Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spin Me A Valentine

This round of SpinTunes was really satisfying for me. I always think it's a missed opportunity when a contest spans a holiday and doesn't take advantage of it for a prompt, so I've wanted to see a Valentine's Day challenge for a while now. SpinTown wasn't convinced, assuming that we'd see an endless parade of sappy love songs. However a little tweak to the challenge to encourage other subjects allowed him to change his mind. Here's the challenge as finally presented:
I Heart U: Write a musical Valentine's Day card to someone OTHER than your significant other. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due February 12th 11:59PM)
I must admit the wording was mine, and that phrase "Valentine's Day card" came back to bite us. Here's the Bandcamp album for your listening pleasure, including that way-too-cute rebus album cover by Matt Schubbe:

Congratulations to Brian Gray for winning this round with his song, Man Crush! Brian manages to straddle a lot of fences here... he invokes borderline homophobia, celebrity stalking, pop-culture and pop-psychology references, platonic love, and even the tortured sound of proper grammar. This is really brilliant.

I've got some additional "must listen" tracks" I'd like to acknowledge here. I don't want to duplicate my reviews (read those on the SpinTunes blog), but here's a quick blurb about each to tell you why it's notable for me:
David LeDuc - 3rd Grade Valentine -  Three of the judges ranked this very highly (myself included, and the others voted to eliminate LeDuc entirely. Nevertheless, I strongly feel that of all the entries, this one most squarely met the challenge. Add to that some really solid production, and it's a winner. The fact that the music seems laid back as opposed to the lyrics exactly reflects the contents of the lyrics themselves, which state that the real message was barely readable on the valentine. I think it was a brilliant choice that may have been too subtle for some listeners.
Rebecca Angel - Insignificant You - Rebecca's ironic take on the challenge may have been lost on one or two of my fellow judges. Just for the record, "Insignificant You" is anything but.  Rebecca's delivery should not be missed.
Edric Haleen - To My Significant Self - Edric stripped this song down the absolute bare essentials... one voice. Coupled with a unique interpretation of the challenge and a brilliant concept wrapped in an intriguing rhyme scheme, this is engaging and melancholy. 
Common Lisp - A Brother's Valentine -  When I comment that Paul can't sing, I'm not doing it to be mean... it's to contrast it with what he does exceptionally well, which is this. Spoken-word. Not quite rap, not quite talking. It's space between the spaces occupied by rappers and Shatner. Intelligent and thought-provoking without being belligerent.
Ross Durand - Space Opera Valentine -  This mix of country-western style and Star Wars imagery can't be missed. What makes it most notable for me is that Ross manages to inject a bit of pathos into what would otherwise simply be a geeky audio "Where's Waldo?"
Jess Scherer - Carbonated Love -  I just love the clean, wholesome bubble-gum pop sound of this song. What can I say?
Caleb Hines - To The Administrator of Extraplanetary Research - As you might note above, the challenge doesn't explicitly state "write a song" as every challenge prior to this one had done, and this is what came back to bite the judges. Caleb produced a very well-thought-out missive from a Vulcan survey ship, reporting on Earth's readiness for first contact. Unfortunately it wasn't a "song", but Caleb deserves MASSIVE kudos for finding and exploiting that loophole. This is a really clever essay delivered atop ambient tones.

Not today, sorry. I think for the most part that these songs are either self-explanatory or well-enough described by the composers themselves.

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