Football flop who gave Lana Del Rey a shot at stardom may score at last

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British co-writer gets nod for Novello award

The haunting melancholy of "Video Games" catapulted Lana Del Rey to global stardom. But the singer couldn't have done it without the melody fashioned by a failed footballer from Lincoln who despaired of writing a hit.

Justin Parker's co-writing contribution to "Video Games" was yesterday recognised with a nomination for the prestigious Ivor Novello awards, judged by the songwriting community.

Next month's ceremony look set to be dominated by Adele, who has four nominations. However, the event provides a rare moment in the spotlight for the backroom writers and producers, such as Paul Epworth, who received four nominations for his work with Adele and Florence Welch.

Parker, 34, whose football career was ended by a knee injury, said: "I'm just in it to make a living as a songwriter. A year ago I was doing very little, just writing songs without a purpose."

His publishers, Sony/ATV Music, put him in a London studio with Elizabeth Grant, the New York singer who relaunched her career as Del Rey. "I wrote the chord sequence for the verse at home in Lincoln and thought 'that sounds like a Lana song to me'.

"She was amazing, she followed every chord. She wrote the lyrics and it was all written in three hours. There's a melancholic side to her and we've both had dark times so it was a natural progression for the song to feel that way."

Her record company, Interscope, wasn't convinced. "No one liked it," said Parker. "We thought it was really special but they didn't think it was a single." Del Rey fashioned her own video, featuring old movie clips, which she uploaded to YouTube. "It just took off. Then they had to release it then, they had no choice."

Despite repeating the co-writing trick on Del Rey's follow-up hit "Born To Die", the modest Parker won't be swapping Lincoln for LA. "It's probably downhill from here," he joked. "I've got more options but people aren't exactly knocking on the door." He has written with Ellie Goulding and Bat For Lashes and prefers to work with female artists because they have "less ego" than male rockers. Parker credits the huge success of Adele with opening the door for Del Rey and the return of "classic songwriting" in a musical era dominated by hip-hop and dance pop. He rejects accusations that Del Rey's employment of collaborators means that she is a manufactured artist. "She writes great melodies and lyrics, we both struggled for years to get people to notice us."

The Novellos recognised Jonny Greenwood, the Radiohead guitarist, nominating his work on We Need To Talk About Kevin for Best Original Film Score. Solo female artists dominate the list with Adele battling PJ Harvey and Kate Bush in the Best Album category.

Ivor Novellos: The nominated songs

Best Song Musically and Lyrically

Rolling In The Deep – Adele

Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine

The A Team – Ed Sheeran

Best Contemporary Song

Promises – Nero

The Wilhelm Scream – James Blake

Video Games – Lana Del Rey

PRS for Music Most Performed Work

Rolling In The Deep – Adele

Someone Like You – Adele

The Flood – Take That

Album Award

21 – Adele

50 Words For Snow – Kate Bush

Let England Shake – PJ Harvey

Best Original Film Score

Life In A Day – Harry Gregson-Williams and Matthew Herbert

The First Grader – Alex Heffes

We Need To Talk About Kevin – Jonny Greenwood

Best Television Soundtrack

Leonardo – Mark Russell

Page Eight – Paul Englishby

The Shadow Line – Martin Phipps

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