American Idol Songwriting Contest Discussion Continues…

Our discussion about your entries into American Idol’s songwriting contest rolls on. For newcomers, we’ve been splitting comments into new threads every 100 comments or so to keep our server from melting. Beyond that, there’s a lot of fun, positive discussion going on between some industry veterans and some newbie songwriters about everything from whether someone’s received The Call from Los Angeles to signing up with ASCAP or BMI. Among the highlights in the last thread:

  • One commenter has discovered a blogger that’s tracking every single American Idol Songwriter entry she can find. If I had a little more time this week, I’d maybe turn this into a wiki. Does anyone want to volunteer?
  • Questions about songwriting royalties and song ownership have been covered in previous threads. Feel free to explore the “you may also be interested in…” section of each page to navigate through all of our American Idol discussions.
  • There’s a very compelling debate about how “religious” music overlaps with “pop” music. For example, how does a song like “Jesus Take the Wheel” become a hit if screeners claim they’re not looking for songs with religious overtones?
  • And, readers are the brightest and most talented audience a writer could wish for. But we knew that already.

Remember, all music criticism is entirely subjective. While some folks like to think that all music fits into a certain set of “rules,” every Billboard Top 100 hit got there because of someone’s gut reaction to a song. With that said, a request. As you critique each other, try to use the “sandwich” method. Find something good to say about the song before you rant about what’s wrong with it. Back that up with what you would love to hear the songwriter do on their next attempt. A few of the comments in the last thread were borderline unconstructive, and I’d prefer to keep this discussion focused on how every one of our songwriters can improve their craft.

Finally, a personal request from me. Our weekly newsletter goes out this afternoon, and I want to make sure you get the benefit of some goodies we’re enclosing in there. I am feeling particularly generous this week. Therefore, I’ll be enclosing a FREE subscriber-only link to a recording of a class I taught about “mailbox money” — ways that songwriters can earn money from their craft, especially if they’re not performers by nature. I’m going to make that a free download for 72 hours, because you all have put so much energy into our songwriting discussions this week. Sign up today, so I can send that to you!

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119 responses

  1. Joe, thanks so much for hosting this wonderful discussion! I know that having this blog site means a great deal to those of us biting our nails, keeping our hope alive until THE WORD is released!
    Melissa Green
    “Walking on the Clouds”

  2. holy crap. what is going on????
    Michael…help us out here!!!

  3. Wow..I’m surprised I’m the first one to say anything on this thread.I guess it pays to be off of work for short term disability during these crazy times..perhaps waiting for that unknown phonecall or what -not.As I thought earlier,I wouldn’t be surprised if 19 Entertainment Group waited until tomorrow,or possibly Monday before notifying anyone on any kind of new developements.What do you all think?

  4. First of all BIG Thanks to Joe Taylor for maintaining this mess!!!

    Nice to be able to stay in touch with other songwriters.

    Joe B. – Thanks for the critique of “Given Me Wings”. Your insight was very helpful, and if the song isn’t chosen, I will definitely be up for a re-write.

    I hope we here from somebody who “made it” when it happens.


  5. Well, I guess the fat lady has sung…I’m sure it’s overwith by now. We can hope and hope but I think we all really know that we would have been contacted by now. Well, wishing all the best and I can’t wait to hear which songs have been chosen. I still can’t believe how secretive this whole thing is?

  6. I KNOW–Tamar, I’m with you….where did Michael disappear to? maybe he got the call and is packing his bags to go sing on the dotted line or for his pre-show interview….either way, it would be great to know something

  7. How comes my comment is “awaiting moderation”? I never had that problem before..

  8. Jeffery Cameron Avatar
    Jeffery Cameron

    geez, i am nuts with anticipation…my guess at odds of people being contacted will be 25% chance today, 75% tomorrow….so the next two days are gonna be a psycological rollercoaster…ugh…and michael needs to give a heads up or something πŸ™‚ he is too quiet lately.

  9. Rosanna Beech Avatar
    Rosanna Beech

    It has to be screened to be appropriate first before posted Shaun. Mine does that every time!

  10. I also have submitted several songs to the American Idol Songwriter Contest. The songs entered are from a musical I wrote quite a while back and the featured song is called “The Rainbow’s End” which is about a homeless girl.

    It can be found here:

    The other songs listed on myspace are just fun songs from the musical. Good luck to everyone!

  11. Can we all make a pact that whatever 20 they pick, we don’t get all bitchy and whiny and critical?
    it will be what it will be…you know?
    I know the disappointment will be great, but let’s try not to say,
    “why the hell did they pick that one?”

    I’m probably just making sure I remind myself….hehe.

  12. FYI – I sent an email to Idol fox asking nicely if they can alert all the songwriters graciously so we can all sleep tonight. Didn’t get a response, go figure? πŸ™‚

  13. I hear ya Tamar…let’s really cheer them on, even though this was a real let down, I enjoyed all of this anticipation and Joe…thanks so much for all of the opportunity, even though I was never able to post my song.

    Joe – I did what you said and sent you my file through yousendit, but I really don’t know how it works. Did you get it?

  14. Just my opinion on these songs:

    Melissa – “Walking On Clouds” – I like the opening verse. nice dynamics within the melody line. As I was listening to the chorus, I felt that it could potentially be a tad long… And the last line would have nicely closed the chorus with “walkin on clouds”, instead of what you had now. Again just my humble opinion.

    Comes down to me
    really like the pre-chorus
    I felt the hook of the chorus was too long to wait for at the end

    On my own
    I think this song is better suited for this contest than the other one!
    Again, with this one – I felt the lyrical hook, “On my own” could have been brought in earlier in the chorus. Even an opening “on my own~” line with the three words soaring would’ve made it for me.

    Again these are just my opinions. take em or leave em.

    Overall great job on these songs!


  15. I am not convinced that the top 20 have been chosen yet, maybe wishful thinking on my part, but we just dont know. I cant believe how secretive this whole contest has become. Besides this thread, there is NOTHING else concrete out there!!!
    I love how the AI website has everything possible on it except any new reference to this contest. The official AI songwriting site is a joke too!!! Would it kill them to put out one little news update story about it???? How about “We are getting close to our top 20, lots of great songs America, stay tuned…!!!” Just give me SOMETHING!!!!

  16. Tim Enright Avatar
    Tim Enright

    Thank you, Neat, for requesting notification from 19 Entertainment. I haven’t been sleeping the best these days either….

    Someone made the comment in the last thread about Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. I felt that was dead on.

    All the best

  17. I’ve been lurking for the last few days – but wanted to drop in and say hello. SO excited for the calls/e-mails/confirmations to go out.

    Good luck all – and be sure to post AS SOON as you hear ANYTHING!

    PS: By this time next week we’ll DEFINITELY know the top 20!

  18. Anymous Avatar

    I’m curious. Who is Michael and what’s the back story on his comments and sudden silence?

  19. It’s good to see/read that I am not the only one waiting and wondering. I entered two songs, “Proceed with Passion” and “Butterfly” (after I realized that was possible. I didn’t catch it under “send another song” popped up too). You can listen to my stuff at It is not all mixed and mastered yet, but this was the best I could do at this point. I am a single mother with a degree in Public Relations. When my ex took off four years ago, I finally started sharing my hidden hobby of writing songs and poems. And of course painful life experiences bring out even more songs. I also recently self-published a children’s book from another personal experience and my passion for unity. These creative outlets have been my therapy and inspiration. So, I am that unknown “on the porch” they speak of, but also now pursuing singing/songwriting/book writing full time while consulting on events and projects to pay the bills. My kids and I love to watch American Idol and they were my biggest supporters to enter the contest. It has been fun to even think of the possibility of sharing my songs to a wider audience like this. I think it’s awesome they opened it up. As an event coordinator I know what a huge project this is along with the awesome stuff they are doing with American Idol gives back and the weekly show…so give them a break. It’ll come in due time.

    I wish you all well. There are some great songs posted here. Even if this particular contest doesn’t happen for us, KEEP ON, fellow travelers! PROCEED WITH PASSION!!! ;0)

    shawna ray

  20. Good advice, Tamar…I hope to learn tons about how to write songs that get attention after listening to the top 20 (I’ll still keep writing the ones that don’t get attention, too!). I hope we continue to make this blog “sweat”, like Joe says, with our observations about the winning entries. It will be a blast to hear everyone’s insights. Right now though, I’d really like to get more insight from Michael…where are you?

  21. Wow, thanks, Mean Joe! Er.. Thanks, Joe! πŸ˜‰

    I hope Michael didn’t get in trouble.

    Sooo, while we’re waiting for that ring, let’s talk ringtones! Mine is “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” because it reminds me of the Cowbell Sketch. Tonk! Tonk! Tonk! Tonk!

  22. I think I’m about as excited to hear the top twenty as I am to maybe get the “call”. It will be a great lesson for next year’s contest to see what they select for this year. Will they all be polished? Will they all be ballads? Will they be stylistically diverse or the homogenous? Will they all sound like Diane Warren songs(no-offense Diane)? I’m dying to hear!

  23. Lets look at this in a logical manner. Most likely picks are complete. To turn everyting around legally by May 2, realistically notifications, contracts, mailings and confirmations are already in the works. If you havn’t heard by now, hold you head up high and keep writing.

  24. Hello Stephanie (Post #86 of Previous Thread),

    Your music is beautiful, and your spirit shines!

    Thank you so much for your kind comments on this board.

    Best of luck to you in the contest.

    P.S. I tried six times to send this as a Private Message on your MySpace page, but always got errors sending.

  25. Whew… while I was typing up the newsletter, a lot of comments got sent to moderation. Thanks for your patience.

    Neat — got your song, and will post it after lunch. πŸ™‚

    Fake Michael — your comments are being marked as spam because your e-mail address is fake and you’re being rude. Benji is saying the same thing you are, and his comments are posted because he’s being polite.

    Real Michael — we all hope you haven’t been whacked. (Newbies: “Michael” is an alias for a songwriting pro in LA who has been observing activity at the offices of Idol’s parent company. We have been loving his posts.)

    Everybody — thanks so much for signing up for the newsletter. I’ve marked it to go out at about 4:30pm ET today, so tell your friends they can sign up if they’d like the free audio course on Mailbox Money. Thanks!

  26. Phil- thanks for the feedback! bringing the “hook” line earlier into the chorus is a great idea. I’ll try to do something as an exercise next time with that in mind. it could make a hell of a difference with making the song “hookier” (is that a word?)

    Didn’t Michael say yesterday that there was an 11 am meeting today with the head of SOny a&r? that means it’s exactly 11 right now in LA!!

    so they are all sitting around a huge conference table with about 50 songs that made the “cut” now they are narrowing it down while drinking cafe lattes….
    i know i’m nuts.


  27. I was just thinking that it would have been nice to do this competition just like the AI tryouts – with a few preliminary rounds. Even if your song doesn’t make the top 20, wouldn’t you like to know if it was in the top 50? I sure would.

  28. We have all already electronically signed to enter in to an agreement allowing them to store and use our music for the competition (and beyond) when we entered the competition. This “entering in to further agreement” business I believe applies to the winner of the competition, therefore, we will probably not hear anything until the proverbial last minute, even if we are in the top 20. All of those things that we all signed online were standard issue American Idol Songwriting Competition contracts that covered the basic agreement for them to add us in to the top 20 if we make it that far. As far as them needing the source file, that requires one email to them which takes approx one minute (tops) on high speed internet. Don’t count yourselves out yet, the fact is you just don’t know!

  29. I had a thought,so anybody respond to it if you think it’s a possibility.If someone was happened to be called,let’s just say today for instance,wouldn’t that person be sworn to secrecy of this knowledge by 19 Entertainment? Since they already seem to know about this site,and everyone talking about it,’m sure they’d be watching even more closely to see if any news leaked out.And I’d also imagine that the person who leaked the info would only be jeaopordizing their own entry’s chances at getting any further.

  30. Heck yeah Millie, Good idea, but if I had to sing it that would be another story.

    Thanks Joe T.!!

  31. Shaun,

    Did I miss something? How do we know that 19 Entertainment knows about this site?

  32. Chick–because Michael told us they are reading. Or they were, yesterday.

  33. I remember reading a comment on the other thread,I think it was even by” Michael” himself.Maybe it was only heresay,who knows.It all led down to 19 Entertainment or one of its’ affliates had been watching comments made on each and every thread that was set up.Whether this is exactly true or not,I have no idea.

  34. Ahh, thanks. I wasn’t aware of this info.

  35. Tamar–I think Michael said the meeting was yesterday at 11am PT. They did say they would be picking alternates in case the top 20 weren’t eligible, so, until I see them post the top 20 next Wed. I’ll keep the dream alive.

    Shaun–I agree, I would imagine anyone that is notified will disappear for fear that they will be disqualified for disclosing any info….I know I wouldn’t take the chance.

    Chick–Michael (the inside source described by Joe T #25) had said that the A&R folks for 19 were watching the posts here–this was a couple of threads ago….it was probably more like a couple of visits rather than reading each post, but it added to the mystique of the whole thing.

  36. I thought that 11am meeting Michael mentioned with the A&R gurus was yesterday??? I could be wrong, I have been starting to hallucinate lately with all this stuff. AI security, AI watching this site, AI police nabbing Michael…. AI is Big Brother!!!!!!

  37. Phil #14,

    Thanks for the feedback! You may very well be right about the last line of the chorus. I’m sort of ashamed to say that I didn’t spend a lot of time on the lyrics or the melody of this song. I wasn’t even going to write a song for American Idol because I was finishing my MA thesis but I was trying to encourage myself by thinking about how great it’s going to feel to walk across the stage and get that degree when “Walking on the Clouds” just started playing over and over in my head and I HAD to sit down and write it. During that process I thought – hey, this might be an AI tune! So the lyrics are sort of coming from a “wow this feels good and thanks for all the support of everyone who helped me do this.” I wrote, recorded it, and sent it in all in about a three hour period. Now I sort of wish I’d spent more time polishing both the song and the recording. But what the heck? This is fun! And even better – I’ll have my master’s degree – graduation is a week from Saturday!!!!! So I’m walking on the clouds…doo, doo, doo…

    Best of luck to all the kind and talented people here!!!!


  38. Maybe Michael has disappeared because he knows that folks are beginning to question his so called inside scoop. Michael has raised the blood pressures of all who is reading these comments.
    Read between the lines

  39. Hello, fellow songsmiths! Here is our entry into the American Idol Songwriting Contest. Would love some feedback; constructives, etc.:
    “Standing in My Power”. Also, “The Sun’s on Me”.
    If you have any trouble accessing, go to and click on the songs page. If all else fails, and you still give a hoot, try Thanks so much. We’re really enjoying the songs and the comments. Thanks so much, guys!
    Jim Aycock

  40. Anna Marie Avatar
    Anna Marie

    I don’t see why you are all so worried about them ‘watching’ this site. Did you use your real name on here? The same email addy that you used to sign up at American Idol? ‘I’ didn’t. Not that I’d be notified anyway, I don’t think my song fell into the genre they wanted anyway.
    And if your song doesn’t make the top 20 don’t beat yourselves over the head about it. Look how this season has went anyway with Sanjaya beating out some of the more talented singers that should have been there much longer than they were.
    This season has been disappointing for many reasons. The talent that they had last year just isn’t there this year. And on top of that they have been so focused on their new additions to American Idol I don’t think they put enough thought and effort into parts of it like the Songwriting contest and only giving a few days to submit since their site was down for so many days. And then they only give six days to vote once they announce the top 20.
    As for me, I’ve already written my song for next year and have found someone to play the guitar for me and all I need for the rest is a program to record it to my computer. So next year gets more thought and effort on my part and thats what I’m striving for now. To come up with a better song within the terms that they requested.
    I think that this year is just a mess because they had too much on the table and not enough time to put to all of it.
    I hope none of you give up your creativeness just because you didn’t make the top 20 this year. We all just plan it better for next year.
    I wish all of you the best of luck and hope to see some of you in the top 20.
    ~Anna Marie~

  41. Laurie W Avatar
    Laurie W

    If songwriting doesn’t work out we should all become FBI agents!

  42. Trish Ireland Avatar
    Trish Ireland

    I’m obviously doing a terrible job of expressing myself. The fact that you think I need to relax is humorous to me. I’m almost too laid back for my own good and you guys are seeing me as this high strung defensive blogger. Ok, so I’m checking myself before I wreck myself. Way to age yourself right there Jeffery. The whole point of my replies were to try and tell the amateurs and beginners not to lose their hope just because of anything they read here. It was supposed to be uplifting. I made it sound like I was more bothered then inspirational. Not to mention my confusion as to why the one guy thought I needed a clarification on the difference between religious and inspirational. Just because I mentioned the word doesn’t mean I don’t know one from the other. People here talk like they know a lot, mainly you Jeffery, your posts are usually no less then a short story. What are the credentials behind all these heavy advice givers? I have yet to understand why I should believe what anyone here says based on the fact that they say, “I have a lot of knowledge in the music world.” I’ll start taking you seriously when your name is recognizable or you can provide worthy credentials. I still mean what I said. This is just an entertaining blog. I know what I’m talking about, I might just be the wife of someone important at 19E, or was I not supposed to say that?

  43. Just a quick comment in response to the previous thread. I am one of those that is guilty of overproduction; regardless of my passion behind the message of my song etc, I am certain the overly produced vibe was counter-productive.

    I am definately in the camp that a group of pro’s from Nashville backing up a mediocre song can not save a song nor bring it to life. A good song has to be able to stand alone without the fluff. Then, adding a certain amount of fluff will either enhance
    or in many circumstances, even be unnecessary. If someone has a killer voice, for example, that may be all the “extra” needed ( with a little harmony)

    That is my take, anyhow.

    My congrats to any of you that have been contacted and are moving forward! I will be a voting maniac!

  44. yeah, we spoke about the possible confidentiality clause a lot yesterday, and Michael agreed. I tend to think the only way we are going to find out when the top 20 is announced, is if : 1. AI themselves makes a statement on their website.
    2. One of us is lucky enough, and in that case I dont think its a good idea to mention it on this site unless a “code” is used and even so, I wouldnt risk it if it was me. 3. Its leaked from another source-unlikely based on our limited intelligence so far. But hey, who knows???? the work day is almost over here in NY, so I survived another day. good luck to all.

  45. If “Standing in My Power” doesn’t start automatically, click on title in songlist. Thanks!!

  46. This is not an entry to the contest but I’m in need of some unbiased opinions. My wife (bless her heart) says all of my songs are hits but as my wife she is supposed to say stuff like that. I’d appreciate any and all feedback. Thank you.

  47. Good luck to all! Maybe this is terrible advice, but please keep in mind that given the number of submissions, no matter how great any of our songs are, the chances of being in the top 20 are really slim. So don’t lose sleep over it, because it’s a real crap shoot!!

    Having said that, again, good luck! Someone has to win, right?

  48. Rgarding #46- Just click on my name “myrikal” and it will take you to my page. It’s the only song on the page,”Ready to Fall”.

  49. Tamar:

    I was just revisiting some of the submissions and I heard yours again, I really like COMES DOWN TO ME. That is a VERY catchy piece. The more I listened the more I realized that I don’t stand a chance in H@** at making that top 20 up against that πŸ™‚

    Hey, maybe 19 entertainment don’t need any masters to “set levels” because they are all good to go because the top 20 are so polished? Wouldn’t this mean that we wouldn’t hear anything until the May 2nd post? Seems that all that paper work mumbo jumbo for the top 20 was covered in the fine print during the submission. On the other hand, if you win .. then you’ll need to do some signing.

    I saw an interview somewhere with Simon Fuller and he was talking about the songwriting competition being the natural (next) progression of the show … he said because the show is all about realizing your DREAMS. I know, that word again. Like I said in my tune NOW I CAN FLY … “My dreams are staring at me like an old friend, giving me strength.” I think our dreams are our little imaginary buddies that follow us around and help guide us. EVEN if you don’t achieve the MAJOR dream (like idol), you at least achieved a few smaller ones along the way and made a few great friends with like interest.

    Even though I don’t post often, I’m still lurking, reading and listening. (if you dare to listen again πŸ™‚

  50. Shaun:
    I would think that if anyone posting on this site (or the AI songwriter board or elsewhere) were to receive that call, one of the questions would be “can I tell people that I’m in the Top 20 before 05/02” (I know I would). If the answer is a flatout “NO” that would pretty well clear it up quickly.

    Many reality shows have “gag” orders embedded in their contracts. I know of some folks that auditioned for this season of Idol here in Minneapolis back in September and they weren’t even allowed to say how far they got in the competition (and most of them never even got to the point of seeing Randy/Paula/Simon).

  51. i’m starting to lose any hope. i hate this feeling. the stakes for a songwriter are so high…it could change your life forever! It’s hard not to think about the idea of actually doing what you love and getting paid for it. I know we all feel that way…
    someone say something hopeful….


  52. Mike,

    Thanks for the update. I went back and read all the “Mysterious Michael” posts. Really interesting. It does sound like he has an inside scoop. You’d have to be pretty creative to come up with all that he posted and a little devious if it weren’t true. No matter, very entertaining.

  53. Matthew Avatar

    Well OK. I guess I should put my song here so it at least gets listened to once. Let me know what you think.

  54. I am starting to lose hope as well. I think my little tune: NOW I CAN FLY is flying right back into the drawer with the rest of them to be forgotten. πŸ™‚

  55. steady, everybody, steady….
    we still dont know anything. Until we hear for sure that the top 20 are picked, we are all still alive.
    Its only thurs. despite “all the time” we think they may need to due all these legal things that we dont even know, lets not give up hope. It could still be that they dont notify the chosen few until mon. or even tues. I know that would make for one “relaxing” weekend, but better that then the alternative. Lets all hang in there.

  56. good day!

    my 2 cents;
    at this point, everyone is just guessing and no-one knows anything for sure.

    i agree with som folks on here that the winners either have been already picked or will be picked before the weekend, since the rules said the top 20 will enter into a further agreement, plus the songs must be cleared etc.

    i do also think that a better production will have a greate chance. i listened to some of the tracks, posted on here, and some are decen productions, some are sufficient to show the song, but i had afew tracks where i barely could hear the voice. the folks at 19 will not plant their ears at the speakers trying to hear the vocals, if they can’t hear it you’re out.

    the theme of the song. i guess it is ok to use words like dream, wings, and fly and believe within the song, but not as title, any song that has any of the former idols winner songs words in its title will not stand a chance, so no moments, no flying without wings, no believe, and nothing inside anyone’s heaven, or the desire to make anyone proud. we had this, give us something new, let’s move on.
    anyway, this blog is fun it’s pure gossip.

    would be nice if we songwriter could keep this momentum going even after AI.

    good luck to everyone

  57. with the way that the terms and conditions of the contest were handled – i wouldn’t give up hope until may 2…or until the leaks start dripping πŸ˜‰ you know that they’re bound to…

  58. and ps – i’m gonna screen shot and save EVERY single thing i enter on the net from this point on b/c i don’t remember if entered a phone number or not – or if they even asked for it – LOL. if you experienced what i did – you stumbled on the bio – and then it kicked you out completely to start over b/c you were taking so long.

  59. James- I just saw your post! (for some reason the posts often don’t show up in the order that they were posted)
    thank you for digging my tune! !!
    yes, i’ve often been told that my songs hit you on a subconscious level and that you only start thinking about them days later…which is a great thing in the grand scheme of things, but not necessarily for this contest….who knows???

    trying not to lose hope.

  60. Michael Avatar

    Hello fellow songwriters. here’s what I got
    I do have some news that I am waiting to confirm. I don’t like rumors either. So, as soon as I get that email I will share.

    As to the freaking out. It is absolutely confirmed that no one has been notified yet. So, that is good news.

    Thanks to Joe for this site, and to all of you who are so passionate. Regardless of this contest, it shows just how powerful even the idea of a song can be. We should be focusing more on the songcraft. I have kind of held back until now, but it seems to be getting testy in here.

    Look at your songs, how many have a pre-chorus, a re occurrng hook at the end of the pre chorus, a bridge, a key change? Is your intro longer than 10 seconds? Does your outro end on the root? This are not automatic disqualifiers in this contest or any other situation, but it certainly does play into decisions. Is your song universal enough to be used as wedding music and commercial licensing? These comments are not meant to discourage you but hopefully, embolden you to push yourself further if you want to make a living at it.

  61. OK…while we’re waiting for this to be over, I’m wondering if any of you whole brained/right-brained creative types are “synesthetes” like me. I didn’t know I was one until watching “Medical Mysteries” on TV a year ago. Synesthetes involuntarily combine two sensory areas into a single experience, i.e., musical notes or letters of the alphabet are associated with specific colors, or tastes are associated with shapes, or the passage of time is experienced in a spatial/visual manner. I am the latter, a spatial synesthete, as is my father and my good friend, although none of us knew it (or even knew to discuss it) until this show aired. We “see” time progression (weeks, months, years) in a 3-D manner. With variations on the same theme, we each see ourselves standing in the center of a large ring suspended in space, and time progresses chronologically around that ring. For me, the month of March is now “over my left shoulder”. If you are a synesthete, you know what I’m describing. If you’re not, you think I’m nuts! Believe me, I’ve seen the looks I get when I’ve tried to describe this to my linear, left-brained friends! I do believe this time/space perceptual skill helps me in songwriting, though.

  62. Nice tune Tamar. Is that you singing? Very contemporary.

  63. I think the writing is already on the wall. The top 20 have already been picked and contacted. There is too much to do between now and May 2nd. Just my opinon.

  64. Momentum? What momentum? I’m paralyzed.

  65. Michael,

    Well, mine certainly would not be good wedding music unless you felt like crying, because its about being homeless, but it hopefully has a message that many can relate to. However, all of your points are well taken and I think we all probably have work we could do to our tunes to make them better for future presentations.

    The Rainbow’s End

  66. William Avatar

    Hey guys… I just wanted to talk about some confusion in regards to the telephone numbers. When I was going through the process, I printed out each page, upload, bio, payment, and review… and looking at it again, there was no field for telephone numbers anywhere. The only method of contact was e-mail, so if any of us get notified, I would say that it would be have to be via e-mail. As far as the source files, they can simply add a link to the e-mail and those with us with a broadband connection can toss them either our .wav or .aif files in just a few minutes. We already signed our lives away so there isn’t any need for any additional authorization on our parts for them to post our songs or play them on the air, so quite possibly, we may all be finding out at the same time. Chances are, they only need the source files for the arrangers to have a clearer look at the songs, because, if we already .mp3’d them, that is the format they would use on the site because of the compression. They wouldn’t need a source file until after the Top 20 were announced. Also, with all of the hard work that they have been dealing with for the Idol Gives Back Specials, chances are it will be a down to the wire decision. You figure, if there were 10,000 songs submitted, and with cueing and playing each song, it would take 41.66 hours just to listen to them all. That is a full work week with doing nothing but listening to songs… and on top of that, there were probably stages that they needed to catorgorize the submissions. I wouldn’t give up hope until either you get an e-mail from 19/Idol, see it on the songwriter site that they have to top 20, or quite possibly, find out with everyone else on May 2nds show… We all entered this competions because we feel that we can contribute… we all have our own dreams… and you know, we shouldn’t allow our insecurities and anxiousness make us forget why we entered in the first place…. The actual winner is still about a month from being announced… so you all… we need to keep our heads up high and think positive!

  67. At last Michael. The voice of hope. I was beginning to wonder myself. Thanks for the update. I don’t understand most of that lingo regarding the songwriting tips but I thank you for it anyway. Did you ever mention or even contemplate when would be the absolute last minute we could expect to hear from them. As little as I know I’m guessing Monday. Notification via mail with contract attached and instructions to sign & return overnight along with master. Your thoughts?

  68. Ok Joe Taylor now that I’ve heard from Michael…please don’t post my song yet. Just to be on the safe side. Gosh, I really wish this could be over already. I was almost hoping to hear Michael say, SORRY but the rumor is … my heart just stopped beating…I really hope he’s showing us his true colors. Thanks – Joe

  69. Michael!! good to hear from you!!! yay we all still have a chance!!

    Adding a key change is simple and I would think that the music directors could always add this to a song after the last chorus…
    the bridge on the other hand…I knew that would be an issue.

    and yes, Chick, that’s me singing!

  70. Well, for days I have been watching this site, which I stumbled upon one day. To the point it is interrupting my real job. I believe Michael – because I WANT to believe! I NEED to believe! πŸ™‚ Thanks for checking in today! I will be watching for any news you do share!

  71. Ima Writer Avatar
    Ima Writer

    why is a bridge an issue? did none of the other winning songs have bridges? if they LOVE your song but not the bridge, can it just be “thrown” out?

  72. Michael–thanks for the update…I was beginning to think we needed to start a “top 10 reasons Michael hasn’t posted”…of course, beginning with you’re song having been one of the lucky chosen or that 19entertainment secretly slipped you a paula cocktail in the cafeteria lunchroom, knocked you out and you were locked away in someone’s basement until the top 20 were announced.

    I’m feeling good about your song description of the elements, except for the wedding part…definitely more likely to be heard during an Olympic montage or soundtrack rather than at a wedding.

  73. William Avatar

    Oh – I almost forgot…. If you all look at the reciept e-mail that you got from 19 Entertainment after submitting your song, you will see that the only information on it is your name, credit card type, and e-maill address… that’s because that is all the information that was provided during the submission… so don’t be watching your phones like a hawk… be focused on your e-mails. Stay Positive

  74. so the journey to an altar or to super-stardom?!? eh – okay… πŸ™‚ i get it…

    thanks for posting michael!

  75. ok here’s something i don’t think has been brought up, what if someone entered say, 8 songs and they loved THREE of them; maybe they were with different co writers………do you think they would put more than one song in for a writer? Hmmmmm

  76. With this comment I am making a conscious decision to stop reading and start doing my work. It’s fun…but I have some deadlines to meet.

    Lauren…I love your voice and your song “Trance”. very well done on all counts.

    Tim…I like your song “This Journey With You”.

    I think that we all need to make a PACT…that after this competition is over and we know the top 20….we will all write a new song. Give it TWO WEEK deadline….and post our new songs. We all need to listen to all the songs…and hold each other accountable. This little “community” is something that I think we all need. We can be old, young, fat, skinny, “cool” or “not so cool”….and yet we all have something that draws us together…and that we obviously all love. How could we go about this?

  77. One question I have not yet seen really dissected is this: what if the A&R folks like the music OR the lyrics BUT not both as they now are? Would they assign a co-wirter to burnish the song? Or do we think that the song as it now stands is it, good or bad? What if someone REALLY likes most of our music or lyrics but thinks a small part could be tweaked and voila, a hit? Would we still have a chance? Any comments?

  78. Susan S Avatar

    do none of the other Idol songs have bridges?

  79. david v Avatar

    If I could do anything for a living, I would be a songwriter. I suspect that is true of many of you.

    That is the power and beauty of this contest. We all know that we could get a phone call ANY MINUTE that could do more to make that wish come true than anything we could have imagined even a month ago.

  80. I know this is a long shot but, Michael, do you have any idea about how much of each song “they’ll” be listening to?
    It seems insane that they wouldn’t try and get through the chorus on most (since that’s generally where the hook is) but, it also seems like a pretty time-consuming endevour.
    Anyway, thanks for the info!

  81. I’ve been out for a little while,but I was rereading some of the comments that were added.I took particular interest to Eric Smith (#28).I had forgotten about what exactly was involved with what we were agreeing to when our entries were made.I believe Eric may be right in saying all entrants have already signed an agreeance to let the entry be used in any way.So,like Eric was saying,even if someone did happen to make the Top 20,19 Entertainment really wouldn’t need to disclose any information at all, untill possibly the last probable minute.I still think that everyone here has a great,fighting chance.No one knows exactly what has happened.No one.Those execs over at Fox know exactly what they’re doing,and how to keep everything on the down low,so no one can find out a single thing;as painful as that is for me to say.We all want to know everything as quickly as possible,but let’s face the possibility that no one will know anything more until the day before the voting,or maybe even that day itself.Everyone think positively!!

  82. mytwilightblues Avatar

    I have been lurking in the background for a while now. I have enjoyed all of the songs I have listened to. I don’t think I would get through these days without all of you! I don’t think I have written a pop song before. But, I believe in my song; moreso than any song I have written. If it ain’t AI’s top 20, I’ll be pitching it somewhere else-which is my next learning curve. I hope most of you feel the same, for there is good work out here. I truly believe when Oprah says that things aren’t luck. Luck is a result of hard work. I have many songs in my head for years. I finally started working with guitarists to get an acoustic version of them. But, without having these experiences behind me, I never would have been able to produce a new song to spec in a week. So, everyone keep working on this craft.

    And, I have to hope that something good will become of this experience so far. The couple that helped me record on Sunday morning, had a very sick dog. We did one cut of the song and wrapped it up. I am grateful for the people that I encounter in music and their dedication. I am hopeful that something good happens. The couple had to put their dog down. I still feel bad that I took time away from them with their “family” member. I would love to tell them a positive from a negative.
    But, one can only hope, right? Good luck to all!

  83. I had one other thing to add.Does anyone else remember entering their phone numbers anywhere on the submissions pages? I’ve racked my brain,and I can not even recall doing this…

  84. ok – so while we wait . . anyone look at the BRATZ movie song competition that Joe has as a link on this site? Looks like they are just looking for a link to a website to review your song, but in looking at the agreement you’re basically signing your right away.

    Since everyone’s playing the waiting game, thought I’d change topic.

  85. Susan S Avatar

    AHA, A Moment Like this DOES have a bridge, i just looked it up……….it isn’t listed as a bridge but is IS…………
    “Could this be the greatest love of all/I wanna know you’ll catch me if I fall/so let me tell you this…..” something like that; PHEW cause mine has a bridge AND could be used for weddings. barmitzvahs, birth of a baby, congratulations on your new job, home, etc………
    AND i’m sure that about 24,000 other people did to!!!

  86. Nancy…thank you for your compliment! Trance actually wasn’t entered…I didn’t think it fit the contest description. The one I entered was “You Knew I’d Make It.” Thank you again…positive feedback cheers me up. I agree with you and think we should continue this forum after the contest and have a type of songwriter’s workshop!

    Michael…thank you for your post!

    Tamar…I really like your songs on your myspace and think you’ve got a great vibe! πŸ™‚

    David, I agree! I would love to be a great American songwriter–like Paul Simon or Randy Newman. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Just need to keep pushing myself…and writing!

  87. Susan: I may be wrong, but I believe Michael was indicating that the songs NEED bridges, not that they shouldn’t have them.

  88. Ima writer; it’s actually the lack of a bridge is an issue. The pop formula is intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus
    verse, pre-chorus, chorus
    bridge (or wailing guitar solo but most likely bridge)
    and then usually back into a double chorus.

    Not always but usually. Listen to Kelly Clarkson “Since You’ve Been Gone” perfect example.


  89. William, that is what I was saying before. The only contact information that I could find to fill in was the email address on the registration. When I filled out my submission, I didn’t find any place to enter any contact information. I thought I was going crazy or I missed it. I am glad someone else found the same thing!

  90. Shaun–I definitely remember entering a daytime telephone number where I could be contacted should I be chosen for the top 20.

  91. Hi all,
    I thought I’d add, for those who are speculating about the numer of entries, that someone from 19 (Jaime?) posted much earlier that they’d received over 25,000 entries! So yes, the chances are slim. But thank you, Michael! We still have HOPE!
    “Walking on the Clouds”

  92. What did people do for their bios? I’m starting to think I should have been more calculated. Just like the singing competition I think a good story probably would add to the whole package. I bet their are 1000’s of good singers that never get to the judges because they just don’t have that carissma or back story. Just one more way to stand out from the crowd for next year.

    I would have sworn that I entered a telephone number. Maybe just mass hysteria.

  93. I know for a fact that I entered a phone number – the screen said to put your daytime phone number in, so they could contact you if you were in the top 20. I remember this because I put my work number, instead of my cell # – which I immediately regretted after hitting the submit button! Why I did not put my cell #? I have no idea. I have changed my phone message to include my cell#, and hope they would also try email, but who knows.

    My song was Verse/Chorus/1/2 Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus/Tag. Total time 2 1/2 minutes (because I just had me and my guitar playing my poor little 4 chords and singing into my microphone purchased specifically for this contest). I hope they like it – it did get through the 1st verse and chorus in less than the first minute.

    I really am going to work now – really.

  94. William,

    I’m sorry but I specifically remember putting in my phone number…they can’t rely solely on email, plus you need your address as well to verify your credit card info. It’s a crap shoot, it can be any way they want to contact you, but I highly doubt there would only be one way to contact you.

  95. Susan S Avatar

    Steve, oh i hope so but……….we took OUT the prechorus! I can’t tell if Moment Like This has a prechorus or just an 8 line verse; oh well, it is all speculation at this point, they like it or they don’t. I mean “Do I make You Proud” doesn’t seem to have a discernible pattern to me but my brain is all foggy about now.

    Ok, I email idol PR and they gave me a contact, , whom I called and he was willing ton share a few things:

    1. They are STILL looking. The top 20 will be notified BEFORE May 2.

    2. There will be a confidentiality agreement for the top 20, so people who’s songs has been picked cannot share this information.

    3. They will post the submitted demos, they will no re-record the songs.

    I hope that helps a few folks to breathe better πŸ™‚


  97. Just reread my post. I meant email, not mail. Oops.

    William, you’re killing me nicely.

  98. Michael Avatar

    Yes, pretty much every song needs a bridge and pre chorus. Without getting technical, there are many ways to achieve this, maybe this is something for after the contest as we all band together to get better.

    As to “them” adding a bridge or a pre chorus etc…. That will not happen. Simply put, you need to know how copyright works. If there is an addition, it is not done by “them” it is done by someone and that someone is now a co-writer who most likely is in a publishing contract. I hope that makes sense.

    Do not lose heart though. This contest is about the story as well. They are many songwriters who write for IDOL from the first day, who deal with the music supervisor and the executive producer of services and the rights/clearances people. Trust me, there are great songs. This is also a business, and new press means new viewers=ad dollars.
    So, there will be songs in the Top 20 that do not meet the normal criteria. These people are pros. Imagine how many people you will get interested in the show that have not previously watched if you get in the top 20? And you’ll do it for free and you’ll love it. right?

  99. William Avatar

    I wonder if the submission form was changed… I entered my song on April 11th, and I am looking at the actual screens where I entered everything, and there was no place for any phone numbers.
    My song “You Made Me” had V1/V2/C/Bridge/C/V3/C/Tag with a run time of 3.32 seconds. I wrote and recorded it in Garage Band (Macs Rule) and mp3 converted it using iTunes like the songwriter page suggested.

  100. Brenda:

    Not only did my registration page ask for a phone number, but I also recall entering my AGE in one of the spaces. I’ve talked to my husband about this and he was sitting right there, too, and remembers entering both pieces of info.

  101. I’m not claiming to be on the A&R team, but this is my favorite so far. “I Thought I Knew You”

    Several others (zane,hangcat) also great but not as tailor-made for this contest. Well done, Kat Well done, all!!

  102. William Avatar

    Ann, Mine also had a place for my Date of Birth, a check box for if I was over 10, a US citizen… then on the credit card page, all it asked for was my Name, CC Type, CC number, the CSV code on the back of the card, and my e-mail address… that was it, because I am looking at the screen print as we speak, so I am wondering if somewhere along the line they changed the submission form?

  103. William Avatar

    oops, on my post #102 I meant to say “over 18”..

  104. I do remember reading while filling out the bio page,that whatever was written for your own personal bio really wasn’t all that important.If someone happens to be selected for a coveted position in the Top 20,I guess it would give the people voting something more to know about the person who wrote it.In some ways the bio can be important,but I don’t think it will make or break a contender.a question that arose for me was the song length.I entered one song that was almost 4 minutes,and another that was just below the 2 and a half minute mark.Does anyone have any feedback on if one entry would be considered to long,and perhaps the other to short for this competition?

  105. I just found this blog yesterday. Before that I had no idea that people were posting their songs and such.

    I thought I would share a dream I had 4 or 5 days ago. I dreamed that Simon Cowell was listeing to each song and grading them on a scale of 1 to 5. 5 being the highest. He listened to my song and gave it a 3. I asked how many “5’s” there have been and he said he could only foresee 2 or 3 songs getting a 5. I realized all the “4’s” would be re-listened to and each had a chance. I mentioned, “I guess since I got a “3”, that I have no chance”. He said, “Let me listen to yours again.” and he decided it was good enough to be a “4”.

    I have no idea how the prcess works and I had never really thought about it before but it was an intersting dream. And… Simon Cowell was really nice! (although I wouldn’t think he is involved in grading all the songs)

  106. Ann S, When did you submit? I wonder if there was a change on the forms. There was a “re-vamp” time period. I wonder if they changed it? I sent my song it towards teh end. I wonder if they changed it? Either that… or I am going crazy – because I really wanted to put a phone number in and couldn’t find a spot. I guess it doesn’t matter!

  107. Thanks for posting that Coop.I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say thanks for keeping our hopes somewhat kicking!

  108. I definitely did not enter an age. I purposely left any indication of age out in my bio. Ageism is alive and well in Hollywood. (Note: the singers have an age limit) I think the only thing related to age was to be over 18.

  109. hey guys!
    We’re still alive! (possibly)

    As far as the phone# thing, i definately remember inputing my phone number. I definately remember it also saying that it was for them to contact you if you are in the top 20(others have confirmed this too). This was discussed in an earlier thread.
    I think though, that might have been when you registered as a songwriter, not on the song submission. I think that may be why there is a little confusion. ‘Cause i know i entered a phone#, maybe it was in the initial registration. Does anyone remember exactly?

    if you are who you say you are, thank you for your insight on the contest and songwriting. it’s much appreciated.

    Joe Taylor Jr,
    Much thanks again to you! This is a great discussion. You should think about starting a big “songwriting forum”(if you haven’t already). If you started with the fine folks here, you would have a real good start on, what i think would be, a great thriving community for songwriters. I’d even pay a membership fee!:)This event seems to be bonding the people here. Thanks again!

  110. Michael,

    The winner of this comp., will they not add anything to the song besides an arrangement? Do you think they will sing it the same way and keep the exact same melody? I hope not, because I would love to hear my song taken up a few notches to it’s fullest potential. My co-writer who sings for my song also supplied the music. I struggled as best as I could to sing it the way I thought it should be sung and she made it a little slower than I had imagined it, but she didn’t have the time nor did I, so…anyway, I would love for them to change it up a bit, but you’re saying they can’t?

  111. I’ve been silent for too long…….feeling everything everyone is writing. I’m in your boat and let’s face it, it hasn’t sunk….yet. Regarding the FACTS, FACTS, FACTS….No. 3 “They will post the submitted demos, they will not re-record the songs” – Well what happened to “the magic” they will perform on our songs and you don’t have to be a good singer. Wish there was some mention in the fine print about whatever we sumbit would be what they will use ….would have polished it up a bit, but I thought that didn’t matter. Oh well, live and learn. Good Luck everyone.

  112. I like Zane William’s the best so far πŸ™‚

  113. Michael- though wouldn’t you agree that the key change is just a technical thing and can be added by the music director? it is pretty simple.
    My opinion based on my experiences with songwriting is that the bridge is one of the most difficult things to write, therefore, many songs lack bridges…

    Michael and Cooper- thanks for the little tidbits of info!!
    you guys rule.

  114. Susan S Avatar

    COOP, wow that is amazing info……i think it is SO UNFAIR we didn’t know they would play the song as recorded, their words were like “don’t worry becuase we’ll be arranging it” otherwise, we would have headed to the studio for sure……….

    anyone: does a prechorus have to have a lot of words or can it be simply “so…..” with a melodic interlude moving into the chorus???

  115. Jeffery Cameron Avatar
    Jeffery Cameron

    to Trish…

    in no way do i want you to feel like me or anyone else is attacking you; it is not my intention to do so. but i fear that you are taking this stuff way too personally.

    no one is saying you have to believe anything said in this blog. even though i am not Diane Warren or David Foster or Quincy Jones, you could learn alot from me and others here. there are some people here that do know a lot about the industry, and they don’t have to be a famous person to have credentials as you seem to require. i can tell the way some of them talk and the things they say that they have some good knowledge about the biz. i have years of music experience and studio experience, since i was 8 years old in fact. i have been classically trained in piano (although i am no longer polished enough to sight-read), i was trained in drums in highschool and have been using synthezisers and recording equipment since 1990. i have been in several bands and worked with singers, but never “made it big” by your standards. i continue to work on songs and record and produce. because i know scales and chords, and rhythm from the drums, and have experience with singers, i consider myself successful in many ways when it comes to songwriting and producing. do i have really good music skills? i sure as hell do. am i a famous big name artist or producer? not yet…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen and think carefully about what i say, or any of the other would-be-professionals say in these blogs. but once again, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

    quit trying to protect the feelings of the people you think are hopeless (who are these people you are refering to anyway? and do they need to be protected?). i remember you saying you were depressed about this whole thing, maybe you are just protecting yourself? i don’t remember anyone calling out to you for emotional rescue (good Stones song btw).

    in any case, i truly doubt that your intent was to bring people down or get into any arguments. you probly just wanted to help out, but it came across much differently. as you said, you may have not clearly stated yourself. that isn’t anyone’s fault but yours, so why put me and others down for your mistake?

    so, from now on, maybe you can simply state your thoughts on the topics instead of criticizing what people said because you don’t believe it? if someone posts a song, say if you like it or don’t like it and give concrete reasons why. if you think religious or uplifting are the same or totally different, gives explicit reasons and examples that back your beliefs and thoughts, don’t make it a personal thing. just state what you believe and think about it. present your argument like an adult. that is all that i have done. and it takes more than 2 or 3 sentences to make a clearly stated point on many of these issues because there are so many ways they can play out.

    if you have serious credentials, tell us why you think you should be putting us down on a personal level? how are you qualified to do so? if you or someone you know works for 19 Entertainment, then bring out the facts and quit lurking around putting the rest of us down that you think aren’t famous enough to believe in yet.

    i think my singer is going to agree to let us put our song online tomorrow, so if you want to criticize something, listen to our AI contest submission and have at it! but in the future, please refrain from the personal attacks in questioning my or others’ integrity and knowledge we have shared on this site. constructive criticism is more than welcome of course, as long as it has to do with the songs.

    take care and i wish you the best in all you do…

  116. Love this string but does anyone know how I keep this site from sending me a notice each time there’s a new posting??

  117. Michael Avatar

    Sweet, I am off the hook. All yours Coop. More wine for me.

  118. Y’all are way chatty today, which is great. You’re also getting me in gear over a project I had long ago mothballed. Learn more, and keep discussing at the new thread:

  119. […] comment threads on those pages to discuss the merits of each song. Should streamline some of the conversation that was happening in the previous thread, once we have some songs up there. ‘Kay? […]