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Saturday, March 7, 2015

SpinTunes #10 Champion: Edric Haleen

Winner: Edric Haleen (53)
Runner Up: Ross Durand (45)
3rd: Pete Murphy (39)
4th: Zoe Gray (33)
(17 competitors voted)

Edric - 4 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 1 - 4 - 3 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 4 - 4 - 1 - 3 - 4
Ross - 3 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 2 - 4 - 4 - 3 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 2 - 2
Zoe - 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 4 - 1 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 4 - 3
Pete - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 3 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 4 - 1 - 1

Congrats Edric! You've been competing since this contest started, and it's always fun to see how you meet the challenges.  I'm very happy for you, and hope you decide to take up your role as a judge in SpinTunes 11.  I'll e-mail you about that when I start planning that contest.  For now, enjoy your reign as champion!

Popular Vote:
Pete Murphy - 26
Ross Durand - 11
Edric Haleen - 6
Zoe Gray - 3
(46 total votes cast)

Judges: MC Ohm-I, Jana Pochop, Rusty Cage & The Dreamstalks
Guest Judge:  John D. Boswell & Jane Lui
Alternate Judge: N/A

I want to give a big THANK YOU to all the competitors, judges, guest judges, shadowers, fans, Tom for hosting the LP, Matt for the album art, and anyone that had anything to do with this contest.  None of this is possible without the participation of all you wonderful people.

Normally SpinTunes has a contest every 6 months.  One that starts around January, and another that starts around June.  SpinTunes 11 will break from this pattern, and will probably start in January of 2016.  HOWEVER, we will be hosting a new songwriting contest starting around July of this year.  I'll post details about that at a later date, but keep your calendar open this summer.  Make sure you follow @SpinTunes on Twitter for contest updates. Between Song Fight, Nur Ein & various other projects, there should be plenty to keep you busy until SpinTunes #11. If you've completed at least 1 song for SpinTunes, you are also welcome to join the SpinTunes Facebook group.  It's a good way to keep in touch, and we post about related news in there as well


  1. Holy crap.

    Well -- I had a bunch of stuff typed up ready to paste in here as a retrospective of ten iterations of SpinTunes (ten being a nice, round number and all), but now I feel the need to go and tweak that a little bit in light of this latest development. (I was sitting here ready to watch this one go to Pete this time...)

    For the moment -- thanks to all . . . congratulations to Zoe and Ross and Pete . . . and I'll have more specific thanks in a little bit...



  2. What a sublime moment of ambivalence I’m experiencing right now.

    On one hand -- this is a very nice thing. It does make me feel happy to know that I’ve managed to win one of the iterations of something I love so much . . . along with a highly-coveted t-shirt.

    On the other hand . . . winning the final round of SpinTunes isn’t the point of all this -- and it certainly isn’t my REASON for doing this.

    The point of writing this particular song for this particular round was first realized the moment I played the song in its entirety for myself when its final tweak was finally tweaked. And then the point of doing this was reached again when I shared it with my wife. And then again when I shared it with all of you. The point for writing this song was the moment -- or the succession of moments -- when I could hold my song up to the light and say, “Here -- I have moved the mountain again. This is something I made. Into it, I have put everything I had to give at this moment under these circumstances. I do hope you like it -- and it will please me greatly if you do -- but even if you don’t, it is still a thing that gives me joy. It is a piece of me, and it is with much happiness that I send it out into the world.”

    And then, once it is released out into the world, it is enjoyable to hear back from people and to learn what they thought about the songs I write. Sometimes people like what I wrote. Sometimes people don’t. And sometimes it’s a decidedly split verdict. But you LEARN from hearing people’s responses. You learn what “lands” . . . and you also learn what things were too opaque or too obscure. You learn the ways that people interpreted your meanings differently than you intended or anticipated . . . and you learn where the things you intended to convey made it into your audience’s brains with greater fidelity. Through experience and feedback, you learn better and better where the line is between “writing for you” and “writing for your audience” -- and you get better and better at choosing when and how to heed or ignore that line. (And sometimes you just get great moments which make you laugh. Two of my favorite reviews of all time are these -- when Front Porch Music wrote, “To Edric: are you kidding me?? Edric, I would have to say that was one of the worst attempts at operatic music I’ve heard in a long time” [MoSF6-R1] and when Glen Phillips wrote, “I am impressed with your vocal abilities, and then baffled by your taste” [ST2-R2].)

    To receive congratulations or praise in response to something you created is certainly enjoyable. And to have people say that they enjoyed your song even more than other songs of the same ilk is quite flattering. But then to receive a “title” or an “award” that purports to dub you -- however temporarily -- as the “best” of a group? That’s kind of weird. Because for one thing -- I’ve already RECEIVED my “rush” from the creation of this song. And for another thing -- there is no way anyone can say I am really the “best” of these SpinTuners -- nor can anyone say that of any of the nine Champions who have preceded me. (Sorry, all of you . . .) We were all just lucky enough to have a song that we wrote on one certain week for one certain challenge (which happened to be attached to the FINAL round of a SpinTunes iteration) happen to make a group of fellow songwriters decide collectively that that song of ours happened to be a better match for that challenge than three other songs that were ALSO written on that one certain week for that one certain challenge.

    I mean, this song isn’t even the best song I’ve ever written. It IS the one that finally landed me at the top of a Round 4 scrum . . . but I still wish that this song could have had production values like Pete’s. And I’m still tremendously impressed by Zoe’s early talent and seemingly fearless commitment. (And I’m still not 100% convinced that Ross isn’t yet going to sneak in with his seemingly endless reservoir of homespun accessibility and audience-pleasing songwriting skill and win STX himself . . .)

  3. But that’s okay. Because it’s not ABOUT a title. Or a t-shirt. Or being called a “Champion.” It’s the MUSIC that’s the thing -- it always has been. Between Masters of Song Fu and SpinTunes, I’ve now written forty-six songs. And of all the songs I’ve written for these contests, there’s only been one of which I haven’t been proud [ST8-R]. EVERY OTHER SONG -- even the weirdest of them [MoSF5-R1] -- has been something I’m proud to say is mine. The best song I’ve ever written came from my time in SpinTunes [ST5-R3]. The song that pushed me furthest out of my comfort zone also came from my time in SpinTunes [ST5-R2]. My forays into full orchestrations began with SpinTunes [ST1-R1]. So did my forays into writing percussion parts [ST1-R2]. And choral music [ST1-R3].

    And the REALLY cool thing? The reason I loved Masters of Song Fu and I love SpinTunes over such other entities like Song Fight or FAWM or ? These challenges FORCE you to do things and go places musically to which you wouldn’t naturally gravitate on your own. I mean, yes -- I do have a definite style. (Only two of my songs have side-stepped the “Broadway” reference that almost invariably accompanies their release.) And yes, my songwriting style is rather unique (to the point where I’ve lost track of how many times someone has written, “I really don’t know where to rank this song in comparison with all the others, because it’s so DIFFERENT”). But these songwriting challenges have pushed and pulled my unique style in SO. MANY. DIRECTIONS. The songs I’ve written for these challenges have prompted others to draw comparisons and make references to . . .

    Weird Al Yankovic
    Paul McCartney
    Tom Lehrer
    Eric Whitacre
    Györgi Ligeti
    Dr. Seuss
    Stephen Sondheim
    Andrew Lloyd Webber
    Dr. Horrible
    Chariots of Fire
    Mike Lombardo
    Inverse T. Clown
    Denise Hudson
    Governing Dynamics
    Zarni de Wet

    (And yes, a bunch of Broadway musicals.)

    The songs I write would NEVER have shown so much diversity without the spurs of Masters of Song Fu and SpinTunes. And through that six-and-a-half-year-long arc, I’ve grown and I’ve learned and I’ve improved.

    And I’ve received feedback.

    And I’ve made friends.

    And I’ve worked with collaborators.

    And I’ve been part of a community.

    And on top of that? I’ve also HEARD a lot of new music! And I’ve marveled at the inventiveness of others. And I’ve celebrated and supported and appreciated the musicians who have come and gone -- or come and stayed.

  4. Through the years, I think I’ve definitely left a lasting imprint on things here. I helped shape and moderate and protect the community that grew up around the early days of MoSF (a strong core of whom went on and seeded the nascent SpinTunes community). I was the first person to cover Today’s The Day -- kicking of an Internet effort that’s now 28 covers strong and still expanding. I introduced song bios to this community. I, like Molly Lewis before me, spawned my very own SpinTunes rule [ST3-R2] (as well, I’m told, as any number of NSFW “Edric policy meetings” in the super-secret judges’ meeting place).

    And I’ve also delighted, over these six-and-a-half years, in surprising people with my oblique and creative interpretations of so many of these challenges. I’m hoping that people by now are familiar enough with my habit of doing the unexpected that it will actually surprise NO one when I let you all know that I’m going to break with what seems to be a SpinTunes tradition. Every previous SpinTunes Champion -- with the obvious exception of R.C., whom we still miss -- has returned to the next iteration of SpinTunes as a judge. They haven’t been REQUIRED to do so . . . but they all have.

    I will not.

    I won’t sign up to judge because again -- it’s always been about the MUSIC for me. And there’s no way that I would give up the chance to do this again -- to write more music and meet more challenges and move more mountains. So when SpinTunes 11 arrives, I’ll be right back in the thick of things, sharing my voice and delighting in hearing the voices of others.

    So. With all that being said, let me do what I’ve done at the conclusion of EVERY MoSF or SpinTunes iteration. Let me issue my heartfelt thanks to everyone who comes together to do this wonderful, crazy Internet-thing.

    Thanks to Ken Plume for creating Masters of Song Fu and for running it for as long as he did -- for planting the seed around which a community grew and thrived.

    Thanks to Travis for picking up the torch when MoSF ended and for leading us through ten iterations of SpinTunes and counting.

    Thanks to Dave and Tom for helping Travis shoulder the load, and to Tom for running the listening parties.

    Thanks to everyone who helps dream up the challenges that drive this amazing adventure.

    Thanks to the judges and reviewers who make SpinTunes more than just a measure of Internet-footprint.

    Thanks to the songwriters who share their creativity with the world.

    Thanks to the people who “tune in” to listen . . . and comment . . . and discuss . . . and share . . .

    And thanks most of all for all the music. May there be much, MUCH more.

    See you in SpinTunes 11!