Time until sign-ups begin:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 2 Review: Steve Durand

So, just a reminder of what the challenge is here: Pump You Up:  Write a song that is motivational to workout to. Something that is meant to pump up the listener. Think music from just about any Rocky movie, Hulk Hogan's theme song "Real American" or "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid. 

Here is what I am looking for out of this challenge: A song with an upbeat tempo and music that makes me feel like engaging in physical activity. Lyrics that make me feel inspired to push it harder.

RC – Get Up
Challenge: Met – Good upbeat tempo, inspirational message
Lyrics & Melody: I like your take on the lyrics. I know that I've been there in the morning, forcing myself to get out of bed and get going. I find the chorus very catchy. The melody in the verses doesn't stick real well after only a few listens but while I'm listening to it I enjoy it.
Performance & Production: Great mix. All of the instruments are well played and balanced. The singing is very solid. I really like the vocal counterpoints in the final chorus. Great job!
Rank: 1

Mariah Mercedes – Hurricane
Challenge: Met – I could see working out to this in the background. Maybe the tempo is just a trifle too slow
Lyrics & Melody: I like how you used the metaphor of the hurricane but I think that your lyrics are abit too literal. I really want to see myself as the hurricane but I'm not quite getting the connection based on these lyrics. The chorus is strong but the verses aren't grabbing me.
Performance & Production: Nice atmosphere set right from the outset and I like the little touches stuck in here and there (e.g. the vibraslap). Nice strong voice and committed singing.Rank: 2

Gorbzilla Featuring the Gorbzookies – Superwoman
Challenge: Met – good tempo and message
Lyrics & Melody: I find the lyrics a little sparse but the message is there. Of course, not being a woman, they don't speak to me personally but I still get the picture. The chorus is catchy. Otherwise the melody doesn't really stand out.
Performance & Production: Stylistically this doesn't so much say “workout” to me as it does “70's cop movie” (Shaft anyone?). But I really like the funk. I like the touches of brass in there and the singing fits the style very well.
Rank: 3

Ross Durand – Win
Challenge: Met – upbeat tempo and good inspirational message
Lyrics & Melody: the lyrics have a good message about not sitting back and just letting things happen. But the examples you use, gong to the beach, the snow, falling in love, are not the types of things I expect to hear about in a workout song. Stylistically this is just fine and your chorus has a decent hook.
Performance & Production: Solidly put together. You singing fit in fine. I think that some harmonies in places would have strengthened the performance.
Rank: 4

Edric Haleen – One More Step
Challenge: Met-Good uptempo music and an inspirational message
Lyrics & Melody: A good inspirational bent to the lyrics. They are vague enough so that anyone could probably apply them to whatever it is they are trying for. As usual it is in a show tune kind of style which, for me is a little bit of a  detraction. I don't imagine playing as background music in a gym.
Performance & Production: All of the sounds are pretty well orchestrated but the obvious phoniness of it puts me off a little. I think this song calls for some real instruments backing it up. Your singing is very strong as usual, although you are sometimes in danger of pushing it over the top.
Rank: 5

The Chocolate Chips – Nothing Can Stop You
Challenge: Met – upbeat tempo, positive motivational lyrics
Lyrics & Melody: I think that the lyrics are probably about at the right level for a workout song. Not too deep but a clear message that you're going to overcome. The melody is nothing to write home about but it's not boring either.
Performance & Production: Your intro is too long. Way too much reverb for my taste. I think that guitar on the left hand side should be brought a little more in toward the center. The singing is OK.
Rank: 6

Godz Poodlz– In The Zone
Challenge: Met-Good tempo and topical message.
Lyrics & Melody: Reading the lyrics they seem just fine but when I listen to them in the song they just seem kind of bland. You repeat “in the zone” too many times and it kind of drags on the progress of the song. Melodically I think you did a good job on both the verses and the chorus.
Performance & Production: Backing instruments need some variation. It gets kind of droning. The singing is fine but is just lacking a little bit of an edge that would help get the message across.
Rank: 7

Rats Of The Sky – Dance to the Groove Libido
Challenge: Met-This has a great beat for working out to.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics don't really fit a “workout” kind of song to my mind but I do think that they might pump you up to go out and score some chicks. Some good rhymes in there that I liked. No vocal melody but the synthesizer melody provides a nice little hook.
Performance & Production: this kind of thing could get pretty monotonous but you did manage to break it up a bit and hold my interest. Pretty good flow on the words
Rank: 8

Jailhouse Payback – Kick Your Routine
Challenge: Met- The beat is uptempo and the lyrics are topical
Lyrics & Melody: So the lyrics list a lot of ways that you can workout but I never really felt like they provided the motivational impetus to do it. Yeah, I could do all those things, but why should I? Melodically the style at the start just doesn't strike me as a workout song. The part at “Polymetric jump box” was better but then you switch back to the other style.
Performance & Production: Again, stylistically it just didn't work for me. I thought the singing was very good.
Rank: 9

The Boffo Yux Dudes/Chris Cogott – Big, Bigger, Best
Challenge: Met – Good workout tempo, topical lyrics
Lyrics & Melody: I was mildly amused by the lyrics, no belly laughs though. I kind of like like the ironic twist that you took on the subject. But, the message is sure not motivational. The melody is serviceable but doesn't stand out
Performance & Production: Nice guitar work. Pretty good production all around. I felt like the rhythm between the drums and guitars got off a littel bit in a few places. The lead vocal was Ok considering the humorous approach. The backing vocal in the chorus was not in time with the lead vocal and it seemed like it didn't know the lyrics in a couple of places. That was just distracting.
Rank: 10

Governing Dynamics – Forward
Challenge: Met (mostly) Good motivational lyrics but stylistically just not a workout song.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics have a good message “I'm down but I'm not gonna give up” but I don't feel like the music reinforces it. The general tempo and feel of the music does not make me feel like getting physical. It makes me want to stand in one place and shake my fist in defiance.
Performance & Production: I think that the production of the guitars is very good and everything is well mixed. The singing fits well with the music. You do have a tendency to have long intro's and things like that but this time you resisted putting in a long musical interlude in the middle of the song. So, that's good.
Rank: 11

Caravan Ray – Pump It Up
WARNING-Sonfight! Style review to follow
Challenge: Met – Good upbeat tempo, topical subject.
Lyrics & Melody: You are the master of content free songs. I was amazed to hear actual lyrics in here in places between the endless repeats of “Pump it up”. I expected you to sing “Doo, Doo, Dah, Dah” for a chorus. It sucks for you that you are in the rotation after someone else (BYD) who took the same idea and did it better than you. And it wasn't even a good idea. The actual lyrics of the song are the exact opposite of motivational.
Performance & Production: After all this time I would have expected you would have learned how to play an instrument instead of just using canned sounds from Garage Band. Even so you did manage to put them together well enough to have a pretty solid backing track. What's with the New Zealand accent? I expected you to break into a song about sheep.
Rank: 12

Felix Frost – The Frost Mine
Challenge: Ummm..not really met for me. I just can't see this as a workout song
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics tell an intersting story with an upbeat perspective. But, from the standpoint of a workout song, it's just an odd story and way too complex. I think you need much simpler lyrics. The melody just kind of takes weird steps up and down, here and there. I suppose this whole thing is not as ADD as your previous entry but it's really not working for me.
Performance & Production: Nice soundscape at the beginning. I really dislike the vocal effects. I do think that you have quite a talent for putting together interesting sounds. But, again, as far as the challenge goes, I just don't think it fits.
Rank: 13

Glen Raphael – Pump Down the Volume
Challenge: Partly met-the beat is good but the lyrics aren't doing it.
Lyrics & Melody: I'm trying but I just can't see this as a motivational song. It sounds to me like you're a cranky old geezer. “shut off that music and get off my lawn, rotten kids”. The melody is good and catchy.
Performance & Production: Singing is fine. Don't really like the voiceover part. It just strikes me as kind of gimmicky. The music is very good. I like that various little touches that you add in along the way, the occasional funk lick, things like that.
Rank: 14

Menage a Tune – Run!
Challenge: Pertly met the tempo is upbeat but the words aren't motivating.
Lyrics & Melody: I actually find the lyrics desperate and kind of depressing. This is someone who is caught in the rat race and can't get out of it. And the rats are winning!. Not the right message for pumping someone up. The melody is catchy enough but, in a minor key, it also lends to a depressing kind of vibe.
Performance & Production: The instruments are mix are competent but not quite on a par with a number of the other entries here. The vocal harmonies are sometimes off key a little bit and out of synch. If you are going to put harmonies in they need to be tight or they actually detract from the overall impression of the song.
Rank: 15

Jeremy Lambright – Shut Up and Dance
Challenge: Not met
Lyrics & Melody:
Performance & Production: I guess the music is up beat enough to support a workout song but it's not as inspiring as something like “Chariots Of Fire” or “Gonna Fly Now”
Rank: 16

Jeffrey Powers – If I Finish This Workout I Can Go Get A Beer
Challenge: Partly Met-This style is really not suited to a workout song.
Lyrics & Melody: Amusing lyrics. It does give you some motivation to complete that workout. The country style music really doesn't do it as a workout song. I think the song is a little over repetitive. A Bridge section or chorus to break it up would be helpful.
Performance & Production: The singing is fine and the guitar is aright for this style of music.

Dr. Lindyke – A Tune For You
I have a “one review per customer” policy. So, since this is the first one of yours up . I will review this one.
Challenge: Met- uptempo and topical lyrics.
Lyrics & Melody: A little too meta I think being directly about the spintunes challenge but, given that, you did a good job with it. I think many of the contestants will be able to relate. Decent signable melody.
Performance & Production: Like in the last song, your piano patch and your singing just don't feel like they are in the same space. The percussion is way too robotic. Nice singing.

Zoe Gray - Mine
Challenge: Met – nice upbeat tempo and lyrics
Lyrics & Melody: I gotta admit that I'm a bit lost on what this is about. Mostly it seems like trying to conquer a video game world but hen the lines about doing laps and lifting weights don't seem to fit in there. I find the melody and chord progression catchy.
Performance & Production: I like your singing and it blends well with the instrumentation. Too bad you're not in the competition proper. I think that you would be moving on.


  1. "New Zealand accent"? Come on Steve - you're just trying to be deliberately nasty there.

    But thank you for "master of content free songs". I might get that put on a Tshirt!


  2. Thanks for the review (and the decent #6 ranking) ... but I must say I think the intro is the best part of my song ... usually I agree that it's good to get right into the vocals (especially in a songwriting contest ... or really for any standalone song... long intros are best saved for album tracks by established artists... otherwise listeners just don't have the patience, especially not these days - but that's a bit of a rant...) but this intro was "inspired" (?) by the intro to "Eye of the Tiger" and so it feels about right.

    I'm also a big fan of wide panning in general (opens up more space)

    But I do take the melody "nothing to write home about" comment to heart. Melody is what it's all about in my view (I think most people greatly overestimate the importance of lyrics... although I may underestimate them in response) ... hopefully I can come up with a truly remarkable melody for this next round (I've been sketching out a couple of ideas that excite me already...)