So, the process is a little different for this round: the finalists are ranked by popular vote and the vote of previous contestants. So I'm off the hook, a bit, for trying to decide which song of the final four is the best. I still need to write reviews, and I will rank the four. There are also twelve shadows this round, including five by the Boffo Yux Dudes. Wow.
The challenge this time was interesting: the contestants were required to use a simple I-V-vi-IV chord progression, and to write about physical pain.
Just a quick note of thanks before the reviews. This was a very enjoyable SpinTunes for me. I've been very impressed by the way every contest seems to result in better and better work. Good job, everyone! I hope I can be involved in the next one too, in some capacity. It's just too much fun not to be part of it.
1. Jenny Katz, Clear
Very few songs ever submitted to any round of SpinTunes or the old Song Fu contests have had the ability to make me sob like a little baby. Jenny Katz can do it. These lyrics are gorgeous and moving. They could apply to a wounded soldier, a loved one dying of cancer, or various other scenarios, and so have a universal feel. Lines like "traitor hope has left us wary" make me shiver. A great vocal performance, and a beautiful doubled guitar part. Just beautiful.
2. Edric Haleen featuring Heather Zink, I Wanna Go Dancing
I could quibble about "physical pain" -- yeah, I know very well that emotional pain can cause physical pain; I've certainly been there, so I guess it's OK. But this is a really lovely synth-pop song. Edric really put on a very different style for this and I'm impressed. Heather's vocal performance is sweet and light, although, I hate to say it, just a little pitchy on some of the verses (this may be partly because I'm just so used to hearing auto-tuned vocals on pop tracks). The instrument sounds are a little canned, but not bad. There are some original but very poppish and fun rhymes, like "I wanna go dancing / I wanna get lost in the noise / Be surrounded by boys / Who aren’t anything like you." Nicely done.
3. Ryan M. Brewer, Christ Speaks
This is impeccably produced but I find myself with some reservations about the way it toys with the subject matter. Can you use the crucifixion as a metaphor for being the one in the relationship that took the brunt of the pain when it ended? Well, of course you can, but I have to ask myself, should you? It's a bold choice but I can't help but feel it's a little off-putting. There are some other ways to interpret it, like a literal Jesus who is talking to his actual lover as he goes to his death, but that's even more provocative and also a little off-putting. So, nicely done, but this lyric just doesn't quite work well for me. I'm not offended per se; I'm a big fan of The Last Temptation of Christ, but I just feel like I can't quite click with the song. If it's going to take on such a provocative idea, it seems like it should take it a little more seriously.
4. Jutze, The Bleeding Dragon
Oh, cool! Wow! Nice music -- yet another different musical style by the incredibly versatile Jutze... wait... what is this song about? Wow, that's dark... happy but sad... wait... what? WHAT? Jutze! WTF! LOL! hahaha ewwww gross hahaha wow...
Shadows -- as time and inspiration allows, I will add brief comments on the shadows.
Glen Raphael, Hangnail (Shadow)
A piece of effective, but completely deadpan humor. Aside from a little looseness in the backing vocals and the guitars towards the end, it is really quite musically lovely, too.
Dr. Lindyke, Relief (Shadow)
The vinyl record sound effects and tinny recording are interesting -- is this supposed to sound like an early blues recording? I'm not quite sure what it is channeling. I like the vocal performance, though.
Caravan Ray, Pain (Shadow)
Not a bad tune, a bit like a live jam, but doesn't really stick with me.
Zoe Gray, Apologize (Shadow)
Musically this is very clever and enjoyable. The lyrics leave me a little confused. I don't think this is about physical pain? Maybe in the sense that Edric's song is about physical pain, but then it gets a bit graphic, which doesn't entirely make sense for me.
Jailhouse Payback, Back Pain (Shadow)
A fun jam. There's something going on with the lyrics but I think I may be too tired and spaced out to get it just now.
Red Watcher, Change (Shadow)
This is really beautiful, musically. The lyrics seem like they are more about the metaphorical pain of change than physical pain.
Boffo Yux Dudes, Is there a Doctor in the House? (Shadow)
Took me a moment to get what this one was about. Very clever. I suppose regeneration does involve physical pain! I like the way it borrows just a couple of notes from the Doctor Who theme music, and a vintage synthesizer waveform.
Boffo Yux Dudes, I'm in Love with the Pain that you Give (Shadow)
This sounds like a Tom Lehrer song. Is Dave singing with the Dudes?
Boffo Yux Dudes, Pain (Shadow)
Erm. Not their finest work. The music is nice.
Boffo Yux Dudes with TC Elliot, Put the Hammer Down (Shadow)
Musically, a very enjoyable song. The joke in the lyrics is just a bit one-note though.
Boffo Yux Dudes, Window Pain (Shadow)
Sounds very nice. I'm going to call this one "WHEN HOMONYMS ATTACK!" Too long.
Dr. Lindyke, Gotta Pee (Parody) (Shadow)
Very nice... I was laughing so hard I almost... well, you get the idea.