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Saturday, July 19, 2014

SpinTunes #9 Round 1 Reviews: Donna Schubbe

It's always great to get former SpinTunes champions involved whenever we can however we can.  Donna is half of the team (Matt And Donna) that won SpinTunes 3.  While Matt makes our awesome album art, Donna was nice enough to put on the judges robe again.

- Spin


Hello SpinTunes! Donna here, half of the spin tunes 4 champion team Matt and Donna, for those of you who might not know me. I'm back again as a guest judge and I feel very happy to have been asked! You are all taking on a lot of work, but I hope you will find it rewarding and the criticism constructive. Since I will only be guest judging for this round I will tell you my criteria for this round. I want to hear a song I can imagine the "people" of your fictional country singing together, like most anthems. Since everyone has different talents and abilities, I am trying to stick more to the challenge criteria. But I do take into account what the song sounds like as a whole and whether I would want to listen to it again. There were so many great entries, this was hard to rank you all!

1. TurboShandy - Oitopia: Punk anthem for sure. Do punks sing anthems? I like that your vocals are slow enough that a group could sing along to this song, even though it sounds like a punk rock song. Because your anthem is for a punk rock Oitopia, the guitar solo is fitting here.

2. Mr. Gee - Mordor, O, Mordor (Orc National Anthem): I like this anthem, maybe because it sounds like Strongbad singing. But for real, it is a very fitting anthem for Mordor. The pacing and beat of the drum and grunts in the background are perfect for an Orc national Anthem. The lyrics were great and yet simple enough an Orc could sing it. Good job!

3. Army Defense - Kron: Upon first listen this didn't sound very much like an anthem to me. Upon second and third and fourth listenings, still didn't sound like an anthem. It reminds me of a Led Zeppelin song. Instrumentally very strong, but I just don't see this being an anthem that a group would sing together. It seems like a song about a fictional land, but not from the land.

4. The Boffo Yux Dudes - Latveria, We Bow Before Our Doom: This really sounds like an anthem that would be sung in Latveria. Lyrically it is strong, and fitting from my knowledge of comic books. I could definitely live with out the silly background "die, die". Nice work.
5. Jerry Skids - The Island Is My Home: This anthem first of all is really fun to listen and I am a fan of lost. Though I doubt there would be people on the island singing an anthem together, I like the idea. It paints a great picture of the Island and it's mystical qualities. I do think it could be slowed down just a bit to make it easier to sing along to. Again, I'm imagining a whole group of people singing this together, slower would be easier. I would listen to this when not judging.
6. The Roy Hammer Trio - Costaguana: drrrrruuuuummmmsss. That's all I can here in this really. Good drumming, but it doesn't seem fitting for an anthem. And what is this even about? I can't make out an anthem quality with is song. I can't picture a whole group of people singing this song about Costaguana.
7. Brian Gray - St. Agnes: This is beautiful! Great harmonies! I read that you were hoping to get a choir but ended up using Zoey. I do think it would have been more powerful with a full choir, but it is still as moving with her voice. The music in the background isn't overpowering the vocals which is nice to hear and it seems to support the vocals.
8. Steve Durand - Oceania, 'Tis For Thee: Nice work Steve! This is great. It sounds what I imagine an anthem should sound like. I like the instrumentals, the fanfare and woodwinds in the background are wonderful. I like way you varied the melody and vocals. It was nice and easy to listen to and I imagine I could sing along if I were brainwashed in Oceania.
9. Caravan Ray - The Lonelystani National Anthem: I can see a guy named Stan singing this song about himself but I don't think it meets the challenge of being an anthem about a fictional country. But it isn't a bad song. Unfortunately meeting the challenge is more important to me.
10. Pigfarmer Jr - Zamunda National Anthem: This does sound like an anthem. I would have liked to hear you branch out with your background music. It just follows the vocal melody and I think it could have been stronger if you sang your melody along with some other chords or background instruments not following the melody.
11. Megalodon - Digitalistan: I enjoy the synth and video game style in this song. I think you have a really strong concept and lyrics and musically it is on point. But for my taste I think I would have preferred an autotuned vocal or robotic vocal. Your vocals are off key and distracting from the great instrumental stuff you have going on.  I did almost lose at the dial up tone though! Stressful!
12. Zoe Gray - Country Of The Sun: When I think of an anthem, it's something that a group of people can all sign together about their country. When I hear this song I just can't picture the people of the country of the sun singing this together. This seems to be a song about an anthem and a country, but it isn't a country's anthem. It doesn't seem to get "patriotic" if you will for the country of the sun. I understand that it is a song about the a country in your imagination, but I would have preferred it if you sang from the point of view of someone who actually lives on the fictional planet than someone who imagines it. That would have met the challenge a bit better in my opinion. Nice vocals and piano!

13. Heather Zink - Bless Our Land Hyrule: This song gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. Maybe it was the nerd in me getting the feels! First of all the vocals are beautiful and the melody works perfectly for an anthem. I could definitely picture this song in an actual Zelda game while the end credits are rolling. Great work!

14. Kolton H. - Oceania Prevails: Sounds like a song that would be played at end credits for an action movie. I can see you had a lot of ideas! Something about this doesn't quite strike me as anthemic. The beat doesn't change throughout and since the song is long, it makes the whole song blend together and if I'm not reading along with the lyrics I have a hard time separating your words out. When I do read the lyrics while listening I do like what you've written, but it could have been a little less long.
15. Felix Frost - Croton Alley: I like your idea and I think it is executed well, but I think you needed some stronger editing. It went on much longer than I think it needed to. This would have been just as strong if you didn't go into so much detail in the lyrics about building a world destroying gun. Maybe all of that could have been put into a song bio. It also didn't need the extra out-tro.
16. Sid Brown - The Shire: This is a very fitting anthem for the shire, I like the folksy fiddle you used and I could imagine the hobbits singing this anthem while drinking, dining and dancing. I think you met the challenge nicely.

17. MC Ohm-I - Plankistan National Anthem: Nice throwback to ST6 round 1! This took me a couple listens to get on board, but I liked it more every time I listened to it. Overall I think it is a good anthem for Plankistan. I'm glad you sang the lyrics and didn't rap them. It's like a hip-hop anthem. Nice work!
18. James Young - Elbonia! Elbonia!: Sounds like elbows are evil! It's a dark anthem that lightens up at the end. Metal head elbow anthem. Now are elbows singing this or tiny people that live on the elbows? Not that it matters. Some of the pacing of the lyrics were very fast in the beginning. Maybe could have been slower in my opinion.
19. Governing Dynamics - Roland Lives! (Battle Hymn Of The Crimson Nation): When listening to this, I don't feel musically it is fitting for an anthem. It's a good rock song but I can't imagine it being sung by many people to that melody. You could have taken the guitar out and slowed it down and I think it would have been better. It could have had some more depth lyrically, rather than repeating the chorus.
20. Benjamin J Spencer - Alcoholia: More melodic variety would have been good. It seems to drag on for sake of times perhaps? The guitar solo seems out of place for an anthem and seemed more to take up some time? I do enjoy the concept you had and the lyrics were good too but some improvements could have made it stronger.


  1. Derp! I missed that I accidentally typed spin tunes 4 rather than spin tunes 3, thanks for clearing up my mistake Spin!

  2. Governing DynamicsJuly 20, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    All valid points. I would have liked to do the music with legitimate band instruments, but after an hour or two of messing around with MIDI I decided the results would be pathetic at best.

    Thanks for the review, always nice to see guest judges!