Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Tune For You (The SpinTunes Montage)

OK, so this title sucks. But it's for the second round of SpinTunes #5. Here's the challenge:
Pump You Up:  Write a song that is motivational to workout to. Something that is meant to pump up the listener. Think music from just about any Rocky movie, Hulk Hogan's theme song "Real American" or "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid.  (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due July 15th 11:59PM (Sun)

After the lyrics, you'll find composers' notes about both the lyric and the music.

A Tune For You (The SpinTunes Montage)
by Dr. Lindyke

Saturday night,
More anxious than annoyed
Sitting on pins and needles,
Staring at my Droid
Waiting for the tweet
To tell me when and where
To find where the place where songsters meet
And face my challenge there.

I read the post, it's W.T.F.
My comfort zone is a burden, not a gift
Rocky Balboa and the Karate Kid...
I've gotta pump up like they did!

Now it's my time to go
Spin vinyl into gold
I've got just eight short days
And the real world in the way
But it's my time to shine
And give you something new
I'm gonna spin a tune for you!

I've gotta get through...

Gotta be in Spintown by the time the clock strikes zero...
Or all that's left of me is gonna be my shadow...

I read the post, it's W.T.F.
My comfort zone is a burden, not a gift
Eye of the Tiger, and Real American...
I've gotta do the best I can!

Now it's my time to go
Spin vinyl into gold
I've got just eight short days
And the real world in the way
But it's my time to shine
And give you something new
I'm gonna spin a tune for you!

Lyrical Notes:

Very simply, we're going "meta" on this one. We've never done it before, and I've actually been contemplating it for a while. In a recent conversation with Edric, I mentioned a vague intention to write a musical about writing a musical. Then this challenge came up and I decided to re-purpose the idea.

Now the thing about going meta is I don't much like it when it's done gratuitously. But in THIS case I think it's appropriate to the challenge. We need to write something that's motivational, and what is a SpinTunes challenge if not motivation? I wouldn't submit something like this as a competitor, but since I'm shadowing I feel fine with enduring a few disapproving looks in order to give a little wink and nod to the folks who are competing for real.

So... here we have...
  • receiving the challenge, 
  • the usual "wtf" reaction to receiving any new challenge, 
  • some of the actual verbiage from the challenge itself, 
  • the actual timeline for this round, 
  • the phrase "spin a tune" and the name Spintown,
  • The Countdown Clock (the official Spintunes timekeeper),
  • A nod to the fact that missing a deadline relegates your entry to "shadow" status, officially removed from competition,
The "spin vinyl into gold" line started as a reference to Rumplestiltskin, who spun straw into gold (straw being a metaphor for ideas, in this case; and the gold standing for success, whether it be measured in money, acclaim, or a "Spintunes trophy"), but then we thought better of it and changed the straw into vinyl, as in vinyl records becoming gold records... which is something that will never happen to our music.

 It's intentionally short, 'cause novelty songs are best given in small doses.

Musical Notes

So, what makes a song "motivational", or a "workout" song other than the lyrics? What exactly should we be shooting for here? Before breaking conventions, it's nice to know what they are, so let's look at the examples given: 

And let's add a few others:
All of them rely on a 4/4 time signature with a heavy beat on the quarter notes. There's a little variation from that, notably with the orchestra hits in "Eye of the Tiger", but while it's distinctive when they do it, it still sounds "off", and doesn't happen when the song gets going. 

Oddly enough, it seems that a motivational song has quite a lot in common with a march! It has a strong, regular rhythm, which is just what you need in repetitive exercise. They also tend to have a strong bass line which is often nearly monotonous.  There are few surprises among the chord changes. This seems consistent with the idea of a song that supports physical, not mental, exertion. Orchestra hits are common. In the melody you'll typically find sustained notes in the chorus, and verses that mainly serve to get you to that chorus quickly. And they play the hell out of that chorus.

So that's where we're going with it, mostly because that's what's expected, and I want to stick to genre this time. HOWEVER, the examples are pretty dated. If you ignore the given examples and stick to the LETTER of the challenge, then you're best served by examining THIS TOP 100 LIST of motivational workout songs compiled by Fitness magazine and patterning your song after something you find there. I think you'll find a number of the principles remain the same. Drive that beat, produce a mind-numbing bass and stretch the notes in that chorus.


JoAnn in VA said...

I hate you soooo much.

The Chocolate Chips said...

I think "Real American" and "You're The Best" are among the most hilarious songs of all time.

Dave Leigh said...

Could be. They're embarrassingly Yankee-centric. ;)

For me, though, the hilarity crown goes to "The Mushroom Folk Devour the Tresspasser" by The Masked Stranger.

Mark S. Meritt said...

Was going over this post again while I was reviewing the songs from Round 2. No comment on the judging :) Just thought I'd mention, about your notion of a musical about a musical:
A few listed here:
A notorious unproduced musical --
And not that it stands remotely in a league with anything else I just mentioned, but the second musical I myself wrote --
It's a fun topic to play with :)

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