Saturday, August 2, 2014

SpinTunes #9 Round 2 Reviews: Ted Kiper

As a reminder of what the challenge is:
Undeserved Love - Write a song about unconditionally loving someone who plainly isn't worth it. (example: "Grenade" by Bruno Mars) (2 minute minimum length)
But how does one unconditionally love another? With naïve joy? Or bitter submission? Many entries brought a variety of perspectives, and some competitors executed excellent ideas.
Perhaps the question I was mostly looking for an answer: did the song make me feel like the beloved is super lucky to have him/her? If I didn’t know enough about the people, I probably couldn’t find a reason to rank much higher. But overall, this round brought out some interesting and surprising good entries. Good job, everyone!


My Reviews
 
 
Dr. Lindyke – Nothing But Love (Shadow)
Score: 50
If Ranked: 1
 
Challenge: 12
            Best idea to match the challenge. And it doesn’t really surprise me… (I’m NOT saying you would definitely relate!)
Lyrics: 7
            She is so lucky to have him.
Composition: 6
            I don’t find the music too awfully creative, but it works very well as a stand-alone.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            Quite a catchy and replay-able creation. Honestly, I can’t pick on anything wrong with how this was crafted. It’s solid and tight.
Arrangement: 3
            Sounds pretty cheerful for such a depressing situation.
Performance: 4
            Whistling sounds fun.
Recording: 3
            Sounds nice and homey.
Judge’s Whim: 8
            I’ve been annoying my wife with singing “She’s got nothing but love for me!” She already read the descriptive lyrics, so my reminding singing hasn’t been working as a hit-on, though. So why did you stick such a terribly catchy line in my newlywed mind? Absolutely cruel.
 
Steve Durand – One More Chance
Score: 49
Rank: 1
 
Challenge: 9
            An enabler’s lament. From the early 1900’s. At a time when people might have been desperate for better living conditions. This shouldn’t be so surprising to hear for the round, but the idea is quite well developed here.
Lyrics: 7
            I love all the wrong this scum did. Cool storytelling. Interesting self-reflection.
Composition: 6
            Nothing too crazy here, no strange turns, no curveballs. But it all works splendidly and consistently. As if this is the same occurrence to her over and over again.
Songwriting Craft: 8
            Brilliant piece. It feels like you had a time machine and recorded something back then. Bass guitar walks me throughout the sad story. Suffice beginning and ending.
Arrangement: 4
            Everything makes sense. Nothing needed to add, nothing to take away.
Performance: 3
            The woman singing is doing a gorgeous job. (But I kind of miss your singing, Steve. I hope you weren’t the absent guy in the story!)
Recording: 4
            Nice and old feeling. Another wonderful example that you don’t need high-tech equipment to make a captivating piece. Very well done.
Judge’s Whim: 8
            I still somehow believe that I must have heard this in one of those Fallout games, which is impossible. But it really should be in the game. This song is incredibly delicious.
 
Steven Wesley Guiles – True Blue
Score: 49
Rank: 2
 
Challenge: 10
            I believe this song was mentioned as having the POV of a dog. If so, I thought it was pretty novel. Dogs do seem to give a lot of care to their owners. Unfortunately, I’m more of a cat person, for the same reason I can’t shake off while listening to the song, that perhaps dogs always want more attention than is already given. Does this make the owner plainly unworthy? Regardless, it was a great idea.
Lyrics: 6
            Fun and light-hearted, I appreciate the refrain from anger. It may not be easy to “unconditionally” love an idiot without feeling bitter, so instead, this song focuses more on the narrator’s promises than the owner’s misbehaviors.
Composition: 6
            This is quite a pop sound, and the rhythm seems quite fitting for your subject. It’s so pleasant, in fact, I can’t stop smiling from listening to the entire song.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            Most everything is smooth, and the whoo-ooh-ooh’s are an excellent addition to the whole song. Maybe I thought the end was a little excessive, to the point of significantly upsetting, from an otherwise joyful noise.
Arrangement: 3
            The instrumentations are alright for each other, and even for your challenge idea, but I kind of wished for a little more depth and creativity.
Performance: 4
            The whimpers are quite unique and appropriate. Top score for the round.
Recording: 4
            Quite clean. No problems to mention.
Judge’s Whim: 9
            I have a bit of an issue from the title. Maybe you took the Bruno Mars example to heart; but when I think “True Blue”, I was expecting something more mature, when the song feels a little silly and needy. I think your direction was wise, though, because I find this quite catchy and replay-able.
 
Brian Gray – Otisburg
Score: 47
Rank: 3
 
Challenge: 9
Also read the song bio. I’ve seen the movie a long time ago, but I had absolutely no recollection of this person. (Smart to make another comic book/superhero reference. Some judges might swoon for it.)
Lyrics: 6
            Verses seem either a little normal or a little specific, but the chorus is pretty defining. I guess it shows how Lex plans his routine so casually, like every day scheming.
Composition: 8
            The music is charming. Different and perhaps folksy. There are parts that I really quite enjoy, like the chord strums at the transitioning end of the chorus. Even the instrumental is oddly fitting, like the seemingly unwitting melody should be its own song. Smart.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            Also, there is something about how you deliver the chorus that seems inviting, including the brains part. Something about this reminds me of how I composed “Crowning Glory”, but this seems smoother and more listenable.
Arrangement: 3
            There doesn’t seem to be much of an indication of annoyance. But it all fits very well anyway.
Performance: 3
            The singing is enjoyable, especially the melodic jump in the last chorus.
Recording: 4
Very nice mix. Nothing overwhelming.
Judge’s Whim: 7
            Catchiest song I’ve heard from you. Quite replayable. Makes me want to watch the movie again.
 
MC Ohm-I – Love Her Again In Hell
Score: 44
Rank: 4
 
Challenge: 6
            Omg, is this a true story? Anyway, so you didn’t purposely bring her that chocolate? Oh, I thought it was your fault. Whatever, it seemed like you were at least a little happier, after all she took advantage of.
Lyrics: 8
            One of the advantages of rap, in my opinion, is having a brawny, descriptive story. This one is particularly fascinating and entertaining. Delicious stuff.
Composition: 7
            The beat is there and driving, with enough innocent instruments to carry whatever words you care to share.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            I never thought I’d be so relieved to hear some rap. Super fresh. With a working melody, this song is complete and replayable.
Arrangement: 3
            For something that could’ve been a little too repetitive, I’m surprised how much weight this carried. Impressive.
Performance: 3
            It wasn’t all too epic, but it all works well.
Recording: 3
            Nothing bad here. Diversity of vocals keeps it interesting.
Judge’s Whim: 7
            I feel kind of bad for her. And I think I feel more bad for her than you did. (When my wife heard of her demise, she gasped. And she doesn’t usually gasp for Spintunes songs. Then she giggled.)
 
Governing Dynamics – Where The River Meets The Earth
Score: 43
Rank: 5
 
Challenge: 7
This time, I read our song bio. And thank goodness, I would’ve been a bit lost without it. Interestingly, obsession does seem to involve loving someone unconditionally. But what if I said, “I love you because I don’t know you and can’t get enough of you. But when I’m satisfied, and reach the mystery of you, I may not need you anymore.” This may not be as unconditional as you want it.
Lyrics: 6
            This was quite a “puzzle”, wasn’t it? A lot of imagery, a lot of feeling. But I still don’t feel the identities of the detective or the lady. I guess this focuses very intently on the obsession.
Composition: 8
            The music tells me the story all in itself, almost like I didn’t need the lyrics. And that, to me, means excellent composition. It’s the best and most creative of the round.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            To match the lyrics into the epic music must have been challenging. Your name is showing well here, loud and quiet parts appreciated.
Arrangement: 4
            Much better than your last entry. Layers are distinguishable now, probably thanks to your “trem picking”.
Performance: 3
            Vibrato bar? Sounds awesome. Also, I really enjoyed your lower register in singing. Sounds super serious.
Recording: 3
            I figure singing lower notes needs more projection, but you don’t seem to suffer this problem, so good job.
Judge’s Whim: 6
            Yes, I did feel this was a bit long, particularly the second half, but there were enough nuggets of musical tricks that keep this piece fresh. Perhaps one of my favorites from you.
 
Felix Frost – Jasper (Shadow)
Score: 40
If Ranked: 6
 
Challenge: 8
            Thanks for the song bio! Oh yes, I suppose this is quite a case of one-way love. But when you hear other songs, they elaborate characters that constantly fail all the time. Jasper seems to have failed in the fight this once, and having the concierge overlook his [?mistake] doesn’t seem strong for “unconditional love” as it does for a man-crush. Plainly unworthy? Surely.
Lyrics: 5
            When I was first listening to your entry with my wife, she asked me if he is gay. I was kind of shocked because I didn’t get that impression; I thought Jasper was a role model or a fatherly figure for someone who wishes to be just as strong. There was a lot of teaching and protecting, like an adult for a child.
Composition: 6
            Classic layers of audible goodies. And this time not so conflicting from each other. The somewhat instrumental part before the “miracle” bridge is particularly attractive.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            I especially like the choruses. “Roundhouse kick” part swings impressively. I think there were some forced rolls of words in certain stanzas that doesn’t necessarily parallel other stanzas or even other lines. Oh well, I barely noticed.
Arrangement: 3
            I got my Felix Frost fix. Thank you!
Performance: 3
            It’s like the narrator sincerely desires more of Jasper.
Recording: 3
            Nothing wrong here. (Do I sense more dynamics?)
Judge’s Whim: 6
            I think it’s a sweet story, and I almost find it oddly inspiring. One of my favorites from you. Thanks for submitting this shadow.
 
James Young – Moth
Score: 39
Rank: 6
 
Challenge: 8
            I’ve never heard of a song using a moth as a metaphor. Very interesting and unique idea.
Lyrics: 5
            The verses seem to reflect reality, but it doesn’t necessarily connect to the chorus. Could the metaphor extend further throughout the song?
Composition: 6
            It produces a bittersweet tenderness. Nothing too extravagant. It’s the rhythm and style that makes this song stand out.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            Overall, there is a dark warmth presented.
Arrangement: 3
            Nothing too extraordinary, and I didn’t expect it needed any either.
Performance: 3
            This was well done. Much more normal than your last entry, thank goodness. I like this.
Recording: 2
            I think the vocals can do for some clearer hearing. Singing is nice, so let me hear it better.
Judge’s Whim: 6
            There’s nothing wrong with this song. Very pleasant. Perhaps it would’ve ranked higher with more risks like your like entry. Is there more you can offer?
 
Heather Zink – Love At First Sight (Shadow)
Score: 39
Rank: 7
 
Challenge: 8
            Read the song bio. I’m not familiar with myths, but they always intrigued me. Heard of Narcissus, but I didn’t know there was a story for Echo.
Lyrics: 6
            Whew, lots of rhyming. Way to stay focused in what seems pretty, no matter which character’s POV.
Composition: 6
            This has a great diversity of techniques, especially at the “I’d do anything” stanza.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            Like the myth, the song reaches for epicness.
Arrangement: 3
There’s something very familiar in this style. Dynamics are quite present in the piano.
Performance: 3
            With the freedom, I sense some confidence in your performance.
Recording: 2
I like the simplicity, but maybe the music could do for cleaner sound quality.
Judge’s Whim: 5
            It’s pretty epic sounding… Wouldn’t this have been interesting if Edric had helped out?
 
Army Defense – Don’t Fool Yourself
Score: 38
Rank: 7
 
Challenge: 4
            You don’t sound all too loving for the person being fooled. You seem more interested showing the person’s faults—maybe that’s how much the narrator loves the other. But I don’t know all the faults, so this all sounds overneeded.
Lyrics: 4
            “You’re not going to spoil the magic”—I guess this is the wake up call. “What do they want?”—indeed, what is wanted here? Being drunk that one time ruined everything? There must be more.
Composition: 7
            I love this chord progression. The beginning hooks well to me, and the verses carry me across quite sincerely.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            It was all delivered quite sweetly, that I almost forgot the lyrics. As a generic song, it’s gorgeous.
Arrangement: 3
            The transitions from stanzas is so smooth, I can’t and don’t want to think of verses and choruses. It’s a song.
Performance: 3
            I love the softness in everything. Very cushy.
Recording: 4
            It has this pleasant live feel that approaches home to me.
Judge’s Whim: 7
            Perhaps the most lovely ballad in the round, and although I don’t hear this soft side of you very often, I find this unfamiliar territory quite beautiful.
 
Jerry Skids – Another Apology
Score: 38
Rank: 8
 
Challenge: 8
            Your song bio proved effective. How unnerving to have such a girlfriend. Bipolar? Tragic when good things spoil so terribly. Would this song have been more successful if you still loved your girlfriend, after all that she did? So there was a condition that broke you guys up?
Lyrics: 6
            Pretty involving story. Your song’s recurring main line is obviously important enough for repetition.
Composition: 6
            A surprising amount of dynamics and transitions for a not too complicated song.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            The ending was almost jarring, but I think it’s cool how it feels so jumpy, so fitting for the genre and the “jumping to conclusions”.
Arrangement: 2
            Pop punk is an interesting medium to present your upsetting situation. Sounds like you’re more angry than loving at the moment.
Performance: 3
            Strong performance. Obviously full of energy. A vocal bitter?
Recording: 2
            The power seems a little cuffed in this pop rock song.
Judge’s Whim: 5
Brave to make a song for this, so kudos. Reminds me of Relient K. Thank you for submitting. Please tell me there’s a happier sequel.
 
Kolton H. – Sacred Drug
Score: 37
Rank: 9
 
Challenge: 7
I wonder kind of drug this would be, but I guess it could be open to various interpretations.
Lyrics: 6
            Great expression of obsession. Toxic, poison, venom, virus—quite a drug! There’s not a part that seems out of place for your idea.
Composition: 6
            Lovely textures once more. Undertones drag me to some crazy areas. Maybe I’d like your creative juices to be more invested into chord diversity for different parts of the song.
Songwriting Craft: 6
            Only time to think and say during the recess of music. Otherwise, it’s back into the side effects reflected in the music. Not bad.
Arrangement: 3
            If one mentions drugs, of course electronic music comes to mind. It’s the most addicting music I know! And this one seems to be quite a stimulant.
Performance: 2
            Nothing too outstanding, but it does the job.
Recording: 1
            I can’t hear your singing. It’s the only layer that seems lacking.
Judge’s Whim: 6
            I sense some kind of Linkin’ Park, the good blend. I have such a soft spot for this genre. It’s hard for me not to like this.
 
TurboShandy – Some Idea Of You
Score: 33
Rank: 10
 
Challenge: 7
            This isn’t a bad idea, I suppose. I can see your unconditional plea, and a fictional person isn’t the best investment of one’s attention. But isn’t it a little too convenient to make up somebody you “keep loving” for the sake of the challenge?
Lyrics: 4
            The lyrics would have been a good opportunity to explain why you love this fictional person, or what’s wrong with loving him/her. But the vagueness doesn’t want to grab hold to my attention.
Composition: 5
            I think it’s nice and all, with a vocal harmonies and guitar bits, but I still believe there is room for more creativity, something that would make this sound more unique or more specific to the challenge. Or perhaps the mildness of the sound maintains the “some idea” spirit.
Songwriting Craft: 4
            Something here feels like it’s dragging. And it may not have been helped by the stop-start bridge. My favorite part is the beginning pieces of the verses.
Arrangement: 3
            Pretty standard for a rock ballad, I guess. Maybe a little too standard.
Performance: 2
Forgive me, but your delivery seemed uninterested or possibly apathetic.
Recording: 3
            Nothing wrong here.
Judge’s Whim: 5
            It reminds me of Weezer, a band I like and respect, but this seems more conservative in power.
 
Sid Brown – I’m Just Too In Love With Loving You
Score: 32
Rank: 11
 
Challenge: 6
            There isn’t much a story to empathize in either character. Why is he so in love with her? This idea is pretty standard, and unfortunately other Spintunes has more interesting subjects to discuss.
Lyrics: 3
            “I tried too hard to find another woman”—it sounds like you’re looking for more conditions for leaving her. I’m also not sure how deep is the line “in love with loving you”. Sounds a little too convenient.
Composition: 5
            Aside from some beautiful harmonica solos, the song is rather simple and safe. I’m afraid there isn’t enough creative risks to make this stand out.
Songwriting Craft: 5
            Quite an ending, with a quick fadeout. Calming, but I might sense an attitude of “meh, whatever”.
Arrangement: 3
            The instruments are good choices, but how it was used has nothing too terribly new.
Performance: 3
            Pretty folksy, which is cool.
Recording: 2
            Vocals can be a bit clearer. But everything else has the dynamics very well mixed.
Judge’s Whim: 5
            It’s pleasant, for sure. But in a round with impressive pieces from other competitors, perhaps it was time for you to pull some risks to get more of my attention.
 
Megalodon – The Harsh Day Of Light (Shadow)
Score: 31
If Ranked: 12
 
Challenge: 5
            So the girlfriend ruins the narrator’s life. And trying to love the real her is like embracing the harsh light of day? This song seems to focus more in how hurt he feels. Does he need more trust in her? Sounds like a condition to love her.
Lyrics: 5
            “Not gonna fall for that again”—is this unconditional loving? “How can I forgive her?”--I’m not sure, but for the sake of the challenge, I hope you have. And the story in the lyrics seems to lack some cohesion to me. I thought the title was rather creative.
Composition: 5
            There is a lot of creativity oozing from the corners, but every turn of a stanza brings something a little unexpected. It’s difficult for me to find something I can grow to like. And if I have to pay attention to the bigger picture of the music, I still feel lost.
Songwriting Craft: 4
            The direction in the song goes everywhere. I suppose this could reflect a constantly switching relationship. But the resulting sound is about as similar as flipping radio stations to listen for a favorable hook. This is particularly exhibited in the instrumental bridge.
Arrangement: 3
            It’s interesting to hear very similar instrumentation in all styles of the song. Quite creative here.
Performance: 2
There is an autotuned harmony that is spazzing out.
Recording: 3
            Everything seems pretty pleasant.
Judge’s Whim: 4
            I wanted to grow to love it, but not very much sticks on my brain. So many different rhythms, they weave together like a quilt of various musical pieces.
 
Zoe Gray – Jesse’s Girl
Score: 29
Rank: 12
 
Challenge: 6
            This is quite the modern day Romeo and Juliet. I had to look extensively to find out this is a reference to Breaking Bad, a show I really wish to watch. Did someone had a crush on him in the show? She sounds like she just got out of middle school.
Lyrics: 4
Words like “loser”, “no good”, “kind of suck”, kind of solidify a sense of immaturity, which seems to be appropriate to describe the narrator.
Composition: 5
            There is a lot more creativity introduced through you this round, and a lot of it makes textural sense. Electro beats in the high school verses, to sweet bell chiming in the charming chorus, it oddly feels fresh at both ends.
Songwriting Craft: 4
            When you delivered “loser”, it almost seemed like you were accusing your Romeo. It’s a bit bipolar in mood.
Arrangement: 2
            Really interesting instrumentation. The rhythm is still more off-base than I’m comfortable with.
Performance: 2
            It’s interesting to hear your pretty voice used in such rough rhythms. There was a lot of dynamics for you to tackle. I took particular satisfaction at your last singing note.
Recording: 3
            Well executed. Nothing too noticeably wrong.
Judge’s Whim: 5
            This song is really strange, like an awkward teenager who doesn’t know its place in childhood or adulthood. If it wasn’t Breaking Bad, I thought it was Degrassi. Even stranger is that I was well entertained.
 
Plenitude – Are You Here (Shadow)
Score: 29
If Ranked: 13
 
Challenge: 6
            I’m trying my best to differentiate the focus of this song from other love songs. It neither points out the flaws of the beloved other than his absence, nor does it provide any challenges to the narrator to test her unfailing love. Is the lack of time the challenge?
Lyrics: 4
            Aside from the beginning lines and bridge, I don’t feel it explores creative territory.
Composition: 4
            The bridge is somewhat intriguing, but the rest is pretty standard segments.
Songwriting Craft: 4
            I feel there needed to be smoother transitions between stanzas. For example, the end of the bridge probably needed a meaningful shift of music as the singer holds on “can’t…”, before it returns to the chorus.
Arrangement: 2
            Compared to your last shadow, these sets of instruments and their usage seem a little less thought for.
Performance: 4
            The singing soars pretty confidently.
Recording: 1
            Such a shame that the volume was mixed so low.
Judge’s Whim: 4
            So why do I like your last entry much more than this? It might be because the last one really stood out. It sounded very different (it even had a different language!)