Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spintunes Round 1: Battle of the Champions (Review)

Ok, having done the challenge of “a song about building something”, it’s now our duty to rank the champions for their own entries, which were written in response to a completely different challenge.
Listin' In: Write a list song about any topic you like.  The song should be in the form of a list, not about a list.
Ideally, we would love to see a “pure” list here. Examples would include “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel; or “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon. Our own foray into this type of challenge was “Harvey Ray”, which is simply a list of 3-letter acronyms, and the listener is free to provide his or her own associations and meaning for the groupings.

Only one champion gave us a “pure” list; but of the remainder, some came closer than others. As usual, my preferences are for hitting the challenge first, and then song value, and then production, weighted in that order of importance. Here are some opinions, such as they are, in descending order.

1. Jenny Katz: Thoughts on Leaving You
Easily Dr. Lindyke's top pick. First of all, it’s the most clearly delineated and organized of the lists. Jenny sorts her thoughts into pros and cons, and it’s a list. Secondly, the list tells a larger story that we piece together for ourselves. Jenny sings about feelings, and we are left to fill in the narrative with whatever events we imagine… and that makes it personal, and better.  I love it when the audience is given something to do with their intelligence. Finally, I could listen to Jenny sing the phonebook. 
And if she had, she might still have done pretty well: it’s a list, too.

2. Matt and Donna: Reasons My Kid is Crying
This title (pardon the expression) cries out for a very listy list. This is sort of a list, but it’s not a very listy one. It’s a succession of questions, which I don't think is “in the form of a list”, as per the challenge. If you say you're going to give me reasons, then tell me the reasons. But with these questions, I don't really know if any of them are truly reasons. It could be none of the above. I know this sounds like sophistry, but we do have a challenge, and we have to rank these somehow. This is ranking high for song and production value, more so than for hitting the challenge. 
It’s a great idea, though… particularly with a baby, every parent has gone through a checklist of things that always seem to happen at once and leads you to run through a list of actions, all necessary: change the diaper, and the wet sheets, feed the baby, burp the baby, where’s the bear, where’s the damned bear?!? It’s wedged between the crib and the wall. That’s where it always is... why didn't you check there first? And when everything else is satisfied, you still have to wake up the other parent, because you're just not the right one to sing the lullaby; and even if you are, you just don’t smell right.  
With older kids it’s the same tune, different lyrics: the nightlight, the monster, the water, the story… and there’s still that same motherf--ing bear.

3. MC Ohm-I: Favorite Games
This has a high degree of “list-iness” compared to other non-Katz entries. And I like that MC Ohm-i tied it up with the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune from The Sound of Music. On the other hand, to my ears, the homage was a bit overdone. As a motif… yeah, go for it. But it needs to be a motif attached to a largely original tune. The rap is good, though it seems there were technical problems with the mix. I don't care much about those.

4. Governing Dynamics: Room Stop Spinning
We've pored over the lyrics, and we're still looking for the list. While it’s true that “all the sentences in War and Peace presented in order of appearance” is technically a list, particularly in Lisp… it’s still not a list for this purpose. Likewise, the lyrics you wrote for some random song about being hungover is not a list. It's a nice song, sure; but it's not really an answer to this challenge.

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