Saturday, July 29, 2017

SpinTunes 13 Round 3 Challenge

Now's the time when we make you work. We already know you can write lyrics. But now it's time to get professional.  Professionals edit.
Do Over: Take your Round 1 or Round 2 entry and re-write the song using the exact same lyrics, with a completely new tune and style.

Submitting Entries:
  • Your entry must be received by August 6, 2017 @ 11:59 PM EDTOtherwise 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. One minute late is too late.
  • You are allowed and encouraged to submit a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens and you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song and send in a better version closer to the deadline. The last version received prior to the deadline is your official entry. 
  • Lyrics are mandatory. No instrumentals. Having no lyrics will get you disqualified.
  • Name your file the Band name & song's title.
  • Title of the e-mail should be your band's name & the title of the Challenge (e.g. "Dr Lindyke - Do Over")
  • Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collabed with someone. Remember, collaborations are OK. You must write your song, but if you want to use another vocalist or musicians, do so. 
  • 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. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!
  • Other file sharing options if you need them: Sound Cloud (set to download a format BandCamp is ok with) & Drop Box. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. 
  • If you're using something other than Bandcamp, It's best if you 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.
  • If you send me an MP3, I will attempt to convert it for you. But be warned... I will be strapped for time, and I will post whatever Audacity spits out of the conversion. So if you picked the wrong sample rate, your dulcet tones may wind up sounding like termites or chipmunks or random static. And that is what will be judged. So please... save and submit your files in the right format. 

Side Notes:
  • You are allowed to send in a little background about your song. We encourage and appreciate "song bios". You don't have to do it, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. I'll even link to longer blog posts if you want to explain your song on your blog. Some judges will read this extra info, but they aren't required to.
  • If you didn't sign-up in time to compete in SpinTunes 13, you can stillcomplete the challenge and send in a song. It will be uploaded with the other entries as a "Shadow Song" and it will be played at the listening party. 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.

ST13R2 Results!

Round Two is now complete, and as you can tell from the rankings, it was very close in every respect! And speaking of that, plenty of respect goes out to all of the contestants. Knowing that they could be reinstated, I hope that those who are eliminated this round decide to shadow round 3! Again, if you were eliminated, keep an eye on your inbox, as you will be asked to vote on the Round 4 entries to decide the contest!

Of the official entries, we had no disqualifications. The top 12 bands are going on to Round Two.

The Results

RankBandDave CheethamPaul RosenbluthBrian GrayDJ Ranger DenDaniel PrinceJosh Holober-WardTotal Points
1Glen Raphael41668227
2Boy on the Wall583131030
3Melissa Phillips621134531
5Sara Parsons106581333
6Edric Haleen121541012154
7Alex Valentine71284101354
8Governing Dynamics14310791154
9Jailhouse Payback997177655
10Little Bobby Tables810111521258
11W8 What113171614465
12JoAnn Abbott & M.A.T.317131151766
13Kevin Savino-Riker135151261566
15Micah Sommersmith111816317772
16James Young1771214181684
17Rob from Amersfoort1816149131888
18Matt Walton1514181815989
19Jordan Carroll191919191919114

There was a tie at the cusp and I broke it in favor of M.A.T. Though the opening verses were a bit weak, it cleared up, and I appreciated the more complex instrumentation... and it was just a fun song.

Kevin Savino-Riker - Megalodon - Micah Sommersmith - James Young - Rob from Amersfoort - Matt Walton - Jordan Carroll

Disqualifications (0)

  • Judges ranked the songs from their favorite (1) to least favorite (28). 
  • For each band, the ranks were added together to get a score.
  • The bands were sorted by score, low to high. 
  • Ties were broken by Dave Leigh.
The top contenders move on to Round Three. Scores from this round do not carry over and will not be used.

Stay tuned for the next challenge!

ST13R2 Reviews: Denise Hudson

Dear Spintuna-fishies.
Here are your reviews. This was a hard round. The judges’  opinions were widespread and the ranking proper is obstreperous and snarly. I apologize if anyone feels butthurt or saddened by these Results. Please know that everyone did so very well and you are all clever and your music is muchly appreciated. I was glad that you gave me the opportunity to listen to your songs and give you feedback. I never quite know what to say and I did my best to mention something that will help you to grow and also to convey that In Fact your song is appreciated by me. I could be either all negative or all positive but I would like to do neither in this instance. Everyone wants to improve; and everyone would like to read something nice about themselves. I hope I have provided some information here, and if you would like to know any more ever from me; I can give you a more comprehensive critique should you ever want that. About songwriting, my thoughts on production, my thoughts on performance, or whatever you like. This is not hugely comprehensive and is just a small judge-y taste of my thinking, otherwise I’d go into line by line depth and probably write reams.

Thank you for your songs.
Denise H.

I listened to this quite a few times and it is SOOOO catchy and well done. All the ingredients of this are right and just so. Your verses were clever, catchy, and meaningful without being precious or preachy. Your production seemed effortless and casual and seemed to get out of the way of good songwriting, facilitating the topic. Your bridge/outro didn’t do what bridges normally do, which is annoy me (as a songwriter I’m WAY over bridges and have bought into being spoon-fed the catchy)— in fact, I think that a bridge needs to either fully justify itself and either be the most amazing bridge we have all ever heard; or get in and then GTFO and you really did that they best way ever by ending the damn song … this is nice when you have a song you would rather not have end. Also I am usually super picky as well about obtrusive synth parts that are frat-party-tuneful, but this one just came across hooky as $#’’*&. This is great. And I am crusty and cynical and could use a letter back through time myself.  😃

This was easy to hear, effortlessly clever, and riddled with pleasant and skillfully nestled references and easter eggs. Like a well planned ice skating routine where it LOOKS easy, but you know that the dismounts take skill to pull off. Story telling-styled structure holds tight within production that doesn’t outshine content and showcases the lead line to enormous effect. I genuinely enjoyed fully ignoring your liner notes and trying to guess the clues for myself … and I’m never confused or left holding my breath thinking ‘wow…you sure have showcased amazing *musicianship/engineering* here, but I’m just not connecting emotionally .... This one is just solid good times and nostalgia I can taste. AND it really was good storytelling, sonically and lyrically. 😃Yay.

This is charming, weave-y, hooky, and clever. The instrumentation is unobtrusive and the songwriting can’t be argued with. Your singing fits the genre well, and the genre fits the song once again and doesn’t weigh itself down in the sort of way that overly genre-ed songs do that will never rise above themselves. Your production is in the pocket and you aren’t crutching on the fact that you’re The Accordion Guy which is really kind of Metal considering you’re up against all these bands and singer songwriter guitar/piano/uke/midi/whatever things all the time. And the song, I appreciate the message SO VERY MUCH and I wish that I’d written this letter to MYSELF, frankly. It IS okay to stay home!

I appreciated this song on a DEEPLY cellular and political level, and you pulled it off with sheer emotional drama and good instrumentation choices and a solid knowledge of your genre. Perhaps it is just because this is where we are stuck politically now, when there are so many letters from a much nicer future that seem to be sadly lost in transit for these unkind times. Consistent songwriting with poignant lyric choices are very appropriate to your perspective and age/timeline-in-life—a massive kick definately channels Green Day both literally and sonically alongside jangly guitar right into the angst-ridden chorus rise. Really good storyteller anthem with a LOT of emotional impact; genre choice showcases your headspace to great effect. I am still not in love with your vocal yet as part of the whole mix, but I think it’s growing on me as part of the sonic package.

This is a damn good song, with damn fine vocals and damn fine production. I don’t think that we have the same kind of preferences and mixing ears. This is a personal feeling thing, because I can intellectually tell you that things are balanced nicely but probably for a different kind of listening preference to mine. Perhaps some things about the guitar tone, or when drums are busy and when they are not, etc. Still, always skillfully played and nothing inappropriate in the least. I CAN say that this round, the songwriting came through clear and I was not distracted by the bang-and-whistle of engineering choices; your map was tight and your lyrics pulled me into the structure. THIS is an example of a bridge that did what I feel bridge is meant to do, and a well-placed and welcome guitar solo. 'Steady On’ chorus hook is fantastic, but this just barely misses being a hit for me. I did genuinely enjoy this song though.

This song bounced around in the rank more than any other on my list. It’s tuneful and charming and makes a great story. I think that it’ll be so nice as a regular part of your set perhaps—because it’s clever and also endearing and personal. As a produced recording, it suffers in comparison to some of the others and you sound like you are singing cafe-charm from a well, but as your style is really adorable perhaps this really SHOULDN’T be compared here to the other kids on the song-playground and should run and breathe freely in a busking situation with the other song-children in front of other open guitars cases asking passersby for spare change on a moonlit boardwalk. Also, I feel the same way about Apple stock. So unfair. But your vocals really do the trick in these minstrel-stylings.

There is some stuff going on here that I think of as Classic Governing Dynamics, which is just fantastic—since this is the letter to your young self. This is some Deep Sigh Shit right here. Your vocal is handled extremely well and is emo and quavery without being lazily-pitchy and you sound vulnerable and wistful. This goes with the lighter/darkness that is a Governing Dynamics Thing. Example. The thing you did when you hit what I think of as your ‘money line,’ where you said “Don’t waste your time /PAUSE/ trying to be …perfect” (and then you hit the change, and it was coupled with the tone and the tempo. These are the little things, the builds and the GOOD DECISIONS that are heart grabs and make you sound different from other people. If you expanded this song out to a big rock ballad, this will surely be a hit, and you should Do This.

Your brother is correct. Letters do not usually have choruses. But the way you handled your short verses with that drawn out, exquisitely harmonize-able note in the center made your extremely simple 2-line choruses so impactful that you could have built an extremely solid bridge off of your concept ‘to breathe,’ perhaps only including your "stop and smell the roses” concept. In my opinion the bridge goes on for an extremely long time. The song could do with being shorter, perhaps tighter in structure with some trimmed down content ideas. Where and what to cut down is entirely up to you, because the song is obviously deeply personal and you’re the content queen. Listening to your songs makes me wonder if nit picking about production and worrying about that hint of distortion you get when the vocal volume swells up is beside the point. Your songwriting work always stands out even if you are, literally, singing out of a well and somebody accidentally recorded you from a field far away. The instrumentation was a better showcase than last round for you, at any rate.

A wise and comforting message from a ghostly emissary who comes across as a bit macabre and dramatically cinematic. This letter came across well and I really felt that the instrumentation and engineering choices (particularly as related to the development in your song)—as well as your abrupt and final end were an appropriate setting for your content. You come across as a kind of removed narrator in your music—and I thought that perhaps it was your accent, but I think that it is your production and some of your layering choices and your panning that makes things seem this way. Your pronunciation and instrumentation choices were great, by the way. All things worked in your favor, the field was tough this time and first round your stop song tempo was lush and stellar. Either way you slice it you are unique and always seem to have an ethereal flair.

I really thought your song was clever and funny. I actually feel a bit gleeful when you ‘break the challenge.’ You went up and down a lot in the rankings too and here you are actually lower than I’d like because you wrote a goodly bit of dialoge-ing scene work/operetta-things that embedded one or two good songs. I counted one full song in the middle with a easy to grab on to structure but knowing you there were probably a few more and some that over-lapped, songs-within-songs. This is exhausting and also this wins for musical of the round. I thought you did THAT quite cleverly and I am still feeling a little guilty for not putting you higher. There is a LOT of dialogue. This is what you do. And you even said in your bio (please note, I NEVER read bios), that you did not like the challenge. This was kind of a problem. You ironically solved the problem and paid tribute to a hero of yours as well. And while some would argue and perhaps be right that this fits your formula and is not a ‘song,’ per se, you did this well and you get away with it and you frame it correctly and you amuse me because I wasn’t terribly fond of the challenge either. I laughed at the beginning.

You are extremely well served by an amazing and subtle arrangement behind you. Taking critique close to heart, orchestration is subtle, not busy, and appropriate. A bit preachier than I like, but I’m not taking any points off for that, and also I know you’re a grandma 😃 I also appreciated that your vocal did not sound like it was coming out of a well like a shrill gnome giving me unsolicited advice quite divorced from the mix it was intended to reside in. Things sounded more professional and smooth. Lyrics and ideas were showcased well and nothing was too precious or over the top. This was also awesome right before PigFarmer Jr.’s ‘DON’T EAT THE SHROOMS…’ which Evil Me appreciated.

Beautiful voice as always and as usual; and these are definitely lyrics that are more up to par for you (I realized that you had a bit of a rush for last time, which I did not know before 😃 ). But it is certainly your way to still meander a lot and to tell a long story. This time it is a more structured story and it is tighter and easier to follow as a structured song. Your lyricism as I said before shines here, and your title/hook is one of the stronger ones in the round…but it gets lost here in exposition and overall song length. You, like me, are a person who would probably benefit from a band, a map, some structure, and some production; and it would be interesting to see you as a front man/songwriter forced by a producer into the structure of a tight hit—but would it crush your soul as these things often do? I find that these things do… 😃

I keep thinking that you would make a honey of a country singer and I keep forgetting the song you just sang the minute it goes away but your voice lingers on. It’s really a beautiful voice. Going back and hearing it again, and reading your words—there really is no reason that things should not be locked in because your structure is great and you’re writing the song and doing all the right stuff in all the right places. It’s just that I’m not remembering the hook. It could be that the melody is a little to stepwise here and reliant upon your good vibrato and a driving strum and a pretty mix. It would be good in the car and you’re nice to listen to and easy on the ears. Once again, sing a hit song, with a singer like Kevin or Glen or Sara or whoever else and you’re unbeatable.

Almost more than any other, this read the most gently and most like a well written letter. The LENGTH benefitted from it not being a nine page letter. Short, sweet, and a nice non-sectioned page. So enjoyable and just a really nice musical ride through the concept. There was something weird about this one that I can’t put my finger on and I really wish that I’d had more time with it than a few days of a week, although it was short. Your vocal fit it well and it was really well done and layered. So subtle and sensitive. Not really much else to say except I wish I had MORE to say and I wish that you hadn’t suffered from competition. I’ll regret scoring you this low later. Maybe it was that little tambourine sound that did you in, but that just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Your vocal was really nice and there was something eerie and beautiful about this, from the moment the guitar began. I’m sorry this review sucks.

I appreciate the earnestness of this effort. Things like the cleverness of certain rhymes (‘gotta warn ya / California’) and the directness of your self-reference make this song really fit its hard rock drive. It’s got that classic feel of the classic rock inner-conflict song where you have a two characters warring inside the one personality, and that drive of a nostalgic vamp made me want to listen to some Heart or Pat Benatar or the Cars or something. Nice strong chorus breaks up a song that is real, real long. Vocal was a bit grating at that length—but perhaps this added to the genuineness, even if it didn’t give it a professional flair. I wouldn’t worry too much about that band, you’re doing fine now. $#@& Enron.

You were clever in the first round and you are clever now—with your premise mildly hysterical and the clever over-rhyming and almost robotic treatment on the voice pairing well with an easy-listening accompaniment that reminds me of a futuristic dentist’s office. Lyrics are cute but clunky alongside the bouncy time and tempo, but supremely relatable—having plot and almost an excess of substance.  Song does not outstay it’s welcome and ends well and definitively, but I had to go back again to remember your hook.

I liked your story and your structure, and your hook was familiar and swingy and this was cool enough in an Americana kind of way—but when your vocal comes in and starts telling the story I want it to be tighter and … just different. I really wanted your vocal to match up and reside unmistakably in the same sonic space with the silky production of the rest of the song. The hook was really great—cute and funny and audiophile preachy in a ‘don’t lose your music license cuz you don’t know the band’ kinda way … but like the wax God intended, I wanted everything to be super appropriate and beyond reproach if I was gonna listen to your younger self get told that it’s little old heart didn’t have The Right Sort of Taste. It made my young heart sad about all the crap I loved as a young’un (and honestly, a bit judged).

For some reason this made me sad and also like I was camping in the woods somewhere. Lyrics frank and honest and probably more than a boy your elder-ag-you can deal with hearing these Hard Truths from which made me even more sad and like you needed a good Renaissance Fair. You are doing your own style a goodly amount of justice and I think that if your recorder part had played more of an accompaniment this had been shorter and tighter this would have fared better. This is a tough field. I do so love your recorder tone, I have to say; and perhaps shorter verses traded with tiny soloistic recorder refrains would be a cool letter-form tone-poem. But also you had a lot to say and that’s fine too.

Once upon a time, this was a clever idea and a cute rap. It was distorty in the future, and I thought the horns were even grate-ier as an older 40-something year old than I did as a younger middle aged judge. The style of rap, which I feel I might have heard somewhere before, was very 80s evocative. Lyrics great but maybe you have borrowed them from somewhere, perhaps your mom or older brother. Something about the presentation of it and the fuzzy feel of it in my ears got on my cat’s nerves but I told her to shut up and stop trying to steal my sandwich. Y’all are funny. Reaganomics bites.

*SHADOWS* (in no particular order)

\alpha.*(Bb)eta\ - STOP!
It’s a damn shame that this arrived too late for wildcard reinstatement, because with this, you proved that you were really serious with content, message, and build. And that perhaps we were wrong, wrong, wrong to have eliminated you. You do genre hopping well, and also s strong vocal, a consistent groove and respectable structure for a dj mix to hang its possible hat on, it had serious hook. I’d follow this band. You are catchy as &*#@ … definitely what Cherry Pi wishes she was as the Iconopop of Spintunes.

Dude, you need a Grammy award. OUTSTANDING, once again. This goes on RE-PEAT. Some great production from some continuously funny shiz.

I found your bio about Bossa Nova wry and entertaining and your piano sample really kind of oddly melancholic and appropriate. My ears pricked. Your voice is really gorgeous and your playing smooth and easy. References are beautiful and this would have scored high and competitively in the mix. Lyrics are a bit florid, but it fits the style, and you are referencing Pink Floyd and our own Governing Dynamics, for goodness sake!

ST13R2 Reviews: Daniel Prince

Others did such great intros to their judging last week that I feel inspired to give a mediocre one. I come from a radio background, so much of my judging comes from the same criteria I apply to whether or not I’ll play a certain song on the air. I put a lot of stock in singing the song right along with writing it well. Production values are important to me, but in my judging, I try not to put too much weight into that, because I don’t want this to get into a contest of the haves vs. the have-nots. I’m not terribly technical in my musical judging. I have my musical style preferences, but if what you put out differs from what I like, I try not to hold it against you as long as it’s well done. There’s a lot of guesswork and a lot of subjectivity in each of the categories, but I try my best to score each song independently of the rest. After listening through and judging each song, I try to go back and listen again to make sure I’m not being unfair to the songs I heard first. I assign points in each category, total them all up, and then quite often am surprised at the outcome. My criteria (and the order in which each is weighted):  

total points
  1. Do I want to hear it again? 
  2. Overall first impression
  3. Lyrics
  4. Creativity
  5. Music
  6. Overall second impression 
  7. Production values   
  8. bonus points (if applicable)—last round, I assigned 2 bonus points if I guessed the dead celebrity without looking it up and 1 point if I guessed it with a search or two. This round, I didn’t assign bonus points.
I enjoyed this week’s songs. Your creativity has been really good, and I can’t wait to hear what you come up with next!
Sara Parsons - Better
I'm a sucker for acoustic music anyway, but this was gorgeous. I loved the simple harmony in there, the understated percussion, and the guitar. The melody was quite nice, and the message kept me interested and listening all the way through. I knew I wondered who "he" and "she" were at the beginning, but I only fully noticed the leading pronouns in all the verses upon reading the lyrics. I thought that was a nice motif throughout. Great job!

Little Bobby Tables - Hindsight
The first thought that came to my mind: "That's the longest uptempo song I've heard in quite a while." However, it didn't seem that long. Loved the creativity in your storytelling, adding in the perspective of several "yous" in the process. As with Alex's song, I'd have to get a radio edit in order to play the song without the FCC coming to take me away, haha. Again, the f-bomb wasn't really necessary to get your message across, though it did add to the humor. Production-wise, I might punch up the vocals just slightly. I heard everything pretty well, but at times your voice was competing with the instrumentals. "Alameda" and "meet her" was my favorite rhyme. You told the story quite well.

Boy on the Wall - All the Way Up
I was a little worried about the mix upon hearing how loud the instruments were in the intro, but I needn't have been. The vocals were mixed beautifully into the piece. Loved how the lyrics were put together. "You're a musician with pernicious inhibition" was probably my favorite line. The added detail of explaining why you're repeating the chorus is appreciated. This challenge is all about being a letter, and who among us writes the exact same thing two or three times in a letter to someone? You gave the chorus purpose.

Melissa Phillips - For You
Beautiful voice--definitely a strength for this recording. With a few added instruments and polish, I could see this on country radio.  It has a solid message, and while shorter than others, it conveys everything it needs to in the time you gave it. To make it longer would be to weaken it, I think.

JoAnn Abbott and M.A.T. - Happy Birthday to We!
In the first verse, it sounded like you struggled to keep up with the music in a couple of places, but it got better the rest of the way. Very fun approach to the song, with a fun style and melody to it. I both cringe and smile at the grammatically incorrect title. I enjoyed this.

Kevin Savino-Riker - Catch-22
Another nice acoustic approach. Very nice harmonies, though at times I'm uncertain if you might not benefit from a different guitar chord behind it. I like the spin you put on the title in the very last line. A well-crafted song lyrically. I appreciate the entire approach you took to the challenge.

Jailhouse Payback - Don't Let Mom and Dad
Good creative approach to make this less about big life lessons and turning it to records, instead. Couple of possible pitch issues in the verses, but not too bad. The ending harmonies sounded slightly off-tempo from one another and from the track. The mix was pretty good on this one. Lyrically, I might have put the repeated chorus at the end rather than after the first verse, as you have to wait too long for the payoff, especially with the instrumental parts in there, too.

Glen Raphael - Dear Me
Catchy little melody and style you have in this one. Some cleverness in the lyrics with the running "buy Apple" motif and touching on chaos theory and the complexities of time travel. I like the scatting in the middle, though if you improvised a little more in the first part of it like you did in the second half, it would have been even stronger. The title lacked creativity, but overall a good job.

Governing Dynamics - To a Stubborn Young Man in the Year 1998
From a radio perspective, I appreciate a nice long intro, but just know I'm going to be talking over it. I thought the instrumentals were the strongest part of this song. There were a few pitch problems in places that I noticed. I liked the reminder of "the world does not revolve around you." It's a universal truth that we all needed at some point in our teenage journeys. I like that you didn't jump right in with the advice but wrestled with the space-time continuum a bit first. In the recording, you skipped the word "like" in the line "at 15 you know everything like most teenagers in time". Not a major thing, but that word does bring the meaning of the line home. Pretty sound advice in the song.

Alex Valentine - 12 Years Past
I wouldn't be able to play this version on the radio without incurring FCC fines, and I'm not so sure that dropping "F-bombs" really adds anything to the song, anyway. The music is catchy, and the message is hopeful and resonates. To me, it seems the production could be better. I enjoy the harmonies you add to the chorus, but the parts sound just slightly distorted, which obscures the words for me some. Looked up "take it on the chin" because I thought it didn't fit with what you were trying to convey in the song, but I discovered I've been defining the phrase wrong all these years. You taught me something, so extra points for you! Overall pretty enjoyable.

Jerkatorium - Steady On
I'd push the vocals forward a little more just to make sure they're standing out over  the music. Catchy song overall. Strong chorus lyrically. Solid job.

Edric Haleen - To My Fifteen Year Old Self
Wow. Don't know where to go from here. Very much reminds me of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" for its dramatic sense of fun. Doesn't make for a great "song", but a very fun theatrical showpiece. My radio training took over halfway through and I had to go use the restroom, as our bodies are trained to do that when a song reaches 10 and a half minutes in length. If I thought the FCC would come after me for some of the other songs, they'd double down if I played this one without an edit. The title is probably the least creative part of the whole thing. I'm so torn...incredibly creative and well-produced, and you even snuck in a good message in the back half of the song (not to mention a haiku!), yet I feel like it doesn't need to land in the top half of my rankings, just because it's so different and doesn't work as a "song" as such--more of an art piece. We'll see how things shake out once they're all scored. Gotta say, I'm rooting for you!

Rob from Amersfoort - Dear 15-Year-Old Me
The musical style stands out from the rest I've heard so far, but the title is a little on the nose…it could use some creativity. Vocally solid within the style you went with. The lyrics didn't stand out, but the message is definitely there and comes through.

W8 What - To My Teen Self
Can't tell if you're exaggerating the accent or if it's natural, but it did distract me (and this coming from someone in country radio!). Slight pitch problem at the very beginning, but you settled in. The lyrics were clear and cleverly written. Wish you could have found a way to not have to stress the last syllable in "listen". A fun little song that could be even better with a few small tweaks.

Matt Walton - Hey Me You Probably Don’t Want to Hear This
Can't mistake the sound of the recorder! Interesting choice of instruments and style for the song. Production needs a little polishing--the vocal mix could have been pushed forward a little more; the addition of the hand drum partway through was a little jarring--it probably needed pushing to the back. Very practical advice throughout, with the most impactful coming at the end.

Megalodon - Mix Tape-1987
A solid song. It lacked a "wow" moment for me, but I don't have any major problems with it. A couple of pitch issues early on, but nothing too bad. The ending seemed abrupt--almost like the drums came in a beat or two too soon. I didn't get the mixtape reference until reading the lyrics, then that came home for me. The 4th verse is the most effective, both emotionally and lyrically. I might have added two more mixtape songs into the 3rd verse somehow just to keep the motif going.

Micah Sommersmith - Take Care of Yourself
Another one I can't play on the radio without an edit. Probably wouldn't get fined this time, at least. Very catchy. Interesting combination of '90s rap and accordian. I like that you keep the subject matter light--that type of styling almost demands it.

James Young - Everything Will Be Alright
Definitely need to push the instruments further to the back--it overpowers the vocals. It feels like you need more to make this a complete song--as a short song, it's not as satisfying. It could be better if restyled, or if kept in this style, it may need another verse.

Jordan Carroll - School Report
"Since we're time travelling and all, here's a review from the past: ""I laughed in spite of myself on this one. It's a lot of fun, but I think it needs one more verse. I know there's no time limit, but there's a lot more to explore on Reagan. You missed a good Star Wars/Death Star tie-in, for one."" I hope had you known that this shadow would put you back into the contest, you'd have gone in a different direction. However, I have to judge it as presented here. It's a lazy approach to the challenge. It has very little to do with your former self, and if presented as a report in high school, it is not nearly detailed enough to get you a passing grade.      


Red Watcher - As Long As They Choose
I like the musical choices and the way you subtly build on it throughout. Some nice production choices along the way--the mix works well. Biggest criticism is not chopping off the final 9-10 seconds of the track, which was pretty much silence, anyway. The lyrics do allow you room to choose and interpret--a more artistic than straightforward approach. Would have finished 9th of 22 for me.

Alpha.Beta - Stop!
The whole thing sounded off-key to me. I like the '80s approach to the song. The lyrics convey your message strongly and work quite well within the style. Would've ranked 20 of 22--a good bit higher if the music had been better.

PigFarmer, Jr. - CoMo '93
The best part of this was my hearing "Don't eat the shrew!" until I read the lyrics. This would get a DQ from me were you competing in the round. It wasn't even long enough for a :30 commercial bed, and it addressed no part of the challenge. Rank 22 of 22.

ST13R2 Reviews: Paul Rosenbluth

Okay, round two.  I took a bit more deliberative approach to this round.  This is a song writing competition so obviously quality of music and lyrics are weighted most heavily, but I also wanted to include a few other criteria including creativity and delivery/execution (by which I really mean how well did you communicate or sell me on the song regardless of production value). I also gave some weight to overall impression and first reaction.  I used a scoring scale with five categories based on my qualitative reactions as I listened.

Also, apologies for not stating this overtly with my round one reviews but I am really amazed by all of you. I could not write even the lowest ranked song in each round so want to make sure you know how grateful I am that you do what you do and share your art with the world.  From both rounds there are several songs that have made my personal playlists and I thank you for that.  It is a very hard thing to judge the creative process of others.  I tried to not be biased by styles that are not my favorite and rather judge the work on its merits within the context of that genre and how people who like that genre would deem it.

So here we go…

Glen Raphael - Dear Me
I had a three way tie at the top but gave the nod to Glen.  This is a fun, playful tune.  Great music and lyrics, well delivered.  The playing style with the bluesy accent riffs really becomes another character in this story. Very creative, excellent work.  Love the cheeky “Buy Apple” at the end!

Melissa Phillips - For You
I could almost cry when I listen to Melissa sing.  Such an amazing, angelic voice.  Such a sincere song of hopeful advice for any young person.  Excellent lyrics and melody.  “If there's anything I've learned it's there's always something more.”  Thanks for this musical gift, Melissa.

Red Watcher - As Long As They Choose (Shadow)
I would have ranked this song third if it had been in competition.  Great music, simple but excellent and thoughtful lyrics, sweetly delivery.  Nothing I don’t like about this song.  Very much reminded me of a pensive Roger Waters tune.  “Keep writing songs. They don't belong to you” is one of those most beautiful lines I’ve heard.  Superb, Red

Governing Dynamics - To A Stubborn Young Man In The Year 1998
Love the pace of this song.  Invites the listener to be patient, lots of air.  A real tune of reflection.  Fantastic lyrics.  Music really connects.  Very good execution.  Two lines really grabbed me: “But you and I know you make your own mistakes” and “know good enough Isn't always good enough.”  Churchill reportedly said that success is going from one failure to the next without losing your enthusiasm.  Everyone makes mistakes and each one’s mistakes are what make you who you are.  Would any of us really undo those mistakes when they’ve made us who we are?  I would not.  Great work, GD.

Jerkatorium - Steady On
I really liked going beyond the “Dear Me/Letter writing motif” to get to a theme admonition.  Steady on.  Just keep moving forward. “You'll rise above them.”  Catchy tune. Good delivery.  Nice lyrics.  Enjoyed this one a lot.  Well done, Jerkatorium.

Kevin Savino-Riker - Catch-22
Really great lyrics and the tune suits them well.  The chorus line “it’s a catch-22” doesn’t quite sit right but I couldn’t begin to tell you how it could be different or better.  Nicely delivered.  Two profound lines to me: “Your very worst days Will help you in ways you cannot comprehend” and “If you don't make these mistakes It'd be the biggest mistake you could make.”  Really a wise song.  Excellent, Kevin.

Sara Parsons – Better
Another great song from Sara.  I love these lyrics.  Love the “He, She, They, You, We, I” construct.  Really brilliant.  Lovely music, nicely presented.  I could listen to Sara’s comforting voice all day.  “We're stronger than you think.” Amen.  Fantastic job, Sara.

James Young - Everything Will Be Alright
A really fine song.  Nice lyrics.  Really good music to accompany.  Love the guitar sound on this one. So suggestive and anticipatory.  Reminded me of a classic rock ballad that builds that airy electric guitar sound until it explodes with an epic solo which I was wanting but was missing.  Can’t really fault that though since that’s not the focus here but that would jump this song to another level.  Love this line: “You should try and shape the future not the past.”  Outstanding, James.

Boy on the Wall - All the Way Up
I’m really not sure why this didn’t rank higher for me.  The more I listen to it the more I like it.  Outstanding lyrics and I love the rapid fire rhyming lines and the chorus is gold.  I liked the lyrics more than the music but both are solid.  The break with “If I had a time machine…” is really exceptional.  “Don’t let anybody stand in your way Least of all yourself” is just great.  Very nice work.

Jailhouse Payback - Don't Let Mom and Dad
I really enjoyed this song thoroughly.  Excellent lyrics.  Good music.  Very good delivery.  Love the guitar work and harmonica is a fitting add for this tune.  This line is so awesome: “The time is gonna come when you'll wanna hear a song on wax, the way that God intended it.”  References to Camper Van Beethoven, the Replacements and the Grateful Dead in one song is just gold.  A really good, non-obvious approach to this challenge, in a really fun song.  Awesome.

Little Bobby Tables – Hindsight
Absolutely superb lyrics.  Lovely tune.  Very good delivery.  The chorus is so incredibly catchy.  Some of the musical phrases were very suggestive to me of familiar loved tunes you can’t quite put your finger on, maybe “My Sharona” by the Knack in parts but don’t know if that was conscious, deliberate, or coincidental.  Or maybe I’m just crazy (always a possibility).  Really enjoyed the take of giving different advice to 15 depending on different ages.  Just shows we do the best with what we know at any age.  Nice.  And the conclusion that “hindsight ain’t 20-20, “It's gonna take at least a hundred more mistakes Go ahead and do it, just gotta struggle through it” says it all.  Very well done.

Megalodon - Mixtape – 1987
A really nice tune.  Very melodic and well executed.  Good instrumental accents.  Creative lyrics.  Enjoyed the imagery of the referenced songs.  Knew every one of them so had good context for the messaging herein. Nicely done.

Alex Valentine - 12 Years Past
Love the edgy angst in this tune.  Very good music and lyrics.  Creative and well executed.  Maybe the only entry to deal with the struggle of identity and comfort.  And ultimately hopeful despite the darker overtones.  A thoughtful and enjoyable piece.  Well done, Alex.

W8 What - To My Teen Self
A lighter, fun song.  Very good on all accounts, musically, lyrics, and creative.  Excellent execution and delivery.  Love the cadence of several of the lines and stanzas.  The interposed spoken lines work very well here.  Nice work.

Matt Walton - Hey Me You Probably Don't Want To Hear This
Didn’t quite connect with this song as much as others. Good music, lyrics, and delivery.  Quite creative.  I did like the depth and quantity of lyrics to tell a thoughtful story to a younger self.  Worked very well with the musical style chosen to tell it.  Nice.

Edric Haleen - To My Fifteen Year Old Self
I thought this song was one of the most creative and have to give props for that.  I didn’t quite connect with it like other songs.  The dialogue works for the song but was maybe a little too much, distracting.  Good lyrics and music and well executed.

Rob From Amersfoort - Dear 15-Year-Old Me
A creative song, well delivered and creative.  Good lyrics with a nice story to tell.  Musically a little hard for me to connect with.  Sections of this song were really intriguing to me but some of the transitions seemed a bit awkward.

JoAnn Abbott & M.A.T - Happy Birthday to We!
Witty and creative lyrics.  Musically okay but it felt like the lyrics really drove this one.  Creative and well performed.  A nice little composition.

Micah Sommersmith - Take Care of Yourself
A good song overall. Okay lyrically and musically.  Nice delivery.  Incredibly creative.  Good advice, nonetheless!

\alpha.ßeta\ - Stop! (Shadow)
Overall an okay song music and lyrics-wise.  Well delivered and creative.  Not a lot here I could connect with.

PigFarmer, Jr. - CoMo '93 (Shadow)
Overall not for me.  Some good ideas here musically but just not enough developed to connect with.

Jordan Carroll - School Report
It’s déjà vu all over again.  Props for creativity as in round one and good delivery but no connection for me musically or lyrically.  Looks like summer school for us both.