Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SpinTunes 8 Round 3 Reviews

This was a great round. As a reminder, here's the challenge:
Misleading Melodies - Write a disinformative song with false facts or otherwise confusing information, presented academically. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due Sunday, March 9th 11:59PM)
And here are the songs (with excellent album art, as usual, by Matt Schubbe):

General Thoughts:

The third round of SpinTunes is arguably the toughest. I've noticed that in earlier rounds it pays to "play it safe"... put in a competent song, don't gamble, and you're likely to get through. If you get too risky and innovative early on, then the broad spectrum of society on the judging panel will either love it or hate it, with the result that once the totals are tallied, something merely competent may be ranked above something that's avant-garde.

All that changes in the third round. All but four contestants will get the axe, so for many this round will be "now or never". You've had two previous rounds to get a feel for the judges, and it's time to be as creative and surprising as you possibly can. I think everybody did that this round, so they either know what I just told you or they've simply got great instincts.

The challenge practically demands a novelty song, and everybody pretty much delivered on that as well. Actually, I have hardly any constructive criticism to deliver: it's mostly just praise. Everybody put forward their best effort, which makes it frustrating for those of us (and that's all of us) who had high hopes for the final round.

I've said it before: It would be a pleasure to go down in a round like this.


The Reviews:
(in album order)

Felix Frost - Cloudy 04:01
This is quintessential Felix Frost... rapid delivery, video-game sound, and mechanically perfect timing. It's probably the song I like best out of all his entries. For another lyricist I'd complain that maybe it's a little too random in the lyrics... confusion works best if the listener thinks he knows what's going on. But it works for this song, because that's kind of the point:
No, nothing's gotten cloudy in my mind 
And I'ma stick to the facts, you'll find 
You gotta keep up or stay behind 
because you know I'm not gonna rewind. 

Jenny Katz - Liars Cheats And Weasels 03:16
OK, now this entry is astonishingly dirty pool. It's a pack of lies that's full of pandering, name-dropping, low blows, blatant geek-baiting, and it's filking brilliant. I love it. I think the rest of us weasels do, too.

Jutze - Banjo (Rejected Wikipedia Edit) 02:09
This is an audio joke that's simply great. And Jutze's accented delivery is likewise great. I wish he'd let loose a little more on that "yee-haw!" though. Banjo solo!

Ryan M. Brewer - Jesus Christ's Biographer Gives A Guest Lecture 04:43
This is the only entry I would say didn't really go the novelty-song route. One could even argue that it's allegory or parable as opposed to being strictly "disinformative", and I could easily imagine it played on any Country station near me. Eminently listenable. BTW, big props for pausing the "I" to near-rhyme "smiled".

Edric Haleen - A Brave New World 02:58
Ooooh, Edric Haleeeeen, gettin' all up in yo' face! He plays the disgruntled teacher so well you'd think he had some measure of experience with being forced to present information he finds questionable... or at least that he can solidly imagine it. The rhymes are perfect and lyrics intricate (a real feat considering their expository nature). [song bio][video]

Jailhouse Payback - Maritime Achaeology 03:07
I joked in the listening party about it being "Achy-breakyology" (referring to the typo in the title). That's actually pretty descriptive, I think. This has a really nice beat you can two-step to. It's got a completely different take on the challenge as that taken by everyone else. There's no attempt here to present facts academically to the listener... rather, this happens to characters in the song itself. Interesting and unique. Also eminently listenable. This and Ryan's song are the two that will probably get the most time on my MP3 player after this contest is lost to the dust of history.

Zoe Gray - The Truth About Homeschooling 02:46
When this challenge was announced, I joked that the judges were asking for "HomeSchoolHouse Rock". I'm SO glad that Zoe picked up the gauntlet to tell "The Truth About Homeschooling". Nicely crafted, and a lot of work went into these lyrics. With the exception of "line / trying", the rhymes are perfect, and even that one exception made me smile.

Ross Durand - How To Write A Hit Song 02:55
I was very confused. At first I thought this was Steve Durand, not Ross.
(THAT'S A JOKE! I love Steve! Steve taught me to whistle!)
I also love Ross. And those who just sing may not realize how remarkably difficult it is to sing deliberately, consistently, and repeatably off-key. This was a great audio head-fake.
Update: My kids didn't hear the album until after these reviews were posted. They literally rolled on floor laughing along with this song. And yes, I know what "literally" means. Right at the moment Ross started rapping. Floor. Kids. Rolling. Spasms of the diaphragm that weren't hiccoughs. Poor Mike could barely breathe. For sheer hilarity and entertainment value this song won the round for them. Of course, I can say this now because Ross has already read the reviews. (As for me, Jenny's still got my top spot, followed by everyone else. I'm not judging... I can do that.)
Governing Dynamics featuring @suspiciousden - Because 04:11
I love the laid-back delivery here... it's a nice departure from GD's usual sound. Is that an ebow I hear in the background? Appropriate for the New Age topic. The childlike interjections and backing vocals from @suspiciousden give it the right touch of light-hearted humor.

Dr. Lindyke - A Historical Account Of The Life And Accomplishments Of Abraham Lincoln Of Which Every Word Is True I Swear 05:35
I wrote a song bio, so I'll point you there. And it looks like I did set a record for longest title. I think I should also highlight the fact that Denise Hudson (not to be confused with @suspiciousden, who is much more suspicious) provided my backing vocals, and also provided a bunch of little yells and things that I left in because they just made everything better.
This is a Bolian

Adam Sakellarides - Why The Sky Is Blue 02:23
The Great Greek Geek (G3) weighs in with this mythological tale. It has a little something for the Star Trek fan, for Bronies... even the odd Sesame Street fan (who's probably entered on some offender list). Hell, he even throws in Bill Nye AND some real science! The Doctor approves.

Shadows:

Trader Jack - FreeYourCredit.com (M.A.C.D.) (Shadow) 01:46
This is as avant-garde as it gets. And while I really appreciate it, I just can't listen to it all the way through more than once. It's the percussive popping pointedly piercing my brain. I like the concept, just not the pops. Were this in the contest I think the judges would have a long discussion about whether to DQ it. Not for the pops, but on the basis of "song-ness". Caleb Hines' "speaky" got the same discussion. Admittedly, FreeYourCredit.com is more rhythmic.

Menage a Tune - A Simple Set Of Rules (Shadow) 04:43
The concept ain't bad. "Fizzbin" is the famously confusing card game that James T. Kirk "invented" to distract some Iotian guards in the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action". Kirk's intent was not to teach a real game, but to escape. In this case I think "fandom" overshadowed "songdom" by attempting to describe the whole of the fictional rules. Cut it down to a couple of dense verses with fast delivery; end it with putting one over on the audience, and you're Scotty free. Now beam me up!


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