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Mercury Songwriting Contest

Here at the Mercury we really do believe we can improve the world one song at a time and that’s why we’re over the moon to announce our brand new songwriting contest.

Mercury Songwriting Contest

in association with PERFECT PITCH       

We love to present new musicals and showcase the talents of songwriters whenever we can, and in this period of uncertainty we felt this was a great opportunity to discover some new voices.

The competition is aimed at nurturing the music talent of any songwriters of any age and experience, and promote excellence in the art of songwriting.

We’re delighted that producers Wendy and Andy Barnes from Perfect Pitch, who we partnered with on our production of Pieces of String, will lend us their ears for the entries. They also produce the award-winning hit musical SIX and together we are offering a prize of £500 for the winning and smaller amounts for the runners up.

We are inviting composers, musicians and songwriters to submit an I Want song – the song that sets out the leading character’s dreams and desires, connects us emotionally to them and makes us want to go on the journey with them. Make sure you check out Gus Gowland’s Top 5 I Want songs and why he thinks they stand out and a little message from our pal, Tim Minchin!

Tim Minchin's Announcement

We think this contest is really special, so we had to get someone amazing to announce it! Who better than Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician, composer and lyricist, Tim Minchin?!

In case you didn’t know, Tim wrote the music and lyrics for musicals including Matilda and Groundhog Day, he has also released 6 albums, toured the world with his comedy shows and starred in the UK stadium tour of Jesus Christ Superstar as Judas.

Terms and Conditions

It’s super simple.

Anyone living in the UK can take part.

Your song can be any music genre.

Contestants should submit ONE genuinely, original song each. (Multiple entries will not be considered)

There should be no more than 3 writers per song.

Entries should be no more than 5 minutes in length.

Just write it, record it and send it as a web-link (YouTube/Vimeo)* to

Our selection panel will listen to all the tracks and announce the winner on Friday 12th June.

We will be judging entries on
• Creativity
• Originality
• Lyrics
• Melody
• Arrangement

Submissions welcomed from May 12th
Closing date for entries is June 3rd
Winners announced on June 12th

Creativity knows no bounds when you’re stuck at home so we’re looking forward to hearing your musical genius.

*I’m afraid we’re unable to accept any other form of application

Gus Gowland's Top 5 I Want Songs

1. Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman revolutionised the Disney musical with this movie and all of their work includes brilliant ‘I Want’ songs. They often combine the ‘I Want’ with the opening number (see ‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast) but here they let Ariel have her moment and what a moment it is! The song makes us feel like we know Ariel and tells us everything we need to know about what she wants. It manages to do it with a gorgeous, simple melody, too. Perfection.

2. Some People – Gypsy

Gypsy is pretty much the perfect musical and this song is one of the best in a score filled with standout songs. The music by Jule Styne has brilliant pace which mirrors the energy fighting to burst out of Rose. Sondheim’s lyrics are witty (of course!) and help us understand who Rose is. By the end of the song Rose has stolen her father’s plaque and we know the lengths she will go to for stardom and to ensure she doesn’t end up like ‘some humdrum people’. This gets a spot for that triple rhyme alone!

3. Corner of the Sky – Pippin

Years before Stephen Schwartz wrote a little show called Wicked (which has its own great ‘I Want’ song in ‘The Wizard and I’) he gave us this gem. Rather than singing about what he wants, Pippin sings of how everything around him seems to have its place, except for him. It’s a lovely way to tell the audience that he feels out of place and unfulfilled without saying it directly. The music has a folk/pop feel and the imagery in the lyric add to the pastoral vibe, all of which combines to show Pippin as charming & humble. Gorgeous.

4. Roxie – Chicago

Not so much an ‘I Want’, more a ‘I’m Darn Well Gonna Get’ song, this jazzy number by Kander and Ebb perfectly captures the insatiable appetite for fame that propels Roxie through the show. The entire show is presented as a vaudeville and so this number is Roxie’s chance to have the star number she longs for. It’s a brilliant old-school showstopper with satirical bite. It also includes the brilliant line, ‘who says that murder’s not an art?’, which works as a tagline for both Roxie and the entire show.

5. My Shot – Hamilton

This is a great example of an ‘I Want’ song which doesn’t really tell us what the protagonist actually wants! All we know is that Hamilton isn’t throwing away his shot, but we don’t know (and nor does he) what that shot will be. It’s all about character building and showing us that, like Rose in Gypsy, he will go to almost any lengths to get what he wants. When the lyric states ‘I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry’ he becomes indelibly linked to the history of the US and we know that he’s a fighter. The rap music style feels instantly contemporary despite the historical setting. Play it loud and I defy you not to feel inspired after listening to this!

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