I haven't had time to properly reply to anything until now but things I want to respond to are growing so exponentially, I'm gonna have to just start bailing some water. First, a long belated congrats to the winners! Patty's was my top pick, Donna's was undervalued in my scoring, and Clemo's was criminally undervalued in the final ranking. I tend to read through lyrics like an A&R rep at Sony would listen to a demo... if nothing grabs my attention in the first few seconds, I hit eject. This is at the expense of missing a few hidden gems, granted, but it's a numbers game. This is how "The Rain" originally missed me. By title alone I'd think, "Oh gawd, another song about the rain" (great song by Cracker btw https://youtu.be/R8zuQH27Qjk) let alone the style of speaking came across as less than natural and more proper and gilded, which I think might be part of what Barney is getting at. Nothing new or exciting jumped out at me at the time, and though it's still a bit quaint and anodyne for my particular tastes, I appreciate the subtler things I originally missed. Patty's jumped out at me more and though she'd likely be loath to admit, it shares a commonality with mine. They both speak to a taboo truth of our inmost ugly thoughts, her's with earnest solemnity and mine with insecure and boorish bluster, but things we don't like to admit about ourselves nonetheless. I'll diverge here a bit since I brought up my own song to say thank you to those who liked it originally as well as those who hated it. Admittedly, I was intentionally pissing in the wind by entering it in the first place, caused by my own concern about the style of many of the other entries and winners by making a passive-aggressive point. It might be a record to have over a 3rd of the judges give you the lowest possible score, especially when people's default setting is to not hurt or offend that you can safely assume that any of the 4's and 4.5's were "being nice" so to speak. I doubt the low scores had much to do with the intentionally trite lines like "you're the only girl I'll ever love/dreaming of" but had more to do with its crass vulgarity. Even if it got your disdain, it captured your attention and that's a win right there ("I can't deny the fact that you hate me, you really hate me!." ). The recording that followed (And thanks too, for those who liked the music version) can also illustrate what doesn't seem to work on paper can work better than what does, and to make us ask ourselves how to bridge that gap. Generally speaking, I notice far too many retreads of the same old themes and no new twists or play on words. There's a dearth of powerful, attention grabbing opening lines and the choruses are often just as anemic if not overly long, meandering, and indistinguishable from the verses and just as unmemorable. A lot of them are just overly long, at least on page, that with a couple dozen entries tend to all blur into one. I've never entered my favorites... only the shortest, simplest, and succinct to break the monotony. As far as "winning formulas" in these contests go, I've had various theories dispelled so I'm not sure. My first theory when I joined was themes about veterans or getting into heaven played overly well on judges sentiments. I had started writing a song called "I Put the Wrong Song in the Song Contest", poking fun of the various winning memes that was to be my first entry but never finished it because I didn't want to start off by being an asshole. In the meantime, there have been what I consider fair judgments as well as frustrating ones. An interesting one to me was, "Bar Room Rodeo" a month or two back. It kind of bucked the trend in that it was just a fun party song. No deep or sentimental themes (superficial and well-worn, honestly), no poetic language to really speak of that I can recall but it was something that most everyone could hear in their head as a finished song they (or at least Country fans) would enjoy. Barney can thank the millions of undocumented immigrants voting for that one And ah yes, Barney... I haven't had a good blood sacrifice in awhile but I'd likely take it too far. He only "thinks" he's a fan straight-forward, unbridled truths - but it's society's sympathetic soft-peddling that keep people like him from being the most crushed underfoot.