Friday, June 24, 2011

My SpinTunes 3 Round 1 Favorites

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Ask me my favorite SpinTunes 3 Round 1 song and I'll tell you "Wake Me When It's Over" by Dr. Lindyke (this is a competition... did you expect something else?). But OTHER than that, here are my (Dave's) top picks for the round:

(I created the graphic on the right as the album cover for the round. Of course, it's the Grim Reaper with a tambourine. I imagine he's dancing in a funeral procession in New Orleans. Click through vote and to download the album.)

Before I list them, let's take another look at the challenge: "Write a happy song about death".  This is pretty much the inverse of a previous SpinTunes challenge, "write a sad song about birth," and my approach here is the same.  There are two legs to stand on... it has to be happy, and it has to be about death. For instance, our song is about a terminal patient awaiting his imminent demise with sincere joy and expectation, so I'd say we met the challenge pretty well, and an unusual, spiritually satisfying approach.

Here's a sampling of the competitors I think best met the challenge:

Byron Blocker and the Offbeats - She's Dead

This song isn't a narrative, and it doesn't need to be. It's a simple expression of joy. Sure it's joy over someone's death, but that's the challenge, isn't it?  What makes this song stand out is that Byron's not causing the death. It just happens, and it's a windfall to the singer. Too many of the other contestants went for some sort of vengeance of the "I'm going to kill her" variety. I'd argue that vengeance may bring satisfaction, but you've got an uphill climb to show that it brings happiness. Byron avoids the trap by avoiding the narrative detail and focusing on the emotion... a great choice for this challenge.

Byron himself sounds like the Boogieman from "Nightmare Before Christmas", which just makes this really fun to listen to. I LIKE IT.

Edric Haleen - I Hope You Die

Edric takes a different approach in this manic bit of novelty. The singer is unquestionably miserable... most of the time... and it's due to his cheating, cold, wife. He can't bring himself to leave her. At the end of the song we get a taste of exactly how frigid and devoid of love his everyday existence is. But he has one thought that keeps him going, and what a thought! What keeps this in the "happy" category and well away from the visciousness of some other entries is that Edric's character never once considers killing her himself. This guy is a veritable saint, and he spends his day praying to be delivered from his suffering by some random act of God (or Nature, or a passing mugger, or...) The astounding part is that he manages to do this, not immersed in desperation, but basking in the joy of his imagination.

Edric, as usual, walks the slenderest of tightropes and manages to make it sound easy.

Charlie McCarron - Grandma and Grandpa

Wow. "Happy" covers a lot of ground, and with this song, Charlie McCarron treads where no other contestant dare. The story itself is tragic... Grandma and Grandpa go out in a canoe to watch the stars and see the sunrise. Having rowed too far, and being lost in the fog, they die. But the happiness of this song isn't in the narrative... it's in the moment, and it's in their contentment with each other and their acceptance of their fate. Viewed from their perspective, there is nothing tragic about this song in the slightest. The tears it brings are cleansing in a very good way. This song is truly creative and unique, setting it apart from the crowd.

Godz Poodlz - Wake At The Sunnyside

Leave it to Godz Poodlz to turn this challenge into a sales pitch! It's got it all... the party, the puns... this song manages to be happy through the simple expedient of flatly denying that death is a sad thing. When I die, I want Sunnyside Funeral Home to handle the arrangements. And I want the full treatment, including pony rides to the graveside and funnel cakes. How can I possibly go wrong... Sunnyside offers a lifetime guarantee!

So there are my favorites. If you're not on the list, it's not because I didn't like your song... I probably did. A lot. This was an awesome field of competitors. These folks are here because they managed to nail the spirit of the challenge with unique interpretations that relied on pure happiness unadulterated by a dark cloud; and they did it with really entertaining presentation.



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