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Saturday, January 30, 2016

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Ted Kiper

Once again, I am honored to be judging in the Spintunes. Competing for myself would probably have been more fun, but limited time and resources constantly remind me that judging was the best participation I can provide.
I’d like to personally give thanks to Spin for allowing my thoughts to be heard; but I also want to give a pre-emptive thanks to my fellow Spintuners for considering my reviews. So many cool ideas are brought up by the competitors, all of which inspire me for my future projects. You guys give so much life to the community, and I hope I speak for everyone by saying this competition appreciates your attention and hard work.
Some trivia about me: I don’t mind any genre, but I have a soft spot for alternative rock, 80’s synthpop, and anything with layers and layers of keyboards. I also appreciate good technique from traditional musicians, the stuff that listeners know couldn’t be replicated by computers and MIDI. My current addictions would include The Bravery, Justice, Lorde, M83, and others. (Any recommendations are gladly welcomed!)
Of course, this is a SONGWRITING competition. So although production and effects are cool, make no mistake -- I am very mindful to consider your take on the challenge, with whatever you got.

Round 1

So the challenge is to write a song about experiencing something for the first time.
For your amusement: if I was a competitor such as yourself, my idea would have been my first time composing for Spintunes. I was planning a loose collage of my past musical submissions, but with twists of direction and arrangements based from my current skills and tools. Alas, the idea may have been too ambitious with such limited time.
For those unfamiliar, I am using a scoring system promoted by Mark Meritt in ST5R1:
Overall, I was rather impressed with the risks presented by some people. Also, some ideas for first-time experiences were pretty crazy but were well-supported. Although it made it harder for me to rank, you all did a fantastic job.
Reviews

Ross Durand  – Premiere

Rank = 1

Score = 49
  • Challenge = 11
    • Although someone else wrote a song with a similar first time experience, I found it most interesting to hear it from you. Of course Edric would write about theatre, it’s his thing. But don’t you expect your idea would invade his turf? But your take was fantastic! While Edric masters the art of fine arts music, you’ve crafted a sound in the direction of pop, and it works.
  • Lyrics = 7
    • It has “so many” words that seems to invite “every” item into imagination. The abundance of nouns doesn’t allow room for the listener to do much, and it’s that feel of helplessness that makes the listener relate to the narrator.
  • Composition = 7
    • The 6/8 timing is exactly the right fit to the elegance of the idea.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • Without the feel of clutter or force, the words flow rapidly and gradiously, giving me a sense of wonder and awe.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • It’s the right blend of instruments, layered in beauty without it being too overwhelming.
  • Performance = 3
    • Some of the singing seems lightly strained and not exactly on point, but that’s quite honestly not a bother. The magic is still there.
  • Recording = 3
    • Pretty normal. Perhaps the multiple layers of production betrays the quality of the vocal track.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Honestly, you make the song seem so natural.

Ominous Ride – Maiden Trip

Rank = 2

Score = 48

  • Challenge = 11
    • I expect the first voyage through the ocean would be epic and looming, and your song delivered your idea quite splendidly.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • Some of the lyrics have a Greek odyssey feel, with an unfolding story. Yet, it also feels lost and open-ending. Good overall.
  • Composition = 6
    • The progression doesn’t seem very exciting and different, but the idea needed the monotonous and brooding feel.
  • Songcrafting = 8
    • The words and the music bounces quite nicely, as smooth as a boat traversing through the waters. The double-singing on the chorus highlights the rippling effect of the song.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The layers of sounds present a perfect backdrop for the mysterious waters.
  • Performance = 4
    • There’s a good amount of melodic variety that keep the song fresh.
  • Recording = 3
    • I figure the majority of your songs has the same quality, but your voice always seem limited.
  • Judge’s Whim = 8
    • I think my favorite parts are when you harmonize your vocals during the chorus. The end of the chorus seems a little off, but for some reason, I completely like the fault.

Glen Raphael – First Time (Phantom Menace)

Rank: 3

Score = 47

  • Challenge = 12
    • I might be scoring your take of the challenge higher than expected, but I honestly didn’t expect someone’s first impression of the Phantom Menace. I completely relate; everything went weird after that movie. More importantly, you made it perfectly clear what your first experience was, and it was original enough to make this song take the highest points.
  • Lyrics = 8
    • Clever puns got me from the start, I’m ashamed to say. Better still, you were consistent on your point, supporting your disappointment with plenty of details.
  • Composition = 5
    • The music isn’t quite so unique, aside from the guitar instrumental before the second verse. But the blandness and sluggish tempo successfully reflects a disillusioned viewer.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • Again, the sloppy singing gives the lyrics a good, hesitant drag along with the simple music. But the last chorus/verse combination was feeling more distant than I was comfortable with.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • No need for more or less instruments, but perhaps a different instrument would have added a more exciting element for intrigue.
  • Performance = 3
    • The guitar after the second verse is the highlight of the song. The rest is rather safe.
  • Recording = 3
    • The mix was a bit confusing, but that’s just me being nit-picky.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • It’s awful hard not to like this song. I usually prefer songs with layers of techno sounds and blown-out epicness, but I find this oddly catchy enough to be addicting.

Edric Haleen – How It All Began

Rank: 4

Score = 47

  • Challenge = 11
    • A song that expresses the first experience of fine-arts theatre and the consequences, just the kind I’d expect from the master Edric Haleen. What I didn’t expect was Ross Durand producing a similar idea, and it unfortunately invites comparison. Obviously, there are differences between the two songs’ premises and productions, but it is your bridge that uplifts your song into appreciative pondering. Regardless, your take of the challenge is quite original and successfully done.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • The lyrics are very selective in experiences, some of which may be lost in listeners who don’t know Webber or Sondheim. You’ve done them justice, no doubt. But that is why the bridge really shines: it gives the listener the chance to relate.
  • Composition = 6
    • It’s unfair to compare this entry to your past songs; and I would be embarrassed to say that you’ve had more interesting passages of music. What really made this song fresh was the addition of samples, including the instrumental recording at the end. (Is that Audra MacDonald? Could this my first experience?)
  • Songcrafting = 8
    • I’m sure you’ll be tired to hear that your songcrafting is nothing less than perfect, which is what I’m sure you aim for. If I had any problems, it may be the timing of the samples. Not how they were introduced, but just the exact millisecond they are played. Honestly not a big deal--in my opinion, anyway.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • I’m not sure how to put this, but the samples and piano still feel a little naked.
  • Performance = 4
    • The plinks of piano at the end of the discography purchases was, I think, the most memorable pieces. Amazing how simple audio exclamations somehow go a long way.
  • Recording = 3
    • Some parts may have been too quiet, while Webber was a little too loud for my comfort. You wanted the effect, I get it--but right after soft piano-playing?
  • Judge’s Whim = 6
    • The song has good material, like an art masterpiece. I can peel it piece by piece for study purposes. As a whole, it’s not exactly so catchy. Thankfully, I love studying the details, and you’ve always been pretty good at that.

Sam Rodewald – My First Song Will Be

Rank: 5

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • I’d expect more entries to have their first experiences as making a song, but since you are the only one, you seemed to score higher in my ranks. More importantly, I felt the song was very successful in captivating the experience.
  • Lyrics = 4
    • “Chair”, “coffee pot”, “TV”, “snack”—They are very one-dimensional in my mind. (As opposed to the guitar being new.) But the naivety of the narrator, who wants a perfect first song, excuses the simplicity of the lyrics.
  • Composition = 7
    • In this sector, there are two pieces I find really compelling. One is the insistent, eighth-noted keyboard taps, from beginning to end of the song; it reminds me of the anxious tapping of fingers when trying to write a song, very brilliant. The second is the dreamy tag, complete with delicate oohs and swooning horns; the chord progression is prefect in elevation and descent, heartbreakingly good.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • The song never settles to be boring, as if it tries to escape into being perfect. And the tag is the reward.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The choice of instruments are questionable, but it makes more sense after a couple of listens later.
  • Performance = 3
    • Oddly, I find the singing in the tag simultaneously faulty and fantastic. I might prefer that sloppiness than the strange staccato in the verses.
  • Recording = 3
    • Overall, rather good quality.
  • Judge’s Whim = 8
    • Despite the entry not being as perfect as it wants to be, I believe this is my top favorite song of the round. I think it encapsulates the stress so well. It really resonated with me, and it’s catchy enough that I find it addicting. Seriously, I can put the tag in loop. Good job!

Adam Sakellarides – Have You Heard?

Rank: 6

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • Brussel sprouts? Really? Okay.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • Although I find it intellectually stagnant, it’s always refreshing to hear some comedy. Unless you seriously like Brussel sprouts. Then I’m concerned.
  • Composition = 6
    • I like the flip of dread to excitement; it gives dimension.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • The direction of the vocals is quite fun, especially the little quips around the choruses. My big issue is how you progress through the bridge; apparently, cauliflower is such a bore that singing the line was equally uninteresting.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The type of strums on the guitar were quite fitting.
  • Performance = 4
    • I love the energy you put into this!
  • Recording = 3
    • The quality doesn’t detract from the fun of the song.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Gosh darn, now I want Brussel sprouts. I don’t care what Father says.

Emperor Gum – Leaving

Rank: 7

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • It was interesting enough to express the first time leaving a homeland, but describing all the follow-up first times brings new levels of this idea. I never thought an immigrant’s song could be as charming as you’ve presented.
  • Lyrics = 7
    • Such a proud and bittersweet story.  At first, I thought the song was too wordy, but eventually I grew to love how it appeals so personally. I wouldn’t want the lyrics any less.
  • Composition = 7
    • Effectively touching. Although it has a touch of cheesy, I find myself swinging along the music, and me swinging to any beat is always a good sign.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • It has a sailor feel, you know. I wish the melody was a bit more refined, especially at the beginning, where I could’ve sworn you were singing way off-key and off-beat. But you could’ve fooled me if you did that on purpose too; it sounded more authentic that way. Generally, it has plenty of diverse instrumentals and good folksy structure.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • Softs strings, rhythmic guitar strumming, punctuating woodwinds—it’s really quite a beautiful arrangement. Made the song effectively heart-stirring.
  • Performance = 2
    • I would’ve rated this lower, but the vocals were too gutsy to go unappreciated.
  • Recording = 2
    • Also, it sounds like a grandfather explaining to youngsters of his life’s journeys.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • This is easily one of my favorites of the round and from your productions. Thank you for sharing!

Pigfarmer Jr – Kill A Man

Rank: 8

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 9
    • Yes, killing somebody is quite a first-time experience. But then it shifts focus from the first experience to politics. I was kind of hoping for more trauma. Still, it’s unique enough to earn high points, especially for the soldier’s POV.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • I found the “Kill A Man” line a little too repetitive, especially when I wanted to know more details about his first time of killing a man. Otherwise, I like the thoughtfulness to the big-picture of war.
  • Composition = 6
    • The guitar/bass riff at the ends of the song gives the music a much-needed personality.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • The rapping at the verses was awful clever; it made the narrator very fresh.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The chugging of the guitars puts the necessary pump, the right amount of punch for the tension.
  • Performance = 4
    • I don’t know how, but the rapping sounded overtly optimistic, which I think was strangely perfect.
  • Recording = 4
    • I could be wrong, but the bandwidth for the vocals is exactly where I expected they should be.
  • Judge’s Whim = 6
    • This is my favorite out of all your productions. I also like how different it sounds from the rest of the entries. Please more of this.

Jailhouse Payback – First Time Caller

Rank: 9

Score = 44
  • Challenge = 9
    • I’m not sure how I feel about your idea of first time experience. Instead of somebody using the phone for the first time, like a Martian stuck using payphone, you obviously wanted this song to talk about the content of the call. I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt that the person divulging so many details is part of this interesting experience. (Or maybe I’m just thankful you submitted this as the official entry, out from the rest of the collection.)
  • Lyrics = 7
    • The story has all the makings of a good country song, all twisted and tragic.
  • Composition = 6
    • It doesn’t have too many interesting changes in chords or structure, but it was saved by a throw-in guitar solo and a subtle pause at the last verse.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • There are slight missteps in singing the verses, where it doesn’t exactly mesh with the music. But the narrator does seem desperate to get the drama over with.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • That banjo plucking is pretty much what I mainly hear. As it should be.
  • Performance = 3
    • It seemed a tad bit sloppy. Barely noticed it.
  • Recording = 3
    • It’s pretty standard. Nothing wrong here.
  • Judge’s Whim = 5
    • Well, I can imagine this fitting nicely in the radio. I hope the listeners like country.

Steve Durand – Original Sin

Rank: 10

Score = 43
  • Challenge = 11
    • Ah, experiencing the first sin! Now I don’t think many people would’ve come up with that. But does the music have to sound so sexy? Oh well, I guess it wouldn’t be sin if it wasn’t fun…
  • Lyrics = 5
    • The words “chagrin” and “the devil made me do it” gives me the cheese.
  • Composition = 5
    • After the beginning, the song gets rather repetitive in direction and structure.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • But the Genesis bit made everything better. Best intro in the round. With a hook like that, I couldn’t resist hearing the rest of the song.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • I love the layers of trumpets. Makes the song as cushy as a church pew.
  • Performance = 3
    • That honky-tonky sounded a little wonky. Something’s rhythm didn’t seem to flow so successfully.
  • Recording = 3
    • I wish the vocals were a little louder. Not a bother, though.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • This isn’t exactly a piece of Christian music I’d like to share with the old ladies at church. Things can get too steamy. Amusing take, though.

Brian Gray – First One Here (Shadow)

Potential Rank: 11

Score = 43
  • Challenge = 11
    • A song about discovering America first is certainly a nice surprise to hear. Very unique, fulfilling to sound more exotic than the rest of the pack.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • My favorite line is the “natives and Leif guy”, completing the self-mockery I was so greatly entertained.
  • Composition = 5
    • It certainly has the Spanish twist on the sound and melody.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • It all compiled rather nicely.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The selection of instrument tracks are what I expected would appear.
  • Performance = 3
    • Rather dramatic to find land, I guess.
  • Recording = 3
    • Quality good enough to get the point through.
  • Judge’s Whim = 5
    • Hm. Forgive me, but perhaps my Latin heritage finds the song on the edge of cheesiness. I will say that your submission was quite enjoyable. Shame that it wasn’t official. Who do I point the Finger of Blame?

The Boffo Yux Dudes – First Wurst

Rank: 11

Score = 41
  • Challenge = 9
    • Of course, you love to skirt the boundaries of the challenge, don’t you? So instead of a specific experience, you offer a caution about taking anything first too quickly. Well… I’m intrigued. But I should finish this review before I change my mind.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • I’m confused if this is a story or if this simply offers multiple reasons to not rush.
  • Composition = 6
    • Nice rushing rhythm, in a chord progression I somehow enjoy. But the guitar strums at every 2 bars… it cuts out and adds chords unpredictably, especially the chorus.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • I enjoyed the diversity of sounds. The song seems to be stitched together like… you were rushing to finish it? I guess that’s clever.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The song has the right instruments and sounds, but it didn’t sound like they knew what they were doing.
  • Performance = 3
    • I think the struggle. Was real.
  • Recording = 2
    • The vocals wasn’t loud enough, and their fade at the end of the chorus was deflating.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • I like the idea of the song a lot, but much refining needs to be done. Again, I really like the song.

Megalodon – My Foolish Mind

Rank: 12

Score = 40
  • Challenge = 8
    • Interesting. First time swimming also included first time drowning. How traumatic.
  • Lyrics = 4
    • The bridge was too lengthy for my taste, but I guess the necessity of repeating “can’t breathe in water” explains how the mind was so foolish.
  • Composition = 5
    • I love the flowy effects, like exploring under water. Sounds fun.
  • Songcrafting = 5
    • Unfortunately, I have an issue how drowning and dying sounds so light-hearted and pleasant.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • Lots of delicious layers. They go quite swimmingly.
  • Performance = 3
    • Very smooth sounding, but I feel some singing notes weren’t quite hitting the sweet spots.
  • Recording = 4
    • Nothing wrong here.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Despite being my conflicts, I love the music more than I care about the lyrics.

Rob from Amersfoort – The First Time You Die

Rank: 13

Score = 40
  • Challenge = 7
    • So you convinced me about the reincarnation idea, if there is a first death.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • But you nearly lost me when the sealed fate leads to death from the reincarnation cycles.
  • Composition = 7
    • Honestly, I love the variety of musical nuggets pieced together in the song. Nothing gets old.
  • Songcrafting = 5
    • “This is not a game”… and then it plays some fun techno beat. Not sure if death is as trippy as you present it, but I guess it’s all subjective.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • It might have sounded a little happier than I imagined.
  • Performance = 3
    • The singing is weirdly wonderful. Or wonderfully weird. Whichever you want.
  • Recording = 3
    • It seems a little on the low end of quality, but I think it’s not out of place.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Lucky for you, I have a soft spot for psychedelic trips. Musical trips, I mean.

Governing Dynamics – Fool Me Once

Rank: 14

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • So I’m guessing that this is the first time the narrator lost trust. Sounds good.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • I couldn’t decide what or who you couldn’t trust anymore. The scope shifts rapidly.
  • Composition - 7
    • The intro and electro-backdrop was a nice, surprising addition. It reminds me of a blend of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and The Pixies’ Bossanova.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • It sounds a bit sassy. I like it.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • The types of sounds complete a level of mistrust.
  • Performance – 2
    • Those low notes were pretty low, huh?
  • Recording - 3
    • I wish the guitar solo was a bit louder.
  • Judge’s Whim - 6
    • I was shocked to hear this sound from you, and I’m very glad you took this approach.

James Young – Alone

Rank: 15

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • There are other contenders who would use relationships are part of their first time experiences, but this one is more specific and insistent on feeling distant. It’s not that hard to remember that this is the experience felt.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • There are pretty good lyrics, explaining how far apart the relationship has drifted. However, you tread a strange space between sudden discovery and gradual diminishment.
  • Composition - 6
    • The composition is on-point. I can’t really note anything that’s weird about it. Unfortunately, I also can’t really say I have a particular favorite part.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • It’s a pretty standard setup for a classic song. Rather safe.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • The sound feels like saying “I’m alone. Oh well. Send me a postcard.”
  • Performance - 4
    • Excellent playing, as I would expect.
  • Recording - 4
    • Excellent quality, as I would expect.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • As acceptable as the song sounds, I think you may have played it too safe. I’m sure other judges will find your take on the challenge well-noting, but I would’ve enjoyed a bit more flavor.

Jon Eric – Perry’s Song (Everybody’s Waiting)

Rank: 16

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • I like the idea: the first time having a child. I think. I’m not sure if it’s the first child when other children are present, but the “children” stanza may be in the future. Or maybe it is the family’s first move out of town...
  • Lyrics - 5
    • Oh, “pterodactyl” is a heavy word. I’m hoping that’s a term of endearment. Otherwise, I literally imagine an ugly pterodactyl baby.
  • Composition - 6
    • There are enough fluctuations in progressions and transitions that keeps the music flowing and interesting. I’m a little wary of the “shame” stanza, something feels a little forced.
  • Songcrafting - 7
    • The eagerness is there, bookended with slow and patient passages of sound.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • A bright piano, light percussion, and a duet. What could be better for this?
  • Performance - 3
    • Some of the singing falls a little flat, on the words “ours” and “say”. Not a big deal.
  • Recording - 3
    • That was a pretty female vocal. Lift that higher. Then put the coughing lower.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I can’t put my finger on it. The music sounds so happy, but the lyrics seem to hide fear, Perhaps that’s the right blend of emotions for expecting a child. But that “pterodactyl” image… now all I can think of is a baby eating my brains.

Ellie Sparrow – Footprints On The Moon

Rank: 17

Score = 39

  • Challenge - 9
    • I’ve always been fond of space, so your submission is definitely welcoming. Man’s first walk on the Moon is not something anyone can relate to, but you bring a personal touch to his perspective.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The story gets a little floaty at times, but it reaches far.
  • Composition - 5
    • I can’t help but notice: it feels like Dido trying to do a cover of “Space Oddity”. And I mean this with positive amazement.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • Spacy words and spacy sounds—grounded on structured music form. Sounds like a good formula in my books.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • The sparse instrumental hits are perfect for the feel of the song, down to the bass drum beat.
  • Performance – 3
    • It’s hard to tell how well it performed when the mix isn’t quite right. One beat has a loud piano plunk, another beat softens the plunk and strengthens the drum. Curious effect.
  • Recording – 2
    • Vocals need to be louder, please. Unless you wanted the voice to sound as distant as outer space. Then proceed.
  • Judge’s Whim – 5
    • I’m curious to know how this was recorded. It’s artfully done.

Mark Humble – The First Time You Broke My Heart

Rank: 18

Score = 37

  • Challenge - 7
    • Heartbreak, irresistible heartbreak! But it had to happen at least once.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • I find the lyrics to be typical of a heartbreak song. Not a bad thing.
  • Composition - 5
    • Nothing too complicated, but it adds special twists of progressions to keep the song interesting.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • The singing works well with the flow of the music.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Good collection of ahhs and guitar-ringing.
  • Performance - 4
    • Emotion is presented well.
  • Recording - 4
    • The quality was appropriate for the choice of music.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I especially enjoyed the ahhs in the chorus. It lifts the song into an ethereal power.

Jeff Brown – The First Time

Rank: 19

Score = 36

  • Challenge - 7
    • This song is one of a few heartbreak entries, but it’s quite a bit more indirect in pointing out the first time experience. And it takes some creativity to avoid saying that.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The lyrics are pretty heavy, especially in gloomy imagery.
  • Composition - 5
    • The descent in bass notes has a flattening effect.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • In fact, the whole song is pretty gloomy. Every once in a while, the music stalls, as if skipping a heartbeat.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Guitar picking is a generally good choice for a heartbreak song.
  • Performance - 2
    • Some mis-picks led out of the tempo.
  • Recording - 3
    • Nothing tragic here. Quality was acceptable.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • As much as I enjoy rainy days, I wish this song would’ve lightened up.

Marlon – Take Your Money (Shadow)

Potential Rank: 20

Score = 34

  • Challenge - 6
    • At first, I thought there was one first time experience; but after reading the lyrics more carefully, I realize it led to more first time experiences, all of which seem equally unpleasant. I wonder how I missed them.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • The words are pretty wordy. It’s an amazing story, though.
  • Composition - 6
    • Ed Sheeran? Are you there? Regardless, the music is fresh and aggressive, just the way I like it.
  • Songcrafting – 6
    • The pieces seem to come together so seamlessly. It’s a pity I can’t distinguish the seams from the features. It’s quite a blur of audio.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Actually, I can’t imagine adding anything more to this rage. You did good.
  • Performance - 2
    • I think your creativity outcompeted your vocals. In fact, your composition was so vicious that I thought you were suffocating. No joke, I can hear you, somehow between words, gasping for air!
  • Recording - 1
    • Well, I do believe we have here a nice case study of audio clipping.
  • Judge’s Whim - 6
    • Despite being so critical, I sincerely loved your song. The raw emotion itself was something admirable, and it’s obvious that you have some cool ideas.

“BucketHat” Bobby – Free To Be Me

Rank: 20

Score = 34

  • Challenge - 5
    • I hate to say this, but I wasn’t so impressed about first-time experiencing being oneself. What about being a child? And have you never once been yourself, by yourself, for a while? The idea wasn’t so awfully powerful to me. Perhaps the experience should have been more specific.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • You use a lot of “I”s to promote thinking of yourself. Subtle and smooth.
  • Composition - 5
    • Simple and care-free.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • Altogether, your entry stands in confidence.
  • Arrangement - 2
    • That accordion-thing. It’s not my favorite instrument, but I understand why you would include it, the care-free feel.
  • Performance - 3
    • Some hiccups in timing, nothing serious.
  • Recording - 3
    • The mix really brings out that accordion.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • Yes, I can tell you don’t care anymore… I’m joking, it’s actually pretty good.

Turtle Fence – First

Rank: 21

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 8
    • Posting first. That is a serious problem in today’s generation. I’m glad we are bringing awareness.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The lyrics are really well done and explores the manifestations of how people jump to be first. It reminds me of my partner’s work when she wrote lyrics with me as a competitor.
  • Composition - 4
    • It stands to be a good walk-down playthrough, easy to work with.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • Interestingly, I’m amazed how such diverse situations presented in the lyrics are all musically treated equally.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • I kind of wished more variety of sounds, or even slightly different plucking rhythms, to match the extravagant ideas in the lyrics.
  • Performance - 2
    • I’m really impressed how low you sing. Ian Curtis comes to mind.
  • Recording - 3
    • It’s actually pretty well adjusted.
  • Judge’s Whim - 3
    • I don’t know, I guess when I think about posting on the web, I think more electronic sounds. Or maybe I’m just addicted to synth-related audio.

Jailhouse Payback – “First Time” Collection

Potential Rank: 22

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 7
    • Good grief, a whole album worth of shadows. And they all had first time experiences? Gosh darn it. Well, I think it will be much easier for me to clump your shadows together as a collection.  I rated individual songs then placed averages into this review. For the most interesting experiences that met the challenge, I thought “My First Rap”, “The Chewbacca Thing”, and “Pulled Over” caught my attention. Rap, drugs, and domestic abuse? Sounds like legit experiences.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • “The Very First Time” had the most evolved lyrics.
  • Composition - 5
    • I particularly like “The War To End All Wars” for its slightly different composition.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • But I also found “Hot Breakfast On A Weekday” exhibited good blend of everything, and rather catchy.
  • Arrangement - 2
    • “To Sing When He Was Sick” had a wide variety of effects that I appreciated.
  • Performance - 3
    • Although it wasn’t quite rappy, “My First Rap” really showcased your talent.
  • Recording - 2
    • I liked the 70s feel of the song “Special Glasses To Read”
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • And this Oscar goes to… “My First Rap”: for its irresistible humor in self-deprecation.

Keen Sid – Never Done That Before

Rank: 22

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 6
    • This is a relationship take of a first-time experience, with a touch of regret and heartbreak. Apparently, It’s a first-time experience that one wants to forget.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • I see and hear a lot of “feel”s from the lyrics,
  • Composition - 4
    • Really pumped and full of energy.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • The formula works and the song sounds quite complete.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • This kind of fun song benefitted for being quick.
  • Performance - 3
    • The end had a nicely done twist.
  • Recording - 2
    • I feel like the compression was too limiting here.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I can hear this play in the radio, it’s got all the right ingredients.

Ben Taggart – Like The First Time

Rank: 23

Score = 29

  • Challenge - 6
    • I’m not sure what the first-time experience is, so instead of using the metaphors on your chorus, I’m going with the first-time they said “I love you”.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • You spent a lot of lyrics to get these characters to say “I love you” to each other. I suppose it reflects a delicate moment.
  • Composition - 5
    • I appreciate the key change at the end.
  • Songcrafting - 4
    • The phrasing of the chorus’s last line seems a tad awkward.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Sometimes, one guitar is enough to fulfill a tender moment.
  • Performance - 1
    • Call me crazy, but I feel the note for the “sun” isn’t rising to its full potential. Otherwise, tender singing puts the song in a gentle atmosphere.
  • Recording - 2
    • I feel some things are little too quiet. Perhaps a louder mix is needed to show off the skill!
  • Judge’s Whim - 4
    • You know, I would be interested to see the verses switch with the chorus.

Conclusion

Oh, I need to wrap this up and let you guys see it. Thanks again to Travis for considering my vote, and special thanks to my wife Erica for letting me stay up all night for this completion. So after my well-deserved nap, you guys better be prepared for the next round!
  1. Ross Durand – Premiere
  2. Ominous Ride – Maiden Trip
  3. Glen Raphael – First Time (Phantom Menace)
  4. Edric Haleen – How It All Began
  5. Sam Rodewald – My First Song Will Be
  6. Adam Sakellarides – Have You Heard?
  7. Emporer Gum – Leaving
  8. Pigfarmer Jr – Kill A Man
  9. Jailhouse Payback – First Time Caller
  10. Steve Durand – Original Sin
  11. The Boffo Yux Dudes – First Wurst
  12. Megalodon – My Foolish Mind
  13. Rob From Amersfoort – The First Time You Die
  14. Governing Dynamics – Fool Me Once
  15. James Young – Alone
  16. Jon Eric – Perry’s Song (Everybody’s Waiting)
  17. Ellie Sparrow – Footprints On The Moon
  18. Mark Humble – The First Time You Broke
  19. Jeff Brown – The First Time
  20. “BucketHat” Bobby – Free To Be Me
  21. Turtle Fence – First
  22. Keen Sid – Never Done That Before
  23. Ben Taggart – Like The First Time

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