Where Music & Dance Fall Face First Into The Internet

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Song Fu Five: What The Hell Happened?

Normally people seem to put the disclaimers at the bottom, but I want mine at the top...and in bold. I've tossed around the idea of having guest bloggers contribute to Spintown for awhile. Sammy is the first person I asked to write a guest blog, and I'm hoping he doesn't cause this to be the last guest blog as well. Keep in mind that the opinions in this blog are those of Sammy Kablam, NOT Spintown.

A review by Sammy Kablam

O.k., here's the deal. I got introduced to Song Fu 2 and enjoyed it. I had a great time keeping up with 3. 4 became a little uninteresting, and now 5 is a giant swamp of frustration. It's like someone said "Hey! There are six or seven gold coins at the bottom of a boiling tar pit -- they're yours if you have the guts to find them!" Not exactly an enticing bargain, is it? Now, first of all, the challenges have been, as I see them, sub-par. I realize there's only so much you can do with obscure references and having titles forced upon your entries and stifling what creative elbow room you have. But let's be serious: the songs of Song Fu 5 are mostly crap, and it's not because of the challenges. So, without further ado, I present a one-sided and entirely unfair review of everyone who signed up for Song Fu 5.

Governing Dynamics

You may have forgotten about him, because he did something very irritating: his first entry -- a song that was supposed to be about something -- and very specific and obscure something, at that -- was a damn instrumental. Why? What's the point? I've heard this guy's music -- with words -- and his songs are pretty good. But his presence in Song Fu 5 seemed completely void of purpose.

Jason "Aria" Morris

I really can't dig into Jason at all, which is kind of unfortunate for this rant. His production value is fantastic -- especially for an online competition. He may not like hearing it much, but he's very good at writing his songs, and it's a shame he had to pull out of Round 3. (See what I did there, Jason?) He's one of the few people in this contest that I can safely look forward to hearing, so his absence makes things that much more miserable.

Edric Haleen

Edric has a very theatrical style. His songs always sound drastically different, and sure, there are some that aren't my bag. He also tends to go the serious/emotional route when he can take it, and I'm not usually up for that particular ride. But by the same token, he's an artist with versatility and honest creativity, and is, therefor, someone I look forward to every round. I may not jump for joy at every song Edric offers, but I expect good things, and I'm generally surprised when he gives me something I don't enjoy -- which, around here, is rare.

"BucketHat" Bobby Matheson

I don't believe I've heard a bad song from Bobby. He could certainly use some more production time, to iron things out before he records them, but that's not exclusive to him. Judging by his entries, the tickets to the next BucketHat show won't be selling out anytime soon, but with polished tunes, I may just have to...well...eat my hat. I want Bobby in ong Fu 6, and I want him to really kick his production into high gear. You're on notice, son.

Tyler Massey

Hi. Reverb much? Yes. In fact, too much. Also, please make sure your song is as drawn out and boring as possible. I wouldn't want to think that the reverb is blurring your lyrics and that it was making me miss something interesting. I'm not going to go so far as to say I'm happy that he disappeared after one round, but I can't say I feel like I'm really missing anything.

Godz Poodlz

When I first heard them, The Pood were not exactly an instant favorite of mine. But they are stomping you people like crazy in making good, enjoyable songs. It is mind blowing that they're not in the top 5 ranks. Simply mind blowing. I could shoot myself in the head and eject brain matter onto a nearby wall, and my mind would not be as blown as it is over this particular subject. I mean, I realize a portion of Song Fu is popularity, and these guys aren't internet famous -- I mean, sure they're not Molly Lewis. But the upside to not being Molly Lewis, is that they can write really good songs. Yeah, I said it. What?

Bram Tant

A lot of people liked his first song; I didn't. And his second entry was, in my opinion, a bad idea. If you don't have an entry ready -- and this goes for anyone, not just Bram -- but if you don't have an entry ready, don't enter anything. There's no shame in missing a deadline for Song Fu; things do come up in real life. But to throw out unfinished, last minute drivel just to "enter something" makes it kinda look like you spent a week working on unfinished, last minute drivel. Not the best strategy. I expect better things from focused competitors. And I think if he knuckles down, Bram can make some vastly better things than he has.

Steve Chatterton

Steve is not my go-to guy. His two entries thus far have been unique -- in a good way. There's really nothing wrong with anything I've heard from him. I just also haven't heard anything from him yet that made me say "I like this guy!" I don't recall even smiling at any of his songs. But again, there's been nothing bad about them. Take it how you want, but...I have pretty much no opinion at all about this guy.


For fuck's sake. I'm curious: do you write your lyrics directly ON cheese, or do you have a special cheese PEN? Your songs are like daytime television; hokey, feigning depth, and nobody really wants to tune in. I would throw you out of a coffee shop. I cannot express just how very bland your music is, except that it's so bland it makes me angry. You understand that? That means there is so much NOTHING going in your product, that the actual VOID in your works draws forth a NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. I hope the magnitude of that fact is as inconvenient for you as it is for me.

Jarrett Heather

Another One Entry Wonder, I kinda wish he'd stuck around. His lyrics were only slightly dodgy, and his music was pretty nice. His voice was kinda goofy, but that can be a good thing. I dunno, the jerk didn't stick around, so what am I supposed to say?


I have never heard a song from these guys that I wanted to finish. I'm kinda glad they didn't make it thru SF5.

Jalapeno Habaneros

You know that feeling you get when you're at a club or a show or what have you, and there's a guy on stage doing "comedy"...but he's not funny? And you know that he knows he's bombing, but he's trying to fight thru it and win over the audience...and making it worse? That's the feeling I get about ten seconds into every song from these guys. They've got great intentions, and their ideas aren't TERRIBLE, but their execution is horrendous. There are times I hesitate to even listen to their entry because I know I won't be able to finish it. From what I can tell they've got plenty of potential -- I just wish they'd use it.

Timothy Rush

Timothy has a bad habit of being redundant as hell. Just how many times CAN you fit the title of a song into the song itself? Maybe he's just not big on lyrics, I dunno. But that's kind of, like, 50% of entering a song writing competition. I actually started to like his second entry because of how simply weird it was, but then he started the 2nd verse and it all went to blandsville. Again. I think if he applies himself, he might be interesting, but as long as he continues to sign up and not care, it's going to continue shining thru. Which begs the question...why sign up?

Jubilee Jews

You know what's neither cute nor original? Ukuleles. You know what's not funny or interesting? Jubilee Jews. Their entries were as follows: Dull, Embarrassingly irritating, Missed the point. (PROTIP: Shaking bells doesn't make a song "holiday style".) Maybe it's because of the tendency to be minimalist Vocals/stupid little guitar combination, or maybe it's that plus their strong desire to be boring, but I roll my eyes every time I click for their songs. Maybe an album of lullabies geared toward infants is the best way to kick off their music career. I just wouldn't suggest driving while listening to their stuff.


The Tom Waits reference was astounding, and the Festivus concept was unique, if nothing else. I wish he'd been able to contribute to Round 2, because whereas he's not a favorite of mine out of the box, he's definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Peter Benedict

I would ask you to be interesting, but that would imply I want you to continue into Song Fu 6. And I'd rather have competitors that make it hard to choose who to vote for because there are so many GOOD ones, as opposed to continue having to bob for apples in a barrel of cold fish heads. I mean...if you're going to sign up, the least you could do is sing. Well.

Craig Ritchie

Here's another guy that I think has the potential but not the kinetic. If Craig REALLY forced himself to bust out some top quality stuff, he could do it. But for some reason, his entries just seem...incomplete. Very unpolished, at least. I hope he continues on, because I see him improving as he goes. I hope he proves me right.

Josh Holober-Ward

This guy, too, could be alright. In fact, unlike most of the drainage around here, I think Josh may be trying too HARD. "Mokey" was alright, but "Five" and "Snow Day" felt either forced or rushed, if not both. I think there is some pretty good stuff in this guy's musical future, and I hope to see him stick around.

Aaron Z

This guy's entries make him out to be nothing special whatsoever. I wish I could say something more positive, but nothing springs to mind. I mean...he's not Manticess, so that's a plus. If he shows up in SF6, I hope he does something that doesn't fade into the background.

Spencer Sokol

Spencer strikes me as a dark horse. He has yet to really impress me, but I get the feeling that he's going to, and soon. Maybe it's the fact that his Round Three song actually made me laugh. I look forward to seeing where he goes.

Joe Covenant

In the same way that Eddie Murphy saved Saturday Night Live those many years ago, Joe Covenant has taken the reigns of Song Fu and is kicking its ass. Some might argue that Joe's song quality comes from his decades of experience in song writing and performing, but that's kind of the point. You enter a competition because you're good, not as practice. If everyone was as talented as Joe, this contest would be much more fun and exciting -- and I wouldn't be here, bitching my heart out. Thank you, Joe Covenant, for rising to the top of the hack pile. (But doing it because you're good, and not just because you're the best hack.)

Lex Vader

Excellent music, all the time; Disappointing lyrics, just as often. Lex really does have some of the best produced music in all of Song Fu (which is nice, but doesn't say TOO much in a room full of vocalists without...well...music). But his lyrics either lose me or just feel apathetic. I think teaming with a lyricist would make him a real threat in this competition.

Caleb Hines

Caleb is another culprit of entering an instrumental when the song is supposed to be ABOUT something. He even had the brass to suggest that said instrumental was somehow a memorial! That makes NO SENSE, ladies and gentlemen. I tend to roll my eyes at a lot of his contributions, but he actually surprised me with his "Finals Week". Because of this, I'd like to see him in SF6, and REALLY sock it to the challenges. Show me that this song wasn't a fluke, and that he can keep up the good work. A partner might be a good idea for him, as well.

Ian "Two Shades" Johnson

Ian's #1 setback is his lyrical ability. His ideas are fine, his music, though sometimes rough, is generally effective. But his lyrics are a hindrance. The upside, is that Ian knows this, so I don't think I'll be pissing him off. I just think if he took more time on his words, they'd be much better and more rounded songs.


Music: Check. Lyrics: Come again? Part of succeeding in a song writing competition is making sure PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND YOU. I swear, your vocals are like Ortega doing a Sly Stallone monologue. And yes, I'm sure you'll have to look up Ortega. The point is, your words are really hard to make out. The upside is that your music tends to be pretty sweet, so if you can figure out how to be vocally audible, you'll be a threat to contend with. (That is, if your lyrics are any good; I wouldn't know yet, because I haven't heard any.)

Jonathan Mann

Heard a lot of praise for this guy from a lot of folks before SF started; once it started, I didn't see what the hub-bub was all about. His production value is very nice, but the productions, themselves, are nothing all that special. There's room for improvement, and if it happens, great, but as is...meh.

Sara Parsons

See above, so I don't have to rephrase it.

Chas Lilly

This guy is going to be the next big thing in Song Fu. I cannot stress this enough. And he won't need to milk pre-existing YouTube fame to do it. He's genuinely clever and funny and musically inclined, and he manages to fulfill the challenges properly. I don't see many people coming close to him in SF6, unless all of the talented guys from 3 and 4 return or if he suffers a sudden death. I wouldn't mind the resurgence of talent; not so kean on the death.

Kylie Petto

Sometimes, having a passion for something doesn't mean you should do it. Being Kylie Petto is one of those times. Her three entries were, apparently, testing the elasticity of the collective Song Fu patience. "Just how a irritating can I get," she may have asked herself, "Before someone asks me to stop?" Thus, her entries got progressively more annoying, and now I'm just going to go ahead and ask: Kylie...please stop.

Jeff Fardink

This guy only put forth one song for SF5, but it was one of the few Moleman songs that didn't bore me into a coma. But, hey...at least Kylie stuck it out. (That's heavy sarcasm, I'd actually trade her out to get him back.)

Alex Taylor

You are just terrible. You sound like Grimace, but without the dignity.

Gifted Gear

I guess that since you're not literally a gear, you don't expect me to believe you're literally gifted, either. To be completely blunt, I don't know why you signed up for Song Fu at all. And that's not meant to be a dig, I really just don't get it.

Bob Westfall

The one song he did was very dull. It gives me no reason to even pretend to be interested in what might have been, had he stuck around. I only wish the vast of the dullards would follow his example and make room for talent.

Justin Vega

This was the last One Entry Wonder. His song was o.k., but the challenge was so lame it's hard to call it a "good song" regardless of quality. I'll take this moment, though, to say this: It's true, things happens in life, and you have to pull out of contests and obligations due to unforeseen events. But if you know you won't be able to make the deadlines, is it really worth it to waste everyone's time in signing up? It really is a major waste to see unimpressive entrants do one song and then disappear back into obscurity, when their spot could have been taken, from the start, by someone with charisma and skill. Frustrating, indeed.


The drug party, house music stuff might be great for background noise in a warehouse full of black lights and mohawks, but it's not exactly the right fit for a songwriting competition, is it? I mean, I'm not one to discriminate, but pontoon boats are not exactly fit for the highway; they, like everything, have their place. In fact, a big portion of this competition is -- get this, now -- lyrics. And when your vocals sound like you recorded in a fish tank full of LSD, it doesn't help your position. Your music isn't bad, or anything, I just have no idea why you signed up for Song Fu with that particular style. It seems a bit like attending a costume party dressed as a wrench: it meets the requirements, but you look like a tool.

Denise Hudson

Your first song, from what I could hear, was all over the place. There seemed to be no focus whatsoever -- but your piano was overpowering, so it wasn't a great presentation to begin with. And your second song sounded like there was a kitten on the keys -- except "Kitten on the Keys" is good music. And there's really not much more to say.

So. That's a short, over-simplified summary of my take on everyone that was involved in Song Fu 5. I think this whole contest kinda sucked, save for five or six contestants. And I really hope Song Fu 6 retains the talented few from 5, drops the dead weight, and gains some new (or old) talent to bring things back up to an entertaining level.

And intriguing challenges would be suggested, as well.


  1. I think some of the instrumental tracks came from people who were battling colds and/or H1N1. It's that time of year.

  2. Thanks for the disclaimer, Spin. Now, I'm all for freedom of expression and being honest, but yikes. Sammy succeeded in keeping up a high level of aggression for his entire post, which I suppose is commendable; I don't think I've ever been 40 paragraphs-worth of Angry. Good for him for speaking his mind.

  3. I had to flinch several times. We that know you can let this roll off our backs...or I can because I'm not a musician. YEE-OUCH!! As a review, it's OK, but this is not Broadway and you are not John Gore. I challenge you, Sammy Kablam, to go a full round of Song Fu next year and blow everyone out of the water.
    :) Peace