Competition Closed... but you're still welcome to read the published writing!
“He wrote about music to understand what being alive means.”
- Marc Woodworth, speaking about the famous music journalist, Lester Bangs
Recorded music is now more accessible than in any other time in history. And writing about music is “more adventurous, more idiosyncratic, and more personal than at any point in the last thirty years” (Writing about Music
). Which is to say, writing about music can be pretty darn fun. It’s a way to better understand why music means so much to you, while simultaneously spreading the love and honoring an artist.
Write a review of your favorite album. A good album review considers the artist’s influences, his or her previous work and the broader social and/or musical context in which the artist (or group) operates. One of the most challenging parts of the album review is to communicate the album’s ‘sound’ to the reader through words. For inspiration, take a look at this fantastic review of Taylor Swift’s current album
that appeared in the NY Times. You don’t have to be a Taylor fan to appreciate good music writing!
Write a 350-750 word review of your favorite album.
Album Reviewing in a Nutshell:
- Write about what you love. Pick one of your favorite albums to write about. It will make the process so much more enjoyable (plus… we want your music recommendations!)
- Take time to 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. Jot down any impressions you have. These ideas might be your emotional responses to the music, commentary on the lyrics, an analysis of the composition or a combination of all three. Listen to the album again -- several times if you can. How would you communicate the sound of the album in words? 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 and why it moves you.
- Use your voice. Make the album review your own. Music journalism is a form of writing that can be a little informal in style. Imagine you are telling a friend about this album. What would you say? Allow your natural voice to come through. Try adding a bit of humor to the piece for good measure!
- Make your opinion known up front! Within the first few sentences, let your reader know why this album is worth listening to.
- 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.
- You don’t need to mention every song; instead, choose a couple of examples to back up your point. Consider:
- Sequence of songs
- Comparison to past albums
Our guest judge this month is musician Chadwick Stokes
. As well as his solo career, he is the frontman for Boston-based bands Dispatch
and State Radio
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- 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)
- Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and 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: Turn your rough draft in by Monday, April 6 and get feedback from our team of experts— authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
Competition Opens: Monday, March 30
Submit draft for Expert Review (optional): Monday, April 6
Reviews returned to Writers: Thursday, April 9
Final Submissions Due: Tuesday, April 14
Winners Announced: Friday, April 24
Look out for more details later this month.