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Songwriters: Pen an ode to West Hollywood, win $5,000 in prizes

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One of the hardest parts of writing a lyric is finding a good topic, one that resonates through its universal appeal while descibing something -- or somewhere -- specific. It's what connects Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," Bruce Springsteen's "Greetings from Asbury Park," the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA": each captures a setting and fills it with emotion. The West Hollywood Marketing and Visitors Bureau seems to understand this, and is offering $5,000 in cash and prizes to the songwriter who pens the best ode to West Hollywood.

Many Angelenos have a good sense of West Hollywood, and therefore have an advantage when writing a lyric about the city, which is located between Hollywood proper and Beverly Hills, has a population of about 35,000 people and is home to the Sunset Strip.

Those lyricists outside of Southern California, however, might need a little coaching. Yes, they could write about the city's large gay population, which makes it one of the most out-and-open cities in the country. They could write about the allure and danger of the Sunset Strip -- except that Axl Rose and company already took care of that on "Welcome to the Jungle." Or another standby, the ritzy restaurants and hotels that line Sunset Boulevard between Fairfax and Doheny (pronounced "do-HAY-nee").

In fact, it's a good strategy, writing about the businesses. After all, the judges for the competition include Nic Adler, the owner of the Roxy (rhymes with "foxy," "epoxy" and "orthodoxy"), Chris Cope of the legendary rock hotel the Sunset Marquis (rhymes with "glee," "flee" and "fait accompli") and J. Gerard Design Studio and Peace Gallery (figure it out -- you're the songwriter).

More potential topics and/or sites include Barney's Beanery, the raucous bar/restaurant just south of the Strip; the Rainbow Bar and Grill, where hair metalheads used to hang and where Lemmy from Motorhead still drinks; Dan Tana's, an old-school Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. Don't forget the Hustler store, the one where Britney Spears went on shopping sprees during her public breakdown, or Mark Mothersbaugh's neon green, saucer-like Mutato Muzika building. The Body Shop is the town's hottest strip club, and is said to be where Demi Moore went to research for "Showgirls." The Soho House is in West Hollywood, but that's off-limits to non-members (a good subject for a song?).

All these ideas are yours for the taking. The only requirement is that the words "West Hollywood" must appear in the song. (Please don't rhyme it with "good," "should" or "could.")

The winner will receive a thousand bucks (rhymes with "ducks" and "shucks"), four nights at the Sunset Marquis (rhymes with "out the window went a TV"), VIP access to the Sunset Strip Music Festival, tickets to the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre (dependent, apparently, on who's gigging those venues during the winner's four-night stay), a "rock star makeover," and a VIP tour. All entries are due by July 18. More info here.

Don't forget about the Chateau Marmont. It rhymes with "gaunt" and "haunt."

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-- Randall Roberts
Twitter: liledit

Photo: Fans attending the 2010 Sunset Strip Music Festival in West Hollywood. Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times.

 
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