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Saturday, October 30, 2010

SpinTunes #2 Round 2 Review: Jeff MacDougall

I want to start by saying that I am really impressed by this round’s entries. The level of talent in this competition is, quite frankly, astonishing. Of course, that means I’ll be raising the bar a bit with my critiques.

This rounds challenge is to write a sequel to a previously released song. Since meeting the challenge is paramount, I’ll be giving you an extra bump in the ranking if I knew what the original song you were referencing was without having to think too hard or look it up. All other aspects will be judged according my previous letter grade system (refer to round one for a breakdown) and, like the last round, all songs will be reviewed in order of the album and then placed by rank at the bottom of the page. Let’s begin:

Governing Dynamics - Melt In The Sun (So Many Pretty Ways)
Challenge: B – Although this technically meets the challenge, it didn’t really work for me.
Lyrics: A – Good lyrics. Nice rhymes.
Structure: A – Solid rock structure.
Melody: B – Not bad… but it doesn’t stick in my head.
Although your lyrics (on paper) reference Fake Plastic Trees, the song itself doesn’t feel like it does. I’m not saying that it has to feel like the original, but it should (in my opinion) make me think of the original tune at some point. That never really happens for me. I have to add that you should pay attention to your pitch with your performance. It’s hard to judge a melody when some of the singing is out of tune. All in all, a solid song.

Danny Blackwell - Like A Family
Challenge: B – Technically gets us there… but didn’t quite do it for me.
Lyrics: A – Good imagery. Nice rhymes.
Structure: A – Nice folk arrangement.
Melody: A – Good. Catchy.
I like this song. Very pleasant. Nice, catchy melody. But this song, like a few others this round, doesn’t really remind me of the original. Again, I’m not trying to imply that it should sound like the original, I just think it should, at some point, make me reflect on it. Good tune.

Ryan Ruff Smith - Baby, We're Through
Challenge: A – Great. Made me think of the original.
Lyrics: A - Solid. I like how it was written in the style of the original.
Structure: A – Good solid pop structure.
Melody: B – While this is a nice melody, you raised the bar for yourself by choosing a sequel to a Bacharach tune. For me, that means the melody has to be stellar.
Really nice work. Catchy tune. Good style. Not much to say except that I look forward to hearing more from this artist.

Common Lisp - Science (In The Service Of Beauty)
Challenge: A - Fantastic. Instantly knew what the original tune was.
Lyrics: A – Great lyrics. Keeps with the writing style of the original.
Structure: B – Not bad, but a little odd. Which I would have gone with given the nature of the song... Except that it caused me tilt my head like the RCA dog a few times.
Melody: B – Nice but didn’t stick with me.
A great technical effort here. I was smiling through the whole thing.

Inverse T. Clown - Hey, Jessie
Challenge: A - Awesome. Made me think of the original song by the first chorus.
Lyrics: A - Great. Really did a great job of picking up where the other song left off.
Structure: A – Solid pop structure.
Melody: B – Not bad. But didn’t stick for me.
Great job. Really enjoyed this one.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - When Donna Came Back
Challenge: A - Amazing. This made me think of the orignal in the first ten seconds. This might be the perfect sequel song.
Lyrics: A – Great. Perfect writing style for the song.
Structure: A - Good. Standard for the era.
Melody: A - Impressive. Not easy to come up with something so catchy that needs to rest in that song style.
This might be the perfect sequel song. All the elements came together in just the right way. Actually made me remember how sad I am that Richie Valens passed so young. Wonderful Job.

Ben Walker - When I'm A Hundred And Two
Challenge: F – Very disappointed that I have to fail this one. If only “When I’m 64” hit the top 20. If not for the “top 20” rule, this would have been an A.
Lyrics: A – Nice references to the orignal.
Structure: A - Great. Nice folk structure.
Melody: A - Great. Was humming it right away.
If not for the automatic fail on this one, it would have easily been in my top three.

Edric Haleen - O! Say Can You See?
Challenge: A – Amazing. Made me think of the original tune in the first bar.
Lyrics: A - Solid.
Structure: A - Nice. Very musical theatre.
Melody: A – Great homage to the original yet different enough to be it’s own.
Very nice. Really great work.

Charlie McCarron - Over The Bridge
Challenge: A - Good. Borrowed just enough melody from the original to make me reflect on it.
Lyrics: A - Nice. Almost better than the orignal.
Structure: A - Solid. Rock arrangement.
Melody: A - Good. Really like the chorus.
Great work. Met the challenge in every way.

Zarni De Wet - Stacy's Dad
Challenge: A – I knew what the oringal was instantly.
Lyrics: A – Great imagery. Evoked emotion.
Structure: A – Classic pop structure.
Melody: C – A little too similar to the original. Not enough to make me give it an F, but enough to get marked down.
Really good work. If the melody had been a little more unique this would have been toward the top of the list.

Duality - Mars Ain't The Kind Of Place
Challenge: A – Good. The lyrics tell us what the original song is.
Lyrics: A - Good. Nice imagery.
Structure: A – unorthodox but follows it’s own rules.
Melody: B – Nice but so atmospheric that it’s hard to remember.
Very pretty. Really enjoyed the electronic additions toward the end. Nice work.

Brian Gray - One More Cloud
Challenge: B – Technically meets the challenge but didn’t know what the original tune was by just listening to the song.
Lyrics: B - Fine. Bordering on cliché though.
Structure: A – Rock structure.
Melody: B – Not bad but didn’t stick for me.
This one just sort of laid there for me. Didn’t know what the original song was without reading the liner notes. Style and melody left me cold.

Ross Durand - Folsom Breakout Blues
Challenge: A - Great. Knew right away what the original song was.
Lyrics: A – Keeps in the style of the original.
Structure: A – Standard Blues.
Melody: B – Not bad but didn’t stick for me.
This technically does a good job with the challenge. But I’m not a big fan of this style and sound.

Steve Durand – Miranda
Challenge: A – Good. Knew what the original song was when I got to the chorus.
Lyrics: A - Good. Solid story telling.
Structure: A – Good pop stucture.
Melody: B – Good but perhaps a little too close to the original song at the chorus.
I like this song. Love the horn work but notice some tuning problems with some of the guitars. Very distracting.

Gweebol - Thank You Mr. Postman
Challenge: A – Great. Knew right away which song the original was.
Lyrics: A – Good. Keeps the style of the original.
Structure: B – Fine but a little unusual given the style.
Melody: A - Good. Very catchy.
Great work. Like the production. My only real criticism is that you got a little too creative (in my opinion) with your structure. When you do something that is so steeped in the period, you should stick to how it was done back in the day, if only because it took me out of song.

Rebecca Brickley - Elderly Dream
Challenge: B – Didn’t know what the original song was without reading the liner notes.
Lyrics: A – Great story and imagery.
Structure: A – Standard pop arrangement.
Melody: A - Nice. Catchy.
I really like this song. If this had just one had just given me a little more

Chris Cogott - Roadward Bound
Challenge: A - Brilliant. I knew what the original song was before I even heard a lyric.
Lyrics: B – I hate to give this a B, but you raised the lyric bar by choosing a Simon piece.
Structure: A – The structure is a little odd – just like the original. Perfect.
Melody: A - Wonderful. Reminds me of the original’s melody but it’s unique.
I love this. To be clear, I don’t really have a “problem” with your lyrics. But to keep them at the level of the rest of the song, you really need to add more imagery. They simply weren’t poetic enough. All in all, exceptional work.

Duality - Today (Shadow)
Challenge: A – Knew what the original song was with one listen.
Lyrics: A - Nice. Great imagery. Like the duet aspect.
Structure: A – Good solid pop structure.
Melody: A – Good. Catchy.
Not gonna lie, wish this was your official entry. Really like this song.

Danny Blackwell - La Reina (Shadow)
Challenge: C – Not sure what the original song is.
Lyrics: A – Enjoyed these lyrics.
Structure: A - Solid.
Melody: A – Very pretty.
I really like this. Although I have no idea what the original song is. Nice.

David Ritter - Cage Of Love (Shadow)
Challenge: A - Good. Knew what the original was before the chorus.
Lyrics: A - Great. Good story. Funny.
Structure: A - Odd. But in a good way.
Melody: A - Great. Catchy.
Really like this one. Disappointed that you can only shadow for the rest of this competition.

JoAnn Abbott - Georgia Morning (Shadow)
Challenge: A - Good. Knew what the original was by just listening.
Lyrics: B - Good. But bordering on cliché with some of the imagery.
Structure: A – Standard Structure.
Melody: B – Not bad but didn’t really stick with me. Sounded similar to a old standard.
Nice song. I was just missing a certain magic that I can’t put my finger on. Perhaps if the melody took some more risks? Not sure.

As you can see, many of the songs end up on equal footing using my letter grade system. This leaves me to, ultimately, rank many of these songs based on my subjective enjoyment. Again, the songs this round are really quite good, so even songs that appear near the bottom of this list aren’t bad… just not as good as the ones above it (sometimes but just a hair). Very impressive work everyone. Anyway, here we go:

Mitchell Adam Johnson - When Donna Came Back
Edric Haleen - O! Say Can You See?
Charlie McCarron - Over The Bridge
Chris Cogott - Roadward Bound
Ryan Ruff Smith - Baby, We're Through
Inverse T. Clown - Hey, Jessie
Rebecca Brickley - Elderly Dream
Gweebol - Thank You Mr. Postman
Danny Blackwell - Like A Family
Duality - Mars Ain't The Kind Of Place
Steve Durand – Miranda
Ross Durand - Folsom Breakout Blues
Common Lisp - Science (In The Service Of Beauty)
Zarni De Wet - Stacy's Dad
Governing Dynamics - Melt In The Sun (So Many Pretty Ways)
Brian Gray - One More Cloud
Ben Walker - When I'm A Hundred And Two

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the review.
    ;like a family'
    yeah my first entry (now a shadow) was a direct
    pastiche of the song i was sequeling. but as it wasnt 'famous' enough to meet the requeirements i went with something about as famous as i could think of,then deliberatley wrote in a totally different style for comic juxtaposition.
    i think this song wouldn't have worked in a smiliar style to the original.
    needless to say it didnt make the grade.but it was fun to write.
    good luck to everyone else still in it!
    danny blackwell

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