Monday, October 25, 2010

Spintunes 2, Round 2: My judging criteria

Once again it's time to judge SpinTunes. The current round's challenge: Write a sequel to a famous song.

Once again I've set up criteria in advance. As you were writing the songs, I was determining what would be my criteria for this challenge. For those who might wonder how I can determine how to judge songs that aren't even written yet, all I can say is that I'd rather walk in to a round with a set of standards I can hold myself to rather than make up justifications for my decisions after the fact.

From the last round, you already know that I'm heavily oriented toward the composing aspect of the competition: I figure the production aspect will largely take care of itself. Meeting the challenge is paramount for me, and production matters less. You also know that the final arbiter is my personal taste. So let's skip all that and discuss what makes a good sequel.

For starters, in this round I'm not only listening to your sequel; I'm listening to the original it's drawn from. This may be a challenge in itself, as I need to understand the original to understand how you've chosen to progress it. So with 17 sequels, I'll be listening to 34 songs + shadows instead of the 28+ of the first round. (And I thought this was supposed to get easier!)
  1. The published, objective criteria must be met. This one should be pretty easy. If it's on any Billboard singles charts at or above the 20th position it's OK. When we're in doubt, don't be surprised if we ask you where and when it charted.
  2. I'm looking for original music, not revised lyrics to an established tune. This doesn't exclude musical or lyrical quotes or instruments that evoke the feel of the original.
  3. I'm looking for a sequel. Not a prequel, or the same event from a different p.o.v., or a re-imagining or parody of the original song. That means it happens at a later time than the original, at least from the p.o.v. of the singer. Somebody in chat joked about time travel. If they can pull it off, I'd be OK with it.
  4. I'm not necessarily looking for the same style. If the original is a sweet and innocent ballad about young love, I see no problem with an angry, disillusioned rock-opera rant as a follow-up, so long as they successfully sell it as a sequel. Whatever emotion is contained in the sequel should be a natural progression of that in the original, or should be explained by the sequel itself.
  5. If the competitor does use the same (or similar) style, then I'll rate the song (in part) based on how successfully that's done.
  6. Whatever the style, I'm hoping that the relationship between the original song and this sequel is well established. If I can listen to the sequel and readily identify the original, I'm likely to like it better than if there's no apparent connection. I don't care how it's done... in lyrics, structure, instrumentation, chord progressions, etc... the thing I'm looking for here is that the second song is a natural extension of the first. This doesn't mean that the competitors take on the song needs to be the same as the original. For instance, if you can find a comedic hook in a serious song, go for it.
  7. And again, there's that je ne sais quoi. If I like it, I like it. If I don't, I don't, but I'll try to explain why.
And now for the listening party!

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