Published on July 13th, 2016 | by LTWF


2017 Wilko Johnson Award Winners

The Louder Than Words team, in partnership with Rock’s Backpages and Bloomsbury Press are delighted to announce the winners of our 2017 Wilko Johnson Writing Award.


Our first prize winner, George Wilde, recently graduated from Southampton Solent University where he studied Popular Music Journalism. Now he’s looking to start a career as a freelance writer.

Our second place winner, Jenessa Williams, is a first-class Music Journalism graduate, currently working on her Masters thesis at The University of Huddersfield on the topic of hip-hop, feminism and moral disengagement. Her writing can be found in the likes of Dork Magazine, Readers Digest and Gal-Dem, as well as her own blog,

Our third place winner, Oliver Hardman, is a music obsessive who loves reading and writing about music and its place in society. Oliver is hoping to study music journalism and have a career which embraces the links between music and popular culture.

Pictured here are George and Jenessa with Barney Hoskyns from our award sponsors Rocks Back Pages.
The theme for our 2017 competition was:
Pop and Politics: time for an industry-all revolution

For most, the words pop and politics in conjunction bring to mind protest songs. They bring to mind Billy Bragg and Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Joe Strummer, and as a result, many take it for granted that today’s musicians are not as politically inclined as those from days gone by. It is true, after all, that transparently political songs are not as common as they once were.

The reason for that isn’t exactly clear. Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to write overtly political lyrics that don’t sound like the work of a pseudointellectual teenager, and at some point in the last decade musicians decided they weren’t willing to take that risk (once, as a 15 year old, I penned the ballad ‘Down With Downing Street’, and the thought alone is enough to turn my face the colour of Jeremy Corbyn’s bed sheets). Or maybe the decline stems from when David Cameron called ‘Eton Rifles’ his favourite song – a revelation that didn’t half make protest anthems seem futile.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because today’s musicians have new ways to inspire their fans to take an interest in politics. They can tweet the masses urging them to vote, they can interview Corbyn for Vice and they can call the Prime Minister a paigon in their GQ acceptance speech (Theresa May is still the prime minister at the time of writing – I just checked!).

Yes, the way in which certain musicians have engaged with politics in 2017 has been refreshing – especially considering the worrying apathy of some artists in 2015, highlighted by an N.M.E election special. But the fact that we’re currently staring down the barrel of Brexit and another five years of Tory government shows that much more needs to be done. More musicians need to tweet their political opinions, and far more need to hurl insults at May.

If any fancy writing a protest song on top of this, they should know that Trump rhymes with plump, lump and chump. Also, if you say it fast enough, Theresa sounds a bit like disease.


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