Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SpinTunes #8 Round 2 Songs

The songs are now available for FREE download, and you can vote for your favorite entries as well. Many of you will be asking friends and family to support you in the popular vote. That's great, but when you do, please ask them to listen to all the songs & vote for their favorites.

Until the round 3 songs are posted I will only allow people to download the round 2 album as a whole. But even after that, PLEASE download the entire album vs downloading just a handful of songs while the contest is on going. BandCamp limits how many free downloads I can give away, and 1 album download counts the same as 1 song download.

You can find the album on BandCamp by clicking the image below:

(Album cover by Matt Schubbe)

- Judges & guest judges need to turn in their reviews & rankings by noon on February 15th (Sat).  That is also when the poll closes for the popular vote.

- Spintown will post the Reviews & Eliminations on March 1st before 11PM (Sat).

- March 2nd 1AM (Sun) - Third Challenge is announced.

If anyone wants to make a VIDEO for their song, I will include it here:

Links Of Interest:
(If I forgot one you've already sent Resend it & I'll post it.)
- A song bio was posted by TurboShandy.
- A song bio was posted by Dr. Lindyke.
- A song bio was posted by Ménage a Tune.
- A song bio was posted by Edric Haleen.
- A cover was posted by Dr. Lindyke. (Marlon Barnes - Teeth #ST4-1)
- A cover was posted by Paco del Stinko. (Inverse T. Clown - Today's The Day)
- A cover was posted by Jutze. (Brian Gray - Just A Dream #ST4-1)
- A review of the round was posted by Dr. Lindyke.
- Some musings from this round were posted by TurboShandy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Round 2 LP & Deadline News

For now you should know:
- There are 18 official entries on the album & 3 shadows. (unless more come in)
- I think I responded to all e-mails (eventually).
- The listening party will be hosted by Tom on U-stream tonight. It's at 8PM.

Listening Party Location: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spintunes

Deadline Eliminations: Spencer Sokol - The Orion Sound - Trader Jack

There will be 5 more judges eliminations to make this round. Good luck.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

SpinTunes #8: Round 2 Challenge

Disdain In The Refrain - Write a hate song about someone. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due by Sunday February 23rd 11:59PM)

Submitting Entries: - Entries must be received by the given deadline. Otherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. Received means that it has to appear in my e-mail inbox by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail in my inbox. PLEASE do not wait until the last hour to send me something. If there is a blackout in your area, your computer crashes, or your dog actually eats your thumb drive...I will not care. You are allowed to send in a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens & you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song & send in a better version closer to the deadline. 1 minute late is still late, people.

- Send your file in a format that Bandcamp accepts. (.aiff, .wav or .flac) (at least 16-bit/44.1kHz) You can find the specific requirements for Bandcamp files HERE.

- Name your file the song's title, but without spaces & punctuation.

- Title of the e-mail should be the title of the Challenge & your band's name.

- Include the song lyrics in the body of the e-mail. (If your song doesn't have lyrics...consider yourself eliminated. Instrumentals can be pretty, but SpinTunes does require lyrics.)

- Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collabed with someone.

- If you have a BandCamp account, you can just send me a link to your song on BandCamp if you include all the info I mentioned above. Make sure you have it set as a free download, and have it set so that I don't have to put in an e-mail to download it if you pick this option. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!

- Other file sharing options if you need them: YouSendItSound Cloud & Drop Box. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. Please follow directions so your file doesn't wind up in my spam or trash folder accidentally.

Side Notes:

- Remember that you are allowed to send in a little background about your song. Some people don't like to do that, and you don't have to, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. Some judges will look at the lyrics & this extra info, but they aren't required to.

- If you didn't sign-up in time to compete in SpinTunes #8, you can still complete the challenge & send in a song. It'll be uploaded with the other entries as a "Shadow Song". Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests.

- The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.

- Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Totals

Here are the links to your reviews:

Official Judges:

Guest Judges: Max Finsettler
Alternate Judge's Review: N/A

You can listen to all the wonderful songs from this round by checking out the free album HERE.

The 8 names in bold have been eliminated from the competition, but I hope we have 8 new people shadowing the next round.  Even if you want to shadow older rounds of SpinTunes, I'll still put your song on the newest album so that it's listened to & played at the LP.

Feel free to check for mistakes in my math...as always.

(Daniel) (Paul) (Katharina) (Joe) (David) (Max)
Edric Haleen - 29 - 18 - 29 - 21 - 27 - 26 (150)
Sara Parsons - 12 - 28 - 11 - 29 - 28 - 29 (136)
Governing Dynamics - 23 - 25 - 24 - 14 - 29 - 17 (132)
TurboShandy - 14 - 24 - 18 - 24 - 21 - 27 (128)
Dr. Lindyke - 22 - 22 - 27 - 22 - 9 - 22 (124)
Ryan M. Brewer - 18 - 5 - 28 - 20 - 24 - 28 (123)
Ross Durand - 15 - 29 - 10 - 26 - 19 - 12 (111)
The Orion Sound - 28 - 17 - 21 - 5 - 18 - 19 (108)
Jutze - 20 - 14 - 26 - 28 - 13 - 5 (106)
Brian Gray - 11 - 27 - 25 - 16 - 1 - 25 (105)
Felix Frost - 13 - 19 - 9 - 25 - 23 - 16 (105)
Caravan Ray - 21 - 26 - 20 - 11 - 26 - 1 (105)
Jailhouse Payback - 16 - 23 - 7 - 19 - 17 - 14 (96)
Zoe Gray - 26 - 12 - 15 - 15 - 6 - 21 (95)
Trader Jack - 27 - 13 - 23 - 3 - 12 - 15 (93)
Jenny Katz - 3 - 21 - 8 - 23 - 25 - 7 (87)
T.C. Elliot - 7 - 20 - 12 - 4 - 15 - 24 (82)
Spencer Sokol - 5 - 15 - 22 - 12 - 4 - 23 (81)
James Young - 6 - 16 - 6 - 18 - 16 - 13 (75)
Adam Sakellarides - 10 - 8 - 14 - 13 - 11 - 18 (74)
Army Defense - 2 - 9 - 4 - 27 - 22 - 8 (72)
Taylor R - 8 - 10 - 13 - 8 - 8 - 20 (67)
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 17 - 4 - 16 - 9 - 10 - 9 (65)
Ominous Ride - 4 - 7 - 5 - 17 - 20 - 11 (64)
Hudson And Day - 24 - 3 - 17 - 6 - 3 - 3 (56)
Dex01 - 19 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 14 - 10 (50)
Sid Brown - 9 - 6 - 19 - 1 - 5 - 6 (46)
Wait What - 25 - 1 - 2 - 7 - 7 - 2 (44)
Menage a Tune - 1 - 11 - 1 - 10 - 2 - 4 (29)

Daniel Calwell:
Edric Haleen - 29
The Orion Sound - 28
Trader Jack - 27
Zoe Gray - 26
Wait What - 25
Hudson And Day - 24
Governing Dynamics - 23
Dr. Lindyke - 22
Caravan Ray - 21
Jutze - 20
Dex01 - 19
Ryan M. Brewer - 18
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 17
Jailhouse Payback - 16
Ross Durand - 15
TurboShandy - 14
Felix Frost - 13
Sara Parsons - 12
Brian Gray - 11
Adam Sakellarides - 10
Sid Brown - 9
Taylor R - 8
T.C. Elliot - 7
James Young - 6
Spencer Sokol - 5
Ominous Ride - 4
Jenny Katz - 3
Army Defense - 2
Menage a Tune - 1

Paul Potts:
Ross Durand - 29
Sara Parsons - 28
Brian Gray - 27
Caravan Ray - 26
Governing Dynamics - 25
TurboShandy - 24
Jailhouse Payback - 23
Dr. Lindyke - 22
Jenny Katz - 21
T.C. Elliot - 20
Felix Frost - 19
Edric Haleen - 18
The Orion Sound - 17
James Young - 16
Spencer Sokol - 15
Jutze - 14
Trader Jack - 13
Zoe Gray - 12
Menage a Tune - 11
Taylor R - 10
Army Defense - 9
Adam Sakellarides - 8
Ominous Ride - 7
Sid Brown - 6
Ryan M. Brewer - 5
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 4
Hudson And Day - 3
Dex01 - 2
Wait What - 1

Katharina Bordet:
Edric Haleen - 29
Ryan M. Brewer - 28
Dr. Lindyke - 27
Jutze - 26
Brian Gray - 25
Governing Dynamics - 24
Trader Jack - 23
Spencer Sokol - 22
The Orion Sound - 21
Caravan Ray - 20
Sid Brown - 19
TurboShandy - 18
Hudson And Day - 17
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 16
Zoe Gray - 15
Adam Sakellarides - 14
Taylor R - 13
T.C. Elliot - 12
Sara Parsons - 11
Ross Durand - 10
Felix Frost - 9
Jenny Katz - 8
Jailhouse Payback - 7
James Young - 6
Ominous Ride - 5
Army Defense - 4
Dex01 - 3
Wait What - 2
Menage a Tune - 1

Joe "Covenant" Lamb:
Sara Parsons - 29
Jutze - 28
Army Defense - 27
Ross Durand - 26
Felix Frost - 25
TurboShandy - 24
Jenny Katz - 23
Dr. Lindyke - 22
Edric Haleen - 21
Ryan M. Brewer - 20
Jailhouse Payback - 19
James Young - 18
Ominous Ride - 17
Brian Gray - 16
Zoe Gray - 15
Governing Dynamics - 14
Adam Sakellarides - 13
Spencer Sokol - 12
Caravan Ray - 11
Menage a Tune - 10
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 9
Taylor R - 8
Wait What - 7
Hudson And Day - 6
The Orion Sound - 5
T.C. Elliot - 4
Trader Jack - 3
Dex01 - 2
Sid Brown - 1

David Ritter:
Governing Dynamics - 29
Sara Parsons - 28
Edric Haleen - 27
Caravan Ray - 26
Jenny Katz - 25
Ryan M. Brewer - 24
Felix Frost - 23
Army Defense - 22
TurboShandy - 21
Ominous Ride - 20
Ross Durand - 19
The Orion Sound - 18
Jailhouse Payback - 17
James Young - 16
T.C. Elliot - 15
Dex01 - 14
Jutze - 13
Trader Jack - 12
Adam Sakellarides - 11
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 10
Dr. Lindyke - 9
Taylor R - 8
Wait What - 7
Zoe Gray - 6
Sid Brown - 5
Spencer Sokol - 4
Hudson And Day - 3
Menage a Tune - 2
Brian Gray - 1

Max Finsettler:
Sara Parsons - 29
Ryan M. Brewer - 28
TurboShandy -27
Edric Haleen - 26
Brian Gray - 25
T.C. Elliot - 24
Spencer Sokol - 23
Dr. Lindyke - 22
Zoe Gray - 21
Taylor R - 20
The Orion Sound - 19
Adam Sakellarides - 18
Governing Dynamics - 17
Felix Frost - 16
Trader Jack - 15
Jailhouse Payback - 14
James Young - 13
Ross Durand - 12
Ominous Ride - 11
Dex01 - 10
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 9
Army Defense - 8
Jenny Katz - 7
Sid Brown - 6
Jutze - 5
Menage a Tune - 4
Hudson And Day - 3
Wait What - 2
Caravan Ray - 1

Popular Vote:
Zoe Gray - 31
Brian Gray - 23
Ryan M. Brewer - 14
Menage a Tune - 11
The Orion Sound - 10
Hudson And Day - 9
Felix Frost - 8
Dr. Lindyke - 8
Ominous Ride - 8
TurboShandy - 7
Sara Parsons - 6
Ross Durand - 6
Jenny Katz - 5
Jailhouse Payback - 4
James Young - 4
Caravan Ray - 4
Edric Haleen - 4
Dex01 - 3
Jutze - 3
Adam Sakellarides - 3
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 3
Wait What - 3
Army Defense - 2
T.C. Elliot - 2
Trader Jack - 2
Sid Brown - 2
Taylor R - 2
Spencer Sokol - 2
Governing Dynamics - 2
(92 total votes)

Spintunes #8 Round 1 Review: Max Finsettler

Preface:  At the time of writing these reviews, I'm not feeling well. Thus, they're not going to be necessarily amusing or deep, and for that, I apologize ahead of time. If I don't give enough input or you have questions about anything I say, hit me on twitter @SammyKablam.

Sara Parsons - Sara Parsons thinks I'm a gigantic douche. That does not have any effect on the fact that this is a great fucking song.

Ryan Brewer - Ah, the sound of Bruno Mars...if Bruno Mars wasn't a trite, soulless moron. I really hope this is how you make your money.

TurboShandy - I like all three melodies in this, and they switch from one to the other very nicely. Your lyrics are clever as shit, by the way.

Edric Haleen - I don't think I've witnessed this many cameos outside of an episode of Old SChool Raw. Kudos on having so many friends. However, I'm pretty sure Governing Dynamics has firm legal grounds to sue you for Depressing Ass Song gimmick infringement.

Brian Gray - Hey, look, someone didn't write the song that everybody wrote. Kudos. And yes, I'm sure doing a lone voice makes it feel all sobering and whatnot, but finish your fucking studio already. 

T.C. Elliot - This sounds a bit Chili Pepper-ish, which isn't great for my taste. That said, I spent 3 years stuck in my house with agoraphobia, so this resonated quite a bit. Given that 90% of people still don't understand what mental illness is, it's always nice to feel like someone understands a bit. Yeah, this is more personal than most ratings, but there it is.

Spencer Sokol - Hey, a minimalist performance where minimalism works perfectly.

Dr. Lindyke - I feel bad rating this song so low, because I can't say there's anything especially wrong with it. I just believe other songs were better. Why? 'Cause I know. Granted, "knowing" and "believing" are kind of entirely different concepts, but you get what I mean...apparently.

Zoe Gray - This is kind of terrifying. I feel like you're about to lose your mind and murder a family, taking their places with your various personalities, living in their blood-soaked home until the authorities come storming in. I may need to have a talk with Brian...

Taylor R - This musical arrangement is top notch; easy to follow, without being redundant and complex enough to keep the listener involved. The scenario is simple enough to relate, but the lyrics aren't entirely predictable. If your vocals were sharper and the recording a bit louder, I'd likely rate this higher. As it is, it has great potential.

TOS - That seemed like a lot of work, and it didn't scrape any barrelbottoms. I am thoroughly impressed.

Adam Sakellarides - Points off the bat for "futzing" and "svelte". I like the drums and the piano, but I feel like the fuitar is just too much for this song. Just feels like it's butting in as opposed to being part of the composition. I do like the concept and the lyrics, though.

Governing Dynamics - The most depressing song I've ever heard -- and it's by Governing Dynamics?!  That seems a bit out of character.

Felix Frost - You are still insane, but you sound like the lithium has been working.

Trader Jack - I get it. It's an amusingly weird performance piece. And I immensely appreciate doing something different, since it's obvious how most people will take this challenge. But let's be honest: I'm not gonna be rocking out to this on my way to work.

Jailhouse Payback - Eugene sounds like a dick.

James Young - this song is just too slow for so much lyrical repetition. Slow songs can be perfectly fine, but they need something to keep the listener engaged, and having big chunks of the words on repeat isn't gonna do the trick.

Ross Durand - Wow. This sure is the happiest song about alzheimer's disease I've ever heard. What the fuck? I'm rating it this high because the production is decent. I"m rating it this low, because what the fuck.

Ominous Ride - This nearly perfectly captures the tones of this challenge in great lyrics and somber-but-not-boring music. Definitely a radio song without being regurgitated pop trash. That said...it immediately triggered the thought of "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica, and I fucking loathe Metallica. I can't...I don't even know how to express the level of loathing I hold for that band of self-righteous cunts. You've written a damn good song, don't believe otherwise; but it sounds like someone I want to die, so I can't rate it very high. It's my problem, not yours.

Dex01 - This was the least bad thing I think I've heard from you. As soon as you can, you've got to get a studio mic or something to help your vocals clean up. On the upside, this is very pop song style repetative in lyricism, but I also fucking hate pop songs. On the upper side, it's also pretty energetic, which makes the song sound sad but feel hopeful and possibly determined. That is a healthy combination.

BYD - Well. This certainly is a BYD song. See, he's a hitman in love with his target, and he can't quite bring himself to shoot her. So, he's missing her...with gunfire. He's shooting at her with bullets, but he pulls away at the last second, so he's missing her. But also, he can't be with her romantically, because he's supposed to kill her. So, he's missing her, emotionally, when he's not...you know...aiming at her with his sniper rifle. It's a play on words, guys. Come on.

Army Defense - I have no idea what I just listened to. It was certainly a thing, but what the thing was supposed to sound like or say, I really don't know.

Jenny Katz - This sounds like something Prince's jaded lttle sister wrote for her album "Let's Sell Some Designer Things". I appreciate the poetry, but bleeegh on the sound of jazz having the flu.

Sid Brown - The vocals seem afraid to exist. The music picks up, and the vocals just never quite do. Also, while this fits the challenge enough, it just feels underwhelming. That feeling might be connected back to the unsure vocals, but I dunno. Just feels imbalanced.

Jutze - THis is entirely TOO happy. THe music sounds like Jutze is skipping throught cobblestone streets and waving at happy farmers and bakers in the quaintest village of all. I"m not quite sure the music works with the lyrics -- unless the lyrics are immensely sarcastic, in which case, I love it, but it wouldn't quite fit the tone of the challenge.

Menage a Tune - Too long, too slow, too empty.

Hudson And Day - What?  A Hudson and Day song with vocals that sound comically bad? WEIRD! This would probably good if I could hear it without...well, without hating it.

Wait What - Fuck, you are awful.

Caravan Ray - This is an amusing little diddy. It's refreshing to have a funny song in the mix of all the depression -- intentionally funny, I mean, not like "Wait What" lack-of-awareness funny.  That said, the singer of this song doesn't actually miss the person, I think that's reasonably clear, and missing the person was kind of the point of the challenge. THus, while I genuinely do like the song, I kind of have to eliminate it.

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Review: Joe "Covenant" Lamb

Hey all....
So, what am I looking for in a song?
Why should you care?
Seriously, I have had this discussion a few times during these kind of things... I am a judge, yes, one of a handful, and we all doubtless like different things about different songs, or else what’s the point? Want a tip? DO NOT TRY TO WRITE SONGS “FOR THE JUDGES”... write a song that YOU want to write, for YOUR sake, and to YOUR tastes... You may surprise everyone... you may surprise yourself!
Okay adverts over...
Here’s how I do these things. I listen to the songs ONCE. Why? Because this is a contest. And almost any song, if listened to enough times, will grow on you. And in most other contests, you get ONE shot. So, I base most of my deliberations on my first listen through, making notes as I go. I then whittle those notes down to the bare minimum for sending in... Why? Because no-one really wants to read a treatise on “why your song failed! (for me)”
As will no doubt be shown, other mileage will vary, m and those I have further down the list will appear in higher positions in others (and vice-versa!)
I do NOT read the bios, because unless a song is supposed to be based on a solid premise or phrase etc, then everything that needs to be known about the song should be IN the song.
To me VOCALS are important! I get that some may be amazing musicians but can’t really carry a tune. (Personally I think I have the reverse problem!) RECORDING is important! MIXING is important! Yes, this is a song contest – but all of those elements make the song what it is. And if I can’t hear it – I can’t vote for it. (The irony being, one of the most basic of recordings is my top pick!)
So – now that Joe Covenazi Lamb has had his little rant.... Here’s the listing in order of preference.
Sara Parsons - Will someone PLEASE get this woman into a REAL studio? This song appears to have been recorded in one take, with live singing and guitaring going on simultaneously. Good lyric, great voice, decent recording... but what could this song be with some BVs/Double tracking!? I like this one a lot.
Jutze - This song reminded me of the 'Seekers'.. now, being an old bugger, I kinda LIKE the Seekers. This one had me dwelling on a few things... One Jutze sings a lot better in English than I ever could in German! Secondly, the song rolled along really well. I did think it was very cliché ridden - BUT (and I may be wrong) I am taking it that it was meant to be cliché ridden! So, not too many points deducted for that. Solid poppy tune.

Army Defense - Bad production let this one down. I really wanted to place this song first, but couldn't due to the way the vocals came across. One of the first things I learned about recording is that if you are double tracking your own voice, you have to work like hell to get them as near to exact as possible. Same with a harmony that is running parallel with the main vox. Great song... fix the vocals and it could be brilliant.

Ross Durand - Yeah... This is a clever little song. Lyrical content very good. Bouncy but also poignant.

Felix Frost - The production on this song was incredible. Voice? Pretty Damn groovy... The song itself... I dunno, it sort of felt like it was trying too hard?

TurboShandy -This was a decent enough song, but for some reason it felt a lot longer than it actually was!

Jenny Katz - Jenny gives a stand-up performance here, lyric is good, but the song itself feels very one-paced to me. I don't think the instrumentation lent itself to this one at all. Although, oddly, I didn't dislike the instrumentation... just not for *this* song. (Wondering what could be done with an instrumental version of this one!)

Dr. Lindyke - Elton... I mean, Dave shows up with a steady number... but a bit too steady, If it lost a verse from the start and get to the build a little quicker, and then lost a verse from the end.... a good song, but too long to make a sharp and fast impact. (The chorals worked in the opening, but seemed to jar during the multi instrument sections.)

Edric Haleen - Well, DarkEdricizDark... Many expletives (required?) but not marking down for that. This song would have been a very good "middle act, building to dénouement" section in a sung-through musical. But does it make it for a song contest? Sadly not.

Ryan Brewer - If this song had real drums it would be pretty sweet. The TSSSHHH of those things really put me off placing this track VERY high.

Jailhouse Payback - A good workhorse of a song - give it a more of a kicking guitar solo and it would raise it quite a bit.

James Young - This song is placed right beside Jailhouse payback as, I think their song was a little better, but lacked a good solo, James song was just a little behind theirs but had a very 'good' solo! (Swings and roundabouts, people, swings and roundabouts!) ;' )

Ominous Ride - Well... this song took me from Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" back through to late 60's Pink Floyd. But it was too.... 'odd' to really make an impact. Was this recorded live(ish) as some of the timing seems out!?

Brian Gray - Decent Song, nice lyric, but the overall package comes over as being a little bit weak...

Zoe Gray - I wanted to like this, I really did, but something indefinable just turned me away from it. Zoe has a great voice, lyric seemed fine, it just didn't grab me at all.

Governing Dynamics - Travis pulls out all the stops right from the off with this one... which is where the song falls down. It doesn't have anywhere to go and seems to flounder as it goes on. A good song, but musically seemed a little directionless. (Or too many directions!)

Adam Sakellarides - This was a fine, middle of the table song. Can't find much to say about it unfortunately.

Spencer Sokol - This was a nice enough tune, nice enough sung and nice enough played and nice enough recorded. It was nice enough.

Caravan Ray - Well... If Alanis Morrisette ever wrote one of her "list of things" songs that was throw-away and slightly humorous, it might be something like this... Best line? "Punch in the face"... Adventurous? Not really. Clever? Not really, but oddly catchy (And that's what it's all about.) Not enough to make it top ten though.
Ménage a Tune - (Or Menage a Un for this one!?) Well, for accapela the voice has to be pristine. I don't think I'm being cruel saying that this wasn't. However, the song itself did indeed sound as if all it needed was either a harmonic voice, or some backing instruments. Again, bad production doesn't help put over this kind of thing. (I understand the limitations, but that doesn't help to alter the finished product) And again, suffers from appearing to be over-long. (Maybe down to it being acapella?)

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Well guys, this one ran through my head almost without stopping... it didn't grab me at all, but I didn't dislike it, just didn't make much of an impact.

Taylor R - Another example of the lack of actual tune detracting from everything else. I couldn't. This is the only song I played twice as I zoned out during its first listen.

Wait What (the Band) - A pretty good idea ruined by crassness. Had this been layered in innuendo and subtlety this could easily have won this round for me. But as it stands, nope, just a stream of invective with no real entertainment value.

Hudson And Day - I think the title of this one says it all. I am going to assume that there was a problem with the recording because at times both of the vocalists appeared to be singing through a telephone... with a bad line... in a wind tunnel. I couldn't hear this song to rank it. But it's still better than some of the ones I could.
The Orion Sound - Hmmm... Well, no-one can accuse me of not liking "quirky", but 'this' quirky didn't work for me at all.
Trader Jack - Well, personally, I do not think this meets the challenge. A stream of consciousness is fine and well, but just throwing in the line "I miss you" doesn't make the song fit the challenge. And to be honest, not much of a song either. Would always have been placed on the bottom rungs of this one, but placing last as I don't think the challenge was met. THAT SAID - I LIKE TJ's voice! (Kinda like Emo Philips and Woody Allen's love child... dreaming... on acid...) If this style could be made a little more solid and not so random then I feel it could give some very decent results!
T.C. Elliot - Sadly, again, there may be a good song in here, but the recording and/or mix of it just slaughtered it.

Dex01 - There may be a really good song under these power chords, but it couldn't let itself be found. I'd love to hear this one re-worked.
Sid Brown - Sorry Sid, this was just bad.

Heather MIller(s) - Had this been in the contest I am fairly certain it would have gone through to the next round.

T.C. Elliot(s) - TC- should have taken the time you took to do this one in polishing your actual entry.

Andy Glover(s) - Again, shame this was a shadow as I feel it would have made it through.

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Reviews: Daniel Calwell

Dex01 - Monster
I really enjoy how your voice works with this particular genre. I especially enjoy the layering you did to create some nice harmonies. The final moments of the song could not have been done better. It was a perfect ending. My only critique is that the instruments overpowered the vocals just a little too much. Other than that, the song as a whole fit the theme really well, and it was executed extraordinarily. Nice work.

TurboShandy - Torchbearer
Listening to this song made me want to attend some kind of music festival. It almost gave me a kind of Sublime-y impression. Those are good things, by the way. I really enjoyed the lyrics and the images that you created through them. The word “torchbearer” is cool as hell, and your use of it was nifty. Overall it was really well done, and I have zero negative things to say about it.

Felix Frost - Cat’s Eye
I picture myself walking down a dark city street to this song while it’s snowing. Maybe I just went through emotional stress or something. The thing I liked best about this song is that it didn’t remind me of any other song. I could hear possible influences, but I didn’t think to myself: “Hey, this sounds like ________!” I also enjoyed the layering you used with your voice, and the effects you put on it to make it sound almost ethereal. When I first played through this song (after the Listening Party) I almost thought it was going to be too repetitive. However, the song goes into this, almost, 8-Bit type bridge. Good stuff. I have no critiques or negative comments to make about this one. Good job.

Jutze - Nancy (Please Don’t Go)
I relate to this song. I was in love with one of my teachers… Anyway,  I enjoyed this song. The guitar parts featured in this song were excellent. They made me want to dance. I think your voice lost power simply due to how quiet it was in comparison to the rest of the instruments. Other than that, it was great. Good work.
Jenny Katz - Secret Love Life
This song kind of makes me sad. The “what ifs” in life are tough to deal with. I enjoyed the song though. It’s very catchy and melodic, without being too repetitive or bland. Nice work.

Dr. Lindyke - Why
I really, REALLY liked this one. That piano is beautiful (reminded me of some of the music from the show LOST), and the layering of the “ahs” under the main vocal part is excellent. When the song picks up, I start dancing in my seat a little bit. I have nothing negative to say. Splendid work.

Sara Parsons - Guild
You have a very lovely voice. The lyrics in this song kick butt. “I can’t with good conscience say I tried.” really stood out to me as being phenomenal. Good work.

Caravan Ray - Missing You
It goes without saying that these lyrics are awesome. “I miss you like a bullet misses a Kennedy” was probably my favorite. (Does that mean I’m a morbid person?) The different vocal parts featured were also superb. Good stuff.

Ominous Ride - When I Lost You
This is a really beautiful tune. You have an extremely good handling on lyric writing. My only critique would be that it is a tad difficult to hear and understand you throughout most of the song. Other than that, it’s great. Nice work.

Brian Gray - The Child I Left Behind
When I first heard this one in the listening party, I wasn’t a fan of the acapella. The more I listened to it, the more I enjoyed it. It wouldn’t have the same powerful effect if music were added under the vocals. The lyrics are great. Good job.

Edric Haleen - On the Matter of Bullying (Part 3)
Jesus, this was incredible. I don’t know what to really say about this one other than that you actually made me cry. You should write a musical. Broadway needs someone with your talent.

Ryan M. Brewer - Burn Out or Fade Away (PSH)
You have a great voice. Some of those higher notes are awe inspiring. As a bass, I envy you. The lyrics, melody, and production quality are all great. Nice work!

Army Defense - Phil And Don
First of all, this particular style of music is great. I don’t know what it would be classified as, but I dig it. With this song, however, I feel like there is a little too much going on. There are some moments where it all comes together and it feels complete, but at other times I feel like stuff isn’t connected. That last moment of vocal harmony is great, though. Overall, I enjoyed it. Good work.

Jailhouse Payback - Hey Eugene
I love the title of this song, so I was enjoying this track right off the back. As I guessed, the quality of the title was met with the same high-quality in the song itself. Good work.

Ross Durand - Sitting Right Here
This song made me happy-sad. I really enjoyed how upbeat the music was, but the lyrics bummed me out. They were great, they just bummed me out. My Great Aunt had alzheimers so I can relate to the things you were talking about in the song. Good job.

The Orion Sound - Without You (A Valentines Stalker Song Sequel)
Oh man, this was great. I enjoyed every second of it. You have a great voice and so does Microglitching. The harmonies you guys did made me melt. Excellent, excellent, excellent song.

James Young - Never Coming Home
You have a very interesting voice. I like it. I also really enjoyed the moments where just the guitar was playing. It’s a very peaceful, relaxing song. Good work.

Zoe Gray - Ginger Twins
This song was awesome. Your voice is incredible for someone so young. Your use of volume dynamics create something really powerful. Plus, it’s about Fred and George Weasly which makes it even better. Keep up the good work.

T.C. Elliot - Broken Mind
You can really play the guitar, man. I really have nothing to say about this one -- it was really just great overall. Good job.
Trader Jack - Doom Dah
I must have listened to this song a million times. It’s just great. Your voice, I feel, was made to make music like this. Well done.

Adam Sakellarides - Right Place, Wrong Time (Time Traveller)
The lyrics and story of this song are great. It gets just a little too repetitive at the beginning of the song, but after that it maintains a good balance. Good work.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Dead Wrong
The music in this one reminds me of the music from older MMORPGs. I dig it. At some points in the song your voice sounds great, at other points you get a little flat. It wasn’t so big of a deal that it ruined the song or anything. Other than that, good job.

Menage a Tune - The Box Feeling
You have a lovely voice. I did not enjoy the acapella aspect, however. This song could’ve been 10x better if it had just a little accompaniment. The story and lyrics are beautiful, though.
Sid Brown - Who You Used To Be
This is a catchy tune. I got a Blink-182 feel from it. My only suggestion would be to bring up your voice so that it isn’t overpowered by the music. Good stuff.

Taylor R - Missing You
This was a good song. It had a lot of really powerful vocal moments. It’s also catchy as hell. Good job.

Spencer Sokol - Burdens
You’ve got a really pleasant voice. There was a little bit too much background noise. I don’t know how much control you have other that, but it got a little distracting at points. Other than that, it was nice.

Wait What - Without You Here
This song speaks to me on spiritual level. I think the best part of this song is the background singers. “yeah, yeah, yeah!” The chorus is wonderful. Excellent job.

Governing Dynamics - Song To Stay Awake (700 Miles)
Your voice is incredibly soothing. I could imagine myself falling asleep peacefully to it. This song was incredibly well done. I feel like a lot of time and effort was put into it. I have nothing negative to say. Good work.

Hudson And Day - I Tried, Okay?
This song was freakin’ beautiful. Every aspect of it appealed to me for one reason or another. You have a lovely voice. Good job.

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Review: David Ritter

Song To Stay Awake (700 Miles):
Ah Yes.... Very nice!!!! This is going to sound silly but the bass drum at the beginning had me captivated.  Very cool guitar lines.  Then the voice came in -- very cool voice!  Very cool lyrical content.  Watch it on the higher register vocal lines- you might be able to add some harmonies in there or doubling to help out.  Very good!!!!  4.8
This is a really nice song - it had me from the start.  I would like to hear the mix being more fine tuned.  Super nice guitar playing & vocals. The song itself trumps the recording/mix. Nice!!!!  -- 4.7
On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 3):
Wow. Powerful song. Powerful vocals.  Powerful lyrics.  Powerful chord at the end.  Very Nice. - 4.7
Missing You:
Cool vocals & Lyrics.  I like this - nice vibe.  "like a punch in the face, Bubonic Plague, kick in the balls"... oh yes!!!  Very nice lines!  --4.7
Secret Love Life:
I expected Barry White to say "OHHH YEAH BABY" in his signature low voice at the beginning.  I love that... ok... back to the review. WOW - I love the vocal tone. Great Pitch! I got a little tired toward the end of the repeating "my secret love life" though. - 4.6
Burn out or fade away:
You have a nice voice.  Love the drums when they enter.  Love the arrangement!  --4.6
Cat's Eye:
Very interesting- It's a puzzle!  I'm not a big fan of the electric piano at the start- regular pianos or synth pianos that sound like regular pianos are the master. I love the harmonies.  I had some troubles making out some of the lyrics.  I love the changing- it keeps me guessing - 4.5
Phil And Don:
Cool guitar tone! Cool synths! Cool Song! --4.2
Nice Mix!  I think I like the voice - maybe tweak the vocal placement a bit to sound less brittle. I look forward to hearing more.  4
When I Lost You:
Oh man I was wanting to rate this higher because I liked it from the start- but the vocals are really lost in the mix and I got distracted by that. It's a nice song; Bring the vocals out more next time - nice job. --3.8
Sitting Right Here:
This is a fun, cute song.  I'd like to hear the vocals polished more- a few pitch problems..  --3.8
Without You (A Valentines Stalker Song Sequel):
The sexual assault part at the beginning bothered me :-(
I really liked the vocals.  Your voice is really nice.  The was very humorous and I liked it , I just wish the sexual assault part wasn't in there.  -- 3.6
Hey Eugene:
I loved the instruments.  I'm not sure I'm a fan of the song, but this one does somehow have me interested to hear more from you!  --3.5
Never Coming Home:
Vocals I would have like to have seen more refined.  The low register notes were probably too low for you... you had some troubles on the higher register as well.  This maybe... could be changed on the higher register in the upper register with practice.  It was a little distracting with the struggling of those notes.  --2.5
Broken Mind:
This song was ok.  Something didn't click with me on it.  I don't really have anything to say that I didn't like.... I just didn't enjoy the song itself.  2.4
Muddy sound; I would have enjoyed it more if everything didn't sound overdriven.  Is this song about Dexter? 2.0

Nancy (Please Don't Go):
I really like the music- but the vocals are not as strong as I would like and left me distracted from the song.  I really feel like I would feel different with stronger vocals - 2.0
Doom Dah:
It might be the genre that I am not liking but the vocals were too loud in the mix for me, or the guitar too low-- however you want to look at that.  Interesting vocals though.  You gave a good representation of the feel being expressed in the lyrics. -- 1.7
Right Place Wrong Time:
It sounded like everything was compressed too much.  Try for a more open mix.  Everything sounded really tight and constricted.  Try finding a song you like as a guideline once you are ready to mix.  Then try to mix as close to the mix in that sound so you can get a proper mix.  Ears are easily fooled when going from laying down tracks to mixing.  I didn't really enjoy the melody of the verses but I was pleasantly surprised  by the bridge and the chorus - and liked those!  Unfortunately, I have to give lower grades because of the mix and the versus.  1.6
Dead Wrong:
The piano bass like at the beginning was really cool.  I really liked it. Also liked the beginning of the synths.  The vocals weren't as strong as I would like. -- 1.6
Not a fan of the piano sound.  Need more forward placement in the vocal tone production- Especially in the upper registers.  The vocals get choked up there.  The mix isn't very full.  Very thin.  Drums and cymbals in this one get very distracting - 1.5
Missing You:
I would like to hear the mix more dynamic.  I was also like to hear the vocals more confident.  Maybe spending more time or takes on the singing of the song, over and over until it sounds confident. --1.2
Without You Here:
I thought the drum into was really cool.  I like the jazzy feel.  Synths are really hard to pull off in this type of genre of music.  That said - the song was interesting.  The voice was too up front in the mix though.  1.2
Ginger Twins:
The piano was really out of tune... I wanted to like this song so much.  The piano just distracted everything.  It was hard to focus on the song.  The song itself had some really great qualities to it.   The piano was the breaker on this.  Your voice is really really really nice.  With the piano out so much it sounds like you are singing out of tune on those high notes.  I want to hear more from you - I just want you to amp up the production of everything.  Unfortunately because of the piano it gets a lower rating-- 1.2
Who You Used To Be
Very, very cool intro on the guitar.  I also liked the tone of the acoustic guitar.  The vocals were really muddy.  Brighten up the vocals in the mix and that would probably make them not so muddy.  It would probably make it were you could hear the words.  --1.1
Just as it is hard to enter into this competition with an a cappella song - it's hard to enter into this competition with just guitar and voice- unless the voice is really stellar, or really unique.  I'm not saying your voice is no good.  Not at all.  I think things would be great on this song with added instruments.  Was the guitar an electric or and acoustic ran through an amp?  -- 1.1
I Tried, Okay:
I hear talent in the voice.  I'm not sure if something happened in the mixing process?  Maybe this was on purpose... trying to convey this energy.  I feel this song would benefit greatly with the mixing improved.  1.1
Box Feeling:
A lot of guts doing an a cappella song here.  It's really hard to compete with other people in this competition when you are entering with just voice.  You have to have some kind of cool choral arrangement, harmonies that are just ripping cool, etc... 1.0
The Child I Left Behind:
a cappella was a bold move.  That said... my opinion is that the song doesn't stand up high enough with some of the others to get it there.  It's hard with all the other tunes having instruments.  I do applaud you with your guts for going a cappella. --1.0

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Review: Katharina Bordet

1. Edric Haleen - On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 3) 05:57I will not count goosebumps and I will not count tears. Least of all will I count far for the rank.

2. Ryan M. Brewer - Burn Out Or Fade Away (PSH) 03:20
I really enjoyed this song. This would definitely be a song I’d buy and listen to on the road. I can’t find anything wrong with this song, I have to say, but it didn’t hit me just AS hard as another one did. However, at the same time I wouldn’t want to cry on the train to work all the time.

3. Dr. Lindyke - Why 04:47
This could have done with mixing the voice in louder as well as going a bit bolder with the singing. All in all a really nice song, very sad though, but the feeling was captured well in music and lyrics. I really like the song but the end I LOVE. I wish he would’ve gone there sooner.

4. Jutze - Nancy (Please Don't Go) 02:06
Started off fun and stayed fun. Not the greatest of voices but a good song and I might have realised too soon in the song it was about a teacher but hey…

5. Brian Gray - The Child I Left Behind 02:17
Is there someone trying to take on Edric? I’ll be getting the popcorn out! Fantastic singing, lyrics that touch, feelings brought across very well and the most gentle burning pants I’ve ever heard. Instruments would have just been distracting.

6. Governing Dynamics - Song To Stay Awake (700 Miles) 04:23
I read 700 miles and thought Proclaimers next generation. Glad the intro was long enough to make me get back into the song. Nice bit of singing and good song, it could have just done with toning down the music a bit.

7. Trader Jack - Doom Dah 02:32
I’m not the biggest fan of space ships. But this song seems to excel at the good kind of strange. I am confused, but I think I like it. Very cool voice and presentation as well.

8. Spencer Sokol - Burdens 03:09
Really good recording and well mixed. Shame about the crackling in the recording though. Lyrics and music brought the point across well.

9. The Orion Sound featuring Microglitching - Without You (A Valentines Stalker Song Sequel) 04:07
That definitely falls in the category of good kind of weird. Disturbing and dark, it’s like a Scandinavian crime novel made into a song. Since I read those a lot I enjoyed the beginning. Was less sure about the middle part, it seemed a bit a mess in melody and singing. Glad the end was strange again.

10. Caravan Ray - Missing You 02:12
The guitar was a bit overpowering, but I quite enjoyed the song and especially the lyrics were really fun and I laughed out loud a few times.

11. Sid Brown - Who You Used To Be 03:11
Started a bit slow but then picked up and I ended up quite enjoying it. Voice was a bit low and felt hesitant, but a good effort in the end.

12. TurboShandy - Torchbearer 03:03
It was a very sweet song, not sure about some of the rhymes which felt a bit forced, but a decent effort.

13. Hudson And Day - I Tried, Okay 03:30
Nice song, but the recording seems a bit inconsistent in quality, levels and mixing, so it partly sounds as if one is on the phone and they don’t line up in some places. If they weren’t supposed to then it didn’t sound intentional. Maybe it was more artsy-fartsy than I could grasp. It’s a bit like a good first draft of a novel, solid stuff but needs editing.

14. The Boffo Yux Dudes - Dead Wrong 02:49
I cannot even try to figure out how many and which instruments were used for this song. Enjoyed it, good singing but the mixing was again a bit loud in favour of the music but not as extreme as some of the other songs.

15. Zoe Gray - Ginger Twins 04:27
Here comes Edgar Wallace. Too sweet a voice for a song in that tone. Either something more airy and creepier or darker and creepier. I’d like to hear haunted mansion here but all I’m getting is Casper the friendly ghost.

16. Adam Sakellarides - Right Place, Wrong Time (The Time Traveller) 04:00
I am not sure I can really sympathise with the problems of love stretching time and space. The idea was quite cool, but it needed a bit more meat to be really good. I can’t really seem to put my finger on it but it left me wanting.

17. Taylor R - Missing You 03:04
I am getting mixed messages here. That might have been the point. I enjoyed it but at the same time I wished the song had more aim. Both in melody in lyrics I felt the storytelling didn’t quite flow.

18. T.C. Elliott - Broken Mind 03:51
It felt like someone was trying to be more rock than he really is. The lyrics made me start to wonder how many participants were actually feeling them whilst they wrote them or just remembering what it felt like. In the end, it was just okay. Not bad, but just okay.

19. Sara Parsons - Guilt 03:04
At first I thought it was about being in love with a sheep. It is a nice song, well sung and a sweet melody but at the same time I am conflicted about the lyrics. Somehow I didn’t seem to really get the story here. They have left me more confused than sympathetic. The pitch problems in the end didn’t help much either.

20. Ross Durand - Sitting Right Here 02:27
It felt a bit as if the genre was still undecided whilst writing the song and the random piano notes throughout the song were distracting until the hotel bar piano got a solo when the tambourine man went on a break. There was just too much going on in that song that I could not concentrate on anything.

21. Felix Frost - Cat's Eye 03:07
I think you shouldn’t wear rubber shoes on a linoleum floor whilst recording, just a suggestion. Once the music started it was quite weird, very well produced but strange, nevertheless. I wonder if it was not trying to be everything at once, Circus and Space Ship.

22. Jenny Katz - Secret Love Life 02:46
Oh look, the nineties are back! Another song where the music is overpowering what I think is a nice voice. I think I would have enjoyed the song with different music in the background. If there were an acoustic version of the song, I would have preferred it, I’m sure.

23. Jailhouse Payback - Hey Eugene 03:36
Plain guitar is usually a good start. I didn’t know simulating an echo on the voice was still a thing or was the song recorded in the bathroom? Could’ve done without that gimmicky thing and a more straightforward recording of the voice which would’ve improved the song much. It’s still an okay song, just didn’t do much for me.

24. James Young - Never Coming Home 04:46
First thought was, oh nice, then the first note was missed by the singer. The song might not have been in the right range for the singer’s voice, at least the lowest notes weren’t. The lyrics were really sad but the ploinky sounding string instrument and repetitive melody took away from that.

25. Ominous Ride - When I Lost You 04:42
I think there was singing in there, but the mic was in the next room. It was a decent effort, but the lyrics felt as if I’ve heard them a hundred times before (thousands probably, if I’m being honest). The singing and the music didn’t grab me either, for which I could have forgiven the lyrics.

26. Army Defense - Phil And Don 02:26
First, I had to turn the volume down. I wondered if the Bee Gees met the Beatles and they got very very drunk together in an alternate universe. Another strange song, and really not for anyone…

27. Dex01 - Monster 02:52
The music is so overpowering, I could barely understand the lyrics. In the middle the music was a bit all over the place until it came back to the same melody as in the beginning. I think there was a second voice in it, but due to the mix I couldn’t really say if the song could have been good.

28. Wait What (the Band) - Without You Here 04:50
The lyrics in the bandcamp album didn’t match what was sung. A „with" should have been „without" which distracted me so much I almost missed the strange sexual peanut butter references. I wonder if someone could have possibly tried any harder to shock the audience. It was so overdone that it ended up boring me rather quickly. The singing and recording was decent enough, but it didn’t make up for the massive amount of sighing going on.

29. Menage a Tune - The Box Feeling 04:09
The song lacked a hook to grab me and the pull to draw me in and the consistency to keep me there. On the positive side, this song is not going to keep me awake at night.


Heather Miller - Greatest Generation (Shadow) 03:00
The singing was a bit all over the place, a bit pitchy and then a bit country. It didn’t rock my socks.

T.C. Elliott - Will You Run Away With Me, My Love (Shadow) 03:04
I think I actually prefer this song to the actual submission. Shame.

Andy Glover - What's Making Me Sad (Shadow) 03:10
Sweet song, nicely sung as well.

SpinTunes #8 Round 1 Reviews: Paul Potts

I am judging entries for SpinTunes 8. There are two basic requirements for a judge: I'm supposed to provide some sort of review for each song, and I'm also supposed to rank them in order from best to worst. The review part comes naturally to me; the ranking is a bit harder.

I find it especially hard to explain my criteria at ranking. I'll take a quick shot at it. Every day this week, I've listened to the whole album (almost two hours) Starting day three, I started making notes as things occurred to me while I was listening, and I've also come to remember the songs and I know which ones I'm interested in hearing again, and which ones I wish I could skip over (although I'm not actually skipping over any).

What makes me want to hear a song again? Well, first, lyrics that interest me and move me, and especially lyrics that don't make me wince because they use easy, cliched rhymes or phrases. (In 2014 you can only rhyme "moon" with "June" if you are doing it ironically). I appreciate clever wordplay and a song that tells or at least implies a real human story.

Then there's vocal performance. I don't expect perfection. Lord knows I don't achieve it in my own songs. I can be moved by a singer who isn't technically very good, but if you're really pitchy and your performance is not very moving, then that's a weak track as far as I'm concerned.

Then there's the music. I like a lot of different genres, but I don't really enjoy playing that is all flash or deliberately bombastic. Keeping it short and sweet is pretty important (and yes, I know I've failed at that in some of my own songs as well). I can't give you an exact time that represents a perfect song; it depends on the song. I know when I'm listening along, I know when I _feel_ that a song should end. If the song agrees with my feeling, that seems like the right length to me. A pop song has to be unusually interesting in its structure or lyrics to keep my interest for longer than four minutes; Don McClean's _American Pie_ is 8 minutes long, but it has a truly epic lyric.

Production counts for something too, but there's not just one kind of production I appreciate. A live track with just a singer and guitar can be just fine. So can a full multi-tracked song with all the bells and whistles.

I will review and rank a cappella songs, but I must admit that I find these a little problematic at times. Someone like Billy Bragg can hold an audience rapt with a song like "Chile, Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto," but he doesn't do an entire show a cappella. Very few pop acts can pull off a wonderful and moving a cappella song that consists of just one singer with no accompaniment. In general, I'll rank you on whether it seems like you know what you are doing with the recording. If you can only achieve a simple live track, record a good simple live track. If you want to record 24 tracks of instruments, feel free, but they ought to be well-mixed. If it sounds like a train wreck that way, maybe you should have used a simpler arrangement based on what you can achieve technically. And yes, I've _definitely_ attempted mixes that were technically beyond me, so I have sympathy for people who are learning as they go. One last thing: if you do use instruments, they shouldn't sound completely generic. If it sounds like you just hit the "demo" button on a Casio keyboard and sang along with it, I'm not going to really appreciate the music portion of your track.

Finally, if a song doesn't meet the challenge at all, in any sense, it would be disqualified, but subjectively, I will still rank songs on how well I think they meet the challenge. That includes whether songs take a very obvious, conventional approach, or have fun with the challenge. In this case the challenge is pretty simple. There's nothing wrong with just writing a simple song about a lost loved one. But I do appreciate the songs that took a special twist on the challenge.

I'm not going to assign numeric fractions to these general categories because I don't really believe I can make rankings somehow more objective that way.

All right, here we go:

1. Ross Durand: Sitting Right Here
This is a great take on the challenge. My stepfather suffered from an Alzheimer's-like form of dementia so this song speaks to me. The happysad approach is touching and the lyrics are powerful.

2. Sara Parsons: Guilt
I tried not to tip my hand too much in the listening party by making a lot of comments as I heard the songs for the first time, in part because I didn't want to praise a song in that context and then have to decide later that maybe it wasn't all that good. In the case of this song I couldn't really help myself -- I think I typed "Wow!" or something similar. This is a very strong song. The accompaniment is simple but I like the way Sara's pedal base notes (or sometimes alternating bass notes) keep a rhythm going and propel the song along. She should learn more elaborate Travis picking if possible at some point, but this works fine. The lyric is quite strong. She has a very straightforward take on the challenge but manages to avoid all traces of false sentimentality and cliche. The only real weakness I see is that the line "stroll up and down the lines" doesn't seem quite right to me, and the details of the story feel just a little unclear. But even in the listening party, even on a first hearing, this song brought tears to my eyes. Nicely done!

3. Brian Gray: The Child I Left Behind
Just when I was prepared to be fed up with a cappella songs, someone like Brian comes along and sings an a cappella song that is really beautifully done and moving. I appreciated in particular the use of reverb to thicken up a single voice. Brian mentions Mandy Patinkin in his song bio and I can certainly hear that. The twist on the challenge -- that the narrator misses his own younger self, his inner child, is a nice take on the idea.

4. Caravan Ray: Missing You
Well, you could not argue that the song doesn't meet the challenge. The arrangement is a lot of fun and the twist is the funny bitterness. I enjoyed the silly falsetto backing vocal parts. It is a short and sweet song and quite funny.

5. Governing Dynamics: Song to Stay Awake (700 Miles)
Travis has produced another moving and sad song. I particularly like the keyboard in this track. If I understand the story, the narrator has awakened from a dream in which he imagines that his absent girlfriend has shot herself, and he decides to jump in the car and drive to her side, whether she wants to see him or not -- although there is some real ambiguity here; maybe it's already happened, and he's just convinced himself that she is still alive? ("At one in the morning I'd reached the end / of the elaborate game of pretend.") In any case it's a beautiful lyric, and the whole song is one of the very best this round.

6. Turboshandy: Torch Bearer
I read Turboshandy's song bio about the very minimal and low-budget approach to recording this song. It's impressive that this was done with just an SM-58 and a couple of very basic instruments, and open source software. The simple but not simplistic lyric, a very straightforward take on the challenge, and some well-crafted lyrics, and the basic approach to melody and harmony, all make this a strong entry.

7. Jailhouse Payback: Hey Eugene
This is also one of my very favorite songs from this round. The mix and accompaniment are very nicely done. The vocal performance is understated but works very well. It seems like a happysad song, but then becomes an angrysad song. There's an undercurrent of bitterness to it that blends beautifully with the very upbeat music. The challenge is met adequately, although like several of the songs this round, the story feels a little hidden and vague. There's just a bit of a guitar train wreck at the end but that's only a minor distraction.

8. Dr. Lindyke: Why
Dave's vocal performance on this track is quite lovely and nuanced, although the harmony "aaaah" seem to be a bit off-pitch here and there. The lyrics are up to Dr. Lindyke's usual high standard. It's touching that Dave dedicated the song to RC. I've listened to this song at least five times, and I'm still a little unclear about how I feel the drums. Sometimes they seem just a little too busy to me, particularly the kicks, but then on another listen they seem just right, and they seem to keep the song propelled along. I can't quite decide. It's an interesting choice. This is one of the stronger tracks, but maybe not quite in the very top few.

9. Jenny Katz: Secret Love Life
Jenny's take on the challenge is one of the most positive. The song is beautifully performed and recorded, with some subtle vocal harmonies, marred only by some slight pitch trouble. I'm strongly reminded of some of my favorite chill-out dance tracks, particularly songs like "Future Love" by Presence. I was impressed by this song in the listening party, and after listening repeatedly it still sounds beautiful. The lyrics are uneven, though. Lines like "spinning like a maple seed" are gorgeous, but lines like "I know that nothing is ever gonna change" don't really make for a strong story.

10. T.C. Elliott: Broken Mind
I like it when a lyric can do things that are a little unexpected, with concrete details: "corner grocery or Japan" is a nice detail. Some of the rhymes like "changed/rearranged" aren't that strong. The electric guitar part is nicely done, and the acoustic breaks especially are very nice, and the rhythm has a "broken" staggering quality that fits the song well. The twist on the lyrics here is that the reason for the separation is that the narrator has "a broken mind" and I can certainly relate to that.

11. Felix Frost: Cat's Eye
I read the song bio with some interest. The challenge is met perfectly well, if with a strange conceit. I like what F.F. is doing with a real story, with a lot of concrete detail and very specific odd details. There's no denying that this song is very pretty. I wouldn't mark a song down because the lyrics were odd, or surreal, and this song's lyrics definitely are. The performance is not just fine but quite good. But the song is complicated, both in the imagery in the lyrics and the shifting beats and tempos. Somehow in that complexity it starts to feel a little emotionally detached, and fails to really sell the story as an emotional ride. I'm still scratching my head, but F. F. definitely gets extra points for creativity.

12. Edric Haleen: On the Matter of Bullying (Part 3)
The song clearly meets the challenge. In Edric's song bio he writes that "...this seemed far too aligned [with the concept of the previous parts] to consider writing any other song this round." I'm glad this challenge gave him that opportunity. It is again a very moving song and I know this is an issue Edric is passionate about. It's very nicely done technically. Edric has tied everything together in a way that feels very convincing. I feel a little bowled over, though, by the intensity of both the subject matter and the performance, and it's not entirely a comfortable feeling. I'm not sure there's an argument to be made that this subject would work with a little subtler or lighter approach, but if there is I would prefer it.

13. The Orion Sound: Without You (A Valentine's Stalker Song)
This is quite a thing! I'm impressed by a song that sounds like an extended piece in a musical theater production, although it isn't really that long. Musically, it is quite elaborate, and creates a real story arc. It definitely meets the challenge, and in a very creative way. The recording is a little fuzzy and distorted in parts, which is a shame, but not painfully so.

14. James Young: Never Coming Home
The lyric sounds boxy and that's somewhat distracting, although it's lessened because the performance is good. The twist on the challenge seems to be that it isn't entirely clear why the person in question is gone, and you never quite find out, although it does not sound like the person is dead ("your story remains untold/will you get to grow old?") I like that ambiguity. The lyrics are quite unsentimental and well-done and I always appreciate a good guitar solo. Overall the song feels just a bit long. I would not drop the instrumental ending or the guitar solo, but perhaps the verses could be tightened up.

15. Spencer Sokol: Burdens
A plaintive song and the lyrics have some nice parallels and interesting wording that leaves a lot of room for interpretation -- it tells a story quite elliptically. It sounds to me like the narrator is talking about several different people he's missing rather than one, so I suppose it technically meets the challenge, but not really in a strong way. There's some distracting crackling in the mix. Overall a good effort and this song reminds me of songs such as "Lightning Crashes" by Live.

16. Jutze: Nancy (Please Don't Go)
The lyric is very boxy and that's a bit distracting. The accompaniment tracks work fine, with a happysad approach (a very upbeat melodic figure) with sad lyrics. The twist on the challenge is that the song is a boy singing about losing his favorite teacher, which is funny and surprising.

17. Trader Jack: Doom Dah
I cringed when I first heard the vocal part, but it has grown on me because the narrator character is just so funny and weird. I wound up loving the creative twist on what seems like it could either be the drunken muttering of someone with a broken heart, or maybe someone having a psychotic break. It doesn't meet the challenge strongly, in my opinion, but I still enjoy it because it's just so goofy and weird, while still conveying the feeling of heartbreak.

18. Zoe Gray: Ginger Twins
This piano needs tuning and I have a hard time listening to an out-of-tune piano. The vocal performance is very nice. It seems to meet the challenge, although I'm not clear on the details of just who the narrator is missing -- a childhood friend? A literal twin? In any case the lyrics are still fairly strong. The song feels slightly too long, as well.

19. Menage a Tune: The Box Feeling
This is a 4 minute a cappella song. The lyric is a bit of a mixed bag. Rhymes like heart/apart and too/you are too easy, but other parts are better, like the way the verses end with five-syllable lines where the mood turns a bit each time. The song feels slightly too long and slightly too slow. JoAnn's vocal performance is touching if a little loose on the melody. I think the song would have been better with some simple accompaniment, because the vocal performance isn't quite powerful enough to really hold me rapt for four minutes. I did like JoAnn's twist on the challenge -- missing someone she can no longer talk to _online_. Overall this is a good effort that probably would have been better with accompaniment and a little more polishing.

20. Taylor R: Missing You
The raw-sounding guitar and bass here remind me strongly of Joy Division's classic track "Love Will Tear Us Apart." The lyrics have that raw feel as well. It's lacking just a little bit of something I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's just that the mix is too low and lacks proper compression and mastering.

21. Army Defense: Phil and Don
I like the arrangement and the vocal performances here -- there's a lot going on. It feels like an unsettling blend of E.L.O. and Sly and the Family Stone. This song seems to meet the challenge only by the skin of its teeth, though. The narrator misses his brother who has left -- in some way. In what way is not clear. Overall the song just doesn't have enough of a story; there aren't enough lyrics. So despite the fact that I like the music a lot, and the production, and the vocal performance, it gets knocked down for feeling incomplete.

22. Adam Sakellarides: Right Place, Wrong Time (The Time Traveller)
This is a great twist on the challenge: the narrator can't be with his love "right now" because she's a freakin' time traveller! I love the lyric, and the vocal performance fits the mood of the song. The bass line is muddy and the piano sound is not well-done, unfortunately, especially in the solo. A good effort but just a little too rough, musically.

23. Ominous Ride: When I Lost You
It's unclear exactly how the narrator lost his love, but the dark music suggests that there is something dark at work. I enjoyed the lyrics and the vocal tracks but the music is a little overpowering, and some of the keyboard tracks seem to fight with the guitar slightly. The vocal performance seems like it was very good but suffered a bit from a muddy mix. At almost five minutes, the song drags a bit.

24. Sid Brown: Who You Used to Be
Another pretty straightforward take on the challenge. I appreciate the garage band feel of this track, and the repeating acoustic guitar figure. The vocal performance is not very strong, though.

25. Ryan M. Brewer: Burn Out or Fade Away
The production is very nice here -- it's an interesting combination of very real-sounding and very artificial-sounding instruments. It's just the right length. The vocal performance is very strong. But the lyrics in many places seem to be more about the rhyme and sound than the meaning, which is disappointing (what does a line like "a moneyball boiled a bastard" actually mean?) and it does not feel to me that this song meets the challenge very convincingly, so unfortunately I have to mark it down for that.

26. The Boffo Yux Dudes: Dead Wrong
I sigh when I see that the song is under three minutes but the lyrics don't start until 30 seconds in. The lyrics are not strong. The challenge is technically met. The lyrics don't make a whole not of sense to me; it seems to suggest a few funny twists on the words "missing you" but doesn't really jell.

27. Hudson and Day: I Tried, Okay
This is a very conventional take on the challenge using a very unconventional song structure. Denise often uses these very unstructured, free-form songs that ebb and flow in a very organic way. I feel like from about 1:45 to 2:10 it is starting to come together and have some beautiful harmonies, and there are some sweet sounding parts here and there, but at least to me, the song fails to really come together as a coherent whole and the looseness in this case means it doesn't build up to much of an emotional peak.

28. Dex01: Monster
The mix is not good: the tracks feel like they are all at the same level, over-compressed, and the mixed track is too hot and filled with clipping and crackling. The lyrical take on the challenge seems fine. The vocal performance is a little disappointing; the song seems to me like it needs more of a Violent Femmes-style sarcasm.

29. Wait What (the Band): Without You Here
I don't really understand who this song is for. It's too dirty for minors -- I wouldn't want to play it in front of one of my boys, because he'd run around at preschool singing "stick my dick in peanut butter" and giggling. But it seems to me that anyone older than sixteen would not think it was that funny. So is it targeted at a Junior High School audience? That's when I thought Austin Powers was funny. So, the song clearly meets the challenge. The music is nothing to write home about. The vocal performance is actually pretty good, especially the backing vocal. I just don't like the adolescent lyrics. I don't think using "negro please" as an alternative to saying "nigger" is very funny, but what do I know; my wife and kids are black, but I'm white. I don't think the narrator hoping his wife or girlfriend's "gina" is intact is that funny, given how many female soldiers are raped over there. Honestly, this lyric just wants to make as many gross jokes as possible, and Wait What, Imma let you finish, but Philip Roth wrote the best scene where a guy masturbates with food -- in his novel _Portnoy's Complaint_, in the _sixties_ -- and that book was actually banned in Australia and pulled from libraries. In 2014 it's old news and has little in the way of either shock or comedy value.

SHADOWS -- I did not include shadows in the ranking (because I'm not supposed to). The fact that they are down here at the end doesn't mean they are "below" all the songs that are official entries. All three of these, if I ranked them with the others, would come somewhere from upper-middle to middle of the pack of songs.

Heather Miller: Greatest Generation (Shadow)
Sometimes simple is best. This song has quite a conventional style and structure while managing to avoid obviously cliched rhymes. It is one of the few songs that took, I think, a completely straightforward approach to the challenge. Heather's vocal performance is low-key but touching; it reminds me slightly of Stevie Nicks.

Andy Glover: What's Making Me Sad
This may be the most straightforward breakup song and the most basic take on the challenge in the whole bunch. It's a good effort, a basic but serviceable guitar part, and a vocal style that suits the song. Really I've got nothing to criticize, although the song also doesn't stand out strongly amidst a number of good entries.

T. C. Elliott: Will You Run Away with Me, My Love (Shadow)
Nice use of percussion. The guitar part feels a little busy to use as a continual backing. The vocal performance is good but not really strong. The lyrics feel a little cliched here and there (rhyming new/you), but the chorus "will you run away with me" feels very straightforward and honest, and I like that about this song. It's a straightforward take on the challenge.