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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SpinTunes #1 Round 1 Review: Heather Zink

Edric Haleen – “A Letter To Humanity”: 20
As everyone was expecting, “A Letter To Humanity” was unpredictable. This made my #1 because it had a perfect mesh of quality elements that I, as a judge, look for in a songwriting competition. First, and foremost, it was obvious that the challenge was understood and the focus of the song, that being the point of view of this particular hero or villain, or whatever people what to view this character as. Secondly, the musicality of the top spot was there. Not only were the harmonies and music nice, but the dynamics and instrumentation really evoked emotion. Thirdly, the creativity of the motive of this hero to the world/villain to humanity was a nice twist, which ties in with the forth element (lyrics) which got me, as the listener thinking and feeling. Bravo.

Steve Durand – “Gamma Man”: 19
“Gamma Man” is a really, really fun song. The instrumentation was spot on. From the opening horns, to the real jazzy sections, and finally to the ah-ooga, ah-ooga distress signal, it felt like an opening to a cartoon television show about, well, Gamma Man. The creativity, lyrics, and musicality were really strong and spot on for the competition. I would have preferred to see a bit more of a personality, though I have the feeling that Gamma Man likes to keep on a more emotionless, indestructible façade while he’s wearing his ‘super suit’. Once again, I really enjoyed the song and found that I couldn’t sit still while listening.

Caleb Hines – “The Memoirs Of Clockwork Man”: 18
Caleb, killer intro! Setting up a mood for a song can be very effective and really, it was perfect for “The Memoirs Of Clockwork Man.” The instrumentation was really neat, how it was sounded dreary and sad, plus the constant turning of gears and cogs, as if hearing what Clockwork Man was hearing and thinking constantly. The song also had a storyline as well as a personal touch, which certainly made it interesting. I found that the verses had very nice lyrics and were much more meaningful than the chorus. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the verses are the bulk of the song, however, since the listener has to hear the chorus more than once, it’s important for it to be really meaningful so it doesn’t get boring to them. Not that the chorus was rubbish, it just seemed to be lacking a bit. Also, when creating a bit of a long song using very repetitive and selective sounds, sometimes adding or changing the sounds can help hold the interest of the listener. The repetition of the cogs and gears, though I felt they had a nice effect, felt like it was either too much or not enough. But, really nice job!

Godz Poodlz – “The Human Bomb”: 17
POODLZ! I always love what you two have to offer. “The Human Bomb” is a very sentimental song from the perspective of a very destructive being. I thought that this song was very appropriate for the hero chosen and the challenge. It was interesting to be able to think about how the powers and duties of a superhero might be detrimental to their personal/love life (besides the whole fighting crime aspect). The Human Bomb is also not a superhero that you see all the time, therefore, it was a bit refreshing to hear about a character that is not made up, yet not overdone. The explosion effect was really nice and overall the tune was catchy and easily relatable. Nice job.

“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson – “Super Villain Blues”: 16
I somehow knew from the title, “Super Villain Blues,” that I was really going to enjoy this song. Bobby, you can really pull off the blues! My favorite thing about this song was the build-up, how it started real simple and soft and added more instruments and angst in the vocals as this villain focuses in on what he wants and why he can’t have it, then realizes that he would just have to keep plugging away until he gets the world domination that he’s been dreaming of. It was really in the moment and fun to listen to, and with clever lyrics sprinkled in with nice dynamics, the end product was great.

The Offhand Band – “Step Back Swooperman”: 15
Clever. Very clever. The first listening through, the beginning (first verse) had not been convincing to me, however, once the chorus hit it seemed to click and the rest of the song was extremely well done. As far as the beginning, it just felt like the music and the vocal line didn’t match up well. The structure and organization was nice, too, as far as lyrics go. It began sort of explaining the situation, Swooperman wasn’t a bad parent, a good parent actually, the child was just getting older and needs more space, and being a superhero Swooperman seems to be able to have more of a leash on his kid. I also thought it was hysterical that his thought of rebelling against his dad is becoming a supervillain. The music was also suitable and gave some dynamics and a bit of a dramatic feel that was highly enjoyable. Really nice job with this!

Sara Parsons – “Starlite (Ballad For A Noble Steed)”: 14
Sara, this is another perspective that I found really interesting and creative. Looking back on the glory days with a bit of nostalgia, wishing it could still be the same way. In this song, I really liked the intimacy, in every aspect of the song, particularly, lyrics, instrumentation, and harmonies. The guitar sounded full and had a really great moving part, it never dragged and was always pushing forward, which is excellent for a slower song. There wasn’t too much going on to distract from the meaning of the song and the harmonies in the vocal part were real subtle and beautiful.

Bram Tant – “Kebab Shop”: 13
This song was really interesting to me, there seems to be so much going on in it, but was still all tied together explain motives, plans, etc. Generally, I enjoy a bit more of musical elements, however, In this case, I feel like the Islamic style strings were just enough. I feel like if there had been more, it might have shifted attention away from the lyrics and even made the song more believable, as it felt the villain was speaking to the listener rather than a different character in the song. The accent, while it was effective, was a bit hard to understand sometimes, granted I had the lyrics in front of me, but sometimes it can distract the listener from what’s important. Also, the beginning of the song felt a bit rushed, but it was still clever. I liked the humor of the song, the seriousness of the character, and the ridiculousness of the scheme. Good job.

Denise Hudson – “Invisible Girl”: 12
Denni, nice job. The eerie, dark feel to it made me shiver a little, which I would say is a good thing. I feel like it took me a few time to listen for me to really take it all in, which could be a good or bad thing. It’s always good to make the listener think and feel, however, you don’t want to make it too subtle. In order to really understand the first few lines of the song, you have to go through and hear the rest of the song, and it makes more sense each time you listen to it. The positive on that is that rather than getting tired of listening to the song, I seem to like it better with each listen. The lyrics were meaningful, so, overall I think you did a really nice job.

Heather Miller – “I’m Not Wearing Tights”: 11
This is another song that I was looking forward to from the title. It is a really funny idea that a hero would be so concerned with her costume that it’s what is concerning her most about her new job to protect the people. It was a really creative idea for the point of view aspect of the challenge, and creativity of course is an important part of this whole competition. However, the music was a bit repetitive for me, though there were some good sound effects in there that I caught. I was pretty pleased with the lyrics as well, so it was a very solid entry.

Emperor Gum – “Costume (Squirrel Girl)”: 10
This song made me feel like I was inside a video game running, jumping over things, and fighting bad guys. I felt like sometimes there was a lot going on and made it hard to concentrate. Some parts were hard to understand, as far as vocals went, which can make it a bit less interesting or make someone have less desire to listen. The understanding of the challenge was there, as were small parts where more of a personality seemed to shine through, while most of the song seemed to be a narrative, and it wasn’t an original character. It was catchy and fun, there were just a few minor details to be cleaned up. Good job!

JoAnn Abbott – “Why”: 9
JoAnn, I’m glad you entered! I feel like you really have something to offer to the competition. I understand you liked having the mystery of questioning whether it was a hero or villain, and I can see how that would work either way. However, I think the lyrics were powerful enough that it really didn’t matter which side you chose. Despite the fact that the lyrics did have meaning, they weren’t the most original words. The song was really nice to listen to and fit the challenge, so you also, had a nice solid entry.

Governing Dynamics – “Origin”: 8
Travis, this song took a rather creative route and it was another one of those songs that I had to listen to a few times before it really began to soak in. There were a few lyrics that seemed out of place which threw off the other meaningful parts of the song. I really liked the balance between the vocals and the music and the calm dynamic of the whole thing. It was really smooth and relaxing to listen to and the music never distracted me from listening to the vocals and lyrics and the song also didn’t seem to drag. Like I said before, it was a creative way to take this challenge! Keep it up.

Jon Eric – “Superman Sneezed”: 7
Jon! I feel like you were SO close to hitting this challenge right on the head! All it really needed was a little more substance; the verses didn’t have enough in them to really make them meaningful or easy to connect to. Since there were less lyrics for verses, you repeated the more effective parts more, which in turn made them less meaningful. But, I feel like you really understood what you were supposed to do and the music and vocals were terrific.

Ryan Welton – “Underdog Blues”: 6
Ryan, you have a great sound and are obviously capable of throwing out good tunes. With this song, I don’t feel like the lyrics had much meaning or even fit together all the time. Plus, it took a bit of convincing to really say, “this is a song about a superhero,” which is what the challenge called for. Also, by the end of the song it had gotten a bit repetitive. Like I said I like your sound and I know that you are capable and deserving of being in the contest, and I’m so glad that you’re in and will be able to participate in the second round.

Charlie McCarron – “Faster Than Superman”: 5
This song was one that was a bit difficult for me to sort out. It fit the challenge, the music was enjoyable, but there was nothing that really stood out to me. All we really get out of it is that this guy is faster than Superman, all he can do is run, and he feels like there’s really nothing left for him to do. He’s definitely super, but there are no hints to whether it might be a hero or a villain. All the lyrics seem to run together and be very similar or repeat themselves. But, as I have said and will continue to say for competitors, you have the ability to write a good song and the production value is really nice, just make sure that listeners will be able to connect to it and feel the proper emotions. I’m glad I will be able to hear you next round!

Jenny Katz – “Blofeld’s Beginnings”: 4
Jenny, this was one of my favorite songs in the competition. The only thing was that the challenge was to write a song in the point of view of a superhero or villain, while “Blofeld’s Beginnings” was more of a narrative about Ernst Blofeld, though the chorus seemed to pull more of the direction of his point of view. I loved the James Bond sound during the song and your lyrics are very distinct and creative. The song is simple, yet has so much meaning and emotions. Great job! I’m really glad to be introduced to your music!

Gorbzilla – “Superhero Song”: 3
You have such a superhero voice, it makes me smile every time I listen! This was another song I really liked the way you approached this challenge, however, while going about it you kind of strayed off the path. It’s a great song and I really enjoy listening, but the song seems to be more about other superheroes. I understand that it’s Uatu’s perspective, thinking that he’s not a cool enough superhero, and is lonely, dismayed, and frustrated about it, but I really would have liked to hear more about Uatu.

Kevin Savino-Riker – “Tough Jobs Vs Iron Gates”: 2
“Tough Jobs Vs Iron Gates” was another very interesting way of approaching this challenge that I did not see coming what-so-ever. However, though it was a very creative way of approaching it, I don’t view Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as being superheroes or supervillains, or even close to being one. Other than that, I thought it was a good song, I liked the intro and closing and the different perspectives of each of them, and how there was a distinct difference of who was perspective we were listening to. Keep up the creativity and good music!

Ross Durand – “Don’t Turn The Page”: 1
Ross, I think you’re a really great musician. I feel like you have great potential in this competition. I feel like your songs have meaning and the musicality isn’t lacking. I just didn’t feel that this song fit this challenge. I have come to understand that this song was about the death of Captain America, however, when the purpose of the challenge is to write a song about a superhero, it should be made more obvious, because I probably wouldn’t have figured that out on my own. When writing songs on your own, there is no problem with not making things clear, but it’s really hard to judge a song when the elements that were in the challenge aren’t obvious and really hidden. But, you really have the resources and talent to be in this competition, and I’m really, really glad that you’re in it and even happier that I’ll hear you again next round! By the way, LOVED the Grover/monster at the end of this book reference!

Shadows:
Boffo Yux Dudes – “The Ballad Of Henry Pym”
This song was outrageous and very well written! Henry Pym was a good way to go just because of how interesting and diverse his character is. You did a great job with it! It did get a little repetitive as far as the music went, but I always find myself so focused on the words that I hardly notice. The only thing, regarding the challenge, though, is that it is supposed to be in the point of view of the hero. Great entry!

Bryce Jensen – “Dearest Firestorm (Love, Multiplex)”
Wow. I really liked this song! I love being impressed with a cappella songs, because I know they’re really difficult, because, obviously, it’s harder to hide mistakes you might make with your voice. To be honest, I don’t really know much about the characters that you’ve chosen, other than Multiplex is the villain and Firestorm is the hero, but I still really liked the idea of all of Multiplex’s duploids singing an a cappella love song to Firestorm. Great job, Bryce!

Danny Blackwell – “Love Song From Robin To Batman”
Danny, I was not familiar with you until this competition, and I am so pleased you decided to shadow! I love new faces, sounds, styles, ideas…new is good. I found your song hysterical and I have listened to it many times now and it’s not any less funny or entertaining than the first time around, which is a difficult thing to do! Great job, I hope to hear from you again.

Dr. Lindyke – “Save The World”
I like to think of superheroes hating their job just as anyone else might. Not that their jobs are necessarily enjoyable, just never really occurred to me before that they might like to just sit down and relax for a while. I’ve always assumed they liked flying around and fighting crime. I liked the second verse, it wasn’t better than the others, it just made me smile a lot. I also, like how the complaining part is ended with the instrumental break before the realization part of why he does what he does, like he sat there and really thought about it. Not to mention, that the music was very well written, then again I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by you. Keep shadowing!

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