“He wrote about music to understand what being alive means.”
~ Marc Woodworth, speaking about the famous music journalist, Lester Bangs
Why does a particular album mean so much to you? How does it change the way you look at yourself or the world around you? Does the musician’s style or sound inspire you, invigorate you, or simply keep you company? This month, share your favorite music through the written word: write a review of a beloved album. And remember, you don’t have to be a musician to write an excellent album review—the reader is interested in what the music means to you.
Album Reviewing in a Nutshell
1. LISTEN: So much of the time, we’re only half listening—half listening to the radio, half listening to a conversation, half listening to music. We rarely sit down and listen to an album from start to finish, giving it our full attention. However, this careful listening is required to write an album review. Before you even start writing, listen to the album from start to finish.
2.TAKE NOTES: Next, jot down any impressions you have. These ideas might be your emotional responses to the music, commentary on the lyrics, observations about the sound, an analysis of the composition, etc.
3. LISTEN… AGAIN. Several times if you can, writing down any observations or reactions as you go. Consider how you would communicate the sound of the album in words.
4. STATE YOUR OPINION. Make your opinion known up front! Within the first few sentences, let your reader know why this album is worth listening to.
5. RESEARCH: Find out everything you can about the album. Read about the artist and their influences. Can you hear these influences in the music? What is the social context that the artist operates in? Do you think this has made an impact on the artist's style? The reader is interested in hearing your response to the album, but your review will be made even stronger with the support of outside research.
6. HONE. What are the three or four main points you want to make to the reader? What’s most important to communicate about this album?
7. HIGHLIGHT: You don’t need to mention every song; instead, choose a 2-3 examples to back up your main points.
8. CONSIDER: In addition to sound and cultural context, have you considered the following? Lyrics, Rhythm, Originality, Song Sequence. Weaving in some of these details will add nuance and texture to your review.
Who is Eligible?
Young writers ages 13-18
600 – 1,000 words
Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
Runner up: $50
Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday January 8th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
January 1: Competition Opens
January 8: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
January 12: Reviews returned to Writers
January 16: Final Submissions Due
January 26: Winners Announced
Our Environmental Writing Competition opens Monday, February 5th.
Stay tuned for more details!