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Saturday, July 9, 2011

SpinTunes #3 Round 2 Review: Glenn Case

#1 - Charlie McCarron - The Mountains Will Not Yield
Exceptional chord structure, story choice, and lyrics. Second week in a row where I was ready to dislike the lead vocal, and the repeat listen changed my mind.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – good (2) SCORE: 9 out of 10

#2 - Matt And Donna - A Tight Spot
Fantastic choice for a topic and the lyrics are extremely clever. Not wild about the vocal performance, but this is a tremendous song that is unquestionably one of the best I have heard in this round. I don’t even mind the keyboard sounds.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

#3 - Pat And Gweebol - The Story Is Mine: Confession Of An Undocumented Immigrant
I like the concept and the vocal harmonies are fantastic. The horns are also a nice touch. Overall, this is one of the most enjoyable songs of the round for me.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – good (2)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

#4 - Steve Durand - When Frankie And Johnny Get Married
Flat vocals aside, this is a very fun, clever song that tackles a hot button topic that is probably the most timely of the bunch. Lyrics made me laugh out loud on at least one occasion. You have a habit of making me think that I am going to hate your song, and then I don’t.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

#5 - Jon Eric - North Dakota (I. Five Years, II. Fargo, III. Panic, IV. Rain, V. Dry Land)
NINE minutes and TWENTY-TWO seconds?! Do you hate the judges, Jon? What did we ever do to you? It’s one thing to have a long song like this in a later round, but I have 20 other songs to listen to and review! On top of that, I try to listen to the songs at least twice to make sure I am really giving the composition a chance to sink in. I do like the “Panic, panic” hook. Vocals are flat in many places, and I would point out their locations if it wouldn’t require a road map to find the instances. All joking aside, I believe you’ve actually composed a piece that justifies the extra song length. This isn’t a 4 minute pop song that has been stretched into an unnecessary length, it is a composition that uses it’s sections wisely in the same way that “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” does. Well done.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – good (2) SCORE: 8 out of 10

#6 - Chris Cogott - Welcome To Kabul
Lead vocals sound pretty good, but the harmonies sound absolutely amazing. Some nice chord changes in there, too. Great topic choice, but the lyrics didn’t particularly grab me.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – good (2)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

#7 - Governing Dynamics - Cameras, Streetlights, And Things Worth Fighting For
Vocals threaten to go off pitch in a few spots, but they don’t stray far enough to be a problem. I am enjoying this song, and that’s a good thing because I was starting to become fairly irritable after listening to some of the other entries. I liked the couplet “Gathered close beneath streetlights. Vancouver is not safe tonight.”
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#8 - Gold Lion - Message For Vivian
The female lead vocals are absolutely stellar. Good backup vocals, too. The same rhythm issues that plagued the band’s round one entry are present here and are actually more noticeable (Example: the rhythm guitar stumbles and falls out of rhythm at :15, 1:16 and 2:13.) I greatly enjoy Gold Lion’s sound, but they would benefit from taking a little more time in the studio to tighten up the recordings a bit. I hope they survive the round, because I hear great potential.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – good (2) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#9 - The Offhand Band - Program Aids Food Stamp Users
The chord structure goes to unpredictable places and many of the changes are a pleasant surprise. Vocals aren’t necessarily off key, but they sound uninspired, nasal and almost (but not quite) grating.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#10 - Dr. Lindyke - Prayer For Peace
Background vocals are mostly sharp. Lead vocals are also sharp on occasion. A strong melody, and the sparse arrangement compliments the composition.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#11 - Ross Durand - The American Way
Lyrics grabbed my attention right away. Bonus points for tackling more than one story and bringing them together into one bigger topic in a way that doesn’t seem forced.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#12 - Caleb Hines - Too Soon To Say Goodbye
Vocals are mostly flat, but the melody is strong. A good topic. The flashback approach works well here.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

#13 - Jutze - Re: Your Oil
Fun concept. Not wild about the shoehorning of extra syllables in the line “there will be fewer complications“. Vocals are off-key in the slower spots, but that sounds like that was the intent.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 6 out of 10

#14 - Matt Walton - Take Your Placards Down To London
Maybe the droning notes in the background are meant to create a bagpipe effect, but I don’t like it. Having expressed that, I can’t deny that the lyrics are clever and I love your choice of topic.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – bad (0) SCORE: 6 out of 10

#15 - Inverse T. Clown - Something In The Air
Good song structure with a fairly catchy chorus. Harmony vocals are often flat.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 6 out of 10

#16 - Alexa Polasky – Infidelity
Instrument is not in tune, and is grating on my ears to the point of making this song nearly unlistenable. That is a definite shame, because the composition itself is actually pretty freaking good. Lead vocal is pleasant, but the harmony vocals are occasionally flat.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – bad (0)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 5 out of 10

#17 - Godz Poodlz - Independence And Freedom For All
The keyboard part sounds completely out of place to me, but I’m thinking it might just be the tone of the patch that is to blame. It’s actually a relief to my ears when it’s gone. Vocals are often flat, harmony vocals are spot on. Not a bad song, but there’s nothing that particularly stands out for me to make it better than okay.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 5 out of 10

#18 - Wait What - Bunny Please Don't Go
Superb topic choice, but the lyrics aren’t quite clever enough to take full advantage of it. I do not like the arrangement at all. I particularly dislike the keyboard slap bass, cowbell and the auto-tuned lead vocals.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – bad (0)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 5 out of 10

#19 - Alex Carpenter - The Last Launch
Nasal timbre of the vocals is grating. Good topic, but nothing in the lyrics really takes advantage of it.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 5 out of 10

#20 - Happi - Double The Fetish
The chorus is atonal and grating. Decent story choice, but I find the delivery (and many of the lyrics) to be annoying. Appropriately enough, my knee-jerk response to the spoken admission of “That was a waste of 3 minutes of your life” was “Yes, it was.” Thing is, it’s more like a waste of 6 minutes because I try to listen to these entries at least twice so I can attempt to give honest feedback.
LYRICS – okay (1) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – bad (0)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 4 out of 10

#21 - Edric Haleen - What About Love?
With all due respect, I am not reviewing this song. I empathize with the reasons for keeping the composition private, but I strongly disagree with the idea of including private entries in a competition where the songs are made available to the public. I feel that allowing such an entry would be the equivalent of playing a game and changing the rules midway. I’m not okay with that.
SCORE: 0 out of 10

9 comments:

  1. It was Spin's decision to grant Edric's request. Thus, Edric didn't break any rules, it was Spin who honored a request. You not doing what you signed up for is bullshit.

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  2. With all due respect, Glenn, I don't think you did your job with respect to Edric. There is no actual requirement in the contest that the song be posted. PERMISSION is given in advance, meaning that Spin was perfectly capable of refusing Edric's request and posting it anyway. But there's no "rule" that states it MUST be posted to the album

    SPIN chose not to post it, which means that the creator of the contest acceded to the request. It's not Edric's failure, and it's not a judge's matter, any more than songs being auto-DQ'ed for being a minute late.

    In any event, the song was CLEARLY available to those who sent an email requesting it. It's just not available to schoolkids on the web. If ANYONE changed the rules, it's Spin, and you've decided to punish Edric for it.

    In fact, I'll break a "rule" right now and state for the record that this is NOT Heather's fault.

    Shame on you, and anybody else who abdicated their judging responsibilities.

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  3. I gotta disagree with Edric being given a Zero this round. His song was played at the Listening Party, and was available to any who wanted to listen to it, judge or fan. He just asked there was no internet presence for the song.

    There's no rule that says the song has to be left online. It just needs to be available for people to list to it to judge. Does it hurt his ranking? Of course. But does it deserve a zero? No.

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  4. Glenn, as a fellow judge, I was disappointed to see what you said to Edric. We all voted on it, and the majority of the judges plus Spin, through this vote, determined that we would allow the entry. At that point, I feel it was your obligation as a judge to review the song like all the others. If the vote had gone the other way, and he had been disqualified, then would I be at liberty to disagree with the decision and rank his song among the other entries? No. I would have to abide by the decision. I don't know what made you feel that you didn't have to.

    This situation wasn't 100% clear in the rules. It states the album of each round's songs will be published, but there wasn't anything specifically saying contestants could not request to opt out of the album if they had a good reason to. So Edric asked, and we voted.

    I understand the rules will be clarified in the future so this same type of situation doesn't occur again, but the handling of this instance was decided jointly by a majority vote, and I don't think it was fair to Edric for you to penalize him by "protesting" the judges' decision in this manner. It wasn't his decision; it was all of ours.

    If you really had empathy for the fact that his choice of artistic expression could possibly impact his very livelihood--and yet he still felt strongly enough about his art to make the song the way he wanted to--I think you could've reviewed the song. Edric is a teacher, a role model, and someone who is simply not at liberty to usurp parents' authority and sovereignty to choose whether or not to expose their children to adult content, so I think he was trying to do the responsible thing by requesting that his entry be kept from Internet broadcast. This wasn’t strictly about not wanting his students to tease him about cuss words or the content of the song. And he wasn't doing it to thumb his nose at us, or his fellow contestants. He was simply trying to do the right thing because he knows some of his students "follow" him and his musical endeavors online. Teachers have to be extremely careful not to cross the line that delineates a parents' right to decide what their children are taught and/or exposed to. Edric had a good reason for wanting to share his song within the contest, but not outside of it.

    In any case, none of that is really relevant to the fact that we all voted on this, and the result was, his entry was deemed valid, and therefore you did not fulfill your duty.

    I'm sorry if that sounds harsh; I'm not trying to be snarky here, or start a fight; I'm just telling you my thoughts. It probably isn't my place to tell you all this, but I’ve never been good at keeping my opinions to myself. I'm not trying to be a jerk or be mean either; I know you can't read any tone into words on a page so please know that I’m just trying to be honest with you here, nothing more.

    Should Edric, as a teacher, censor himself and his art? I don't know. Should he consider the consequences of his decision to enter a music contest, when he knew his song would be published? Probably--but then again, we can't foresee what artistic expressions are going to flow through us at some later date. So should he be penalized for something that was not 100% defined in the rules, when he was trying to do the responsible thing? I don't think so. Most importantly, should we, as judges, go against a decision that was voted on? I don't think so.

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  5. This whole episode really highlights for me something that I feel needs saying: We are artists. We are musicians! We do this for fun, we do it for the love of our art, and we do it because we are compelled to as creative beings. Music is the Universal language--it unites hearts and minds across vast divides of time and space... Guys who I have never met, who spoke languages I don't understand, who lived thousands of miles away and who died hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, those strangers have made me feel amazing depths of emotion and they have powerfully influenced my experiences and--if I am the sum of my experiences, then--they have helped to shape who I am today. That is the power of music!

    While this is a contest, I think we all need to take a deep breath and slow down long enough to remember that the spirit of this is for all of us TO HAVE FUN AND TO GROW, TOGETHER AND INDIVIDUALLY, BY THE SHARING AND MUTUAL ENJOYMENT OF OUR ART. Not to get caught up in the mechanics of a dire competition where everything is oh-so-serious. Because if that's the kind of contest this is, then maybe I'm in the wrong place. I came here to have some good times, meet other artists, hear some great music, help people with some honest feedback, and above all, to laugh and have fun and enjoy! (I could've sworn somebody told me there was no prize money here!)

    Rules are good, and of course rules are necessary to run a good contest. And I don't mean to take anything away from the importance of bragging rights for the winner. It's a contest, and that's part of what makes it fun too. I just think your refusal to review the song was, well, probably taking everything a bit too seriously.

    I considered communicating this to you in private, but your non-review was quite public, and there are already others commenting about it here, and I though perhaps others might also benefit one way or another from hearing my views on it. And I also think perhaps discussing this out in the open is the most appropriate way to keep it from turning into some big festering controversy that colors the remainder of the competition. So, right or wrong, I have chosen to post this here. If any other judges or contestants have additional thoughts on it, I hope they will post too, as long as everyone keeps it civil and respectful. The point here is to discuss this and then be done with it; at least that is my intention by posting this. And I am not asking for a response either, necessarily. I'm just saying something I feel I need to say.

    OK. Now that I've written more than anyone in their right mind would ever want to read, I hope we can all move past this and get back to the spirit in which we are all compelled to make our music in the first place--For the love of music!

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  6. As Dave pointed out Glenn doesn't need all the blame here, I should get it. I published Glenn's rankings even though he went against the ruling, so that lays on me.

    An "Edric" rule has been put in place so this situation doesn't blind side us again. An official rule about judging & DQin' will also be added in the future to avoid backlash toward judges who have issue with a song they think should be DQed.

    Also...I admit that I voted to allow Edric's song, but honestly agree with Glenn's on ALL of his concerns about allowing it. He has not mentioned them all here, but that's his call.

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  7. Bullshit? Really? To the best of my knowledge: Every SpinTunes entry has been available to the public until now. This is already not the competition that I 'signed up for'.

    Before any of you accuse me of using unfair, "bullshit" criteria for my last place ranking of the song, consider this: Edric made it to the next round. I may not agree with the song's inclusion, but at the end of the day I am fine with it because the other judges ranked the songs in ways they saw fit, and the beauty here is that we don't have to agree. My opinion (and ranking) only holds so much weight in the overall consensus.

    Sure, there are no rules that state that a song must be posted on the album. The last time I checked there weren't any rules regarding voting criteria for judges, either. I could honestly choose to rank the next round in reverse alphabetical order if I felt like it. I wouldn't be violating any 'rules', but that would also be a very lame thing to do.

    My primary concern is honestly this: When you allow one song to be withheld from the album, you potentially allow ALL songs to be withheld from the album. You open up the possibility for a round with 6 songs, only 3 of which the general public is allowed to hear. Why should the public even be interested in listening to any of the rounds at that point? I imagine it would be like watching a reality TV show with eliminations, but some of the contestants are invisible that week.

    All in all, I'm just one judge. You don't like my opinion? There are multiple other votes to balance things out.

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  8. Imagine the worst happens: Edric's song gets leaked online for people to hear. I am simply not comfortable with the idea of being one of the people he can blame for that.

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  9. Well maybe it's good this happened when it did, so now there is an "Edric" rule. Because you're right Glenn, it would be pretty ridiculous if more people started requesting their songs be kept private. I don't really think that would happen, but I guess it could. And that's a valid concern. I didn't think it was ideal either, but I also understood why he was doing it so I didn't see anything all that wrong with it when it was one song from one contestant.

    Regarding your second post, I thought of that as well. On the Internet, sometimes it seems the harder you try to keep something secret, the more it spreads. (I think they call that the "Streisand Effect." There's a story to that but I've already posted way more than my fair share here... But it's interesting to Google it to get the history of where that term came from.) I like to think no one here would be malicious with spreading that song against the creator's wishes, however.

    Anyway, the part I really took issue with was refusing to review the song when we all voted, but I understand you felt that if he doesn't have to publish it, then you don't have to review it. I'm a newbie around here, so I think my attachment to "the way this is supposed to go, the way we do things around here" just isn't very congealed like the way it is with you and probably many others.

    So again, now that it's happened, the issue is codified in the rules and this won't ever be an issue again. It's in black and white from now on. If nothing else, this has helped the contest to be more well defined in the future.

    I hope nothing I said pissed you off or insulted you; that wasn't my intention.

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