Saturday, July 19, 2014

SpinTunes #9 Round 1 Reviews: Ted Kiper

About Me

I’d like to begin by saying what an honor it is to judge in Spintunes. For those who don’t know me, I participated in at least 3 previous competitions, as a partner in Menage a Tune. When I was first asked by JoAnn to join her in this music competition, I almost declined. Composing music was personal to me, like writing entries to the journal of my life. Submitting my songs to online strangers and comparing them to what would most likely be better tunes seemed very intimidating. I can’t imagine anyone likes to be told their creations aren’t that good. And my first attempt proved to be unsuccessful. JoAnn was stubborn, of course, so she encouraged me to continue by writing shadows for later rounds. I really didn’t want to go through more put downs.
But I’m glad she pushed me. Competitions have really helped me craft better songs. Working with JoAnn really challenged me to become a better composer. And listening to fellow songwriters invited and inspired new ways to express my ideas. To many of these very veteran competitors, I’m probably not saying anything new. But to any newcomers, I would like to encourage you to follow along as the rounds pass, whether your entry makes it or not. Your shadows in future rounds are just as important, and as long as I am judge, you will always have some feedback, in reviews or in your own self-improvement.

Round 1

Listening to this Round 1 has been undeniably fun. The challenge to create an anthem was an idea I encouraged because of two things: the recent games of FIFA and the desire for more positive tunes than the last competition. I wanted to hear something inspirational and uplifting. I know we had some pretty dark “countries” introduced in this round, but some were fun to think about and had reaffirmed our ability to set up and stand up for interesting ideas. Well, maybe I make it sound so serious, but I thought you should know why I felt this challenge definitely had some spark behind it.
 
So what is an anthem for a fictional country? I didn’t think the challenge was so difficult. “Anthem” to me means something that a person or group can find identity with. I would think it’s very often inspirational and purpose-driven. And a “fictional country“ is a made-up collection with perhaps some border. I was very lax to what your definition could be. There were quite a number of songs that moaned choirs of descriptive imagery, while others used arena-sounding rock to lift some drive into the audience.
 
Unfortunately, I do believe some songs sounded more like anthems, while some songs sounded more like songs one might like in the radio. The top two songs really stood out to me as obvious winners, but there were a majority of entries that wavered from the focus of the challenge, in favor for a more pop sound and a more conformable rhythm of lyrics.
A lot of you did a wonderful job, probably way better than my efforts in this challenge. Since this is my first time judging, I hope you take no offense on my rank to your entry. There is a good chance that you may be ranked higher by more reasonable people (i.e. Dave).
 
For those unfamiliar, I am using a scoring system promoted by Mark Meritt in ST5R1:
 
I have a feeling that it wasn’t very popular, but I like to give extensive feedback in specific categories. Instead of going with my feelings and emotions at the time of writing my reviews, having a scoring system will keep me in line. (And I also won’t feel guilty when I hide behind numbers.) I made some alterations to avoid offenses, but I did my best to see both the science and the art in your works.

Brian Gray – St. Agnes

Rank = 1

Score = 54
·          Challenge = 12
o    Everything about this song has the air of identity. Small and delicate details for such a small and delicate “country”.
·          Lyrics = 7
o    “Singing out loud and clear”—with verses and a legitimate drive for existence and recognition. Not complicated, doesn’t need to be, and empathy can be more easily accessed.
·          Composition = 7
o    Lovely chords. Simple, typical progression with a twist of a chord at the line before the last in the verses, just to make it stand out and vulnerable. And the instrumental bridge provides introspective relief.
·          Songcrafting = 8
o    Using a choir was pretty smart, but having the choir grow by the verse was a nice touch. It’s the growing support for the weak and unheard of.
·          Arrangement = 4
o    Again, simplicity was key. Not too many instruments, touching into more subtle tones, kind of expecting something great coming out.
·          Performance = 4
o    I’d like to think you edged Heather from top spot only because you had Zoe. Thank you, Zoe. And the instruments aren’t too invasive,
·          Recording = 4
o    Sounds pretty clean.
·          Judge’s Whim = 8
o    It’s really hard for me not to like this song, and harder still to find any fault for improving it. I suppose Zoe could’ve continued practicing for a more real, less-processed rendition. But it sounds so real already, I can imagine St. Agnes asking you to lend them your song.

Heather Zink – Bless Our Land Hyrule

Rank = 2

Score = 52

·          Challenge = 12
o    Hyrule! Gah! Zelda games makes me gush all over. In the video game world, Hyrule is definitely a familiar territory to defend and protect. With such an extensive history, Hyrule was also a smart pick.
·          Lyrics = 7
o    Instead of focusing on Zelda or Link and the stories between them, you chose to embrace the citizens and diversity within the land. Hyrule, after all, has oh so many things to discover.  
·          Composition = 8
o    There’s something here that reminds me of Gregorian chants, all the way down to the line “Protect us Hyruleans”, my favorite piece of melody/harmony in this round. Suspended chord-flips, whatever they are called, keeps this very fresh to listen.
·          Songcrafting = 7
o    This song sounded like it already belonged in the game. Wasn’t there already a singing choir song in Ocarina of Time soundtrack? If so, your skills to mimic is incredible. If not, you could’ve fooled me.
·          Arrangement = 4
o    This is the best example that a capella CAN win a round. Why add instruments when strong voices make a point for identity? Flowery vocal parts makes it wonderfully interesting.
·          Performance = 3
o    Such gentle singing. Angels softly proclaiming the glory of Hyrule. Something like that. Perhaps you can do better with more confidence? Well done, regardless.
·          Recording = 3
o    (What’s that boom in the end of the track?)
·          Judge’s Whim = 8
o    Your first entry is definitely putting your best foot forward. I’d totally share this to fellow gamers. Very impressive job.

Boffo Yux Dudes – Latvaria, We Bow Before Our Doom

Rank: 3

Score = 47

·          Challenge = 9
o    A fictional comic book story. I guess it was going to happen one way or another.
·          Lyrics = 6
o    “Richards must die!” Wow. I can’t get that out of my mind. Fills my idle mind during my eight-hour shifts. I hope I haven’t been brainwashed, unless that was your intention.
·          Composition = 7
o    This piece might have the most creative music to fit into an anthem sound. But maybe Dr. Doom deserved a darker tone.
·           Songcrafting = 7
o    “Richards must die!” Just absolutely cruel. How can I enjoy chanting such devilry? Your mix of empowering music with  insistent lines creates a catchy addiction.
·          Arrangement = 4
o    Trumpets blasting with manly men choir. Although the crazy outbursts of “DIE” may have been a little over the top, it makes me laugh everytime I hear it, the cherry to this ridiculous hot-mess.
·          Performance = 3
o    “Richards must die!”
·          Recording = 3
o    Did someone get a text message during the recording?
·          Judge’s Whim = 8
o    “Richards must die!” Silly goofballs. The best weird song of the round. You must proud.

Steve Durand – Oceania, ‘Tis For Thee

Rank: 4

Score = 42

·          Challenge = 9
o    This was ranked rather high because of your focus on the challenge. Something that is perfectly believable to be accepted into Big Brother’s repertoire.
·          Lyrics = 5
o    “And that black is white” – certainly, there isn’t much color in your choice of words. The listing of Ministries felt a bit extended, and the rest seemed slowly revealing what one may already suspects. It was all very accurate, I’m sure. Kinda wished I did my homework and read the book from my high school years.
·          Composition = 6
o    Interesting blend of harmonies for this three-act song. This is how you put a march into your anthem.
·          Songcrafting = 6
o    I can’t help it, but this design reminds me more of a school anthem than a country anthem, You know, the high school alma mater song in the 50’s. It’s an anthem, regardless, so I don’t any problems. It’s pretty nice all around.
·          Arrangement = 3
o    Again, the selection of instrumentation and pattern brings me back to school. I love school, so it’s neat anyway.
·          Performance = 3
o    Harmonious voices was well achieved. The lower register brings more seriousness and solemnness.
·          Recording = 4
o    Nothing to pick over here.
·          Judge’s Whim = 6
o    Of the two Oceania songs, this is what I imagine a true anthem calls for. It’s a little unsettling how peaceful this sounds, as if nothing wrong is going on with their ideals. I can’t think of calling this a satire because of its lack of humor, but I know something more sinister is happening under the façade of peace.

Mr. Gee – Mordor, O, Mordor (Orc National Anthem)

Rank: 5

Score = 38

·          Challenge = 9
o    As pointed out by my wife and her brother, who happened to listen to this with me, they really felt this song could very well be sung by orcs, if they knew how to sing at all. Love LOTR stuff, and Tolkien may have liked your efforts in giving Mordor a voice.
·          Lyrics = 6
o    Honestly, the graphic details of what orcs do are reasonable to supply. My big issue is the acronym. It’s too cheesy to add in this darker soundscape. Creative, I will admit, and well thought of. But it makes me think of Orcs as cheerleaders. Now that would be scary!
·          Composition = 5
o    There isn’t so much diversity in the composition throughout the song. It may get a little exhausting, but maybe that’s what the orcs feel when they slave away for Sauron. And maybe their puny minds can’t grasp a more complicated melody.
·          Songcrafting = 6
o    Everything fits into place, with that special touch of painful dragging.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    I can see how you would aim for an anthem, but the brooding background music puts this song more fitting for the original soundtrack. Take it as a compliment. And grunting for percussive purposes? It definitely works for me.
·          Performance = 3
o    I’m a little afraid to ask how your voice feels after that. Please drink plenty of water! Well done, I was convinced.
·          Recording = 3
o    Not much recording needed to be done, I guess. And the bandwidth filter coincidently covers any issues. The rougher, the better.
·          Judge’s Whim = 4
o    Rough and ambient. It’s a little too artsy for my taste, even though it’s straightforward. It hinges between belonging in the movie series and hearing it in the background of a theme park.  But if you got the attention of people who don’t typically listen in Spintunes, then they say it was pretty cool, then I believe you’ve done a noble cause.

Plenitude – Santa Prisca (Shadow)

Possible Rank: 5

Score = 39

·          Challenge = 7
o    It’s a cute idea, and
·          Lyrics = 4
o    Spanish? I’m glad you provided the translation. Dirty civilization, beautiful country-- if this wasn’t for Santa Prisca, I could possibly see this used for other impoverished countries. Yes, probably any third-world country.
·          Composition = 6
o    The music is refreshing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything so ethnic on Spintunes. Very diverse. Some harmonies work, some are quite heavy.
·          Songcrafting = 7
o    The whole song sounds fun. Pretty dancy to me, maybe more pretty than dancy.
·          Arrangement = 3
o    So… it’s in Spanish, but I hear it like Middle-Eastern or Indian. Doesn’t matter, I suppose, because it speaks for all the poor nations.
·          Performance = 4
o    Although I’m not a huge fan of very fluid singing, the voice takes me to many places in one song. Soft here, bouncy there, strong somewhere… Excellent diversity!
·          Recording = 3
o    There were some clipping at the second half. And then there would be rather quieter
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    Very pretty song. But it doesn’t blast power, and it doesn’t necessarily uplifts. It strikes me as something mystic and seductive.

Governing Dynamics – Roland Lives! (Battle Hymn Of The Crimson Nation)

Rank: 6

·          Challenge = 7
o    Something
·          Lyrics = 6
o    A battle hymn indeed. And a rather worthy one as well.
·          Composition = 6
o    There’s a lot going on here for such a catchy progression. Maybe the guitars are not always following a similar rhythm. And although they all sound cool individually, I wonder if you might have benefitted more from a more unified sound for a nation.
·          Songcrafting = 6
o    Words and music play back from each other very nicely. The drop of instruments at the second chorus really helps you “stand” out, you know.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    The layers weigh heavy. “Their burdens \ We now take up and carry” Please don’t strain yourself, the individual performances are impressive enough!
·          Performance = 3
o    Guitar hook work makes me sadly envious.
·          Recording = 3
o    Power! There is power!
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    My favorite radio-friendly song in this round. Compared to the rest of the energy, the ending might have gained from a more triumphant yelp and a more epic melody. Thanks for sharing!

TurboShandy – Oitopia

Rank: 7

·          Challenge = 7
o    Nation of musicians? If so, I kind of like this approach. And why not a nation? We have many loyal citizens here, don’t we? I think it can work.
·          Lyrics = 5
o    Exaltation in the words. Way to stick on who’s in charge in this country!
·          Composition = 5
o    A rather standard set of pop-rock music. Or pretty typical of a punk song, eh? But I guess one needs a classic punk sound for such a punk country.
·          Songcrafting = 5
o    Pure confidence. Nothing to be ashamed of. Move along.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    It drives me all through your fictional country.
·          Performance = 3
o    “(Oi! Oi!)” Punch punch!
·          Recording = 3
o    Pretty normal here. No problems to point out.
·          Judge’s Whim = 6
o    It’s actually pretty catchy for something that doesn’t sound so new. You might have made a good choice to keep this classic for your challenge idea. But wouldn’t it have been more satisfying to try a different country? Regardless, well executed.

Adam Sakellarides – The Terran Empire Anthem (Shadow)

Possible Rank: 7

Score: 37
·          Challenge = 8
o    I’m not familiar of this fictional country, so I’m going by what you explain in the song. I guess it reminds me of Star Wars, with interplanetary conquest and control. Empires that big needs pretty epic anthems!
·          Lyrics = 6
o    “Alpha quadrant” - Galactic terms are welcoming, since I love spacy stuff. But I think that was it. Maybe “Utopia”? “Mirror universe”? Oh well.
·          Composition = 5
o    I can hear a bit of march, but it’s turning into some kind of tango! Maybe it’s the tempo and percussion rhythm.
·          Songcrafting = 5
o    It sounds somewhat commanding, or dramatic.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    Can’t have space epicness without organ.
·          Performance = 3
o    "Terrrrrra” – I’m actually pretty interested in how you slide it like that, but perhaps I’m more interested in why you did.
·          Recording = 3
o    It’s pretty standard. Nothing wrong here.
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    It sounds more Eastern European than space oriented. Unless that’s what you wanted, again I’m not familiar of this “country”. It’s kind of quaint enough to be stuck in my head.

MC Ohm-I – Plankistan National Anthem

Rank: 8

Score: 35
·          Challenge = 7
o    Was there another song you made that involved another entry you made? I kind of wished I heard it before. Interesting tackle, and way to go to recycle old ideas.
·          Lyrics = 5
o    Rather repetitive. Some words were rather clever, and at least you detail what people do there.
·          Composition = 6
o    I’m more impressed by the music. The melody can be as plain as a board--or plank, I suppose. Good choice.
·          Songcrafting = 5
o    You weren’t afraid to bring some changes into the formula, keeping it fresh. The intro hooks me so good. Grabs my attention all the way through.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    This doesn’t much like an anthem as it does for an R&B record, even with that ethnic instrument track. Really cool, though.
·          Performance = 2
o    Your voice just lays there. Singing whatever, wherever. You sing for all plankers everywhere.
·          Recording = 3
o    I can’t put my finger on it, but the vocal harmonies seem a little strange. Like a little warped?
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    I really enjoyed this piece. I have no problem putting this on repeat. Makes me want to plank along next time. You also successfully topped a four-way tie. Good job!

Kolton H. – Oceania Prevails

Rank: 9

Score: 35
·          Challenge = 6
o    Another Oceania song, but this time it grabs and captivates me. Forces me to listen and enjoy it.
·          Lyrics = 5
o    You take the time to describe beliefs and boundaries, but I felt it spoke in the form of a story or general history, rather than state the motto. (And of course you’ve pointed out their motto, but then stretched it into the epic story as we might know it.)
·          Composition = 6
o    Okay, some people may not agree with me on this, but electronic music is not a bad genre for an anthem, especially for Oceania. I haven’t read the story to understand everything, but if I remember correctly, Big Brother might be best reflected by a driving, consistent beat that is hard to escape from. The beat has complete control, all the way down to the sound-bite marches.
·          Songcrafting = 4
o    Combined with the lyrics, however, it sounds quite a lot like a song from an electronic group. Impressive, for sure, at least for me, but probably not what the judges were looking for.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    The composition says what I wanted to say for arrangement. This is great arrangement, but specifically for its composition idea, not too much for an anthem over anything else.
·          Performance = 3
o    Perhaps more care could’ve been provided to the singing.
·          Recording = 3
o    I suppose the low-fi sound of the singing adds to the numb, dystopian feel.
·          Judge’s Whim = 6
o    I’ve always had a soft spot for electronic music, and this strikes a satisfying chord for me.

James Young – Elbonia! Elbonia!

Rank: 10

Score: 35
·          Challenge = 8
o    I’m quite familiar of Dilbert, so hearing something for Elbonia is quite a surprise. I’m quite intrigued by this idea, especially this is Adams’ satire of a fictional third-world country. Cool pick!
·          Lyrics = 4
o    “Cry like little girls” and “DIE DIE DIE DIE” were a bit too much for me. I’d like to think they are quotes from some strips. Humorous, as Dilbert would be, you portrayed them as people of hate. I just thought they are people of stupid. But maybe you’ve studied way more than me.
·          Composition = 5
o    Although I felt the music was rather thin for a rock anthem, I actually liked the shift of tone in the bridge part. It was like breathing again. Until the DIE part, like someone was stabbing my peace. Nice.
·          Songcrafting = 6
o    Well, the song compiled together actually was pretty nice, and it makes plenty sense.
·          Arrangement = 2
o     The metal rock for a silly country like Elbonia? Quite an attitude they must have.
·          Performance = 2
o    I’m actually pretty impressed by the dynamics of your voice tones.
·          Recording = 3
o    Good to take advantage of low quality recordings for rougher tunes.
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    It kind of makes me laugh, especially the DIE part, particularly because I didn’t think Elbonians can be so violent. Pretty interesting submission.

Caravan Ray – The Lonelystani National Anthem

Rank: 11

·          Challenge = 6
o    Well, it’s amusing how you convince that one person can form a nation. Since no one else has done it, I guess it’s more unique than I thought. So it works.
·          Lyrics = 5
o    Bourbon and nude calenders. Pathetic, but in a good way. So you talk about Stan’s life, but perhaps you can do better to say what Stan believes in, like why he wants to be lonely. Is it because people can’t be trusted, so trust no one? Or is it because he’s such a douchebag, and people should be more like him?
·          Composition = 6
o    Catchy riff, sounds like a lot of fun. Wish I had that much fun being alone. Not sure why, but it somewhat reminds me of Skyen’s version of “Rat Race” some competitions ago. Maybe it’s how you roll your chorus through some extension.
·          Songcrafting = 6
o    Everything fits. Kinda feel dirty, but I suppose that’s where we were heading to with this idea.
·          Arrangement = 2
o    Sounds pretty poppy! Don’t think that’s what we were looking for, but you’ve done no atrocities.
·          Performance = 2
o    I suppose it’s enough energy to pump yourself. It’s not like you need to impress anyone in Stan’s lonely world.
·          Recording = 3
o    Nothing wrong here.
·          Judge’s Whim = 5
o    I’m pretty lenient here because it is rather interesting to jump to, words and music. Unfortunately, there have been more anthem found in other entries. Well crafted, though.

Jerry Skids – The Island Is My Home

Rank: 12

Score = 34
·          Challenge = 7
o    I’m not sure what this island is, with electromagnetic pulls and a Man in Black. Is this from Lost? Or the movie The Island? Sorry, The song didn’t do enough to help me figure it out. Sounds like a mystical land, though. I’m intrigued to find out more.
·          Lyrics = 6
o    It sets up the boundaries of this island to as far as the mysteries allows it. If an anthem states an identity of what the country it, it seems not even the writers can fathom the mysteries.
·          Composition = 6
o    Other than the ending, the song seems pretty consistent. With a added voice here and change of rhythm there, it keeps the listener tuned.
·          Songcrafting = 4
o    “From the… to the…” – has quite the This Land Is My Land vibe. And the ending is interesting, for sure. Were you trying to add more epicness to make it sound more like an anthem? Not too bad. But perhaps the whole song should have had that energy from the beginning. (It sounds crazy now, but if you think about it, maybe it would’ve really stood out.)
·          Arrangement = 2
o    Acoustic guitars are pretty, and although the technique applied is creative enough, I sort of wished more power could bring out the anthem. I mean, islands get acoustic guitars; it makes sense, I guess.
·          Performance = 3
o    Interesting harmonies. The whole song sounds like riding on an open-air car, driving through your interesting island.
·          Recording = 2
o    Nothing too bad here. Could compression make your voices come in and out in time? I’m no genius, just a suggestion.
·          Judge’s Whim = 4
o    I’ve grown to appreciate the diverse rhythms, as different as the various places of a country you could take the listener. Soft guitars with a rushing tempo has a pleasant effect, but perhaps it would’ve benefitted from having more focus.

Ben Spencer – Alcoholia

Rank: 13

Score: 34
 
·          Challenge - 7
o    I’m sure Alcoholia would have quite a good number of citizens who can take this idea to heart.
·          Lyrics - 5
o    At least you state what to expect in this world. There were a surprising amount of truths I could possibly agree on. But I still think there is more interest in getting drunk than standing up for themselves.
·          Composition - 5
o    Whew, what a hot mess in the end! I guess one can expect chaos in the end of it all. Throughout the song, it drifts and drags everywhere. Maybe the synth in the background adds to the depth of dizziness.
·          Songcrafting - 6
o    Sounds pretty crazy. It blends rather well.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    The song seems more formatted for a bar scene. I guess I can see the mob of drunks trying to sing this and fighting in the end. Kind of sad, actually.
·          Performance - 3
o    The lacksdaisical singing with unabashed guitar playing does its job.
·          Recording - 2
o    Some pops and sizzles are noticed. Is that beer being opened? Perhaps another recording could enhance the experience.
·          Judge’s Whim - 4
o    Not sure if I would join. It makes me afraid of being drunk.

Army Defense – Kron

Rank: 14

Score: 33
 
·          Challenge - 6
o    Another battle hymn, and perhaps even more pumped. Kron is also unfamiliar to me, but if it’s a fantasy world then I’ll be eager to listen.
·          Lyrics - 4
o    “Some kind of” what? I’m sorry, but these vague details don’t help clarify what Kron is. Words don’t connect very well to some cohesive stance. “Mages” and “mystics” are cool things, but there must be more?
·          Composition - 4
o    Careful design of the music makes this song quite interesting to listen to, but I regret to see the anthem here.
·          Songcrafting - 6
o    Something I would expect Led Zeppelin would be proud of.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    Cool rock song! But it sounds more belonging to the radio than something people stand up and put their hands on their hearts for.
·          Performance - 4
o    Delicious guitar work. “Black Dog”-inspired riff?
·          Recording - 3
o    Seems pretty good enough.
·          Judge’s Whim - 4
o    The guitar makes the song interesting enough for repeat, but why is this particularly a good genre for Kron? I wish I knew the identity of Kron a little better.

Megalodon – Digitalistan

Rank: 15

Score: 32
 
·          Challenge - 6
o    Ah yes, a world of digital reality. Fun to even think that their rivals are the analogs.
·          Lyrics - 6
o    I’m a sucker for digital terms. The binary code (for “digital”, right?) was pretty innovative.
·          Composition - 4
o    I’m also a sucker for electronic music. But where the lyrics had some thought, the music was filled with audio gimmicks that insisted that it was indeed very very digital.
·          Songcrafting - 4
o    The lyrics feels rather forced into placed with the music. With the binary code rap, I think you could’ve gotten away with a high octave for ones and its lower octave for aughts. Simple and powerful.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    Not sure if this fits so well with an anthem. Interesting song.
·          Performance - 2
o    Digital tools make things pretty nice and neat. The singing for the chorus has a strange harmony to some melody.
·          Recording - 3
o    It’s not bad. Perhaps needs a bit more clarification in the wordings.
·          Judge’s Whim - 5
o    I actually really enjoyed this song, despite some rather strange singing that shouldn’t have worked. I hope you make it to the next round.

Sid Brown – The Shire

Rank: 16

Score: 32
 
·          Challenge - 7
o    I do like some LOTR, and it is high time for the Shire to have their anthem.
·          Lyrics - 5
o    The lyrics are quite warm and welcoming. They seemed more focused on the pleasantries than their inner strength and skills.
·          Composition - 4
o    The rhythm seems very appropriate, but the tempo seems really rushed.
·          Songcrafting - 4
o    As a result, the words have a very difficult time fitting into the music. The words get all jumbled up in the speed. Poor Hobbits! I thought they would like to take it easier. At least the beginning and the end puts something personal into the mix.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    Thank you for putting the musical break near the end of the song. The constant chord progression and looping of the same musical phrase doesn’t make much a song without some diversity.
·          Performance – 3
o    Is that a real violin being played? If so, kudos to you!
·          Recording – 3
o    Job well done.
·          Judge’s Whim – 4
o    I’m sorry this wasn’t ranked much higher. It wasn’t a bad song at any sense, but I believe there are much more to Hobbits than meets the eye…

Felix Frost – Croton Alley

Rank: 17

Score: 32
 
·          Challenge - 5
o    Croton Alley. Quite a fictional country, no doubt. But what does Croton Alley want? Conquest? Control? Most competitors know what an excellent storyteller you are, but unfortunately I still find this song more as a story than an anthem.
·          Lyrics - 5
o    As a story, it’s pretty amusing to see humans try to keep in line in this dystopia. Plenty of key words that spell an anthem, but they are collected into more of a threat than a
·          Composition - 5
o    I’ve got to say, I always love to listen to your work. It’s like, “Huh, I wonder what are the current events in experimental music this Spintunes?” Usually big hit or miss, of course. At the moment, it’s still quite a miss, with the exception of the “The flag flies high! Vapor trails in the sky” stanza. For some reason, it’s musically excites me.
·          Songcrafting - 5
o    Also, the marching rhythm really adds to what I want to believe is an anthem. This is typical Felix Frost, with careful changes in music to specific lines of words.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    A electronic hot mess. Just the way I like it. Yum!
·          Performance - 3
o    Pretty typical stuff.  
·          Recording - 3
o    You’ve done this so many times. You probably could give me pointers about recording.
·          Judge’s Whim - 4
o    After more listens, I’m getting a better grasp of liking this song, but it’s at the end of the week. I’d like to think you’re so ahead of the game, no one can catch up to your genius. I’m still a loyal fan of yours.

Pigfarmer Jr. – Zamunda National Anthem

Rank: 18

Score: 31
 
·          Challenge - 9
o    Aw, Zamunda! Now that is unexpected. Pretty neat to create an anthem to such a simultaneously wealthy and deprived nation. I totally gave you props for this odd idea.
·          Lyrics - 5
o    This is quite a standard for an anthem, with the exception of desperately pointing out their lack of a queen. But isn’t it sad? There has to be more to this Zamunda place; in fact, why were they so proud in the first place? What did they contribute to the world? Eddie Murphy?
·          Composition - 4
o    It’s a sweet tune, but an instrument to double your voice is quite possibly the least you could do. At least you switch instruments. To be honest, the melody is perfectly fine, and maybe even better than the majority of the entries here.
·          Songcrafting - 2
o    But it’s Zamunda. Isn’t it an African nation? Remember the scene where all those gorgeous ladies came out to impress the prince? That music seemed appropriate because it carried a typical African percussion. Perhaps your idea may be too European to the tastes of its people.
·          Arrangement - 1
o    Good choice of instruments, but a cappella wouldn’t have been a bad option here either. Again, kinda hoping for a better rhythm.
·          Performance - 3
o    I think you sing lower than me and quite more on tune. I wish I could that.
·          Recording - 3
o    I’m surprised how nice your recording is. Mine always sound like it’s from the basement near the furnace. Probably because it is.
·          Judge’s Whim - 4
o    This song has a good heart to it, but I wonder if it is half-baked in a different direction. I guess this is the form of the anthem best sung in the living room with the family. Thank you for sharing!

The Roy Hammer Trio – Costaguana

Rank: 19

Score: 27
 
·          Challenge - 4
o    I’d love to stay, but I’m still not sure what it is. Is it like Guatemala? Or more like Jamaica?
·          Lyrics - 4
o    The words are there, ideas come up, but nothing seems to connect. I usually suck at understanding lyrics, so maybe this is way over my head.
·          Composition - 4
o    When I heard the beginning, I was fully prepared to love this song. Until I was thrown into a moshing pit! Not to say it wasn’t fun, but I liked the comfort of smoothness. I had to wait until the end for my comfort zone again.
·          Songcrafting – 4
o    There are some strange transition between stanzas, matched with drums that don’t seem to beat to the rhythm of the vocals, or vice versa.
·          Arrangement - 2
o    There is power to be found here, but then a piano is thrown in, and the drums likes to do its thing, and keyboards abandoned me… Help! Too much power!
·          Performance - 3
o    You know, I like how it slows down in the end. There was control in the each ends of the song. And singing wasn’t so bad, for a rock song indeed.
·          Recording - 3
o    No big problems to be found here.
·          Judge’s Whim - 3
o    This was a bit confusing, but it had some nuggets of intrigue. It was certainly diverse in music, and oddly enough, it reminds me of Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers”. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite tune from them, but it was a nice throwback.

Zoe Gray – Country Of The Sun

Rank: 20

Score: 25
 
·          Challenge - 6
o    I’m afraid this is an issue of talking about yourself in your country and not enough about the country and what it stands for.
·          Lyrics - 5
o    This is a lovely imaginary country you’re describing. All sorts of imagery.
·          Composition - 3
o    This song sounds delightful for the radio, after a couple more practices. Honestly, this song would fit better in the Painful Progression round last Spintunes.
·          Songcrafting - 4
o    Yes, it actually does sound painful. Perhaps that was your goal, to express some disappointment with your country.
·          Arrangement - 1
o    The piano isn’t well known for anthems, compared to trumpets and guitars. Perhaps sticking to a capella would’ve given you more control on your creation.
·          Performance - 1
o    Chugging chords on the piano is sometimes all you need. But I wonder if you intended the rubato.
·          Recording - 2
o    If this is all one recording, no cuts, I would be blown away at your bravery. But again, if only we had more time for practice.
·          Judge’s Whim - 3
o    You are a spectacular composer, and it’s unfair that this scoring system gives me the unpleasant experience to put you so low in these rankings. If I remember correctly, I thought you said on Facebook that you had to scrap your original idea in the last minute. Very unfortunate, but imagine: some players couldn’t think of one idea, and you struggled to think of two. I would be very interested to hear first version. And good job on the St. Agnes performance. I can’t mention that enough.

Conclusion

This review was already so late, so thank you, Travis, for giving me the patience. And I also want to thank my wife for letting me spend my whole Saturday writing these reviews. Best of luck to all of you.