Oddly enough, NOBODY used what I thought was the most expedient solution to this problem... that of picking all the vowels, plus any two letters, and doing the whole thing in Igpay Atinlay. Not to fear, I have a perfectly horrid shadow planned that will do just that; one which would land me near the bottom of my own rankings.
Now, on to the reviews, these are presented, as usual, in order of my preference, most preferred at the top, with the unranked shadows presented in album order at the end. (rankings will be adjusted for DQ's - Spin)
A Song About Letters
Steve, there are some who might decry this as being a "novelty song". With all due respect to their musical sensibilities, they're just wrong. Nor is it "meta" in the sense of being about the challenge. In fact, the challenge is never referenced. Rather, this is a superb children's song. You deliver the muppet schtick, exactly as it would be presented on Sesame Street without the minutest hint of sarcasm, parody, or self-consciousness. The entire thing is delivered incredibly naturally; so much so that if you play it and told somebody after the fact about the constraints, they might require proof to believe you stuck to them. The device of the spinning wheel is just genius... it presents the illusion of a "random" order for the letters, making the addressing of them in the same order within the verses more impressive, and completely distracting the audience from the fact that you've been using only those letters all along. The instrumentation and vocals are exactly what this calls for. Awesome job!
This Twisted Tongue
YES! Melodic, pleasant, catchy, bouncy, clever... and it completely avoids being "meta" (self-referential) in that the singer referring to Sally's songs, not the song she's currently singing. I love the imagery of harvesting overripe S's! If I have one criticism it's that the song is too short, and that's something I never thought I'd say about this challenge! It's the second shortest song on the playlist, and has the very least reason to be. The problem is that the singer's conversion is way too quick, happening after just one statement of Sally's. The song just needs another verse for Sally to make her case. I'd suggest breaking that last verse in half, following up "alliteration" with two new lines, and moving Sally's lines to the new verse. The song is engaging enough to keep the listener riveted for another verse and a repeat chorus. Excellent work!
One Of Us
I love this thing musically. And, you've managed to invoke a number of great sci-fi themes for me, including the Stepford Wives, the Pod People, and the Ray Bradbury Theater episode entitled "Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!" I like that you managed to equate that kind of vibe with the well-meaning friends who incessantly ask, "When are you going to have kids?" Now, lyrically I'm lovin' it, because I'm a minor fan of defunct literature. Ancient folks who remember "books" may recall that in Old English literature, rhyme took a back seat to assonance and consonance. Thus you'd have lines like the following from Beowulf:
Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbersYou've got something very like that going on: "Sleeping on the weekend, causing wakeful wits to fret". Granted, with 7 letters, it's difficult to avoid alliteration, but what makes this special is that you support it very nicely with the meter. And you still work in the rhymes. The end result is that it doesn't sound like it's there for a challenge; it sounds like its there as a literary device. Well done.
Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed
Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to,
With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward.
The Terrible Things That Transpired Today
This tyrant's thoroughly tempted to tell thee terrible things, troublesome teacher. Toilsome termination tribunals took time to think through: the thinnest tenuous technicality took thee thence. Truly, Terpsichore thrashes the tune, the timing; too tempestuous, too turbulent! (thought this thing tremendously theatrical, too.) Truthfully, though... the tune times the tempo times the tripping talk taken together, 'tis terrific. Thy tintinabulous tenor took this tiny tot tribulation tale to the top, then this tyrant taxed thee, thunderous thespian, thrice. This triple tumble trustfully trains thee, troublous Thrush, that truncating the task tends to TICK the taskmasters. Take that to the teller, Teacher.
Advice (Easy As ABC)
Ross, I guess you must have decided this whole "seven letters" challenge was just too pansy for you... you needed to pile on the restrictions, using the first seven contiguous letters of the alphabet, AND having them appear IN ORDER in every verse. Tricksy.. verrry tricksy, and well done. And kudos for taking the judges sensitivities into account in looking up the words, though I personally am inclined to let compound words and contractions slide for the sake of creativity. You just barely got edged out of my top four... but, damn this is nice.
LOVIN' that guitar! The processed vocals, too! I love this style of music. There were some other competitors who got a bit more clever with the lyrics, but as just a song, this kicks ass. This is a case of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. It's staying on my smartphone, probably forever. But about that title... dude. This ain't Song Fight.
Go To Sleep
The definitive GD sound is back! Well, it does have that sleepy quality and that linear structure. I think you may have missed a bet by not repeating what I consider to be a fairly decent chorus at 1:15. Without a hook, the song just sort of slips on by and disappears. On the other hand, 'the lyricist in me' likes it a lot.
Clever device, using an anagram of your letters as both the title and subject! Nice! And the music makes me happy! I have to physically suppress a chuckle everytime I hear you sing "Hurts my sensitivite" And in the end, this is what art is about... not having emotions; not expressing them; but inducing them in other people. Great job! I think you got edged out this round by a few competitors, but there's nothing wrong with that. (nice recorder duet!)
The Tin Knight
Very nice on the chorus, and a really impressive job with variety and flow of the lyrics. If I had a wish for it, I'd wish that alliteration was better showcased throughout. Take a look at the notes I made on Brian's entry. Your line, "Was a withering warrior who wore old armor" exactly matches the classic meter of an Old English epic poem. But your tune sort of brushes past these opportunities without savoring them. With this subject matter, that kind of extended structure would rule; both as a matter of putting you in the time period and giving this a feel that the story is going somewhere deliberately rather than meandering. As it is, the only part that has a feeling of structure is the chorus. For me this makes everything but the chorus a bit difficult to remember, even as the song is progressing. I think you're spot-on with the theme and the story, but it seems to me you may have gotten caught in the time crunch developing it. Nevertheless it's got some good moments, and the end can be taken to be inspiring.
The Orion Sound
It Never Said He Wasn't
Ah, yes, Ollie's eagerly awaiting the velociRapture. Now there's a man what knows his Internet memes. Judging from the stunned silence at the listening party I suspect there are a number of people who don't. Subject matter aside, the lyrics are really pretty intricate and flow naturally. And you did a good job of avoiding unwanted letters though the use of contractions. Again, good piano. Your vocals are a bit slurred in places, so you'll want to watch your diction. I just can't get into the song though... to me it just seems to be less than the sum of its parts.
Come To Me Now
Standing by itself, I like this song. I'm extremely pleased that from first to last we didn't have any turkeys in this round. I also thought it was kind of neat how you hung all of the music off of basically one line of verse, and kept it interesting with the variations and instrumentation. But this is a lyrical challenge, and the other competitors stepped up to it decisively.
Nom nom nom nom. Caw. That is the sound of me eating crow. Paul, good job on the vocals here, really. It's in your range and you're sticking to the notes. Nice. That, and the fact that the music is giving me George Harrison flashbacks makes this one of my favorite songs of the round. I'm very glad you didn't get someone else to sing it, especially given the subject matter. I think you could have done more lyrically (and I think I need to put that statement in context). For this song, what you've done is great. The overlapping counterpoint is nice and gives it a nice texture that to a degree obscures the fact that there's an awful lot of repetition. It's not that the repetition is bad, but this is primarily a lyrical challenge, so I'm giving that a pretty heavy weight. All in all, though, great job, and this stays on my smartphone. I really like what you've got going on musically here. Your written lyrics and your sung lyrics don't match, though. The phrase "this lullabye" as repeatedly sung gives you an eighth letter.
A very nice mood piece that neither seeks nor requires a narrative. You do a very good job with the imagery here.. a line like "I tried whistling a song / Still I can't stand strong" gets the point across nicely. In the bridge, changing "If I could..." to "I must..." transforms what could have been boring repetition into a nice progression and parallelism. The delivery is expressive and effective, if maybe a tad over-heavy on some of the chords. Unfortunately the word "fought" written out in your lyrics gives you an eighth letter that lands you at the bottom of the rankings.
va falloir (Shadow)
Leave it to you to make us do homework in order to appreciate this song. I suspected you had a nice pun going on there with "so long, silence" as the French for "so long" is "si lent". But I couldn't make heads or tails of the story. So I ran it by a native French speaker (lucky for me I work at a French company). Her verdict was "not much story", but she confirmed the pun. So I'm guessing you're foregoing narrative for mood.
Menage A Tune
Please Come Back (Shadow)
The lyrics are extremely well done. The voice lessons are working. These are the best vocals you've offered yet. Very nice, especially on the held notes. This is compellingly emotional. Ted's working overtime, and it shows. Were this a competitive entry, I'd've ranked it very highly.
Drei Viertel Drei
Tell me truthfully... you guys get up in the morning and suck down a pint of Weird just to start your day, don't you?
The Quetzalcoatlus (Shadow)
I'm pretty sure you chose this topic so you could use a Q. No matter, it works. The musical/lyrical parallel in the chorus works extremely well, and that's a great cello. I think it's not a stretch to say that this is quite possibly the finest song about a Quetzalcoatlus ever written.