You can put a face & sound to the name by watching her perform below:
First, I am so honored to be a guest judge and have the opportunity to listen to all of your fantastic music. Thank you for having the courage to bare your souls and I commend of all of you for your efforts. Also, a song in 8 days is no easy feat! (It’s no easy feat WITHOUT a deadline.) I had so much fun listening to each song and please know that I listened to them on “shuffle” (I think it is an easy trap to like the songs you hear first) and I listened to each of them at the very least five times. I chose not to judge much on production/performance considering the time restrictions. Here’s how I broke it down to judge the songs: Strong/Clear/Unique Lyrics. Catchy Melody. Capturing the challenge.
1. Brian Gray - Walk (Live From Woodbury)
If Ben Folds and Toad The Wet Sprocket had a baby it would produce this song. I enjoyed it upon first listen. I was troubled though by what exactly was being said, THEN, it hit me. Zombies. I almost died. Or undied. (I may be a little biased on this one, as I am a huge zombie enthusiast.) The sun-soaked, vibey melody combined with the clever lyrics advocating rights for zombies fully won me over. Plus, I loved the “Live From Woodbury” touch, a shout out to The Walking Dead. “Robbed of faculties, sentenced not to talk. So let us be a voice for you. You do what you do. Walkers gonna walk.” Nice work Brian.
2. The Separation Of State And Nothing – Jerry Skids
I always consider it a good sign when I get ready for bed and I’m still singing a melody from earlier in the day, which I did with this song. The verse and chorus were both very hooky. As far as the “objective” is concerned in this particular challenge, this song really brought it home. Jerry had a very clear intention and effectively made his point. And we all know, “A world without God is like a world without wisdom teeth”.
3. If You Don’t Like Gay Marriage – MC Ohm
I really enjoyed the lyrics of this tune, couched in an upbeat, hip-hop melody and a funny, catchy chorus. I’ll be singing, “If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married” for quite some time. Humor is such a wonderful tool to get a very serious message across and MC Ohm did this vey well. I wanted him to use a more cogent argument than the senior citizens/reproduction slant but in the end, the choruses made this song really work.
4. Next Nice Town - Jenny Katz
This tune had a very cool, Joni Mitchell-esque, retro, 70s sound, which works well for this challenge. I thought her lyrical device of “Next Nice Town” was clever and this lyric I found particularly poignant, “You know the growers get six cents a day, I'll have a four-dollar latte”. I thought her use of sarcasm side by side the sweet melody was very impactful. I also went to sleep singing this tune!
5. An Equal Start – RC
Anyone who can sing “trajectory” in a song is okay with me. The melody has a dark, thoughtful vibe, which worked very well for the emotion of this song. RC tackled his point very clearly. However, I thought the lyrics were a little on the nose and safe. I want to specifically mention that I liked the bridge A LOT. We all know bridges can be the most difficult to write and this one flowed well.
6. On the Matter Of Bullying – Edric Haleen
Lyrically, this song is a beast. Parts of it were emotionally devastating (“so why not go ahead and do the world a favor and just drop dead”). However, other portions, like the first two verses I didn’t feel were quite as compelling. The song tackles a lot of complex issues and I would have liked it to be more streamlined and simplified. I was unsure of what exactly was “the protest”. The emotion in this song was particularly moving.
7. Guns – TurboShandy
The melody of this song is very radio friendly. I found myself rocking out right away. The melody changed up too much for me though. I would have liked if the pre-chorus had been left out and get right to the rocking chorus. Lyrically, the song definitely met the challenge but it felt it was clunky in parts. I love this lyric, “You really think you've got a right, that makes me a little sick, is it for your self defense, or an extension of your dick?” Well put.
8. Love Builds Homes – The Middle Relievers
The verse in this tune is so, so strong. Groovy. Catchy. Fun. Poignant. Pre-chorus falters (with a key change I think?) and the chorus I would have liked to be simplified to contrast the verse. They conquered the challenge very capably and the mention of Bert and Ernie really sticks out to me. They used something so iconic and “innocent” to expertly emphasize their point. Good on ya.
9. Just War – Steve Durand
I really liked the funky vibe of this song. Love the horns giving it a sort of “foreign-land”, “foreign war” vibe. (I don’t know if that was intentional but it worked.) The lyric device of just war or is it just war really works. The subject matter of drone warfare is unique and enlightening and a matter that desperately needs to be highlighted. Great choice Steve. The melody did not have the gravitas I wanted to punctuate such an important subject.
10. Dinosaur Sam – Kevin Savino-Riker
This musicality of this song is strong and groovy if not a little busy for my particular taste. I love the lyric of the chorus; you’re a dinosaur, Sam. Good stuff. As a woman, this lyric was particularly moving to me: “By the gal next door who works as much if not more, I guess her glass ceiling is your glass floor”. I wanted the chorus to come in sooner and be a bit more differentiated from the verse.
11. The Square – Dr. Lyndike
As a huge Fiona Apple fan, I love the dark, moody melody of this song. Has such great longing. Lyrically, the song met the challenge very competently but I was not entirely moved by them. Peace or Freedom was a little generic and I was longing for lyrics that packed more of a wallop to compliment the mournful melody.
12. Don’t Send Them Away – Ross Durand
The melody of this song is simple, catchy and fun. It is so easy to sing along to and has sounds of old Dylan. The lyrics were succinct and right away you understand exactly his point. However, they were a bit too obvious for me. I wanted it to be a little more poetic. There is so much truth in this song!