Saturday, December 22, 2018

SpinTunes #15 Winner: ZOE GRAY!

It was TIGHT. It was so tight, I didn't know who was going to win this until the last few votes came in. But Zoe pulled it out, making her a two-time winner.

"Two time! TWO TIME! Woooo!" (thanks Ric Flair)



Here's how the competitors who voted, voted (in alphabetical order):

BandZoe GrayMandiblesThird CatFaster Jackalope
Boffo Yux Dudes1432
Brian Gray1234
Faster Jackalope4231
Good Guy Sôjàbé3241
Governing Dynamics1342
Jocko Homomorphism2134
Lichen Throat1432
Mandibles4132
Menage a Tune1243
PigFarmer, Jr.3241
ShyFox1432
Temnere3142
Third Cat3241
Vom Vorton1243
Zoe Gray1342
Totals30355332

So we have Zoe, then Faster Jackalope, then Mandibles, and finally, Third Cat.

Here's how the judges came down:

Artist/songDave*JoeEdricRyanChumpyMicahTOTAL
Faster Jackalope1132129
Zoe Gray23132110
Mandibles32213311
Third Cat44444420
* my rankings don't matter unless both the contestants and judges tie.


Again, shouts out to all the competitors, to Tom Giarrosso ("Tommy G"), who hosts the listening parties; Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe, who does such a fine job on our album covers; and the fine folks at Song Fight (Spud and Lunkhead) who are hosting us in their Sidefights forum, all of our judges; and of course Travis Langworthy, who started this thing (though this is one time we can safely blame Heather Zink). Merry Christmas all, the very best of whatever holiday you celebrate, and a Happy New Year!

See you in SpinTunes 16!





ST15R4 Reviews: Ryan and Chumpy

As usual, Ryan and Chumpy's reviews are discussed on their podcast, TwoJerksOneVote. This time they're once again joined by Micah Sommersmith!

"Three jerks, zero votes."




ST15R4 Reviews: Joe Lamb

Hi All,

Here we go then...

Zoe: Very well recorded – superb mix vocally.
I found it really hard to get past the over use of “Just” - a dreadful filler word - that seemed to have been used deliberately.
The song itself was lyrically excellent, but it was just too long, and melodically very limited. The last two verses weren’t needed, or, maybe, could have been spread across some of the earlier ones. But six minutes with a very pedestrian melody dropped this near bottom.  3rd

Mandibles: Nice 60’s vibe (maybe it’s my age!). Like Zoe’s, it’s a verse too long.
Recording sounds a bit rough, although I did like it...
Until the end. – it didn’t seem to fit with the bounce of the earlier verses.  2nd

Third Cat – Utterly torn about this one.
Probably the best idea of the 4 entries, but melodically it really dragged for me when it came to the accumulation
And the drinks seemed crow-barred in.    4th

Faster Jackalope – This is pretty much exactly what I would have expected  for this round.
A good song – decent lyric–no pretentions-poppy-song > Simple, well-written verses and a natural, unforced progression.
(Reminded me of early The Who! (A lot!) Great instrumentation, rocking guitar!)   1st


Just a couple of words about the shadows

Micah – kudos for the brass section!

Jocko – I like experimental music... I can’t say I picked up the accumulation – but I’d love to hear a straighter version of this.... (Concept album stuff!)

Vom – Nothing says Christmas like sleigh bells and drunkards!

Brian – This was your best song of the event! Wish it had been an entry

Good Guy Sôjàbé – Feck – that ROCKED!!!!! (‘Down come the teeth of the night’ is a GREAT line!)

Menage – 5 minutes too long – a capella didn’t carry it.

Glen – You would have won!

Glenny - Please re-record (or remix) use this instrumentation and write a ‘normal’ lyric to it.. (or basically rehash this one... I LOVED the tune and the hook of this.)


Cheers all – Merry Christmas!

ST15R4 Reviews: Micah Sommersmith

Now, this is different! Micah sent his reviews and rankings in a cumulative song. He also appears on Jerkatorium's podcast.






ST15R4 Reviews: Edric Haleen

Hello again, Participants!

One final round.  One final infusion of songs.  One final round of congratulations.  And one final infusion of Edric-thoughts.  (Take 'em for whatever you think they're worth . . . 'cause they're worth nothing towards the final rankings.  That's all on all of you this time!)



FINALISTS


Zoe:

A very nice, lovely song, with a couple of high points and a couple of low points.  I liked the idea, the melody, the instrumentation, your delivery, your harmonies -- lots of things.  My quibbles:  It was hard initially to discern the beat and the meter and then, once I did comprehend the structure of the song, the typewriter's rhythm didn't always precisely line up with the beat.  And then, once you started adding whole quatrains at a time, you built up such a head of steam that going back into "delusions of grandeur" (et al.) really pulls things up short for each of the last three iterations.  Perhaps if you had changed the orchestration to keep the eighth notes driving forward, that would have helped a lot.  (And then you still could have pulled it all way, way back for the final coda.)  But all in all, very nice.  One of my top two.  (Not that my rankings matter.)


Mandibles:

A really interesting rhyme scheme!  Listing it in reverse, it's "ABACBDCEDFEG" with everything but the "A" rhyme separated across three lines rather than two.  I will admit that, at the end of the song, I was kind of wishing that you had thrown in one more rhyme . . . linking what's now the "F" and "G" portions (which would also make the whole thing "symmetric").  I liked the song a lot . . . until the tag ending, where the (partial?) switch to major sounded artificial, forced, and awkward.  But still one of my top two.  (Not that my rankings matter.)


Third Cat:

This song seemed a little "thin" compared to the previous two.  Also?  I think it would have been more effective if you had reversed the order of presenting your drinks in each iteration.  As written, it's kind of "inserting" drinks into your evening.  If you always started with your shot of Jack and then added a Tom Collins, a bottle of Cabernet, a couple IPAs and a few Moscow Mules sequentially, we would have felt the "piling on" much more.  This'll end up 3rd or 4th in my rankings.  (Not that my rankings matter.)


Faster Jackalope:

This was the least "additive" of the four finalist submissions, but it did have great production values and I liked the melody, the harmonies, and the orchestration.  (I like I'm missing a larger reference around which the story is being told, but that doesn't detract from my opinion of the song . . . it may just reveal one of my blind spots.)  I was a bit confused by why you decided to change the syllable count for the entire final verse, and force "maybe," "real me," and "kill me" to all sit on a somewhat awkward melisma.  But I thought it was a good, solid song.  Stacked up against the other three, though, it'll end up 3rd or 4th in my rankings.  (Not that my rankings matter.)



SHADOWS


Micah:

Just plain fun . . . and a really nice wrap-up to ST15.  Made me smile.


Jocko Homomorphism:

This was a totally different way to approach the "additive" requirement.  I appreciate the lateral thinking . . . but I didn't really like it.  Because of the way you recorded it, each quatrain is kind of its own little "song."  As a result, once people realize that the song is additive in nature, it kind of forces them to listen to the first "songs" over and over again just to find out what the "new song" is.  The anticipation of the new bit thus kind of devalues the quatrains that proceed it, and cuts against the appreciation factor.  That being said -- given that initial artistic choice, I do like what you did with it in terms of your adoption of noise music and your corruption of the lyrics as the song wanes.


Vom Vorton:

Fun.  The story has an arc which is independent of the additive portion . . . which the additive portion then supports and augments.  And this story also served to make your song more interesting than Third Cat's similar idea of going out and getting smashed.  Nice job.


Brian Gray:

Ambitious and fun.  (But . . . 47 times the speed of light?!)  As your spoken intro (boy, do I miss writing those!) suggests and as your chorus' proficiency with the twisty lyric seems to reaffirm, this seems to be such a well-practiced ritual that I actually fear for the future of this thoroughly-inebriated band of refugees.  But congrats on extending your Gleeble Glorp saga.


Good Guy Sôjàbé:

I'll confess that I did not understand this song, but I did appreciate this song and the work you did composing and recording it.  You have strong production values and a very coherent style.  Thanks for being part of SpinTunes!


Menage a Tune:

Six-and-three-quarter-minutes.  Way too long when up against the Law of Diminishing Returns.  The concept was extremely good, but not enough to justify a pay-off six minutes removed.  Consider this:  Your song is one verse longerthan "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" (which you seem to allude to with your melody underpinning "ranch dressing next!").  People who record/perform "Twelve Days" often try to find ways to either speed up the song or skip over sections . . . and that song always (save for "five golden rings") adds just three beats each time, not a full line or two as your song does.  ("I’ll finish up with chocolate cake, and ice cream on the side/Since I’ve been eating healthy I deserve a small reward" adds at least sixteen beats to your thirteenth verse!)  And when "Twelve Days" finally does end, it doesn't then segue into an attempt to try to tack on one more punchline at the very end.  Perhaps if you had stolen a page from Zoe's book and added whole quatrains (or even stanzas?!) at a time, that would have cut down on the number of verses, the amount of repetition, and the overall running time . . . and might have allowed you to get to the punchline before you risked losing the listener's interest.


Glen:

Another a cappella entry from Glen!  (Is that your thing now for final rounds?)  It was cute and fast-paced with both a serious message and a somewhat silly take on same.  The only thing that really stuck out to me was that the climate might have cause "polar bears to drown" and "kids WHO won't know snow."  But thanks for another fun effort.


Glenny:

Here's the other really interesting rhyme scheme of the round . . . with perhaps an even heavier emphasis on "scheme."  Letting various lines trail off to maintain an AABBCC (etc.) rhyme scheme throughout was something I don't think I've ever come across before.  I'd tip my hat to your lyrical inventiveness . . . but I really don't ever wear hats . . .




Okay -- I'm obligated as a judge to rank these, even though my rankings don't matter.  At this point I'm comfortable putting Faster Jackalope in third place over Third Cat in fourth . . . but I'm still having trouble trying to break the tie at the top.  Gonna take a break and come back to it later with fresh ears . . .




Okay -- I know how I'm going to decide.  I didn't want to just rank Zoe first because her song was more "positive" than Mandibles' . . . that seemed like a pretty capricious metric.  And I was having trouble going "strength vs. strength" because the concepts were both good . . . and while Mandibles' rhyme scheme made my brain really happy, so did Zoe's poetry.  But when I decided to compare "liabilities vs. liabilities," that finally did suggest an "epsilon interval" to my brain.

"My Typewriter and Me" liabilities:  "It was hard initially to discern the beat and the meter and then, once I did comprehend the structure of the song, the typewriter's rhythm didn't always precisely line up with the beat.  And then, once you started adding whole quatrains at a time, you built up such a head of steam that going back into 'delusions of grandeur' (et al.) really pulls things up short for each of the last three iterations.  Perhaps if you had changed the orchestration to keep the eighth notes driving forward, that would have helped a lot."

"The Witching Hours" liabilities:  "I liked the song a lot . . . until the tag ending, where the (partial?) switch to major sounded artificial, forced, and awkward."

One set of liabilities had to do with the recording of the song and perhaps the orchestration of the song.  The other set of liabilities had to do with the writing of a small, concluding section of the song.  And since this a songwriting competition . . . I'm gonna let that do it for me.  If it were up to me, Zoe would win -- by an value of epsilon which might well seem nearly infinitesimal . . . but is nevertheless still a non-zero positive number.

So there you have it -- that's all the "SpinTunes 15" I've got for you all.  Congrats to everyone!  Good luck to the finalists!  Heartfelt thanks to Dave . . . and to Tom . . . and to my fellow judges . . . and to everyone who keeps SpinTunes vibrant and helps ensure its continuing longevity.  (And thanks also to PigFarmer Jr. -- even though he still hasn't gotten back to me about whether he wants to be Matt or Jimmy . . .)

ST15R4 Reviews: Dave Leigh

What a great round! And I think it was a pretty good challenge, too. Thanks to Micah Sommersmith for suggesting it. All in all, a great way to kick off the holidays! Before I do anything else, let me give shouts out to all the competitors, to Tom Giarrosso ("Tommy G"), who hosts the listening parties; Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe, who does such a fine job on our album covers; and the fine folks at Song Fight (Spud and Lunkhead) who are hosting us in their Sidefights forum, all of our judges; and of course Travis Langworthy, who started this thing (though this is one time we can safely blame Heather Zink). Merry Christmas all, the very best of whatever holiday you celebrate, and a Happy New Year!

As a reminder, here was the challenge and the songs:
It Grows On You: Write a cumulative song, in which the verses repeat but with additional material each time through, resulting in longer and longer verses.
An easy example would be The Twelve Days of Christmas. Other examples can be found here:  


There's not much to say in advance of my reviews. Basically, this is primarily a lyrical challenge... BUT... the real trick here is to keep the listener interested until the end of the song. There's a reason that most people who pastiche or parody The Twelve Days of Christmas (including me, in my filk parody, The Twelve Days of the Campaign), "cut to the chase" and find a way to skip many of the verses: the repetition can become tedious. The trick is to make it not so. Twelve Days gets past it by putting the new stuff first, relating it to the verses and zooming through the rest of the list. It becomes a fun game. It also employs tersest verses you'll ever find! "On the xth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." That's it. Then comes what I think of as a cumulative chorus.

Another way to keep interest is to vary the tune, though I don't think anyone overtly went that route (with one notable exception in the shadows).

My thoughts, in submission order:


Zoe Gray: My Typewriter and Me
This is just a really sweet, melancholy song. Lyrically, it's spot-on. Musically, it's perhaps a little too melancholy for everyday listening, but that's not really a problem. The best things in your home often get put aside and pulled out only on special occasions, and you wouldn't eat candy as a meal. Production-wise, I like the harmonies, and I like the typewriter. It's not really employed as an instrument here; it's more of a storytelling device to lend ambience. 

Mandibles: The Witching Hour
Though this is electric and obviously modern, I can't shake the emotional reaction that this song is somehow Dickensian. It's got a feeling that's completely evocative of Victorian-era Christmas carols such as We Three Kings or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and the use of archaisms like "ne'er" and "o'er" only amplifies it. Theme of traveling home likewise amplifies it. It's a really wonderful auditory environment. It would make a great Christmas song, which makes me wonder why the theme is "the Witching Hour". Nevertheless, it is, and it does a good job of evoking that archaic modernism that's prevalent in J.K. Rowling's works. I love this song, but it confuses me.

Third Cat: Feel My Trouble
The verses are short and sweet, but then so is your list. It's not "fun" enough to be a drinking song, and not terribly hooky, though it is listenable. It's a good entry, but won't win the round for me.

Faster Jackalope: Send Me Off
Hands down, Zoe had the best lyrical response to the challenge. But this song... this is the one that sticks in my head. Seriously, it starts with a hook and sets it firmly. As a result, I've spent the entire week singing it in the car and whistling it in embarrassing moments at work. And though the cumulative list is thin, the clever rhymes (ok, Edric... near rhymes)  in the body of the verses pushes it up my list. My black sense of humor even likes the dark twist at the end. BTW, I don't see that as a literal death... it's a perfect metaphorical description of being "friend zoned". In either event, the lyrics are deep. This guy knows that he's not worthy of the relationship. On the basis of an overall pleasurable listening experience and the compactness of its meaning; among the four contenders, this is the song that I look forward to hearing. That's gotta count for something.


SHADOWS

Micah Sommersmith - You Like Me
The CLAPPING GAME! That tells us right off that we're going to hear a fun schoolyard song, and then there it is! I love everything about it! You're doing the one thing that the contestants didn't do: namely, vary the music. Between that and the name-dropping, and the infectious rhythm and interesting instrumentation, there are so many techniques used to keep the listeners engaged. It never gets boring, and never sounds repetitive. And that little smile in your voice in the last line... "You liiiike me!" There's a reason you won Spintunes 14.

Jocko Homomorphism - On the Beach
This is probably the best song I've heard from Jocko. It's experimental, it's quirky. I like it.

Vom Vorton - One Turkey Sandwich
An actual Christmas song in the Christmas season! Nice story, good humor, and thoroughly engaging! This has already migrated onto my permanent Christmas playlist (along with Twangles, the Christmas Squid (obligatory plug)). Though it's not a contender, I think it takes the round.

Brian Gray - The Yeast Song
The most fun drinking song I've heard in years! Tongue-twisting lyrics delivered at full-lung capacity! The song is the game, and that's the way to do it! By the way, to anyone who's reading this: You Lost The Game. Blame Brian. 

Good Guy Sôjàbé - Nightcrawler 
DOWN COME THE TEETH OF THE NIGHT! Bad-ass metal! Almost cinematic in its auditory texture. That's not a mixed metaphor: it's synesthesia.

Menage A Tune - Let's Have Lunch
Kazoo! I actually LOLed. Since this is acapella, I have to imagine pretty much everything, but even given that, it's a bit long. You could have gotten by with just listing the ingredients -- ' broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce...' -- rather than repeating entire lines. That would tighten it up significantly.

Glen Raphael - If the Climate Changes
I can see carolers singing this. But only on the West Coast. ;) 

Glenny - So Alive
Catchy! And very "eighties" in a way.

SpinTunes #15 Round 4 Songs

And here are the songs for the final round! A reminder of the challenge:
It Grows On You: Write a cumulative song, in which the verses repeat but with additional material each time through, resulting in longer and longer verses.
An easy example would be The Twelve Days of Christmas. Other examples can be found here:  


In the final round, rankings are done by all bands who submitted at least one official entry in Spintunes #15. Results will be posted later today.