Number of Canadian Songs Among 2019 International Songwriting Competition Winners

The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) has announced its 2019 winners. Established in 2002, the ISC is the world’s largest international songwriting competition, receiving over 18,000 entries from 140 countries in 2019. More than $150,000 in cash and merchandise is awarded to 71 winners in 23 categories covering all genres of music.

Among this year’s winners are 40 Canadian songs, garnering two first places, one second place, four third places, and 33 honourable mentions. (See full list of Canadian winners below)

“Canada has a long tradition of great songwriters, and this continues to be reflected in ISC’s winners,” says Candace Avery, founder and director of ISC. “Every year, Canadians excel in the competition, and we are proud to celebrate their artistry and achievements.”

ISC’s highest honour was given to Australian artist and songwriter Tones And I for the song "Dance Monkey." The Grand Prize consists of $25,000 in cash (USD) and almost $45,000 in additional prizes.

“This song has taken the world by storm, and it is undeniable that it has propelled Tones And I to massive superstardom,” says Avery. "Prior to 'Dance Monkey,' Tones And I was an indie artist struggling to get her voice heard. This is such a great example of how just the right song can change an artist's life and should inspire up-and-coming songwriters to keep on following their dream."

Australian singer and songwriter Toni Watson (known as Tones And I) grew up in Mornington Peninsula but moved to Byron Bay in 2017 to busk on the streets, where she lived out of her van for the year. In 2019, she made history when she became the first artist to spend 24 weeks at #1 on the ARIA singles charts with her global smash "Dance Monkey," which she says took her only a little more than 30 minutes to write. Since its release in May 2019, the hit single has reached #1 in 30 countries; amassed more than seven billion streams; became the highest streamed song ever by a female artist on Spotify and the most Shazamed song of all time; and is now the longest ever running #1 song on the Spotify global charts. She made her US television debut in November 2019 on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (her performance has generated over 80 million views on YouTube to date). The accolades, awards, and universal love of this song has vaulted Tones And I to the global stage. This is quite a remarkable achievement for someone who was busking and living out of a van at the end of 2018, and this young Aussie artist will no doubt continue to make history.

ISC is known for assembling a panel high-profile judges that includes celebrity artists and music industry executives. Included are: Coldplay; Kevin Gates; Tom Waits; Cam; American Authors; The Script; Tanya Tucker; Nancy Wilson (Heart); Kristian Bush (Sugarland); Kari Jobe; Danilo Perez; Camila; Krewella; Sidewalk Prophets; Irma Thomas; Lonnie Liston Smith; Above & Beyond; Avery Lipman (Founder/President, Republic Records); Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Records); Mike Easterlin (Co-President, Elektra Music Group); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); Kate Craig (VP of A&R, Warner Records); Nate Albert (Exec. VP of A&R, Capitol Records); Josh Bailey (Senior VP of A&R, Word Entertainment); and many more.

Previous ISC winners have included Vance Joy, Bastille, Gotye, Lindsey Stirling, Kimbra, The Band Perry, Kehlani, Faouzia, Gregory Porter, Fantastic Negrito, Passenger, Lupe Fiasco, Gin Wigmore, Missy Higgins, For King and Country, Dean Lewis, and many more.

For a complete list of 2019 winners and to hear the winning songs, go to

Entries are now open for the 2020 competition. For more information and to enter, go to

The list of 2019 Canadian winners is:

First Place Winners

“Honesty” – Tim Moxam – Toronto, ON, Canada – Music Video

“I Do” – Khalid Yassein, Devan Glover, Robyn Dell'Unto (Wild Rivers) – Toronto, ON, Canada – Folk/Singer-Songwriter

Second Place Winner

“Istanbul” – Scot Robinson, Bobby Cameron (Scot Free Sessions) – Edmonton, AB, Canada – Lyrics Only

Third Place Winners

“Fingerblasting Women” – Avery Pearson, Scout Durwood (Scout & Avery) – Toronto, ON, Canada – Comedy/Novelty

“I Am The Storm” – Carl Bernard – Kitchener, ON, Canada – Lyrics Only

“Let Me Go” – Mathew van Vooght, Dan Mangan (Mathew V) – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Performance

“No Eyes For Me” – Harpdog Brown, Mike Ross – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Blues

For a list of Honorable Mentions, go to

Author image
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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