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Barneyboy

Judging Lyrics

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Barneyboy    48

Why is it that I never get it right when voting on the lyric comp every month?  I try to follow the 3 steps when voting for a lyric but never seem to be able to pick the winning or runner upper.  For example, my top pick in this last contest finished 4th and I thought for sure it would be number 1 or number 2 at worse.  I thought it was well written, gave the feel for the old age blues and could easily be put to music.  Was it the blues genre that turned off some voters? The subject matter?  It seems that the overly worded image filled lyrics are the ones scoring best.  My taste tend to be on the simple side where the story is easily picked up and the lyric moves without having to stop to look up words or figure out the metaphors. I've decided to take a respite from entering cause it is so embarrassing to always finish at or near the bottom but when I post for feedback the reviews are generally positive. Ok, I'm finished with my self pity lecture.  I'm gonna vent my frustration by watching Bachelor in Paradise tonight instead of Monday night football. 

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Neal K   

As you know, I ran this contest for many, many years.  Over time I noticed some interesting trends, and one of them was this: the people who scored the lowest in the comps rarely picked the winners.  Maybe it's taste, or talent, or interference from Pluto. But that's what I noticed.  

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kuya   

Hello, 

        Barney thank you for the kind review of "Getting Old Blues". I didn't think it was bad but it gave me trouble right up to the very last minute. As for your observations on voting: In the relatively brief time I've been here I have been able to see some obvious trends that make perfect sense to me. 

         In any given month participants (voters) are scattered from many parts of the world and across a varied age demographic too. The voters' tastes in music probably has some overlap and this is of course the sweet spot to aim for.   It stands to reason that the more accessible lyrics do better, in general, than niche lyrics, such as metal, blues or rap. (To my way of thinking anyway) Neal has a much better perspective on this than my own brief observations. 

          I also think that positive lyrics ( positive outlook / happy) such as my own 'here on vacation' do better (in general) than what I would describe as negative nasty or even raunchy ones such as 3 of mine:  Ballad of my exwife, it sucks to be you, and getting old blues-- 3 of mine that placed toward the middle of voting. I tried to soften them up with a sense of humor but they're still not something to sing along with your ten year old. 

          However some sad ( as opposed to negative) themes such as war or man's inhumanity to man do well if they evoke the right chord of empathy for the injured. The true wordsmiths here do better consistently than the meat and potatoes guys like me, but the real wordsmiths are generally careful to choose topics that attract a wide audience, which is one of the criteria we voters use in judging the potential of a lyric. 

            I noticed one last thing about voting. We all stand a much better chance when Iggy has no entry.  His level of consistency is up there. Hehe

        

          

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Ty Cobb   
16 hours ago, Barneyboy said:

Why is it that I never get it right when voting on the lyric comp every month?

BarneyBoy, 

I don't believe there is a 'right' or 'wrong' way to vote.  Who is to say what resonates with you or any other voter?  If someone told me a Katy Perry song was better than 'A Day in the Life' by the Beatles, I would strongly disagree and maybe try to point out why I believe this (musicality, impact, originality, technical merits. test of time, etc).  But if I was told by that same person "I like the Katy Perry song better than 'A Day in the Life' " who am I to say they are wrong?

 

We all bring our own perspectives, tastes, and backgrounds (musical, literary, moral, religious etc) to the table. Every one as valid as the next.  As for the contest voting,  there are some cases where a submission might be more polished than another or maybe one just resonates emotionally more than others, but a lot of it is just subjective.  

 

If these songs did not exist, and someone submitted 'Louie Louie' in the lyric contest/feedback it would probably get laughed out as adolescent and silly.  Conversely if Dylan's 'Visions of Johanna' was voted on/critiqued most people would probably ask what the hell is this about and where is the chorus?   I use these songs as reference only, showing my subjective tastes, but I'm sure anyone else could come up with unlimited examples that reflect their own perspectives.  

 

Point being, I don't believe there is a 'right' or 'wrong' way to vote or critique a lyric.  I believe we are here to give each other opinions, suggestions, other POV's etc, in an attempt to improve our craft.  I know I personally don't create lyrics because I think they will be popular, just trying to express a thought that meant something to me at the time.  I write what means something to me and hopefully, it might resonate with someone else.  

 

I for one, value input from anybody who was willing to take the time to review.  I look forward to your reviews in particular, even though they are sometimes harsh.  There is always something to be gained from them.  

 

I see the contest as a way to see where we stand from our peers perspective, and a way to contribute what we can to the efforts of others.  Yes I suppose everyone would like to 'win' and be validated by the community, but I think the communal effort to improve one another is more important in the long run.  

 

I know my votes don't always align with the results, but I still try to vote, 'better to light a candle than to curse the darkness'.

 

If your goal is to craft a lyric that doesn't mean anything to you, but has a better chance to win the contest, by all means disregard this post.

 

 

 

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I think rating lyrics is very subjective and people approach it in different ways. So whilst it's nice if a lyric does well, I think it's important not to get too hung up on final placings. Easier said than done sometimes ...

 

Speaking personally, here are some factors that I use when evaluating entries:

 

1. Lyrical quality. This is a lyric contest, not a song contest. A very simple lyric with lots of repeated 'yeah, yeah, yeahs' might sound amazing ... but it's not what I'd expect to do well in a lyric contest. So I'd generally favour entries that have a level of lyrical sophistication about them - more Leonard Cohen than Def Leppard, even though I love listening to Def Leppard songs.

2. Emotional impact. Very subjective but does the song generate an emotion - sadness, happiness, etc.

3. Story telling - I guess not all songs need to tell a story but I'd tend to award bonus points where a lyric does this. I like a lyric to take the reader on a journey, preferably without too obvious an ending.

4. Originality - Nothing is totally original but I don't want to feel that the lyric is too familiar or obvious or too reliant on clichés.

5. Formatting, spelling and grammar. I know it probably shouldn't matter from a pure artistic perspective but I kind of feel that if you're going to put a lyric into a contest, then I'd expect the writer to take due care to make sure it's formatted clearly and that it avoids obvious mistakes. All writers (not matter what genre) should spend at least as much time proof reading and editing as they do writing.

 

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Barneyboy said:

Why is it that I never get it right

Because it is not humanly possible to put yourself into the persona of all the scorers and guess perfectly how they will score each entry.

Just think - if you could do that, you would be earning an 8 digit salary at some publishers to tell them what will be the next hit.

The way I score lyric entries is an adaptation of "What would Jesus write?" - I call it "What would iggy write?" :)

 

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GaryHale   

Funny thing, I “won” lyric of the year last year on what I considered was a throw-away song, but it obviously resonated... so who’s to say what works and what doesn’t.

 

When I write I try to keep it conversational and simple and edit it down to the bone. I primarily write country but I listen almost exclusive to pop and indie artists and find these genres way more rewarding and adventurous than country and rock.

 

These competitions are fun but I would never be crestfallen if I came in at the bottom. This is a place to learn the basics of the craft and to find your own voice and style. And no offense to anyone, but the average age and musical tastes on this site tend to skew heavily toward historical musical artifacts (Beatles, Dylan, etc.) rather than more contemporary artists and styles. And, as a result, I think many people who enter these contests are handcuffed by the existing tastes which lean mightily toward the familiar.

 

Having said that, there’s almost always a cool, enticing and surprising lyric to be found in these competitions that I really like and which always seems to kiss the bottom of the pack.

 

And there have been some really unique and powerful lyric writers on this site that I loved but they never seem to stick around for any length of time. And yeah, I have my own theory about that too.

 

 

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4 hours ago, PaulCanuck said:

Because it is not humanly possible to put yourself into the persona of all the scorers and guess perfectly how they will score each entry.

Just think - if you could do that, you would be earning an 8 digit salary at some publishers to tell them what will be the next hit.

The way I score lyric entries is an adaptation of "What would Jesus write?" - I call it "What would iggy write?" :)

 

I understand your explanation but there are guidelines we are given in order to come up with a score - it's not about guessing how scorers will score.  Are there any who use those guidelines?

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22 hours ago, Barneyboy said:

Why is it that I never get it right when voting on the lyric comp every month?  I try to follow the 3 steps when voting for a lyric but never seem to be able to pick the winning or runner upper.  For example, my top pick in this last contest finished 4th and I thought for sure it would be number 1 or number 2 at worse.  I thought it was well written, gave the feel for the old age blues and could easily be put to music.  Was it the blues genre that turned off some voters? The subject matter?  It seems that the overly worded image filled lyrics are the ones scoring best.  My taste tend to be on the simple side where the story is easily picked up and the lyric moves without having to stop to look up words or figure out the metaphors. I've decided to take a respite from entering cause it is so embarrassing to always finish at or near the bottom but when I post for feedback the reviews are generally positive. Ok, I'm finished with my self pity lecture.  I'm gonna vent my frustration by watching Bachelor in Paradise tonight instead of Monday night football. 

I didn't know there were 3 steps to follow when voting. :P   Bob, you're right. The detailed words with good images that are descriptive tend to do better in these lyric contests (at least in my observation).  If placing in the top three and or winning is something you have in mind as a goal, you might want to consider re-inventing your writing style to accommodate the norm (what the majority who enter a given contest gravitate towards in terms of liking). But, keep in mind it's a lyric contest and the focus is going to be more critical upon the words and how one is either moved or not moved by what they read.  Many of those same detail oriented lyrics that you describe as "overly worded image filled lyrics" very often (again in my observation) do poorly in the song contests at the site. Perhaps the music makes up for words that have more room to be generic as opposed to words standing alone with no music and only the viewer's imagination as to how they might sound set to music.  

 

Cheer up.  Keep writing regardless of entering these contests and don't take anything too seriously.   :D

 

1 hour ago, GaryHale said:

Funny thing, I “won” lyric of the year last year on what I considered was a throw-away song, but it obviously resonated... so who’s to say what works and what doesn’t.

 

When I write I try to keep it conversational and simple and edit it down to the bone. I primarily write country but I listen almost exclusive to pop and indie artists and find these genres way more rewarding and adventurous than country and rock.

 

These competitions are fun but I would never be crestfallen if I came in at the bottom. This is a place to learn the basics of the craft and to find your own voice and style. And no offense to anyone, but the average age and musical tastes on this site tend to skew heavily toward historical musical artifacts (Beatles, Dylan, etc.) rather than more contemporary artists and styles. And, as a result, I think many people who enter these contests are handcuffed by the existing tastes which lean mightily toward the familiar.

 

Having said that, there’s almost always a cool, enticing and surprising lyric to be found in these competitions that I really like and which always seems to kiss the bottom of the pack.

 

And there have been some really unique and powerful lyric writers on this site that I loved but they never seem to stick around for any length of time. And yeah, I have my own theory about that too.

 

 

 

First bold highlighted area from what was written above in Hale's comment I quoted -   This is the exact reason why I've stopped entering these contests for the most part. I feel like an underage juvenile in a local bar filled with a bunch of old men who pat each other on the back. It's the same characters drunk at the bar and there are few gals and or variety and yes many seem stuck in the past and comparing everything to something they like and that's it.  :lol:

 

*******This is a late add in....... And as a result there is absolutely no challenge when entering these contests at present which seem to attract a lot of the locals in their own worlds.  

 

Regarding the second bold highlighted quote, I'd love to hear the details and the theory on this one.  :lol:

Edited by spanishbuddha

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14 minutes ago, spanishbuddha said:

I didn't know there were 3 steps to follow when voting. :P   Bob, you're right. The detailed words with good images that are descriptive tend to do better in these lyric contests (at least in my observation).  If placing in the top three and or winning is something you have in mind as a goal, you might want to consider re-inventing your writing style to accommodate the norm (what the majority who enter a given contest gravitate towards in terms of liking). But, keep in mind it's a lyric contest and the focus is going to be more critical upon the words and how one is either moved or not moved by what they read.  Many of those same detail oriented lyrics that you describe as "overly worded image filled lyrics" very often (again in my observation) do poorly in the song contests at the site. Perhaps the music makes up for words that have more room to be generic as opposed to words standing alone with no music and only the viewer's imagination as to how they might sound set to music.  

 

Cheer up.  Keep writing regardless of entering these contests and don't take anything too seriously.   :D

 

 

First bold highlighted area from what was written above in Hale's comment I quoted -   This is the exact reason why I've stopped entering these contests for the most part. I feel like an underage juvenile in a local bar filled with a bunch of old men who pat each other on the back. It's the same characters drunk at the bar and there are few gals and or variety and yes many seem stuck in the past and comparing everything to something they like and that's it.  :lol:

 

*******And one add in....... And as a result there is absolutely no challenge when entering these contests at present.  

 

Regarding the second bold highlighted quote, I'd love to hear the details and the theory on this one.  :lol:

I like writing as it keeps me in practice in terms of keeping up with my vocabulary, putting together coherent sentences and making sure my grammar is in order.  I tend to think the lyrics feedback forum is the way to go as I've just gotten a wake up call on my last one.  The feedbacks are right on and that is more important than how a lyric is scored.  Anyway, I like to think that I know a good lyric when I see one and don't understand how so many are so wrong by differing with me;).  I'm more into novel writing now - have written 2 and working on my 3rd.  Can we expand the forum to post trailers from novels people write? 

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28 minutes ago, spanishbuddha said:

I didn't know there were 3 steps to follow when voting. :P   Bob, you're right. The detailed words with good images that are descriptive tend to do better in these lyric contests (at least in my observation).  If placing in the top three and or winning is something you have in mind as a goal, you might want to consider re-inventing your writing style to accommodate the norm (what the majority who enter a given contest gravitate towards in terms of liking). But, keep in mind it's a lyric contest and the focus is going to be more critical upon the words and how one is either moved or not moved by what they read.  Many of those same detail oriented lyrics that you describe as "overly worded image filled lyrics" very often (again in my observation) do poorly in the song contests at the site. Perhaps the music makes up for words that have more room to be generic as opposed to words standing alone with no music and only the viewer's imagination as to how they might sound set to music.  

 

Cheer up.  Keep writing regardless of entering these contests and don't take anything too seriously.   :D

 

 

First bold highlighted area from what was written above in Hale's comment I quoted -   This is the exact reason why I've stopped entering these contests for the most part. I feel like an underage juvenile in a local bar filled with a bunch of old men who pat each other on the back. It's the same characters drunk at the bar and there are few gals and or variety and yes many seem stuck in the past and comparing everything to something they like and that's it.  :lol:

 

*******This is a late add in....... And as a result there is absolutely no challenge when entering these contests at present which seem to attract a lot of the locals in their own worlds.  

 

Regarding the second bold highlighted quote, I'd love to hear the details and the theory on this one.  :lol:

You are absolutely right.  There does seem to be a lack of female participation in the various forums. I wonder why??

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11 hours ago, Barneyboy said:

I like writing as it keeps me in practice in terms of keeping up with my vocabulary, putting together coherent sentences and making sure my grammar is in order.  I tend to think the lyrics feedback forum is the way to go as I've just gotten a wake up call on my last one.  The feedbacks are right on and that is more important than how a lyric is scored.  Anyway, I like to think that I know a good lyric when I see one and don't understand how so many are so wrong by differing with me;).  I'm more into novel writing now - have written 2 and working on my 3rd.  Can we expand the forum to post trailers from novels people write? 

Keep writing lyrics and keep posting.  Feedback is important and that should and does count for something, just like you said.  I don't always pick the winners either and some of my friends who follow my writing and the contests here, they very often do a tailspin when they see the outcome of some of these lyric contests and are shocked sometimes at what comes out on top.  You're unique and there are plenty more out there who may vote like you and or me. I am one hard critic especially when it's a nude body without the clothing (the lyric without the music.)

 

Post some of your novel writing in artist's cafe. I'd love to see the cafe become more active again and have thought to post there especially when I write something that while it is formatted to that of a lyric is something I don't think others would want to sing.

Post your stuff man or showcase some of what you've written.  Why not.  There needs to be new ideas and writing as well as music that breaks from what everyone else is doing and what everyone else is doing around here is what everyone else is doing and the bar is stuffed with shirts that are weathered and old (at least in their thinking).  

10 hours ago, Barneyboy said:

You are absolutely right.  There does seem to be a lack of female participation in the various forums. I wonder why??

I really wish there were more women.  I think many of these guys are more interested in competing with each others comments and feeding off of other posters remarks than focusing on dissecting someone's writing, but that's just my take. So, feedback ideally should be very beneficial when keeping it focused between the reviewer and artist as well as the artist's work.  Why no ladies or frequently few?   Lots of ideas there. I tend to think a lot of these guys, not just at the site but especially ones in the western world don't have an outlet to express themselves and communicate effectively and this is it. Typically for women (self expression & communication) has been much easier but I am sure it is more complicated than that.  Hey!, you might find your lyrical pick is more the norm than the old war horse syndrome of competitiveness even regarding the responses to lyrics in feedback if there were more ladies as well as a greater variety in age among members of both genders. 

 

Perhaps many of these folks get turned off.  :lol: ;)   Sometimes it's easy to see why. 

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Oh one more thing, Bob.

 

I appreciate your honesty.  It's hard for people to be themselves even here in cyberspace but you keep it real and that counts for something too. 

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 

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