Saturday, July 13, 2013

SpinTunes #7 Round 1 Review: Ross Durand

You all wrote a song in 10 days based on the challenge to write a song to a toy - therefore you’re all awesome. That having been said, I have signed up for the responsibility of judging and ranking these songs in relation to each other and my tastes.

There are three basic reactions that go into judging, I think. Intellectual, aesthetic, emotional. Some songs I like for these reasons, some I did not like for the same reasons. In my reviews, I say what I like, what I don’t like, and I try to say why and even make some suggestions for improvement - take it or leave it, but one of the reasons is so that if you move on, you can know why I ranked you (and others) the way that I did.

One component of this all was the song in relation to the challenge. Is this a song to a toy. Some of you (including me) wrote about a toy, some from the point of view of a toy. For some there is potential debate about whether what you sang to or about is actually a toy. How I felt about all of this was also a component in my rankings. I’m likely to be more strict on it as the competition proceeds.

The nuance of the rankings is, of course, subjective. But the general sort into top, middle, and bottom was sort of easy for me.

These are just one judge’s opinion, I may be right in the trend, I may be the outlier, but that’s why there are 5 judges, right?

Here we go.

Blimp Exhaust - My Nerf Gun And I
I liked the complete imagery in this one. It spoke true to me as a kid who used to crawl around the backyard with a popgun having imaginary battles. I liked the completeness of the imagery, things like the twix in your pocket, and the ending of getting called in at the end of the day is just a universal kid thing. It’s not really about you and your Nerf gun, it’s really about all of us and our toys.

Riker's Island - Play Doh
I liked that this was a tribute to childhood creativity. The musical spirit matched the lyrical spirit very well. Some of the lyrics were cute, some seemed forced. Although I do my best to focus on the song, presentation can matter. If you move on, I think in future rounds you may want to try to tighten things up. Also, the female vocal performance on this track was weaker than the standard set by the male.

Governing Dynamics - You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out
Although I feel this song is a little too long in the end, I really like this one. I think the dark twist at the end was very interesting and I like songs with multiple dimensions. The imagery and the story unfold very well.

Sid Brown - 8-Bit Skies
This is one that required a little flexibility on interpretation of the challenge. Since this is song is really to Mario the character, not Nintendo the toy. I like the meet again under 8-bit skies imagery. It’s a fun kind of sentimentality that ties together your memory with the environment of the game. Like remembering the ocean beaches where you met a cute girl in middle school. The earnest delivery serves the mood as well. What’s with the tag on the end? unnecessary and knocked it down a notch for me.

Steve Durand - Fireball XL5
If my brother had one kind of toys - it was space toys. I like the kid point of view, but the narrative lyrics in the verse feel a little stiff for some reason. I really like how the music feels 60s style, but also sounds like a heroic tv show theme. Nice hook-ey chorus. Not sure about the change in POV in the bridge, we travel out of the kid perspective for a second and it felt awkward.

RC - Pong Song
I Love that this rhymes with “Thong song.” However I hate the meta song thing. Every once in a while it works (Elton John), but that part of the chorus doesn’t work for me. Pretty catchy. better of the two pong songs. Nice bridge.

Mariah Mercedes - This One’s For Blankie
I like that you sell the blankie in terms of creativity. You seem to be accentuating your vocal affectations - and that doesn’t push my good buttons - just a heads-up.  The chorus is weak compared to the rest of the song. I wish you made more of the potential uses of a blankie in terms of creativity - you really only present the cape thing. My wife remembers thinking that her parents made a mistake upon finding her blankie in the outdoor trashcan!!! eek Good idea, a little boring, and just not fleshed out enough to pay off for me strongly.

Emperor Gum - Guardian
Like a theme song. Not clear what the toy is exactly, at first. I like the sentiment of this - the musical style is a little forced and confusing, but I like the way the bear is a hero to the little boy protagonist.

MC Ohm-I - Furby Life
I like that it seems to be a play on “thug life.” good use of samples. Genre bias alert - rap is not my thing. That being said, you create a lot of fun word play and a good tribute to a classic weird toy. Gets too long when you get to the vocoder bit. Did you get one yet? How about a Furby Life tattoo on your abs?

Edric Haleen - Twenty Years On
Very reliant on a particular context. Technically it is to a toy, but it is really to a newborn son, in a way. A clever and interesting, if obtuse, approach to the challenge. In the end I think the biggest shortcoming of this song is that, based on my own readings of Calvin and Hobbes over the years, this doesn’t sound like Calvin to me.

Glen Raphael - I Like Pong
Not so much about pong as about toys in general with pong as a context. The first person thing bugs me - especially the fact that you mention the song in the song. Cute musical pong device in the guitar between verses. Seems unnecessarily busy - unless that is supposed to highlight the pong theme.

Ominous Ride - Teddy
I’m not sure what to make of this. Is it a joke? Lots of people feel this way about their childhood toys. The style seems overly dramatic in a way that makes it seem like a spoof, but I am left unsure. That ambiguity plays against it for me.

Turboshandy - The Mandatory Retirement Of Action Man
This is boring - but there are some fun lyrical elements and images. Your vocal style is kinda getting to me. That kind of thing doesn’t usually get to me except in your case it sounds slightly intentional, rather than just the nature of your voice. Structurally sound and kinda catchy. But needs more arrangement variation to avoid a feeling of monotonousness. I like the losing your head line. Abrupt ending.

Army Defense - Stretch Armstrong
I had a Stretch Armstrong - I remember when he broke, the goo inside was green.
Not a lot happening here. very little by 1:07. Harmonies seem off (intonation seems like an issue throughout). Another one that I would basically describing as boring. Again some variation in arrangement might help a lot.

Boffo Yux - Super Elastic Bubble Plastic Fabulous Rubber Stretch Man
This seems less like a song to a toy than an excuse to write a “clever” homoerotic novelty song. You got me in my “not my thing” zone. I guess I like how you grow up to be just like the toy and the connection between the childhood feelings and adult outcomes. Nice arrangement - is Cogott still involved at all?

Jasper Lewis - Slinky
I guess you met the challenge as far as having a toy at the center of the song, but this song is not really about toys, is it? I get the classic blues structure - but it has nothing to do with anything. It mighty as well be called Daisy, or Shoe, or planet - except then you couldn’t make the falling down the stairs joke. Except slinkies didn’t fall down stairs - they walk - that’s the whole point, right? Good guitar work

Menage a Tune - Perfect Place
Challenge - met -  took me a while to realize this was about Chatty Cathy and not about the frig. Very interesting idea. Even so, as a song it didn’t work for me, although I think you had an interesting seed.

Niveous - Eat Your Hair
I don’t think I have any idea what this song is about. The chorus tune/harmonies and changes don’t seem to go together. The slide does add to the surreal feel of the lyrical content. I thought the instrumental section was too long. When I thought it was about  a kid eating the toy’s hair, I thought that was more interesting. I may have missed something big here.

The Orion Sound - Turn You On
I don’t really like this very much. I wish I could give some meaningful feedback here, but I feel like it is sort of a one joke song that just doesn’t work, especially for 3 minutes.

Jailhouse Payback - Willie Talk
Very difficult to access on its own merits - couldn’t tell a word the first time through without looking at the lyrics. Not very interesting. Feels like a draft with loud guitars.

Trader Jack - Baseball Cards
I don’t really feel like you met the challenge. You don’t even present the cards as toys, just as an investment. The tune is awkward and forced. The whistling is awkward  - why this style of music for this content? I don’t really like this - sorry.