Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SpinTunes 6 Round 2 Reviews

 Before reviewing the Round 2 songs, let's parse the challenge again...
Song Fight - Write a fight song for your favorite sports TEAM.  It doesn't have to be a professional team.  This should be about the team, not 1 or 2 athletes working together. (1 minute minimum) (your submission is due February 10th 11:59PM)
 Looking at just the first sentences, I'd say this is a pretty clearly defined challenge. The word "favorite" gives you a lot of wiggle room, and it's completely impossible to check up on, so any team anywhere in the world is fair game.I would also be happy if it were left at being for the team. That would also give you a lot of leeway.

Unfortunately, the judges didn't leave it at that. They felt the need to explain away any semblance of clarity, as usual. We're directed that must be about the team, which is very different from being for the team. Whatever. I think we safely get a pass on sloppy language. We're not lawyers, after all. While the word "athletes" suggests an athletic competition, there's nothing in the basic challenge that actually requires it to be an athletic team. I suspect there will be discussion on that point that will necessarily include non-athletic subjects.

Then the judges came back with further guidelines stating that fictional teams were OK. I'm puzzled why they did that, but there goes the dam... if fictional teams are OK, the fictional sports must be, too... and they don't even have to be athletic. Taken too far, this is virtually an invitation to ignore the challenge and write whatever you want. I'm surprised that most of us stuck as closely as we did.

I'm going to pretend that there is a line to draw somewhere. For our own part, we understood that we were being challenged to write a song for an athletic team to inspire them in an upcoming competition. That's a fight song. We tried to meet the challenge rather than avoid it or explain it away. But that's only our interpretation, and I suspect that others may do what they want without much fear of penalty.

Without further adieu, here's my review of the Round 2 songs (and yes, I realize that they're more a discussion about whether we earned disqualifications. I like all your stuff, folks):

the song player is at the bottom of the page

TurboShandy - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch FC
Sport: Football (Soccer)
Team: Llanfairpwll Football Club

The song is awesome, with great Welsh cultural flair! Oddly enough, I recognized it as soon as I saw the title. I will never again see the name of this town without chanting this song. I'm not sure if this one or Jenny Katz's is my favorite of the round.

Glen Raphael - Gunn High Chess Team Fight! 01:09
Sport: Chess
Team: Gunn High Chess Team

Did you know that Chess is a sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee? Well it is. I like this concept, I like the tune; but I thought the delivery was a little dull. Even if you do think Chess is dull, I like the absurdity of getting excited about it. Besides, I never heard so much trash talk as when I was in a Chess club. This song led me to discover that Chess.com has really improved their website.

Jenny Katz - Load The Cannon, Light The Fuse 01:09
Sport: Football (Soccer)
Team: Arsenal

I love this for sheer uniqueness, and for the classy delivery. It is most definitely a fight song, but it has that patented English reserve. And Jenny managed to work in the "Boom goes the dynamite" meme. It's full of clever lines about gun control and that being in Arsenals sights is "just like living in the USA". hah!
The Middle Relievers - Here's To Joe's 01:13
Sport: Softball
Team: Joe's Bar

I don't know if it's a real team, but that's really not necessary under the rules. This sings like an alma mater. The clinking of the glasses is a very nice touch.    

Brian Gray - Fei Gong! 01:30
Sport: er... uhm... Jian Ai? Can that be a sport? And does it matter?
Team: The Spring and Autumn Mohist School

Mohism is ancient Chinese philosophy of passivism and impartiality. "Fei Gong" means literally, "No Attack". That makes this something of an "anti-fight song". There's no mention of any particular sport, unless the internal struggle to love impartially is a sport. Then again, the rules were very clear that this round's songs were to be about the team, and they made no mention whatsoever about identifying the actual sport. We'll just assume that the school has some sort of sports team, and this is for them. All things considered, I like the song a whole lot. Whether it's a DQ hinges on what the judges consider to be a "fight song", but I think this is safe.
Steven Wesley Guiles - Minecraft Fight Song 01:28
Sport: Minecraft...?
Team: none
There are a few songs this round that skate around the fringes of disqualification. To be perfectly honest, I think this is the only one that's a clear DQ. Minecraft isn't a sport, much less a team sport. There are team sports that are organized within Minecraft, but this song's not about any of those. Having just written what I did about Fei Gong!, I should point out the distinction between not identifying the specific sport your team is playing, and pointing out unambiguously that your writing about neither a sport nor a team. On the other hand, I can imagine a parallel universe in which Minecraft is real, and therefore is a fictional sport within the letter of that silly judges' ruling.

RC - We Will Bury You 01:51
Sport: Some unidentified field sport: it's probably football, but could be a really violent form of croquet or competitive grave-digging.
Team: The Pittsburg Institute of Mortuary Science Cadavers

I know that the challenge said "your favorite sports team", but the judges sort of threw out that whole "favorite" thing when they decided that it was OK to use fictional teams. While I don't think the Cadavers is a real team, the PIMS (http://www.pims.edu/) is a real place, which makes this song, IMHO. This takes the fight song genre into rock-and-roll. Well done!
Edric Haleen - A Father's Fight Song 01:17 
Sport: American Football (based on context)
Team: The Fighting Dragons
(I'm assuming "of ICA")
Leave it to Edric to pull an internal monologue out of a fight song challenge! Edric wrote a fight song, no doubt about it... He even established the Dragons as his 'favorite' team by way of a 15-year-old shadow. And the fight song he wrote is wrapped up in this larger song that's really about a loving father's concern for his child. Is it "about" the team, as opposed to being about the father, or the child...? Well, yes, the song-inside-the-song is.

Army Defense - 72Dolphins 02:27
Sport: American Football
Team: the 1972 Miami Dolphins

The 1972 Dolphins finished their season undefeated and went on to win the superbowl... to date this is the only perfect season by any NFL team. This song captures some of the flavor of 1970s music (I was there)... then a little under a minute in it sort of just stops being a song in its own right and is a backing rhythm track for a Don Shula interview; this continues for another minute and a half. The problem I have with it for this round, though, is that it's not a fight song. It's victory song, but all the fighting's done, and there's no attempt to stir up the crowd and inspire the team. As nice as it is, it's post-climactic and cleanly misses the challenge. At least it's about sports. ;)

The Chocolate Chips - Indian Cricket Team Fight Song (Win For India​!​) 01:15
Sport: Cricket
Team: India

I was really hoping that someone would do a song about the Indian Cricket team. No foolin'. The Subcontinent is home to some of the most frenetic music on the planet, so I might have been hoping for something more along the lines of Bollywood than a hookah lounge... but I'll take this.

Kevin Savino-Riker - The 12th Man 02:10 
Sport: American Football
Team: The Buffalo Bills (by proxy through their fans)

This is an interesting approach. Any argument about whether it's about the team or the fans is hair-splitting. I think this song would certainly inspire the Bills if they heard it, so it hits the nail on the head. Just as the song's subject matter is a double entendre, so too is the style. It's a march AND a fight song. I like the way it builds, as if the Bills fans were marching down the street toward the stadium, their voices growing as they're joined by others.

Blimp Exhaust - Checkmate! 01:33
Sport: Chess
Team: The Jackson County Chess Team

Here, Blimp Exhaust is playing EXTREEEEEME Chess, bringing that excitement I was writing about earlier. The only real complaint here isn't with the song per se, but with delivery. The flow of the verses seems to be better than that of the chorus. That's easily fixed by contracting "We are" in the first line and moving the stress: "We're the JACKson COUNty Chess Team...". Similarly, "in formation" is rushed, becoming "information", and there's a little vocal awkwardness there that can be fixed with some minor re-phrasing. Not a big deal, and it's a very cool song!

Jerry Skids - Psyche 'Em Out! (The Beers Fight Song) 01:29
Sport: BASEketball
Team: The Milwaukee Beers
This song had to be what the judges had in mind when they modified the challenge to include fictional teams. This one's from the movie starring Matt Stone and Trey Parker. It sounds like an Irish drinking song, which is wholly appropriate for a team called the Beers.

Dr. Lindyke - Cock Fight 01:18
Sport: American Football
Team: The University of South Carolina Gamecocks

I'm not reviewing our own song. Besides there's nothing for me to say that I haven't already said.

Steve Durand - Put Your Mettle To The Pedals 01:48
Sport: Road Cycling (the Tour de France) 
Team: the United States Postal Service Cycling Team
Steve was born for this challenge, and brings his musical arsenal to bear in this period piece. With its frantic pace, telephony vocals, and muted brass, this sports anthem sounds as if it has time-travelled from the 1930s. The doping jokes aren't just tossed in there... Lance Armstrong once led this team. It's a clever reference. This may be Steve's round!
"BucketHat" Bobby - YTCWGWCT 01:11
Sport: Curling
Team: The Yukon Territories' Canada Winter Games Women's Curling Team
This is only the second curling song I've heard... ever. And the other one was from Jonathan Coulton. So when Bobby's pulling out quoted reviews for his album liner, "this reminds me of Jonathan Coulton" should certainly be there. And now it can be.
Ross Durand - Bigger In Texas 01:13
Sport: American Football
Team: The Dallas Cowboys
I love this song! It's about the Cowboys, has that Texan flair, and manages to nail the challenge while staying in Ross' signature style. Best use of the CW genre in a fight song! The only complaint I have is that the drums could be tightened and cleaned up. They get a bit sloppy in the fills, and it's distracting. Great entry!

MC Ohm-I - Let's Go Mets 01:08
Sport: Baseball
Team: The New York Mets
The first time I heard this I thought it sounded cluttered. Then I listened again with headphones and there's a huge difference. With stereo separation it's suddenly clear. I'm really impressed at the amount of work that MC Ohm-I churned out in only two and a half hours! It's a modern, urban interpretation of the fight song challenge for a modern, urban team.

Josh Holober-Ward - Let's Go Ravens! 01:25
Sport: American Football (sort of)
Team: The Baltimore Ravens
This is Josh, schooling us on how to write a football fight song if you don't know a thing about football. There are lots of little purposeful lyrical glitches in here "fumbled the scrimmage", "Powerball" (a lottery), "free throw" (basketball), "Nickelback" (a band). I love the bit about every player being important, although the singer can't think of more than one.


Edric Haleen - ICA School Song (Shadow) 00:55
Sport: Any
Team: the ICA Dragons
It's been a very long time since we've had a long spoken intro from Edric. We're told that this 15-year-old recording "represents the technical heights Edric was able to achieve with Finale 3.1 on his Performa 636cd computer." It's a cute school fight song, suitable for any pep rally, and having the very sensible length of about half of one minute.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Go, Trenton Wolverines! - Boffo Yux Dudes (Shadow) 01:07
Sport: American Football
Team: the Trenton Wolverines
This song goes out to all the Al Bundys of the world. Something tells me that there are a lot more of them than we might expect. The Boffo Yux Dudes deserve a special Green Award for recycling for producing this song on a 15-year-old Performa 636cd computer they scored at a garage sale in Lansing, Michigan.



Joe Covenant Lamb said...

Joe is confused.....
Are Ash and I on the entry or not?
We're not listed on the Spintunes album page...?(Nor me on this page!)

Dave Leigh said...

You're both listed on my Bandcamp page.

You weren't on the safety track, and it looks like Travis didn't update the credits.

You're also both on the song bio page: http://music.cratchit.org/2013/02/cock-fight.html

Ross said...

Thanks for the review. i am happy that the feel came off much as I had hoped for. I agree the snares are loose. In the big scheme of what to spend time on I did not get them tightened up, but also felt it lent to the live pep band feel.

BoffoYuxDudes said...

Dave -

Nice job on the reviews. But I am pissed about Josh's. How could you be that way? Totally unfair.

How can you call Nickelback a BAND?

Brian Gray said...

I'm not happy with my mix. The vocals are too forward, whereas I'd prefer they be more surrounded by the band. But for some reason I just couldn't get all the lyrics intelligible with them set further back. I'll probably get dinged for this in the judging.

Oh, and I've updated the bio to reflect that the song is for the SAMS football team. Hope that clears things up ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review Dave! While the Irish sea separates me from Wales, I think the ease of which I learned how to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch must mean I've got some Welsh blood in me somewhere.
stu (TurboShandy)

Graham said...

@Brian This is a songwriting contest, I won't ding any contestant for choosing vocal clarity over general balance. Indeed, its probably a good idea to do so.

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