rosie Casey & Ken Hirsch performing their winning song "Is That So Bad" at the showcase (This song won First Prize, Pop Category & Overall 2nd Prize at the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition):

 

 

 Tom Schreck, Chaise Flanders, Nathan Brumley, Katie Miner "Songwriters-In-A-Round" format at USA Songwriting Competition&squot;s showcase at Bluebird Cafe showcase
Tom Schreck, Chaise Flanders, Nathan Brumley, Katie Miner peforming "Songwriters-In-A-Round" format.

 

Liz Longley, USA Songwriting Competition honorable mention winner

Liz Longley

 

Jenn Bostic, USA Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention Winner

Jenn Bostic

 

Rosie Casey and Ken Hirsch

Rosie Casey and Ken Hirsch

 

Sherri Gough, USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner

Sherri Gough

 

 

For more videos of the showcase, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/usasongcomp

Tags: Sherri Gough, Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Nashville, Music Row, Songwriters Showcase, Bluebird Cafe, Jenn Bostic, Liz Longley, Tom Schreck, Chaise Flanders, Nathan Brumley, Katie Miner, songwriters-in-a-round

Hit Songwriter Ken Hirsch Talks About Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Apr 04, 2011 @01:51 PM

Hit Songwriter Ken Hirsch Talks About Songwriting, interviewed by Kiran Michaels

Ken Hirsch, Hit Songwriter


Ken Hirsch won First Prize in the Pop category of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition as well as the Overall Second Prize with the song he wrote "Is That So Bad", co-written with Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts and Hillary Podell. He has also written the numerous hit songs such as “I've Never Been To Me” by Charlene and top 40 hit song “Two Less Lonely People In The World” by Air Supply. His songs have been recorded by legends in the music business. He talks to Kiran Michaels about how he writes songs and how he gets inspiration for it.  

1. You have written with the top names in the business today such as Hal David ("Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", "This Guy's in Love with You"), Gerry Goffin ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow"), Paul Williams ("Evergreen"), Howard Greenfield ("Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"), Ron Miller ("I've Never Been To Me" & "Touch Me in the Morning') and have written songs that have been recorded by the the biggest names: Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Air Supply, etc. Can you describe how you write a song? 

In my case, with most of the above co-writers, I created a complete melody first (which is always subject to change and molding)and then played it for them either live or on tape.  Most of these co-writers like to be inspired by a melody and rarely just write a freestanding lyric.  With Howie Greenfield, "Two Less Lonely People In The World" started as a title he had come up with from his personal book of titles and lyric fragments.  However, there have been just as many co-writes that happen simultaneously in the room which brings a whole other type of energy to the process.  On rare occasions I am given a partial/completed lyric or a lyric idea.  All three procedures are viable as long as the results work.  Every other blue moon I write both music and lyrics and thus avoid any creative conflicts and sharing of royalties!



2. Hal David, Gerry Goffin  and Howard Greenfield sounded like the people from the Brill Building. Did you ever write songs at the famed Brill building? 


No, when I was hitting the streets in 1970, it was kind of the end of the Brill building era  but a publisher I played my songs for in the building connected me with Doc Pomus ("Save The Last Dance For Me", "This Magic Moment"), one of the most famous of the Brill Building writers, who became my partner and mentor.  



3. How do you get ideas for creating a melody?

Other than seeing what bills need to be paid, usually an interesting set of intervals or chord progression can get the juices flowing.  

 

4. Who is your favorite songwriter, music wise? What did you learn from him/her?

In Pop it would have to be Burt Bacharach and Carol King.  Burt's sophistication combined with his innate soulfulness and Carol's ability to write hooks with a soulful energy are masterful.  They write melodies that are both accessible and unpredictable.  Then there's everyone else from Irving Berlin to Richard Rogers to Jule Styne to McCartney/Lennon to James Taylor to Ashford & Simpson, etc.



5. Who is your favorite songwriter, lyric wise?

I've been fortunate to write with some of the best so they all fall into that category.  I personally like lyrics that aren't too obscure, can be easily grasped or tell a great story.  Everyone from Sammy Cahn to Marty Panzer to so many of the country writers who really are wordsmiths of the first order.



6. How did you write your winning song? Did the melody come first or the lyrics or background music?

Our song "Is That So Bad" (co-written with Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts and Hillary Podell) actually started with a track that Peter was working on.  I added most of the melody and Rosie and Hillary, an artist we were working with, created the lyric.  It was loosely based on Hillary's own experience and then fleshed out by Rosie.  A fortunate confluence of events!  The final demo was produced by Smidi Smith and sung by Windy Wagner, so it's had quite a journey - so far! 



7. The top 3 winners this past year were all collaborations. Is collaboration in Songwriting important these days? 

It is and it isn't.  It depends on your strengths and ability to work with others.  But collaborations generally bring a lot of energy and ideas to the table that you necessarily wouldn't have come up with yourself.



8. Can you describe the collaboration with other writers and producers?

If everyone is pulling in the same direction it can be inspiring.  It helps if everyone can put their egos aside and concentrate on the work.  It's always a gamble, certain collaborators pull things out of you that you did not foresee.  It sometimes puts you into a different zone than what you're comfortable with but that can have positive results.  I've been writing a musical "An Officer and a Gentleman" with Robin Lerner ("This Kiss") and although we've never collaborated before we're both bringing different sensibilities to the project and it seems to be melding really well.  So the crapshoot this time is paying off!



9. What advice would you give to up-and-coming songwriters out there? 

It's all been said a million times but try to go with your gut and try not to compromise too much.  Having said that, try to be as objective as you can.  Don't fall in love with everything you write, many of the times it can be improved.  Don't be reluctant to give up on an idea if it's not working.  I try to separate myself from the writing and put myself in the place of the audience and imagine if I would enjoy listening to this song or if it moves me.  And it helps to have a very thick skin, never take the rejections personally - as hard as they may be to accept, there might be a fairy tale ending just around the corner.  And always keep the tape recorder running!

Ken will be performing his winning song along with a medley of his hit songs “I've Never Been To Me”, “Two Less Only People In The World”, etc at USA Songwriting Competition's showcase at Bluebird Cafe on May 5th

Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Ken Hirsch, hit songwriter, Billboard Top 40 Hit, Grammy, Gerry Goffin, Hal David, Carol King, Paul Williams, Howard Greenfield, Ron Miller, Brill Building

Top Songs of The Decade of USA Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 @03:25 PM

As the decade is winding down, here are the top 10 songs of the USA Songwriting Competition of the past decade:

 

Ari Gold

1. "Where The Music Takes You" by Ari Gold, Joe Hogue 'JOJOHO' & Sean Petersen

This song went on to hit #10 on the Billboard charts. This song was the Overall Grand Prize winner of the 2007 USA Songwriting Competition. The song is also on the soundtrack of the 2010 Film "Bear City". 



2. "Only Fooling Myself" by Kate Voegele

This song went on to hit #26 on the Billboard charts. This song was the First Prize winner in the Pop category of the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition. Kate Voegele performed at USA Songwritiong Competition showcase at SXSW and was signed shortly thereafter. She was the youngest winner at that time (18 years old).



3. "Give Me Love" By Alannah Myles & Nancy Simmonds

This song won the Overall Grand Prize of the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. Canadian Singer-songwriter Alannah Myles is known for her #1 Billboard hit song "Black Velvet". This songs signals Alannah's comeback. Her co-writer Nancy Simmonds has written songs recorded by Melissa Manchester, Ricky Van Shelton, Rosemary Butler and more. 



4. "Is that So Bad" by Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell.

Ken Hirsch won first prize in the Pop category of the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition & Overall Second Prize is no stranger to the music scene, penning mega hit songs such as "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene and written songs recorded by the greatest legends in music such as Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and B.B. King. He has written with legendary songwriters such as Howard Greenfield and Ron Miller. 



5. "Message to the Future" by James Keelaghan

This song won James Keelaghan First Prize in the Folk Category of the 2003 USA Songwriting Competition.  This Juno award-winning Canadian folk singer-songwriter also won first prize in the 2002 USA Songwriting Competition. 



6. "Bridal Train" by Vikki Simpson (The Waifs)

Vikki Simpson won the Overall Grand Prize at the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition is the lead singer and songwriter of the Australian hit group "The Waifs". They went on to win an ARIA award and toured the world. They are currently signed to Compass Records



7. “Good Ole USA” by Darrell Scott

Darrell Scott won first Prize in Country category of the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition and it was later recorded by #1 recording artist Faith Hill and the title was changed to "We've Got Nothing But Love To Prove".



8. “Home” by Jordan Zevon

This song won Jordan Zevon, the son of legendary singer-songwriter Warren Zevon Overall Grand Prize in the 2008 USA Songwriting Competition. He aslo won first prize in the pop category in 2006 with “The Joke's On Me” which he performed at the “Late Night with David Lettermen” TV show.



9. 'Lighted Up' by Grabriel Mann

Grabriel Mann won Overall Grand Prize in the 2003 USA Songwriting Competition and he formed a band “The Rescues” and was signed to Universal Records in 2009 along with bandmates Adrianne Gonzalez (1999 Top Winner) and Kyler England (2009 First Prize Winner, Country category).



10. “Does Yo Mama Know” by Pepper Mashay & Corey White

Pepper Mashay hit top 10 on the Billboard charts with this song and she won first prize in the Dance category of the 2008 USA Songwriting Competition.

For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Kate Voegele, Ari Gold, The Waifs, Jordan Zevon, Kyler England, hit songwriter, composing songs, music composition, Billboard Charts, Jonathan George, Darrell Scott, Billboard Album Charts, Composer, Alannah Myles, Billboard #1 Hit, Pepper Mashay, Corey White, Grabriel Mann, Vikki Simpson, Peter Roberts, Hillary Podell, Nancy Simmonds, James Keelaghan, I've Never Been To Me

Music Veterans Dominate Top Two Spots In USA Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 @09:22 PM

Alannah Myles, USA Songwriting Competition Top Winner

Results of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition have been announced. Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles and prolific Los Angeles songwriter Ken Hirsch won the top two positions of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition respectively. This also marks the first time that music industry veterans dominate the top two positions of the USA Songwriting Competition fifteen year history.

Toronto Canada based Alannah Myles and co-writer Nancy Simmonds won Overall Grand Prize as well as the first prize of the Rock/Alternative category with their song “Give Me Love”. Alannah Myles is known for her Classic Rock hit “Black Velvet”. “Black Velvet” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990, won a Grammy award in 1991 for the same song. That song has become a classic and is a mainstay on Classic Rock and Pop radio stations worldwide. With her latest win, Alannah Myles is launching a comeback. This also marks only the second time that the top prize went to a non-US based songwriter. The last time the top prize when to a non-US based songwriter was 2006 when Vikki Simpson of the group “The Waifs” won.

 


Ken Hirsch, USA Songwriting Competition 1st Prize Winner (Pop Category)

Ken Hirsch and co-writers Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell of Los Angeles, CA won first prize in the Pop category as well as Overall second Prize with their song “Is that So Bad”. Ken Hirsch is a prolific songwriter with several hits on the charts and is well known for his number one hit “I've Never Been To Me”. Like Alannah Myles's “Black Velvet”, “I've Never Been To Me” has also become a classic hit and is a mainstay on Classic Pop, Soft Rock and easy listening radio stations worldwide. Ken has also written hits such as “Two Less Lonely People In The World”, a top 40 hit for Air Supply which he wrote with late legendary songwriter Howard Greenfield. Ken Hirsch has his songs recorded by music legends such as: Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton. Ray Charles and Mary J. Blige.  Rounding of the top three is Ason, a Hip-Hop up-and-coming act from Upper Marlboro, MD, who won Overall Third Prize as well as First Prize in the Hip-Hop category. 

Other winners of the USA Songwriting Competition were amazed by the top 3 placements. Sherri Gough, who won the first prize in the Lyrics Only category said "Wow, I'm humbled that I was even in the same category with these songwriters, Congratulations to the top three winners".  

Music industry insiders have been impressed with the quality of songs submitted at the USA Songwriting Competition. "Very high caliber of submissions. USA Songwriting Competition is always ahead of the curve", said Rob Reinhart, DJ of the "Acoustic Cafe", a syndicated radio program that appears in 65 different radio stations in US and Canada. "USA Songwriting Competition is a great place for talent to be found", said Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Records. 

Christopher Tin, an Honorable Mention winner of the 15th USA Songwriting Competition has been nominated for two Grammys at the latest 53rd annual Grammy Awards: 'Best Classical Crossover Album', and 'Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists' for his USA Songwriting Competition song entry 'Baba Yetu'. 'Baba Yetu' won an honorable mention award in the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. For the list of full winners, see: http://www.songwriting.net/winners


USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Darrell Scott, winner of the country category of the 2005 USA Song writing Competition had his winning song cut by award winning country singer Faith Hill. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music

Entries are currently being accepted for the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Winning songs of the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition will receive airplay on a nationally syndicated radio program “Acoustic Café” as well as Sirius XM Satellite Radio. This is the first Songwriting Competition that gives airplay to the winning songs, giving deserving bands, songwriters the recognition and exposure they deserve. Entrants stand to win a grand prize of over US$50,000 in cash and music gear from sponsors such as Sony, D’Addario Strings, Ableton, Audio-Technica, Presonus, IK Multimedia, and more, making this the largest prize package for any annual songwriting competition. Other sponsors include: New Music Weekly, Loggins Promotion, AirplayAccess.com, Onboard Research, Acoustica, Livewire Musician, Sonoma Wireworks, Rockstar Texting, Image line Recording magazine and Premier Guitar magazine.

 

Songs may be entered in 15 different categories including Pop, Rock/Alternative, R&B and Country. Entries are accepted from now through May 31, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.songwriting.net 


Tags: Ken Hirsch, Alannah Myles, Billboard #1 Hit, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Christopher Tin, Black Velvet, Classic Pop, Classic Rock, Evergreen Hits, I've Never Been To Me