Lyric Judging Criteria


Lyrics will be judged for the 7 Components of a Good Lyric and scored on a scale of 1 to 5


1 is the least – poor

3 is average  – need for some improvement

5 is the most – outstanding, clearly and professionally executed


Emotional Impact-

Does it move you, draw you in, pull on your heartstrings, make you laugh, cry, think, react? Does it entertain you? Is it believable?


Are the title and hook the same? Is it a strong hook? Is it effectively placed for impact? If there is a chorus, does the hook repeat?


How original is the song idea? How fresh is its approach? Would it stand out among hundreds of others with similar themes?


Does the message/emotion have universal appeal within and outside its intended genre? Does it have a timeless feel? Does it have commercial potential?


What is the setting? Is there a story, characters– are they consistent, do they progress? Is there visual imagery? Do the verses set up the chorus? Does the chorus conclude? Does the bridge offer new meaning to the chorus, and/or give a twist to the story or message with lyrical changes that differ from the verses? Are the lyrics compact and concisely written?


Would it sing well? Is it conversational? Does it allow the artist’s vocals to shine? Is there a consistent meter/rhythm/# of stresses from verse to verse?


Consistent structure, rhyme, verse/chorus/bridge placement.


Judge’s Critique Form

Contest date:












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10 Common Mistakes Made Writing Lyrics


(Step back and take a careful look at your lyric. One or more of the mistakes below may keep your baby out of the winner’s circle. )

  1. Song idea is overdone without a fresh approach. Most common theme is the “You done me wrong and I’m leaving you.”

  2. Lyric is riddled with clichés. Love songs can be the worst offenders. A song contest judge or publisher in particular will toss out the song in a heartbeat, (pardon the cliché’ J) if the lyric has them.

  3. Lyric is not conversational. It’s not believable if the artist is using words not commonly expressed or sentences are broken or convoluted or forced.

  4. Missing a clear hook, has more than one hook, and/or verses or chorus do not set up and lead to hook. Hook is weak.

  5. Lyric is outdated. Words, mannerisms, ideas seem to come from a past decade or so ago.

  6. Lyric is preachy or philosophical or distant. Doesn’t reach you on a personal level.

  7. Uninteresting, predictable rhyme scheme (lines 1 and 2 rhyme, 3 and 4 rhyme, rhyme scheme in verses same as chorus. Rhythm/line lengths same throughout. No variation gets very boring – difficult to write a melody that’s interesting when written this way.

  8. Long verses, too many verses, long chorus - redundant, lengthy, wordy, etc. Main idea of song is not understood by time you get to chorus, takes too long to get to chorus.

  9. Lack of visual imagery. Lyric is telling when it should be showing.

  10. No movement from verse to verse. You could change their place and it doesn’t affect the song. Chorus doesn’t conclude. Bridge doesn’t do what it is supposed to do.