Time until sign-ups begin:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 1 Review: Mark Meritt

I really appreciate Spin's inviting me to be a judge. Pretty cool. As a thank-you, I'd like to offer any entrant, judge or admin from SpinTunes 1 through 5 a free Bandcamp download of the album I put out a few years ago. Get in touch and I'll shoot a download code off to you.

Judging Approach

I've written before about things I think would help SpinTunes run as well as possible. As a judge, I get to put some of that into practice, at least in my part of conversations about setting challenges and qualifying entries, but especially in reviewing each round.

The biggest thing I've talked about for that is a scoring system, and you can read my SpinTunes 3 Wrap-Up Recommendations to see all the benefits a scoring system gives to contestants, judges and the contest as a whole. Since SpinTunes makes judges free to decide for themselves how to review and rank entries, I'll follow my own advice and take a crack at the kind of scoring system I might like to see built into the SpinTunes judging process.

Breaking things into lots of categories actually makes it a whole lot easier to do the judging, since it gets around all sorts of vague and inconsistent ways of juggling how every entry compares to every other one. Follow the scheme, and it will actually tell me how I rank everything. This also helps ensure that contestants get that much more useful, specific, actionable feedback to help them improve the song and their future work in general. In the long run, this is a lot more important than knowing how your song did in a round of a contest. Really detailed, in-depth commentary is beyond what I can give here. The category distinctions themselves point to specific things in themselves, and I'll also comment on anything that jumps out at me. Here are the categories I've picked:

  • Challenge -- Is the basic concept for meeting the challenge a good one? Is it an original one? If the challenge title and/or description are included in the song's title or lyrics, is this done meaningfully and effectively? Separate from considerations in any of the other categories, how well does the overall execution of the concept honor the challenge?

  • Lyric Content -- Independent of songwriting craft, if this were read like prose or free verse, is it clear? Is it interesting? Does it develop well from beginning to end? Does it say something worth hearing, and does it say it well?

  • Composition -- Independent of songwriting craft specifically, if this were an instrumental piece, how is the quality and phrasing of the melody? How is the quality of the harmonic progression? Compositional structure and development?

  • Songwriting Craft -- How well do the music and lyrics fit together tonally? How is the quality of the song structure? Prosody? Rhyming? Imagery, turns of phrase and other poetic aspects of the lyrics?

  • Arrangement -- How is the quality of the arrangement? Is it appropriate for the song?

  • Performance -- How is the quality of the instrumental and vocal performances? Are they appropriate for the song?

  • Recording -- How is the quality of the engineering, mixing, effects, etc.?

  • Judge's Whim -- Any personal whims about the entry's likability above and beyond considerations in any of the other categories. Fractional points to be added to break any ties in total scores.

Part of me would like to leave out Arrangement, Performance and Recording, because, even still, SpinTunes calls itself a songwriting contest, despite most people involved, from contestants to judges and beyond, treating it as a battle of the bands. I've written about just how different these two things are, but when in Rome, right? Since how I score is up to me, though, I'm taking the liberty of counting the categories that I'd otherwise prefer to leave out at single-value (poor=1, fair=2, good=3, excellent=4), the three songwriting categories plus Judge's Whim at double-value (poor=2, fair=4, good=6, excellent=8), and the Challenge category at triple-value (poor=3, fair=6, good=9, excellent=12). That's the kind of thing I'd want to see built into the judging process of a challenge-based songwriting contest that also wanted to include the other things in the results. You can imagine how different my total scores would be if I weighed these categories differently -- and how different some other judges' scores might be if they were to weigh things like I do instead of the way they do -- and how very differently the results of every single round of every single SpinTunes might come out if judges chose or were made to judge differently from how they felt like doing it.

Though I might not like the fact that a songwriting contest also judges performance and production, when Spin says, "You may write a great song, but if you can't present it to people properly they will never know," I do agree with him. At the very least, a recording shouldn't have terrible quality in sound and performance. But the idea of quality presentation also applies to the writing itself in an important way: the lyrics you type. Occasionally there can be good reasons to stick to all lowercase like e.e. cummings, or substitute words with numbers and letters like Prince, or use other typographical quirks. But without a good reason, there's really no excuse for these things, and even less excuse for misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, improper/insufficient breaks in lines or stanzas, etc. There's even no good reason for missing, extra or wrong words. When this is the premiere of a song that nobody else has ever performed before, what you type should match what you sing and say in the recording. None of this will affect my scoring, and I won't mention any of it in my reviews and comments, no matter how much I may sometimes want to, but I really encourage all songwriters to care about this so that your work can come across as well as possible. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you'll just make songs up and perform them without ever setting them down in writing, that's one thing. But if you're going to write down what you make up, then write well, so that readers of what you write can read well, and so that they can see that you care about your craft.

I'll review and score all shadows submitted in time for the formal deadline for each round, as well as all disqualified entries. I'll provide my overall rank, listing all entries in that order from top score down, and I'll also provide each entry's qualified rank, which is all that counts as far as the contest goes.


I'm really surprised that nobody did either a 9/11 victim story or the Biblical sixth day of creation before the day of rest. Maybe these were too obvious? Of course, that didn't stop nearly half the entries for this round from taking an on-the-nose "Take This Job and Shove It" approach, which may not be original in itself, but at least it's a pretty reasonable starting point for this challenge. For those who went that way, "Shove!" notes this in my challenge comments. Onto the reviews.

Godz Poodlz - It's a Great Day at BigMart® Today
Qualified Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 1
Total Score: 53

  • Challenge: 12 (Excellent) – Shove! But this goes to show that there's truth behind every cliche if you find a good angle for it. The biggest "going postal" example here, and with great purpose, as the smiling BigMart greeter can no longer contain what he feels beneath his superficial smile in a superficial store. Finally, the one who wishes others a great day has one himself, through the wonderful double-meaning of the blowout. This song is what acing a challenge looks like to me.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – The great story is inherent in the great concept, practically a foregone conclusion once you have the great idea, but others could have messed it up. You've told the tale really well, with great details and lots of great plays on the store locale.

  • Composition: 8 (Excellent) – Catchy, fun and well-constructed from beginning to end, with the only minor misstep being that I felt there could have been a stronger segue between bridge and final verse.

  • Songwriting Craft: 8 (Excellent) – Again, really great all the way. Love the Nirvana reference ("Hello, hello...") One gripe I have is about the chorus. "Discount offer on my soul" is a great line, but I think the chorus would have been even stronger if it read with pure positivity on the surface, just like the store itself, leaving the negativity as text for the verses but only subtext in the chorus. But so many other great lines are really well placed as rhyme completions, punch lines and otherwise, and the chorus still works well enough. The gripe's a minor one.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Cool unique sound throughout, with nice contrast in the bridge. I'd have loved some more contrast in the chorus orchestration and a bit more development overall, but a solid job.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 8 (Excellent) – I think the numbers say it all.

Dr. Lindyke - Mayan Holiday
Qualified Rank: n/a-Shadow
Overall Rank: 2
Total Score: 51

  • Challenge: 12 (Excellent) – A really novel reason for the last day of work, one that gives you a lot to talk about, even without talking much about the work per se. A great angle. Ace.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – Really nice development. The problem, the solution, the lingering regrets, but coming back to the solution, all with lots of nice details.

  • Composition: 8 (Excellent) – Catchy and really well constructed, even throughout very simple harmonic progressions.

  • Songwriting Craft: 8 (Excellent) – Great rhyming and prosody. Great tonal connection between music and lyrics, both in terms of the happy partying resignation and the vague nod to Mayan culture with a slightly Latin-feeling genre. (Would a mariachi have been even more appropriate because of geography? Someone on Mayan holiday might not care.)

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – This song would have benefitted so much from a fuller treatment. As it is, the arrangement is only okay for a demo recording or a small combo performance kind of situation.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 8 (Excellent) – This isn't the first time I've wished a Dr. Lindyke shadow was in formal competition. And it's a perfect example of how important it is to distinguish production aspects from the rest when judging.

Ménage a Tune - Crowning Glory
Qualified Rank: 2
Overall Rank: 3
Total Score: 48.5

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Really interesting, crafting a story around related "works" coming to an end, separated by long periods of time.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – The basic idea is really strong. There's a bit of lack of clarity that I think could have been worked out to make this even stronger. The third verse is clearly a modern-day archaeologist discovering what had been lost for so long. But I'm not clear whether the first two are about the same thing (the pyramid: the "thousand tiers" of a "new mountain," decorated somehow with a crown) or two separate things. More clarity would be good, and separate things would really tighten the story and give strong purpose to there being three separate sections each with its own lead vocalist. Part of me even wishes that the first verse had been an Egyptian creation myth, the gods making their crowning glory, Creation itself, and later on come the pharaohs, seeing themselves as gods incarnate and creating pyramids, etc. That would provide a really strong three-part story, traversing from god to god-man to man, eons of time separating each chapter. But this is one of those situations where something is really strong to start with and just could have been made stronger. Job well done despite what I've written here.

  • Composition: 8 (Excellent) – Drama, integrity, color, and a sense of the sublime. A great piece that grabbed me the first second of the first listening.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Things work really well overall. Being picky, there is some different melodic phrasing and rhyming from verse to verse, including a few awkward moments. Maybe the variation conveys the changing story? If so, it would have been nice if the differences were that much stronger, more purposeful and clear. Really, though, I think the song would have benefitted from stronger repeating forms, especially melodic phrasing and rhyme schemes. Let the new words in each section themselves convey the different chapters of the story while the musical structure provides the thematic glue that connects everything over time and binds the fate of characters across time, like a spirit that possesses each and then moves on. You just don't get that when you allow yourself to be a bit sloppy with form. I'd probably have given this song an Excellent here, as is, except for the fact that this issue could have such a big impact on the song.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – I would have loved some more, especially with percussion. Building off my comments on the story, I would love to have heard the first chorus sung solo by the first vocalist, the second chorus with the first vocalist on harmony behind the second vocalist on lead, and the third chorus with the third vocalist on lead backed by the first two harmonizing. This would have really driven home the layering of the story while also being a nice musical development over time in itself. The melody certainly is strong enough to withstand a solo performance at least once in that first chorus. But once again, these are comments above and beyond a foundation that's extremely well done.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Solid and competent, and while I'm tempted to think more drama would have been appropriate, the mellow vocals work well with the insistent, trancelike, "eternal" feel of the song.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – I can't tell if this sounds just right for effect or if maybe the sound quality isn't quite all it should be.

  • Judge’s Whim: 8.5 (Excellent) – One of my favorites from the first listen.

Glen Raphael - Naked
Qualified Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 4
Total Score: 48

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – There's something special about this take on the challenge. Is there happiness or sadness about leaving? Neither is obvious, yet both seem present, and the main message is beyond them both, addressing how we put on masks to play roles. The challenge helped you jump off to something really interesting.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – So simple, specific and effective: the focus on the extras we carry on our body in order to show up for work, from how we dress to "the card and the key" we have to carry. The title and chorus just highlight this. The ambiguity of the emotion of the story plays into the flexibility of putting on different costumes. You have a real point, but you're neither forcing anything thematically nor are you moralizing.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Overall strong. Effectively simple.

  • Songwriting Craft: 8 (Excellent) – I really like the strong craft that doesn't call attention to itself, like how the two verses have the same slightly unusual rhyme scheme (ABBCDDDC) and carefully repeated melodic phrasing, yet nobody would likely say that you've written with rigidity. That's what craft is all about.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Not much to speak of, would be appropriate enough for the song based on genre alone, but extra appropriate given the lyric/title, so Good rather than Fair.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around, with less being more and appropriate for the song.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Recorded on the road without a laptop, with just Voice Memo? Proves how you can get a great result in the simplest of ways. Hyper-producers should take the memo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 8 (Excellent) – A great all-around showing.

Edric Haleen - The Death Of A Meme
Qualified Rank: 4
Overall Rank: 5
Total Score: 45

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Inspired by another song you interpret as being sung by a god that no longer works because nobody believes anymore, you write this song in which there isn't really a God who ever worked, just a meme, a cultural trait, a belief, and when the believers stop believing, so stops the work. But memes are just information, inactive in themselves even though they cause other things to act, so how can they have a last day of work? Even so, the people who possessed the meme did undertake a lot in the name of the God they believed in, and now they're stopping. A unique take on the challenge, one that would have gotten an excellent if it weren't for this ambiguity.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – An original, interesting tale from start to finish.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – There's lots of depth and color to your melody, progressions, etc.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – There's a bit of looseness that I wouldn't have expected from you writing about a Universe-controlling God, but maybe it plays to the demise? Otherwise, things come together well.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – This song could really benefit from more thorough orchestration, but you've certainly used the piano orchestrally to strong effect.

  • Performance: 4 (Excellent) – Very strong all around.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6 (Good) – Really nice throughout, and I especially appreciate the strangely optimistic, appreciative ending in a song that could otherwise have tilted all too easily toward harsh rational critique.

Zoe Gray - Say Goodbye
Qualified Rank: n/a-Shadow
Overall Rank: 6
Total Score: 43

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Interesting angle, very colorful, and I'll leave any issues I have with it for the next category. Oh, and: shove!

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – There is so much to like about this story, and you've told it well, with lots of color, detail, sweetness and charm. But after a couple of times through, I looked more closely, and when I thought about what stars actually are and then "try to see it through [its] eyes," the story fundamentally makes no sense and falls apart. I'd at first been unaware because the story does ring with a fair amount of emotional truth, so this is going to seem like nitpicking for a bit, but hear me out, because I think I'm pointing the way not just to logic but to even deeper emotional truth. What are the other things the sun wants to do? Why isn't it satisfied being the most important thing in the solar system, the system named after its very own self and of which it is the central player in every respect? Where's it going to go instead, how's it going to get there, and how can it help but drag all the planets right behind, since it's the sun's own gravity that keeps the planets around it in the first place? It's like in "Do They Know It's Christmas?" when they say there won't be snow in Africa for Christmas. Damn right, and if there was, it would likely wreak ecological havoc. Same thing here: why is the sun concerned that it's never seen a flake of snow? Does the sun have any better idea of its own identity than Band Aid had about what Africa actually is? When this sun goes anywhere else in the universe (dragging the planets with it anyway) only to find out that stars do more or less the same thing it was doing for 4.5 billion years, are often even lonelier without any planets at all, and that even those that aren't alone rarely have any planets that can support life, it's going to be in for the very rude awakening of a darker, lonelier time than it ever imagined. What happened here is that you did a really nice job telling a story based on a highly flawed underlying premise. The sentiment of something wanting to find it's true place is well worth expressing, but you'd need a very different lead character to pull that off. Otherwise, the sentiment of something having wants but failing to realize how deluded its wants are, how it's already in its perfect place and it somehow has come to incorrectly think otherwise, that's also a story well worth telling, but that could only be the story you’re telling if this is song is an early chapter in a longer story, and I don’t think that’s what you had in mind. You've told the second story as if it were the first, and it ends up not working. Which is a shame, because you'd have something as great as this song at first seemed to me, if only this confusion weren’t there.

  • Composition: 8 (Excellent) – Sweet, charming, poignant and well-constructed.

  • Songwriting Craft: 8 (Excellent) – Lots of strong imagery, good rhyming and prosody, everything comes together really well here. This song sounds special, like it could have longevity.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – I really love your voice, and everything is well performed.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6 (Good) – If you sorted out the narrative confusion, this could be a great song.

Gorbzilla - The Last Last Day
Qualified Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 7
Total Score: 41.5

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Last last day, the final school year ending. A solid topic and a really nice way to play on the challenge wording.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – A worthwhile story, well told.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Overall strong. Effectively simple.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – This kind of song is resilient to rigorously phrased melodies, and it all comes together well in the vein of a protest song.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Genre-appropriate, simple but effective.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6.5 (Good) – It's one of the relatively few songs here that feels like the writer might actually have wanted to write it on their own anyway, outside of the challenge, all while fitting the challenge very well.

Ross Durand - I'm Lyin'
Qualified Rank: 6
Overall Rank: 8
Total Score: 41

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – The angle, lying to a spouse about being fired, is simple but effective and unique among the entries.

  • Lyric Content: 8 (Excellent) – A specific story, with lots of detail, and no easy ending, just like this situation really would be in life.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Overall strong. Effectively simple.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Your genre seems more resilient to inconsistently phrased melodies, but it all still comes across with a strong sense of identity from verse to verse.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around, with less being more and appropriate for the song.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good, and your roof is a minor glitch.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – Though the song doesn't really speak to me, it's a job well done.

Mariah Mercedes - Ending(eternal)
Qualified Rank: 7
Overall Rank: 9
Total Score: 39

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – I have no idea what this song is really about, but obliqueness works well here. I'd love to see a song bio, but I sense that behind the mystery there's strength instead of weak ideas.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – It's interesting, mysterious, emotional, tantalizing. Indirectness and lack of specificity can seem lazy, but here it seems meaningful, as if the narrator tries in vain to stave off things that would be better to forget. If I knew what was behind all this, I'd know enough in order to judge whether this might be Excellent instead of just Good.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – There's more melodic integrity to this song than I'd realized upon first listening. Some nice unexpected turns, like "beyond me" varying instead of directly repeating the melody of "them haunting."

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – There's a looseness that seems to work well for the song but strictly speaking isn't great craft.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 4 (Excellent) – Really unique voice with an emotional delivery, strong nuanced performances all around.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – The spare sound works well enough for this song, but vocals get a little lost in the mix sometimes.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6 (Good) – A refreshingly intriguing entry for this challenge.

Caravan Ray - The Beginning Of The End
Qualified Rank: 8
Overall Rank: 10
Total Score: 38

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Shove! While it's inherently unoriginal to use the challenge title for your song title (see EvelBist), yours was the best use of it: as the basis for riffing confusion on where the narrator is in life. I'm bumping you up to Good just for that.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Appropriate but trite tropes (butt copies, stealing office supplies). Spotify earnings make for a nice detail.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Memorable chorus. Good section contrasts. Effective builds at verse and bridge ends. Inconsistent melodic phrasings, but overall pretty listenable.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – Genre fits lyric well. Some good rhyming but missed in the best (Spotify) punch line of the song, and some awkward/varied phrasing.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Genre-appropriate, simple but effective.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Solid, bold vocal delivery, though occasionally pitchy. Strong instruments.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6 (Good) – The song grew on me with each listen.

Rats Of The Sky - Two Weeks Notice
Qualified Rank: 9
Overall Rank: 11
Total Score: 37.5

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! But I like the contrast, an older man who's been somewhere a while, a younger woman newer to her position, but both feeling used and taking the chance to carve a new path.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – Two stories, nicely paralleled thematically, and well told with lots of specificity.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – With only vocal inflection to provide melody, and it being not hugely varied across the song, there's not as much to judge here. But the backing tracks provide a solid enough base.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Rap often involves more freeform lyric phrasing and rhyme schemes than other genres, so I judge on that basis. Except for a few slightly awkward phrasings, there's decent and varied flow and some decent rhyming, with solid perfect rhymes (including a clever enjambment) in the chorus.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – The sound reflects well the emotions of the characters.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong vocals, solid instrumentals.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds well engineered.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6.5 (Good) – A solid submission.

RC - Goodbye Everybody
Qualified Rank: 10
Overall Rank: 12
Total Score: 37

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! Some nice details, including a "going postal" trope that I'm surprised more people didn't use.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – The first and second halves of the story are each well told, but you don't show us the connection, the transformation. It comes out of left field. Easy to overlook, but when you notice it, it’s really unsatisfying.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Very memorable almost throughout. Some really nice harmonies/progressions.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Overall nice craft. Clever "fifteen years / shifting gears" rhyme. I like when lyrics change their meaning/focus later on as you do with the choruses, but the general narrative disconnect makes the change seem unwarranted.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Nice feel, nice background vocals.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 6 (Good) – Catchiness outweighs the narrative problems.

Governing Dynamics - Swing Shift
Qualified Rank: 11
Overall Rank: 13
Total Score: 35.5

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! But done well enough.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Decent color and story.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Overall strong. Nice sense of texture.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Some good rhyming, especially the quadruples in the prechoruses. I'd have liked to see a bit more contrast when prechorus switches to chorus.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Interesting sound right out of the gate, colorful and textured throughout.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong all around.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds well engineered.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.5 (Fair) – Though the song doesn't really speak to me, it's a job well done.

BucketHat Bobby - On The Pogey
Qualified Rank: 12
Overall Rank: 14
Total Score: 35

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Lazy living off the insurance is a nice angle among the crowd of entries.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – Amusing, told simply but well.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Nice genre work, very melodic.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Nice chorus lyric and bridge. The genre can withstand inconsistently phrased melodies, but it all still comes across with a strong sense of identity from verse to verse, especially with the solid rhymes.

  • Arrangement: 1 (Poor) – Pretty unsatisfying. Even just using a keyboard's bass guitar sound would have been a bit better, but fuller genre treatment would have been great.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fairly strong vocals, but some casualness detracts, and the lack of instruments does, too.

  • Recording: 1 (Poor) – Sounds like a rough demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – I liked this, but I think it could have used more detail, color and humor to really pull it off.

Heather Miller - Not Gonna Miss Your Face
Qualified Rank: 13
Overall Rank: 15
Total Score: 34

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Shove! But I like the specificity of a vendetta against just a single other colleague.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – A simple story, but well enough developed, with a nice ending.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – Catchy enough, benefits from the repetition of the verse structure.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – While there's some awkward prosody, the repeating verse structure gives the song a lot of identity. Having three verses before a bridge normally might be too much, but with short verses and a story to develop, it actually works for you here.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – You have a nice voice, but the song as written doesn't provide much room for a really strong performance, vocally or instrumentally.

  • Recording: 1 (Poor) – Sounds like a rough demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – Accomplishes a fair amount with a little bit.

Felix Frost - Leaving Lyman's Liquor Store
Qualified Rank: 14
Overall Rank: 16
Total Score: 32

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – The challenge is a song about a last day of work, not a song that includes a last day of work. The fact that the life as a bandit follows the last day at some prior job is almost entirely incidental here. It smacks of a song you wanted to write anyway and tried to squeeze it into this challenge, and all the more so since you come right out and say in your bio that you'd want to do a sequel for the next round. Oh, and I guess: Shove!

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – I'm not sure that I really care about the story, but it's original and colorful from start to finish.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – It's all over the place, but that's apparently what you like, and within each place there are lots of elements with interest and integrity. It caught my ear the moment I first heard it.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – What is interesting and worthwhile in separate music and lyrics falls somewhat flat for me when put together as a song. The melodic phrasing is often quirky in ways that might be original and technically interesting but, connected to lyrics, it's often arbitrary-seeming and to awkward, ill effect. I read your song bio, including a version before you revised it, so I saw things you said that made you seem somewhat self-righteous about through-composed songs vs. more traditionally structured songs. I think you should get clear that it's hard to write a good song of any type. Novelty plus freedom doesn't equal good, and repetition plus structure doesn't equal bad. Through-composed isn't harder or better, it's just what you prefer, and it can be done badly just like any form/genre. Big a fan as I am of traditional songwriting craft, I'm also a big fan of more complex musical forms found in some classical music, musical theater, progressive rock, etc., so I've got no bias against your preference. I just think you haven't used it well here. I feel lost and labored as a listener most of the time throughout your piece. Nevertheless, there's a lot of good rhyming, turns of phrase, etc., and an interesting sectional superstructure.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Out of the gate, I really liked the original sounds, and you kept them coming with unique developments throughout.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – The instrumental performances are good, and you've got a good voice, but your vocal delivery was fairly flat throughout, especially for a story with so much drama and color.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – I really wanted to like this song more.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - The Ballad Of JJR
Qualified Rank: 15
Overall Rank: 17
Total Score: 31.75

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – Too tangential from the challenge. The last day of work is barely hinted at. It's really a song about tension and difficulties in his job. Maybe those things will lead to a last day, but maybe not. It smacks of a song you wanted to write anyway and tried to squeeze it into the challenge.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – A decent story, decently told, though it has an uncomfortable air about it in that it seems like you're trying really hard to be serious but can't help but end up with a comic tinge simply by virtue of the topic.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Really nice. Strong elements across the board. I like that it draws on folk and protest songs but doesn't strictly sound like either.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – This comes together pretty well.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Really nice, colorful sound out of the gate.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – The lead could be a little stronger in places, but everything else is solid.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.75 (Fair) – Despite the issue with the challenge-appropriateness and the uncertainty of humor, this song has some good things going for it.

Jeremy Lambright - Empty Spaces
Qualified Rank: 16
Overall Rank: 18
Total Score: 31.5

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – This doesn't center strongly around the challenge, as it seems to move on from a last day of work to some more general life changes. That may be reality, but it's weak for the challenge.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – While there seems to be a lot of emotion in the song, the narrator's story isn't very clear.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – There's an overall nice sound to this song, some interesting progressions, voicings and melodic parts, but there's also a looseness to the melody that doesn't fit the rest of the music.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – I think the song comes together in a way that's stronger than the sum of its parts, but it retains a number of awkward phrasings, and the song seems too long for what it gets across.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – The total sound is unique and there are nice details in the orchestration.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Everything seems solid enough, but not really strong.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Vocals are way too low in many parts. Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.5 (Fair) – I wanted to like this song more.

Hudson And Day - It Worked Out
Qualified Rank: 17
Overall Rank: 19
Total Score: 31.25

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! Not much to make this angle very special.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – What's there is fine, but there's not much to it. Not every song has to really tell a story, but I found myself wanting to know just what's letting this person so confidently leave to become free.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – This is a song where the genre goes a long way toward making the music work well.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – Comes together well overall, but some weak phrasing, including especially "5:30" for such a prominent spot in your lyric.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Nice R&B groove, but it would have really benefitted from a fuller sound to go with both the genre and the strong vocal presence.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Great vocal and nice work on what instruments were there.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.25 (Fair) – This seems like a first draft of something that could end up really strong.

Alex Boyd - The Bastard Had It Coming
Qualified Rank: 18
Overall Rank: 20
Total Score: 31

  • Challenge: 9 (Good) – Shove! Pretty mild use of a "going postal" trope, but it's sort of charming that the narrator was so satisfied with even that minor assault. I'll bump you to good just for that.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Decent color and story.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – Not very special, but pleasant enough in general.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – While there's some good rhyming, you drop it at the most important part of the song, fudging the couplet that ends your chorus and has a punch line with the title. There are also some awkward moments like "bills of my wife."

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fine.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Clear enough for a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – A middle of the road entry, I think you have better in you.

Wait What - Middle Management
Qualified Rank: 19
Overall Rank: 21
Total Score: 30

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove: you even said the whole phrase! The scatology's a bit cheap but I guess appropriate for the character.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Some amusing details, but a bunch is gratuitously vulgar, and a fair amount doesn't sufficiently support the overall bad feelings about the job. A whole stanza about the vending machine? That may be a real pet peeve, but the amount of space it takes in this song makes it unbelievable as a real issue leading to a last day.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – It's catchy and enjoyable enough though not very original.

  • Songwriting Craft: 6 (Good) – Memorably simple chorus. Some nice rhyming, especially the great Tandy punch line. A lot of inconsistent phrasing that's distracting, though.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Amusing but pitchy vocal, decent enough instrumentals.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Some parts sound solid, others sound like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – It's catchy and amusing, a bit gratuitous.

Greg Hosack - I'm Gonna Go
Qualified Rank: n/a-Shadow
Overall Rank: 22
Total Score: 29

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – You used the challenge title in the lyrics, and it made sense the way you did, but I see nothing particularly special about the angle on the challenge. And did you actually meet it? "I guess I'll be here for a while… feels like my last day of work was a lifetime ago..." Does the narrator stay after all? What is it that the narrator left long ago, since it doesn't seem like it could be the more present circumstance described in the song?

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Some nice sentiments, especially in the bridge, trying to reconcile good experience and good pay. But there's also confusion: the narrator wonders about being happy without work, which suggests that there is happiness with work, so why decide to go? I'd really like to have read along with the lyrics. I don't think that would have been enough to sort out the confusions with the challenge or the narrator's perspective, but it would have been really helpful in general.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – Very melodic, simple and effective. I wished the bridge contrasted more with the other choruses, though. We could really use a bigger musical departure at the moment in such a long, slow song.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – The strength of the music would have been well matched with some tighter lyrical phrasing and rhyming.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – It's all pretty simple, but it all comes across well.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good most of the time, but are the vocals a bit hot?

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – The song has a fair amount going for it, but it would have had more with the confusions sorted out.

David Ritter - Graveyard
Qualified Rank: 20
Overall Rank: 23
Total Score: 28.75

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – This makes me think about how there are literally billions of last days of work that have happened, countless more that could conceivably happen, and all the contestants have to winnow through all that possibility and find one such last day that they feel is worth spending time on to create a song. Some number of those countless possible days might be fairly colorful in certain ways, but that can't automatically make them worthy candidates. This entry comes out of left field as a cheap gag, millions of which could have been found, and none of which really would make for a good way to meet this challenge.

  • Lyric Content: 6 (Good) – In itself, independent of the challenge, it's a colorful and amusing story. Like the detective a week away from retirement being put on one last case that turns out to be the most dangerous of his career. I like the disbelief the gravedigger knows others would feel if he talked and the details of who shows up in the graveyard to make his wife freak out.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – There are some nice bits, especially the bridge.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – The song comes together well enough overall, but there's some really awkward prosody, especially in the bridge, which is especially regretful since that's one of the more musically interesting parts of the song.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – A really nice sound and groove.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – The vocals are somewhat weak, especially in comparison to the strong instrumentals.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sometimes sounds solid, other times sounds like a demo, especially with some of the vocals, especially with some of the spoken vocals.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.75 (Fair) – Independent of how it may be for this challenge or how much popularity or renown it could ever attain, with some rewriting and better engineering, this could be really good.

Dex01 - Brand New Life
Qualified Rank: n/a-Shadow
Overall Rank: 24
Total Score: 28.5

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! Not much special about the angle on the challenge itself.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Not much to the story, but it's fine, and I do like the twist where the boss praises the quitter as brave.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – There are a number of catchy things, but there's also a lot of variation that seems compositionally sloppy here.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – There's enough catchiness that this song could have been much better. It's hampered by inconsistent phrasing and poor rhyming where it's clear that there could and should have been more. E.g., second chorus ends with the nice replacement of "some guy" with "you Bob" which then rhymes with "job." The other choruses should have ended with rhymes just as strong. The third chorus twisting the perspective on the pessimism of the first two is a nice development, but one that doesn't pay off enough because of what I just mentioned.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – There are some issues here with even rhythm, and it's really distracting. Lead vocal is somewhat pitchy and weak.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.5 (Fair) – There's something there that could come out with additional work.

Milton - Today's The Day
Qualified Rank: 21
Overall Rank: 25
Total Score: 28.25

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! A sweet optimism runs through it, but there's not much too original about this take.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Some triteness but it's fine.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – Not very special, but pleasant enough in general.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – It comes together well enough as a song, but there are a number of awkwardly phrased lines.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Some nice sounds, but they seem to warrant a fuller treatment. Typewriter-like percussion would be more cool if the narrator worked in an office instead of as a store bagger. Or is that the cash register key pad?

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fine, but vocals a bit pitchy.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Seems a bit unclear, okay as a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.25 (Fair) – A middle of the road entry.

EvelBist - The Beginning Of The End
Qualified Rank: 22
Overall Rank: 26
Total Score: 28

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Used the challenge title in a valid, sensible way (see Jailhouse Payback), but it's inherently unoriginal to use the challenge title for your song title (see Caravan Ray).

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – The sentiment is clear enough, but not told in any particularly special way. And what companies provide Rolex watches that then have to be returned when you leave? Rolexes are more likely to be what you actually get as a parting gift. Don't just brainstorm "images having to do with ending work" and then use them willy nilly. See what's around each image.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – Very simple, not startlingly original, but fairly catchy.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – The catchiness goes a long way, but much of the rest isn't very solid. E.g., "Rolex / oak desk" is a very imperfect rhyme but close enough to set up an expectation, and yet there is no more rhyming through the rest of the chorus. The chorus would have been better off without the imperfect first-line internal rhyme, or with a solid rhyme scheme.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Genre-appropriate, simple but effective.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – The emotion behind the voice goes a long way here, but there's some pitchiness. The instrumentals are fine.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – But for the catchiness, this would get a Poor here because there wasn't really anything else I particularly personally liked enough.

Jailhouse Payback - Escalator
Qualified Rank: 23
Overall Rank: 27
Total Score: 27.5

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – The challenge title is, I think, not a very good one: either the last day of work must lead to some process of ending separate from the work itself ending, or a story needs involve the events that directly lead to there being a last day, but there are lots of ways to do a last day of work beyond these two options. If you use the title in your song, you need to make it mean one of these things (see EvelBist), or something else creative and appropriate. Your narrator punches out in the morning, but punching out is the end. To me, that's an awkward use of the challenge title. Beyond that, there's not a really solid take on what this last day means to the narrator.

  • Lyric Content: 2 (Poor) – Things start with only hints of mild regret, and they end pretty neutrally. There's no really strong point of view or development.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – Pleasant in general, memorable hook in the title/chorus.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – Fine, but I really wish the song went somewhere stronger. You have a strong central image for a relatively weak whole.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Fine, nice background vocals.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fine.

  • Recording: 3 (Good) – Sounds good.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4.5 (Fair) – I wanted to like this song more.

Trader Jack - Last Day
Qualified Rank: 24
Overall Rank: 28
Total Score: 27

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – Shove! Not much unique here, and, in fact, not much here at all in terms of content.

  • Lyric Content: 2 (Poor) – Like I said, not much content here. And as for the sung bridge: "What? Whoa! I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know" was exactly my own reaction to it. It sounds like a snippet from a badly written stage musical, and I really have no idea what the hell it's about anyway, since the song doesn’t tell us what is surprising and confusing the narrator there.

  • Composition: 6 (Good) – It starts with a nice groove and a very catchy chorus. The instrumental bridge is nice. But the repetition gets old, and the music for the sung bridge is an odd departure that doesn't fit with the rest of the song, independent of my feelings about the words there.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – Your central lyric splices the "last day" challenge description with the Pointer Sisters ("I'm so excited / … can't hide it"). To have what little lyric you've provided include that kind of triteness, along with the incomprehensible "What? Whoa! I don't know..." of the bridge, leaves a lot to be desired. The hooky chorus and nice instrumental bridge get you better than a Poor here.

  • Arrangement: 3 (Good) – Except for the sung bridge being a bit subpar in arrangement (as it is on other levels), you've got some nice things going on here.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong enough all around.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Most sounds good, but sometimes sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 4 (Fair) – I don't really like this song, but the catchiness of the chorus, the instrumental bridge, and the arrangement are good enough for me to give a Fair here.

Emperor Gum - Pygmalion
Qualified Rank: 25
Overall Rank: 29
Total Score: 24.67

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Really nice idea for this challenge, but strangely executed.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – A very curious story, and nice how the creator lets go of the creation at the end.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – While there are some enjoyable aspects here and there, I find this to wander a lot on every scale -- within lines, within stanzas, and across stanzas -- and often without real interest.

  • Songwriting Craft: 2 (Poor) – I just don't feel this comes together much as a song.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – I like that you use the reed-like sounds for contrast, but overall the sound is somewhat thin.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – The vocals are a bit pitchy and the instrumentals have some uneven rhythms.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo. Vocals are way too low in many parts

  • Judge’s Whim: 2.67 (Poor) – I think this needs a lot of additional work to bring the execution up to the level of the idea.

The Chocolate Chips - My Own Boss
Qualified Rank: 26
Overall Rank: 30
Total Score: 24.33

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Shove! Self-employed angle turns out to be unique among the crowd, but so much could be said, and you say so little.

  • Lyric Content: 2 (Poor) – This song must really be the last day of the old job, because reality hasn't set in about just how much paperwork and other boring routine goes along with self-employment. Maybe that's the point? That the narrator hasn't thought that through and is just swept up in the simple image of the fantasy, and that's why there's so little extra detail? I don't think that's what you had in mind, but making that clear would have made for a much more entertaining and substantial song. So would have fleshing out the fantasy, naive though it may have been.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – It's catchy enough, but fairly insubstantial, and I don't know that this song warrants a "Hey, Jude"-like repetition at the end, unless it underscores the narrator's cluelessness.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – Vast repetition, but it makes the thing catchy. I don't think this is a special song, but for what little it is, separate from how well you met the challenge, it's okay.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fine.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds okay.

  • Judge’s Whim: 2.33 (Poor) – There really isn't much to this, and what little there is isn't strong enough to be what little there is.

Army Defense - You're Not Paid
Qualified Rank: 27
Overall Rank: 31
Total Score: 24

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – I like the idea of a boss reaming out with all these details, but it feels more like a disciplining than a firing.

  • Lyric Content: 2 (Poor) – A lot of good details in the reaming out, but the firing comes out of nowhere, goes back to nowhere, then comes back again, and stuck in there appears to be an awkward point-of-view shift to the former employee lamenting the long road home.

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – The chorus is pretty uninspired, but the rest is okay, especially the contrasting bridge.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – The repetition works well, though a list song like this would have lent itself to much stronger structure, especially rhyming. I like the late instrumental musically, but I can't help but think that it's meant to make up somehow for something, and I don't think it does.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Not much to speak of but appropriate enough for the song.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Fine.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – It sounds a little thin, but I think it's on purpose and appropriate enough for the song.

  • Judge’s Whim: 2 (Poor) – I'm pretty uninspired by this song.

The Orion Sound - Praying
Qualified Rank: 28
Overall Rank: 32
Total Score: 22

  • Challenge: 3 (Poor) – The idea of three different angles is potentially interesting. Stereotyping, and even offensive stereotyping, might be done sometimes for satire or some other reasonable purpose. But here, it all seems totally pointless. And, well, that sucks. Big time.

  • Lyric Content: 2 (Poor) – Decent enough color and detail throughout. But you have some narrative inaccuracies. Most Jewish males, no matter the size of their nose, are circumcised at birth and so wouldn't need to pray for it as an adult. And last time I checked, I'm pretty sure their theology wouldn't have them praying to Satan or Beelzebub. On that note, did I mention yet that your perspective is pointless? And it sucks? Big time?

  • Composition: 4 (Fair) – The feel of the music, the busyness of the verses, the contrast of the chorus, all of that's enjoyable enough.

  • Songwriting Craft: 4 (Fair) – There's a lot of sloppiness of technique here, but I suppose it's okay given your genre. Stylistically, everything comes across pretty well.

  • Arrangement: 2 (Fair) – Thin and simple, but nice vocal arrangements.

  • Performance: 3 (Good) – Strong performances.

  • Recording: 2 (Fair) – Sounds like a demo.

  • Judge’s Whim: 2 (Poor) – Pointless insensitivity does you in. If you don't really think these things, why do it? If you do, why release your material to a general audience?

Francis Wms. - Redundant Redunit
Qualified Rank: n/a-Disqualified
Overall Rank: 33
Total Score: 20

  • Challenge: 6 (Fair) – Expresses the chaos life turns into after being fired.

  • Lyric Content: 4 (Fair) – Many relevant angles/thoughts, confusingly changing perspectives, but that seems to be part of the point in looking at post-redundancy chaos. The one sentence repeated, only one of two that can be heard with full clarity, has a flaw. I don't think many actual children dream of running B&Bs. Precious few. That's an adult's dream.

  • Composition: 2 (Poor) – I can't consider a few loops and maybe riffs and maybe samples or whatever else you have here to be good, original composition.

  • Songwriting Craft: 2 (Poor) – Rap songs have lyrics, but spoken word recordings don't. And this is the latter. Spoken word tracks over an instrumental bed makes something, maybe even something interesting, but it doesn't make a song.

  • Arrangement: 1 (Poor) – It's grating.

  • Performance: 2 (Fair) – Some naturalistically actorly performances of the text, but not much real variety of delivery. The music is too simplistic for there to be too much concern here about performance quality.

  • Recording: 1 (Poor) – Maybe it's what you wanted, but the music sounds fuzzy, and I can't make out most of the words even while reading along with them.

  • Judge’s Whim: 2 (Poor) – I don't usually go for multimedia performance art, but I especially think that a songwriting contest is not the right venue for this kind of work.


  1. I think we need to have a chat, you and I.
    Your reviews, from what i can see, are both physically, metaphorically and scientifically wrong. For one; none of what you say applies to anything, as no one will be bothered to read any of what you say. It will merely be a huge turd in the punch bowl of spintunes, that people are just going to look at in disgust, and then move on to drink the slightly shit-stained (yet still tasty) liquid. Secondly; you can't state that the people i describe in my song are inaccurate. You cannot generalise a whole race- who's to say that there isnt one uncircumcised Jew in the world with a passion for worshipping Satan? You simply cannot make this assumption, Mr. Meritt; unless you are infact a racist. Is that it, Mark? Do you feel that you can just say things about Jews and they must bow to your every whim; like a modern day Hitler? You sicken me, sir. I hope to never see you review this competition again, unless you wish me to "come at you, bro". (and yes, i realise that i am not your actual brother, as we share no familial ties; and that coming at you is almost impossible considering the circumstances; however i feel that "coming at you" could be a metaphor for "ejaculating" all of this textual "semen" into your awaiting face. And I know from your review that you do love textual semen. You have a great taste for it clearly. Although its unlikely you'll swallow your pride and accept what i am saying. More likely, you'll spit.)

    1. First, judging is subjective, so it can't be wrong.

      Second, if you really believed that you were simply talking about one Jew out there and you didn't mean for your song to stand for some kind of generalization, it's hard for me to imagine why you'd put a warning label on your song telling Jews not to listen.

      Third, the fact that you reply in this way just supports my suggestion that you've got a less than pleasant general attitude, whereas if you'd have taken my subjective opinion in good stead, maybe that would have gone some way toward showing that your song wasn't meant to be a nasty generalization after all.

      Fourth, I'm an official judge for all of SpinTunes 5, so if you hope to never see me review this competition again, you'd better take it up with Spin.

      Finally, if you can't take a negative review on whatever basis and are the kind of person to respond to one the way you did here, and especially if you can't take one from someone whose opinion you value so little anyway that you should be able to brush it off, then you probably shouldn't be involved in songwriting contests, much less think about actually putting your work anywhere else in the world where people's opinions might affect your success of lack thereof.

    2. Definition of MISJUDGE

      intransitive verb
      : to be mistaken in judgment
      transitive verb
      : to estimate wrongly
      : to have an unjust opinion of

    3. (He missed the "bitch please" off of the end)

  2. Before the fistfighting begins, I'll slip in with my quick rebuttal on the BYD review.
    First of all, I appreciate your scientific approach and thank you for your thoughtful comments. I will, however, go to the mat as I have in the unofficial discussion boards that it's explicitly stated in the song that the protagonist is leaving town, ergo, it's his last day of work. Nothing tangiental about it, though perhaps we're stretching a bit. And yes, we are playing straight with the lyrics; we're trying to be funny BY being serious in a ridiculous situation. It's a habit we have. But thank you for the kind words and I'm impressed by the time you've put into this.

    1. I've been in a similar situation more than once before as a SpinTunes contestant, so I feel for you. And that makes me actually glad you didn't get DQ'd for a technicality where you walked a fine line. But I still think what I think about your song, and here's why.

      What you just said here means you want to rest meeting the challenge on a single line, "I’d better hit the road," because you believe this means he's explicitly talking about his last day of work. But it doesn't. At least not necessarily. Maybe it could, but there's reasonable doubt. It could mean he wants to get out of town for a while to let things cool down. But even even if it meant that he was going to resign, it doesn't inherently mean that he's leaving town and resigning "today," the day he's telling us his story. He could be planning to resign and leave town tomorrow, or next week, or whenever else. And that would mean that none of the content of song actually describes his last day of work.

      I'm okay if I haven't convinced you. If I haven't, I hope you can be okay with us disagreeing.

    2. I'll have to say this is still subject to interpretation. We had similar issues with how people interpreted many of our Nur Ein songs.

      Some lyrics I thought were pretty matter of fact a joke were instead thought of in a different context. Doesn't make it bad, just that we never thought of the lyrics in that manner.

      I thought it was pretty straightforward it was his 'last day' on the job (By his choice, because of the pressure), but seeing 3 people thought otherwise, I guess it wasn't clear enough.

      I thought we might be on the edge but not over it with doing such a topical song, which was outside of our normal bailiwick. Going outside the safe zone is a good thing, but it also penalizes you more than helps you out. So I'm happy we did it, and still live to do another round.

    3. The topicality itself wasn't over or even on the edge at all. Only the storytelling tactic walked the line in terms of the detail about whether there actually was a last day and, if there was, whether it actually took place yet during the telling of the song. Minor tweaks would have landed you squarely in the no-brainer-met-the-challenge zone.

      Without those tweaks, it's not certain that you failed to meet the challenge. But the reasonable doubt is there, since that lyric is, well, subject to interpretation like I described in the above comment. It just doesn't necessarily mean what you thought it explicitly meant.

      So don't let this dissuade you from going outside the safe zone necessarily. Do whatever connects for you. Sometimes that may mean a unique and possibly questionable take on the challenge, sometimes not. And either of those things can happen along with any point on the comfort map -- a spot right in the heart of your comfort zone, something on the outskirts, or something way outside the box. Moving away from your comfort zone might risk your showing in the rankings, sure, but for completely separate reasons from whether your take on the challenge is risky or not. Any combo is possible. Take the note here only about how you executed a plot point, and feel good about the results of your breaking new topical ground, because that part went well for you.

      I'm glad you're still in the game so we can see however some more songs will play out for you. Though I know you've often shadowed, so we might have gotten to see more anyway :)

  3. Really great indepth reviews! Much respect for listening to all of these songs so closely.

    I agree with most of the negative things you said about my track - it was very much a rush job that I got in just before the wire. I'm planning on setting aside more time for the next one.

    One thing though; the song lyrics (as undeveloped as they are) are based on my own real experiences - and I've been self employed for quite a long time now and it's just as good as I imagined ;) (and no, there's nowhere near as much paperwork!)

    1. Thanks re: the reviews. When I was a contestant, I really appreciated it when judges spent extra time being thoughtful and giving feedback, so I wanted to do the same.

      You're really lucky to have such a great self-employment experience! I'm self-employed, too, and my experience is a bit different :) Even then, it would have been nice to hear more detail. That would have made all the difference, regardless of whether it was realism or naive fantasy. I think it's clear you've got a lot more in you that can come out if you're able to put some more time in. Hope round 2 goes well for you!