An Unfair And One-Sided Review
by Sammy Kablam
SpinTunes #3 Round 1
So, SpinTunes 3 is off and running, and even though it's not as miserable and embarrassing as the weekly worthless that is Song Fight, I've taken it upon myself to do my best to say something mean about the entries in my revival of Negative Reinforcement. To be honest, it's going to hard to give most of these entries my special brand of motivation, but I'm going to try anyway, because Spin asked me to. Yeah -- blame him. Anyway, I have 45 songs to try to insult, so here's round 1 of Spintunes 3, with the challenge to write a happy song about death.
First, we're going to do the shadows. Why? Because, the shadows can't win the contest, so they're not the main event. And if you do them last, people will tune out before they get any attention, and that's not going to help you encourage people to contribute shadows. So you highlight them at the beginning, to make them legitimate features, as an incentive for people to WANT to shadow. Common sense.
Mick Bordet - The Highland Coo Song
This was a delightful surprise. The vocals need to be sharpened for the refrains, but I wish this was in on time to be a competitor. I wish there was more variety in the choruses, too, and maybe a third verse. But the concept is unique in the contest. But then, that's why I wish there was more to it. If you decide to improve on it, I'd like to hear the new version.
Noah McLaughlin - Thank You, Joss Whedon
First of all, fuck Joss Whedon. Fuck him right in the brain. As that may illustrate, I know nothing about Buffy or Angel. Because fuck Buffy. And fuck Angel. This likely means that your song is a bunch of references to the tv shows, and I'm not going to get any of them. So, fine, it's a novelty song that I can't get because it's based on crummy source material. The one thing I can tell you is the "you came back" part is seriously bullshit. I mean, that is tedious. Other than that, I'm not going to comment on a fan song about a franchise I know nothing about.
David Ritter - Requiem For Bob
The lyrical rhythm in this is all over the place. I can't understand it. And even the lyrics that fit the rhythm of the melody are REALLY weak. You had a decent idea with the banjo gimmick, but the lyrics are so damn broken, the whole song is ruined. The music is pretty simple, and there's nothing wrong with that in the least. But when your music is simple, ALL the focus is placed on the lyrics. And your lyrics are strewn about the music to the point it resembles a junk yard after a tornado: shit just landed fucking everywhere, and somebody needs to clean up the mess.
Heather Miller - Throw My Anchor
By the third verse, the redundancy of the melody had me wanting to skip the rest of it. I mean..there's really no reason to listen to this. There's no draw. If you think you can carry a song with ONLY a sung melody of lyrics, that's fine, go ahead and try. But the melody can't be one 6-note stretch, repeated over and over for two minutes. There has to be some level of pzazz, or nobody's going to stick around. And then you ended with doubling the refrain. Really? This is remarkably easy to zone out of and ignore. This would not exactly be ideal for a real entry.
Anna P - Jesus's Best Friend
A few of the lines in the chorus feel a little rushed to fit the music. Other than that, it's a nice song. I don't really have anything bad to say, so...next?
Donutworthy - Signal
I'm really not 100% clear on what's going on here, but it SEEMS like the entire planet has been destroyed, save for the small group that escaped in a spacecraft. But I'm not sure what signal died, or why that's good. And maybe it doesn't matter, and I'm missing the point. I really don't know. And although I do like the core music, I'm also not totally hip to the doubling effect of the vocals. It's not bad, I guess, but it's a little distracting, not knowing which one to focus on. Also, you guys have a terrible band name.
Green Mama Bathsalts - See You In Hell
O.k., never mind. Donutworthy is a silly name. THIS is a terrible name. That said...the song's not nearly as bad as your name. Honestly, I'm at a loss. There's really nothing to complain about here, but not anything all that worthy of praise. It's basically lettuce. There's no nutritional value, but it's not going to hurt anything.
And now, with the Shadows out of the way, we can officially begin the official entries! So, let's not waste any time and get right into it!
Governing Dynamics - Alive Again
This is definitely the single most upbeat thing I've ever heard from Governing Dynamics. I find it a little ironic that the first song he's written that hasn't depressed me into suicidal contemplation is a song about the joy of killing other people. But it's still a toe-tapper, and if you're not careful, you may actually find yourself singing along after a few listens -- and hopefully drowning him out.
Gold Lion - In The Afterlife
"In The Afterlife" starts off with some impressively groovy riffs. It's apparently supposed to carry the concept that the afterlife is the equivalent of an eternal party, which isn't bad idea, really. But the chorus consists of virtually one line, and where there should be a 2nd verse, we get nothing but a repetition of "sha la la". That's pretty damn lazy, I don't care who you are. And beyond that, when you put it together that the singer is only fifteen, but the song sounds like something being sung by a wasted stripper in the lighthearted talking-to-the-pimp-in-a-titty-bar scene of a buddy cop movie... It just feels... weird.
Dr. Lindyke - Wake Me When It's Over
I want to put it out there that this is not a bad song. BUT. The title is "Wake Me When It's Over", which is a completely brilliant title and should be a brilliant hook. But it's not used as a hook. And not only that, a title like that sounds like the song should be upbeat and saying, "Don't think of this as a funeral, think of it as a going away party! Drink it up and have a good time, and maybe we'll party again in another life!" But it's not like that at all. Sure, it's a reassuring song that he's o.k. and there's life after death, but the hook is "It's Never Over". That works just as well as a title, and really should have BEEN the title. I feel like "Wake Me When It's Over" is brilliant title tacked onto the wrong song.
Alexa Polasky - You Will Never Die
O.k. I don't have anything against the music here, really. It's a little redundant, maybe, but it's not offensive. My problem is the chorus which reads as follows: You will never die / And if you do / It only gets better / In death you'll come alive / You'll see when you're there / It only gets better
Well...yes, everyone dies, so the first line is just silly. But aside from that, it just doesn't work with ANYTHING ELSE in the chorus. You'll never die, but if you do (which immediately negates "you'll never die") it only gets better. Well, how is it reassuring that I'll never die, if dying means I'll only get better? If I'm withering from cancer, and you tell me I'll never die, but that if I did, I'd only be better off...I'd fucking punch you. How dare you tease me about my shitty immortality, when you and the rest of the world are blessed with the sweet release of all-improving death? You selfish fuck! And the second half, "in death you'll come alive, you'll see when you're there"? How bitchy can you get? "Death is so great, you'll understand when you die. Oh, that's right; you will never die. I forgot. MY BAD."
Yeah, maybe I'm being a dick, here, but I'm not the one writing self-negating lyrics. Yes, I realize the song is supposed to be reassuring that there is an afterlife and all that, but that's not the point. The point is MAKE SENSE.
The Offhand Band - All Over
I'm told there is a murmur about this being an enormous Beatles rip off. But I don't know anything about the Beatles, so I don't know anything about that. In fact, fuck the Beatles. What I will say is that the drums are way too quiet. I will also say that the music sounds...incomplete. Like there are supposed to be other tracks or instruments. It's just not all there. Also, there are only two real lines for the chorus: "When it's over, you can finally just be" and "When it's over, you can finally be free". That is retarded. If you're going to rhyme "be" and "free", why do you have them side by side in that second line? Doesn't it make more sense, both in rhyme and functionality, for the second line to just be "When it's over, you are finally free"? The answer is yes. Also, fade-outs are fucking stupid.
Matt Walton - We're All Going To Die
So, here's a song that reminds everyone, nonstop, that you're going to fucking die. HAPPY SONG! Granted, he does have a bridge that suddenly says "Oh, let's enjoy our life now, because you don't know how long you'll be here!" Except...that's about enjoying your life. And the challenge was to write a happy song ABOUT DEATH. And this isn't that. This is an annoyingly bland song on a plain old annoying instrument, that just rubs your face in your mortality, and then tries to switch at the end and tell you to live happily -- like you never fucking thought of that in the first place. So, let's see: bland, annoying, condescending and didn't meet the challenge. Next.
Brian Daniell - Cubbies Will Win
Sometimes, movies will take their name from a single, offhand bit of dialogue in the finished script. Things like that bug the hell out of me, because a single line of dialogue does not carry the weight that titles require. Titles should be ideas that are driven home, not throw away lines. And this song gets its title from one line that does not carry the weight of the overall concept. I like the attempt at the specific sound, and the lyrical pattern is unique in the challenge. Hell, I even think it works in the song's favor that they sound like they recorded live in their living room. But this is another song that had a pretty obvious choice for a title that it skipped over, and it's not even a song that's good enough for an "artsy" title. This is album filler at best.
Byron Blocker & The Offbeats
When I hear this, I think of that shitty Grindhouse movie. The one that wasn't "Deathproof". I'm not sure why, but probably because that movie thought it was clever and good, and it was...void of both of those things. All this song gets across is some chick is dead, and the singer is glad. That's fucking all. The music's not bad, but...I like my songs to have content? And this just... Doesn't.
Edric Haleen - I Hope You Die
O.k., my only legitimate complaint: In the opening 4 lines, he rhymes "by" with "bye" and "by". That's my only problem, and when compared to the entirety of the song, it's petty nitpicking. Edric is one of the reasons I didn't want to do this sort of review with SpinTunes: I can't rip him apart, because his shit is always made with effort and thought and talent and stuff. How am I supposed to work with that?
Charlie McCarron - Grandma And Grandpa
I think this a big ol' metaphor. I say "I think", because I really have no idea. It's slow and ambient, and it's literally about an elderly couple leaving a goodbye note to anyone who might come by to find it, and then go out on their boat...forever, I guess. So, I'm hoping the boat is a metaphor for being dead, because otherwise he missed that part of the challenge. But if it is, then that means Grandma and Grandpa killed themselves, because they left the note about it together. That is incredibly NOT happy, especially since no reason was given for the suicides. That leads me to think they were just miserable with how terribly old they were and decided to off themselves, and maybe the boat is because they drowned together on purpose. So, yeah...old couple is fed up with being old, and willfully drown themselves. ...Happy song?
Spencer Sokol - Keeping Calm
Here's another one that doesn't sound all that happy. In fact, the singer sounds downright defiant. But that's not really fair, because I'm not even sure what the song is actually about. It's very likely that I'm missing the obvious story being told here, but it's currently going right over my head. It's also likely that Spencer is a terrible lyricist -- I don't know! I'm only saying! But that's the problem with this song: I just don't know.
Luke Brekke, Esquire - Cannibal
I am aware that this is another teenager. So I'm going to try to say this as gently as I can, because I don't want to scare anyone away from SpinTunes before I know they're this bad all the time. Unless your name is Edric Haleen, you don't need to focus on all of your rhymes being perfect. When you get lenient on your rhymes, you get more room for creative flow. That means you can tell an interesting story. Also, you may want to take the church organ and burn it. And percussion is always nice. A lot of songwriters use drum loops, and you can even write your own with the right program. Or just...anything! Jesus, this was so void of life. There was no rhythm at all, and I don't just mean percussion. The droning organ was just held chords, there were no other instruments helping it out for timber or pacing, and it was just fucking DULL. I'm sorry, I tried to be nice, but come on. Entertain me, don't fucking bore me. HOW DO YOU MAKE CANNIBALISM BORING?!
"BucketHat" Bobby Matheson - No Worries
Hey, a happy song about death. Neat. I'm not sure the guitar part TOTALLY jives with rest of the mix, but I think it can be easily fixed. I think a few more hours of fine tuning, and BHB will have another Marconi in his back pocket. And if you don't know what that means, you should be ashamed for not knowing your "BucketHat" Bobby.
Alex Carpenter - The Day I Die
If radio stations played fun, good, entertaining music, this would be on every station's playlist. The replay value here is very high, and even though I fucking hate zombies, I can totally get behind this song and give it a thumbs up for quality. But I'm back to praising people instead of insulting them, so let's move onto someone I CAN talk down to...
Inverse T. Clown - Caroline Is Dead
Well, I didn't say anything about rumored connection between the entry from The Offhand band and material from The Beatles, so I won't talk about how embarrassed I hope you are for shamelessly pandering to one of the judges. Instead, I'll focus on the song itself, which doesn't seem to care what ANY of the judges think. In fact, I must admit, it did make me laugh -- not in the way I laugh at something funny, like Edric's song, but still, I laughed. Mostly, I was trying to figure out if you sound more like Jeff Anderson or Barney Rubble. Maybe go back to that phony "generically pleasant pop voice" you used to use. Just a thought.
Jutze - I Love The Dead
Any time Ive reviewed Jutze, I've mentioned how completely unimpressed I am by his work. But there are two things that make this song stand out. First, the third line of the first verse actually got a chuckle out of me. Secondly, at the end of the last verse there are two lines that say "I can give you silence - I can give you thunder / Either way you'll end up six feet under". Now, I'm not going to say I have any idea what that really means. But when I heard that, I instantly had a mental image of Raiden burying a coffin. And the idea of Raiden having a remedial caretaker job at a cemetery, and only Thunder Godding on the weekends, is highly entertaining to me. And then I listened to the song again, this time imagining Raiden singing the song to himself, while toiling in a graveyard, German accent and everything. And that makes this song about 100 times better.
Godz Poodlz - Wake At The Sunnyside
Eeeeeeeh. This is not my favorite offering from The Pood. And it certainly rides the fence on being a song about death. But it's definitely upbeat, and carries that false charm of any salesman, which is the point. Beyond that, there's really not much for me to say, especially here. It's not amazing, but it's far from bad. It's just in that "average song" area. I hope for something a bit bigger in Round 2.
Tally Deushane - My Dead Goldfish
Everything about this is wrong, and I hate you. I mean, I don't know you, as a person, but I just have this impulse, when hearing this, that I want to knock the ukelele out of your hands, smack you in the mouth and then taser you before you can ask who I am. That's what you've done to me. Nothing about this is amusing, or funny, or clever, or charming, or even genuinely entertaining. You're glad an animal died. An animal that depended on you for survival, and never did you any harm. And yes, it's a stupid fucking fish with nearly no brain and likely no sentient thought or emotion. But you took life into your home as if it were a material thing, and then found it too inconvenient, and now you're glad an animal is dead. Comedy relies on absurdity, and this is not absurd. It's just cold.
And besides the shitty concept, your lyrical rhythm is complete crap, and you're using a lone ukelele. It's like you're running an experiment to see how many ways you can irritate me, and I've never even met you. You're like Michael Bay, minus the suave.
Ethan Ivey - The Four-Year Itch
I can totally get behind the originality of the setup and delivery of this, even if it's arguably musically redundant. It could definitely go with more variation, a pick-up in the tempo, and more instruments. But the biggest suggestion I could make, is to really SING it. It sounds like you're trying to not bother someone on the other side of the room. Like they're doing a Sudoku, and you don't want to distract them with your song about possibly serial uxoricide. Fuck their oriental numbers game, sing that shit! Happily!
Matt And Donna - Lady On The Gray
What the... Is this... Is this poetry? REAL poetry?? I'm stunned. I don't usually have to handle real poetry in these reviews. I think... I think I need to go lie down. Thank you.
Ross Durand - No Taxes
I am seriously torn on this song. Ross Durand is one of the few things from Song Fight that doesn't suck for air. And with the Python reference, I wanted to say I was sold on this song. Here's a guy who strikes me as predominantly "country", and I just found it stunning that he was a Python fan. But... Three times in this song... He uses the phrase "my erection". And I'm not sure it works. I mean, I'm sure his erection works -- I mean, I would ASSUME his erection works, I can't say for SURE. And I don't want to know! I'm just not sure that it fits. I mean the line. I'm not sure it fits the tone of the song. It might just be the image I have of Ross and his music, but when he says "my erection", it just kind of sticks out. There is no good way to talk about this.
Menage' A Tune - Isn't It Nice
Musically, this sounds like someone opened a jewelry box. That's not bad, I guess, that's just the first reaction I had. And while it is funny that the chorus ends without a rhyme, and the not-rhyme is an intended punchline, I doubt most people will get that far. In fact, "jewelry box" is wrong. This sounds like a lullaby. And if you zone out the words, it'll definitely put you to sleep.
Glen Raphael - When You're Dead
I'm about to really hit this guy, so let me say right now: I don't hate Glen. I really like some of his stuff -- I wish there was an extended version of his song "Big In Japan", because I think it's that enjoyable. This, however... Man. This is like, in horror movies, when the monster shows up and has three or four different voices when it talks. These aren't harmonies -- It's almost like he recorded every track separately, but wasn't listening to any of them while recording the next. And it's really disappointing, because I'm a big fan of a cappella music, and apparently Glen fucking hates it. I get the feeling, when he was a baby, his parents would dangle the car keys above him, to make them jingle. And baby Glen would reach up and grab them all. Because it certainly seems that ONE KEY IS JUST NOT ENOUGH.
Doom SKITTLE - A Better Place
Holy fuck. This is about as enjoyable as running my own hand thru a manual meat grinder. The guitar is lame and uninspired. The lyrics...a kid dies in his sleep, and an ancestor he doesn't even recognize comes to receive him. His ancestor is also "sorry to say" that the kid died and is now in the afterlife. Why? Why is he sorry? HE then says there's no evil or fear, and it's a better place, so why, why, why is he sorry?? And in the bridge, it says, "You may be sad that you are gone / You weren't even warned before the dawn". O.k. But he's not gone, he's right fucking there! And yes, I know what the author meant, but I also know what he wrote. And fine, I'll let that weirdness slide, but that second part? He wasn't warned before the dawn? So fucking what?? What the hell happened at dawn? Is dawn when he died? Because I thought he died in the night, while sleeping! Which means he WAS told about his death before dawn BECAUSE IT'S FUCKING NIGHT! "A Better Place?" How about A BETTER SONG?!
And you know what? I'm not even talking about the vocals. Because there fucking aren't any.
Wait WHAT - Death: Everyone's Doing It!
This is not funny. This is slow, lazily written, and poorly sung. Basically, this is completely unmotivated and a waste of everyone's time. Seriously, you're singing it like it's a fucking chore. If YOU aren't even interested in the song, why would anyone ELSE give a damn about it? Speed it up, put effort into the lyrics, and cut the cringe-worthy rap. Really...That rap...wow. I can appreciate a change-up in a song for effect, but my god. That helped you out just a little less than cutting off your own tongue. Which I might suggest, actually, as it would prevent similar ventures of painful performance.
Steve Durand - Die Happy
This song really stands out. It's a unique style, and yeah, some people might call the verse music repetitive, but I don't care. It's a vaudevillian ride that knows exactly what it is. It's also the only song that mentions an epitaph, which I find incredible. And he uses it as a truly uplifting hook. In fact, I'd say this song's hook is downright empowering. He doesn't have the super studio sound of guys like Alex Carpenter or Jason Morris, but that's not what this contest is about. I could speed this song up a bit, but it's really fine the way it is. If Steve doesn't get into Round Two, I'll be disappointed.
Jason "Aria" Morris - Burning For You
Another thing I expected a lot of was suicide songs -- especially from Governing Dynamics. But all the songs from the POV of a dying person were people who were just vaguely dying. Jason, however, went bold and in this song, he's killing himself to get the attention of his heart's desire and show her how much she means to him -- his very existence. Some people are suggesting it's not a "happy" song. But you know what? He sounds determined and in love, so what's happier than that? Besides, if you think Zarni De Wet wrote a sequel to "Stacy's Mom", I really don't want to hear to open your stupid fucking mouth about this -- or anything else -- not meeting a challenge requirement.
Caleb Hines - Haven't You Ever
I heard a rumor that Caleb was going for a Weird Al feel with the music here, and if that's true, he hit it outta the park. This is very middle-run Weird Al in style. However, I don't think the choruses have the punch they should, and I think most of the jokes could be better. I don't dislike the song; the concept is particular, and it stands out very well. But I feel like there's a lot of potential in the lyrics that just fell really flat.
Bryce Jensen - Thank You
The lead is perfectly fine. The harmonies are not. It sounds like Bryce dicked around until the last minute and then produced this on the last day, just so I wouldn't run up to his house, beating on his front door and screaming "BALLDROPPER" at the top of my lungs.
Like with Caleb, I think there's high potential for a song from this concept -- more potential, even. But that's because there's less song here. I hope Bryce keeps working on this after SpinTunes is over, and develops it into a bigger, better composition. I also hope he sticks around...to shadow the next 3 rounds.
Pat And Gweebol - Baby Go To Sleep
This is...pretty. I can't really say anything else about it right now.
The Boffo Yux Dudes - Marked For Death
Let's start by pointing out that this song is basically not about anything. It's a guy telling the Grim Reaper to go away. (I think.) We then must take out the lyrics about dying during sex, because they're very specific and the rest of the song is not. But even then, you're left with a VERY strange rant from an English person telling Death to just take a hike. Yes, this takes fortitude, but...why? Really, what the hell is going on? It sort of has a bridge section, which makes it feel like it's building toward something, but then it just repeats a few stanzas it already used, including the one that doesn't belong in the song.
I'll also point out that since the guy is denying that it's his time to die, it's not really happy. He doesn't even die, but since Death appears as a character, and that wasn't listed as against the rules, I'll not only count it, but commend them for creativity. But he doesn't want to go and is trying to avoid it. It's just not a happy song.
Young Stroke aka Young Muscle - My Name Is Death
I'm sure I've made fun of this guy before. Over at that crapfest, Song Fight. But you know what? He got me. I made fun of him in Song Fight, and I shouldn't have. He's clearly fucking with us. He's a musical troll. Nobody would make this kind of thing for real. This has to be a joke. It's just plain too motherfucking void of brain power to be written by someone who expects us to take it seriously. Clever work, Young Muscle Stroke. I see what you did there.
Chris Cogott - Drag Me Down
Happi - The Next Part Of Life
This is really hard to focus on. You don't stay with your beat. You force lyrics to fit the time, instead of writing lyrics to go WITH the time... It's just clunky and sloppy. The chant sections about atheists and beliefs are brutal. And not in a Nathan Explosion way, in a "man this is hard to listen to" way. The worst part is that this is supposed to be serious and heavy. And it's just...really, really weak.
Emperor Gum - Frequency
First: This is absolutely the best recording I've heard from Emperor Gum, and probably the most intricately orchestrated. But this is patricide...and we're given ZERO information about WHY she's killing her father. Yeah, he sounds a little strict, but we barely have any insight on that. All we know is she's moping about doing what she's told, and then snuffs her old man by asphyxiation. She kind of sounds like a psychopath, and we don't even know if she WANTS to kill him. She may just be a crazy murdering sleeper cell that doesn't have any control over her actions. I dunno, it doesn't seem specifically happy. Maybe she killed someone else, and dad freaked when he found out? And he tried to protect her, and said, "I'm not calling the cops, because I want to protect you, but you have to stay here, don't go kill any more people." And what does she do? She kills him. And now she's out, free to roam the city, and you're probably fucking next. Not so happy NOW, huh?
I'm only saying, I'm on the fence about this one meeting the challenge.
Jon Eric - Birthday
Halfway thru the 2nd verse, I'm no longer sure of the timeline, here. I thought the singer had been taken to heaven, but then he's back in the bar and watches his body die. And I'm sure how to take the final verse at all. I know there's a message there, but I don't get it. Other than that, it's a pretty average song. It's not stellar, but it's nothing I can really bitch about.
Hudson And Day - Silly Baby
I have never been presented as a fan of Denise Hudson's style. I can appreciate that other people appreciate it, but that's about as far as I go. And I can appreciate collaborations and partnerships. But I'm going to be as honest as I can here: this is not a song. There is piano riffing, yes. And there are two people singing things. But none of these three things are connected. I can't hear fucking ANY of the words, because one of these two appears to have recorded her vocals via webcam, and both vocals were just thrown at the song, as if Jackson Pollack were a music producer. A deaf music producer. With no hands.
There's just nothing here. I have no idea what this is. Don't do this again.
Well, that's just about as negative as I can get on the first round of SpinTunes 3, and I didn't even complain about how stupid the challenge is to begin with. Great call, judges. But, I'm out for now. See everybody at Round Two!
(Normally people seem to put the disclaimers at the bottom, but this should probably go up top...and in bold. Sammy's reviews do not reflect that of Spintown's, and have no influence over the contest whatsoever. The over the top reviews in Sammy's "NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT" series aren't meant to be 'constructive', and you should read the sub title. If you think he's picking on you...just read the reviews he wrote for the others...he can be an equal opportunity ass. - Spin)
Saturday, June 25, 2011
An Unfair And One-Sided Review