Friday, February 15, 2013

Spintunes #6 Round 2 Review: Paul Potts

This was no doubt a very frustrating challenge. In fact, this one made me quite glad that I was judging, and not participating. It wouldn't be fair to say that all music geeks are all anti-sports or have no interest in sports, but a lot of us are. But the same reasons that a challenge is frustrating also serves to make it valuable -- you should be able to get out of your comfort zone and do it anyway.

There were disqualifications, and the judges had to hash this out. First -- Minecraft? We just couldn't see our way clear, by any stretch of the rules, to consider it a sport. The challenge was to "write a fight song for your favorite sports team." As far as I understand it, Minecraft doesn't even have an in-game team play mode the way World of Warcraft does, although people might sort of create their own team by communicating outside the game. I'm not sure if we might have been convinced to accept a song about a Warcraft guild, but I think a stronger case could be made there. In any case -- Minecraft -- not a sport even by a pretty loose definition. Sorry, guys.

A song that we could not manage to interpret as "fight songs" in lyric or style was disqualified. That would be Army Defense. Sorry, guys.

The judges debated whether to consider chess a sport for the purpose of the challenge. I wound up supporting the idea that it is a sport, but I was not really happy about it. If the challenge had said "team sport" instead of "sports team" I would have voted against chess. Chess is not a team sport per se -- it's not played by a whole team at once. This makes it sort of like wrestling. And yes, I've heard about chess in the Olympics.

Anyway, here we go.

1. Steve Durand - Put Your Mettle To The Pedals: Steve, your lyrics are hilarious, your political relevance impeccable. The song is RIPPED FROM TODAY'S HEADLINES! The instrumentation is perfect. This is a team sport, and a nerdy one at that. I might have even been a fan of it once; my road bike is a LeMond. The song feels genuinely enthusiastic even with just the right dose of cynical snark, which is fully appropriate given the circumstances. Nice work!

2. Kevin Savino-Riker - The 12th Man: is this some kind of joke? Wait... no, it's not? What? He's... serious? Not ironic at all? I don't even know how to judge this... what... how... ummm... well, very nicely done! Congrats on actually meeting the challenge head-on, no squirming or ironic evasion! This was one of the most convincing, as far as evoking a real fight song, although your voice sounds just a little stuffed-up and the performance is maybe a little restrained.

3. MC Ohm - Let's Go Mets: a rap fight song. Interesting choice. I'd say that it would be hard to actually get the fans to perform this at a game, except they kept it nice and simple and rhythmic, with a sung chorus. So it seems like it could work in real life. Instrumentation is fantastic.

4. Ross Durand - Bigger In Texas: very Texas-sounding. I can really hear this being led as a chant in the stands -- I'm imagining the on-field band would stop and get the fans to sing the chorus over and over.

5. Edric Haleen - A Father's Fight Song: Damn you, Edric. Damn you, you evil, cruel, mean, magnificent, beautiful man! I hate you! I love this! You nailed the challenge, while also taking it and turning it into something more. As I often feel about your songs, I hardly know where to rank this, because it's like you're playing on a different playing field. I didn't rank it as the best fight song per se, because it kind of... over-delivers? But it's wonderful. And I've got something in my eye...

6. TurboShandy - Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch: hilarious and
impossible to sing. Nice simple instrumentation. I'm imagining this is one of the few team names that might actually get _easier_ to chant the more you drink?

7. The Middle Relievers - Here's To Joe: nice atmosphere, strong lyrics, really sounds like a bunch of half-drunk guys in a pub. So, very convincing. Not a lot more to it than that, and there doesn't really need to be more; challenge nailed.

8. Jerry Skids - Psyche 'Em Out! (The Beers Fight Song): I vaguely remember Baseketball from some movie but it doesn't matter that much, this pretty much sounds like a fight song (although I'm not sure a bunch of drunken fans in the bleachers would be able to hit the high notes and harmonies). Extra credit for being SHORT and ENTHUSIASTIC!

9. Josh Holober-Ward - Let's Go Ravens!: I love the concept -- a fight song by a guy (like me) who knows nothing about football but still insists on cheering for the team he doesn't know a whole lot about. Still sounds mostly like a viable fight song, while the lyrics... mock the very concept of football fandom. "Nobody footballs like you" -- LOL.

10. Dr. Lindyke - Cock Fight: Dear G-d. Why? All right. Very well. Fine. FINE! Instrumentation and melody and _style_ is dead-on, although it failed to really elicit a guffaw, I'm sad to say. If that's what you're into... not that there's anything wrong with that... and a rape joke! I love those! Oh, wait... no I don't. Marked down a bit because if this is the fight song it's definitely an UN-official one that the fans sing at the tailgate party.

11. The Chocolate Chips - Indian Cricket Team Fight Song (Win For India​!​): in comedy, if I'm working "ping-pong," That's when you take the most obvious stereotypes about a culture and reference them as a sort of shorthand. Like, you have a Chinese character, and you make that character say "ping-pong, ching-dong, ahhh sooo." It's a sort of shorthand for comedy and it can be considered distasteful or even racist. This strikes me as being just a _little_ on the ping-pong side. But I love the idea of a Cricket fight song, the instruments are right, and so I choose to imagine this as something I'd come across in a Bollywood movie -- that is, Indians making fun of themselves -- rather than a distasteful American comedy routine making fun of Indians in a possibly-offensive way. I'm not sure if everyone would see it that way, though. And it's not all that fight-song-ish... at least not that American fight-song-ish. So I'm having a little trouble imagining people in the stands actually singing it. Like, are sitars and tabla really usable as marching band instruments?

12. Glen Raphael - Gunn High Chess Team Fight: sounds like a fight song. Sort of. More of a chant. Clever lyrics. Chess fight song -- well, a little unconvincing. Credit for the chorused and harmony singing, but the recording is too quiet, and a total lack of instrumentation does not really serve the song well (not even pieces clicking on the board or some such -- that seems like an opportunity missed).

13. RC - We Will Bury You: the premise is hilarious, but I think if you're going to write a song about a nonexistent sports team for a real institution, it needs some kind of detail so I have an image in my head of what the sport is. This song doesn't say. Is it soccer? Competitive embalming? The gags are funny, but... what's going on? No image to hold in my head = weak storytelling = weak song. Also, the music is really well-done but to me it does not do a good job of evoking the usual instrumentation of a fight song.

14. Brian Gray - Fei Gong: the lyrics are hilarious, and I like the concept and the music, but it gets marked down quite a bit because it's too abstract, same as RC's song. It's a team of some sort, but vague; what sport are they actually playing? It seems like you are imagining a fictional team of some kind for a real historic school of Chinese thought, but it's not clear from what little I read about Mohism that they ever engaged in any kind of sport, even something like archery competitions, so there's not much to imagine going on that we'd be cheering for.

15. "BucketHat" Bobby - YTCWGWCT: a song about curling! Lyrics are excellent, nice performance, short and sweet. However, not all that fight-song-ish. More short-pop-song-ish, and so it sadly gets lowered to below the songs that struck me as something I might really hear at a game.

16. Jenny Katz - Load The Cannon, Light The Fuse: this sounds very good, and I get that it's about the Arsenal Football Club, but I found it a little confusing. It doesn't sound like a fight song to me. The imagery is of a battlefield. I guess it's making an artistic statement about a football (soccer) match as a battle, but with references to cannons and all that I have to say it doesn't seem to me that it meets the challenge very well.

17. Blimp Exhaust - Checkmate!: ummmm. Well, the lyrics are kind of like a fight song, but the music? Not at _all_. And so although I really quite like this as a pop song, it gets marked down lower because it's not very fight-song-ish.

DISQUALIFIED

Steven Wesley Guiles - Minecraft Fight Song:
I like the chiptunes music and the vocal performance, but the lyrics themselves undermine the whole idea that this is a sports team fight song.

Army Defense - 72Dolphins: strange distorted/slowed vocals over punk-ish music is interesting, and weirdly dark (I kinda like dark), but this song seems to be about a historic victory and is, in no sense that the other judges and I can work out, a fight song.

SHADOWS

Edric Haleen - ICA School Song (Shadow): it's impressive that Edric has an archive of this kind of stuff. It makes me wonder what else is in his archive! Sounds like a real fight song.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Go, Trenton Wolverines! (Shadow): Oh, I wish this had been a valid entry. The sentiment is... well, kind of mean and cruel actually, by which of course I mean that as a sports-hating person, I FREAKING LOVE IT. Glory days, my butt...