I'm not a judge. I have no standing. But I'm going to review this round anyway, and reveal my preferences, too; because that's the kind of jackass I am.
OK, this is tough, because I like all these guys, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm being as critical as possible here, which is quite likely to mask the fact that I like all of these entries. If it sounds as if I'm worst possible take on things, that's probably true, but only because cheerleading is a little less interesting to me today.
First, let's look at what the challenge really says. "Write a protest song in which you try to convince your listeners about something you strongly believe" (that's from Round 3). Round 4 constrains the contestants to the same topic they used in Round 3.
Here they are, ranked in order of my preference, top to bottom.
Ross Durand - Someone's
A few things put Ross' entry on top for me, though Edric's is undeniably more emotional and RC's is smoother production. This, like Ross' previous entry, is the quintessential War Protest. This could easily have been a bad thing, since Ross is supposed to be trying to convince someone of his point, and Hawks are notoriously difficult to sway. But Ross grabs you with a strong, strong beat and an intensely listenable hook that keeps you there for the message. Of all of these songs, This one is the one I would listen to, by choice, most often, while paying attention to the lyrics. These are lyrics and a message that can't be ignored. Then Ross drops napalm in the form of Sierra Durand for the penultimate chorus. "Someone" is an impersonal pronoun: Sierra makes it personal. We can send "someone" to war, but this little girl's dad needs to stay safe at home. By extension I start thinking about the other little girls with dads of their own. This was exactly the right string to pull. The production has a definite "live" feel to it... I could hear this played down at Shady's on a Saturday night with beer, peanuts and a whole lot of whoopin' and hollerin'. I'm a sucker for songs with the human factor.
RC - Get Out Of My Way
I thought that RC's lyrics lacked some subtlety last time. He definitely corrects that here. The shift to first person is always a good choice. RC's no longer telling me about these problems, he's showing them to me, and that makes the difference between preaching and persuading. My quibble is that it may be a bit too subtle here... RC almost misses his own challenge by focusing on general problems rather than inequities (he left himself a really narrow challenge), but this is tenuously rescued by one line: "I hear the schools across town are so much better". Solid production, smoothly listenable and good replay value means that people will hang around for the message. It's possible that the production works slightly against it as a protest, in that it's easy to just sit back and let this tune wash over you without paying much attention to what it says.
Edric Haleen - On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 2)
At first you'd think, yup, Edric poured everything into that and it's a shoo-in... and it may very well be. I know *I* love this song. I was indeed the stereotypical chess-club nerd in the locker. I actually carried a slide rule in a holster... this is the universal bully-sign for "give me a swirly". This song should be punching every emotional button I have. But my logic wouldn't let me be until I understood what was bothering me about it. Who's Edric convincing, and of what? At first it seemed to me like preaching to the choir... the message is just one that doesn't require a lot of convincing. Who disagrees with the statement that bullying is bad? That's when I did an about-face and realized that it's a good thing he put in the talking points at the end, or one could easily driven to despair if one were pre-disposed to that mindset by bullying. That kind of suicidal reinforcement obviously isn't the intended message. On the other hand, "You're special, and don't let those bullies destroy that" would be a great message to convince your listeners of, but unfortunately it's not in the actual song*. This is a song for healthy people who already agree with you. For that group, I think it's very effective as a protest in that it would move those healthy people (especially those who have overcome abuse) into offering help that they might not otherwise, but it's not something that I would recommend be played for someone who is actually suffering from abuse at the present time.
* I know it's possible to have a healthy discussion about whether being on the recording makes it technically part of the song or not, but in my mind, stepping away from the piano and dropping character signals the end of the song, and the beginning of a serious talk that's not part of the song.
MC Ohm-i - If You Were Gay
I'm going to sound like the world's biggest curmudgeon here, which is really sad, because I really, really like MC Ohm-i's stuff. His first stab at gay marriage didn't get me because it had no emotion. This is more of that. Ohm-i is definitely focused on that "convince your listeners" bit, but he's going about it like that annoying guy on the bus who keeps quoting facts and figures at you who you'd really like to steer into a discussion about baseball or sneakers or what kind of onion is best on hot dogs but you can't because you can't get a word in edgewise and why did you have to miss that earlier bus and OH MY GOD you've eighteen more blocks to go and is it possible to cut yourself with a ballpoint pen? OK, I'm exaggerating. My point is that I think this subject goes over a lot better with a first person perspective and a little heart. Between that and the audible "seams" in the sample, I'm left wishing I could justify placing this higher.
(Just an observation: there were a boatload of "gay marriage" songs in the last two rounds. We might have done one ourselves in Round 3 if we hadn't already done the topic, and as a protest song, too. I think I may go ahead and produce it better now.)
And that's all the songs. Yup. Every blessed one.
UPDATE: Someone has pointed out to me that there were shadows this round. OK, many people have pointed that out. And they noticed that there were no reviews of those shadows here. In my defense, I've already posted reviews of every blessed song, which is all I promised. That said here are...
THE SHADOWS! (bum bum BUUUMMMMM!)
Again, a reminder... we were tasked to do another protest song, using the same topic as last time. Since the BYD gave us an anti-PC rant and one against Big Software, that's the target. I think I know what's going to happen here...
Boffo Yux Dudes - Wireless Head (SHADOW)
I immediately like the rhythm and the instrumentation. I also like the song a lot... easily my second favorite BYD song ever (after "FOOT!"). It doesn't meet this challenge, though.
Boffo Yux Dudes - Tear it Down, Build It Up Again (SHADOW)
Err... uhm.... I'm going to argue that this meets the challenge, because it expresses the same sentiment as "Eliminate the upper class / Along with the lower and middle" from Eat the Whales. There. I said it.
Cherry Pi (w/ Boffo Yux Dudes) - Octo Pi (SHADOW)
Err... uhm.... See, it's like this... "Occupy SpinTunes" -> "Occupy" -> "Ocu Pie" -> "Ocu Pi" ("Pi" from "Cherry Pi") -> "Octopus Pie" -> "Octo Pi". That's a long way to go for a misspelled pun, but it's not a protest and doesn't meet the challenge. But it does have Cherry Pi in it, which is something.
Boffo Yux Dudes - Operating System (SHADOW)
HEY! How did THIS get in here?!? It clearly meets the challenge, taking up the same lament as "The Ballad of the Last of the Hackers" from Round 3. I don't know how to handle that.