Nur Ein XI Round Zero "This Is Not A Test"

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Re: Nur Ein XI- Round Zero

Post by inevitableguy » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:36 pm

There was a lot of half-assing going on this round. Fair warning to everyone, you'd better get your whole ass into the fight in the coming rounds, or you will be gone. I look at a song as a marriage of three parts – structure, lyric, and arrangement. Not only does each part have to stand alone, but all three should work together to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. I only bring this up to give you the context in which my reviews are framed. (Note that I haven't mentioned production. As many are fond of saying, this is Song Fight, not Production Fight!)

From best to worst:

BGM – I love how the warning tones seamlessly blend into the structure of the song. It reinforces the lyrical content perfectly. The arrangement is a little bland for my tastes, but overall, this was definitely the most solid song of the week. Good use of the challenge.

Solo Frijoles – You really nailed a clever and complex vocal. The arrangement is sparse, but I think that really works here. Anything more complicated, and you'd step all over the singer's toes.

Micah Sommersmith – I love the twist, telling an origin story of a supporting character. Musically, this takes a hard left turn, but it doesn't feel gratuitous. In fact, it feels like a natural extension of the song. The verses tend to get a tad repetitive after a while, so there's room to spice it up some.

Inflatable Vegetables – This could be an Emerson Lake and Palmer song. I hate ELP, but for some reason, I love this. Birth is the ultimate origin, so I think you've executed the challenge very well. Some of the sound effects don't quite mesh with the rest of the arrangement, but this is a minor complaint.

Cavedwellers – The lyrics are more pretentious than I would prefer, but it's an origin and it's a story, so you nailed the challenge. I really like the little breakdowns sprinkled through the song, but I'd cut a few measures from the bridge.

Slightly Brown – I know almost nothing about Australian rugby, but I've been to one game and I know just enough to know how fucking clever the wordplay around “origin” and “test” is. The choruses are super catchy, which is enough to overcome the yawn that I would have had to stifle over this arrangement.

Pepper Jane – I didn't fully appreciate these lyrics until I went back and read them again. It's a beautiful song, but the “testing, testing” interludes really kill the mood. Without those, this would have been much higher on my list.

Grumpy Mike – I grew up in the era of grunge, so this is right up my alley. This song has a lot of promise, but that riff was way overused and I was tired of it a full minute before the song was finished. Adding parenthetical notes to your lyrics was cheating a bit, since I wouldn't quite have picked up on the whole story without the explanation, and you shouldn't have to explain how you met a lyrical challenge.

DJ Ranger Den – I love how your lyrics are like poetry – they stand alone so well. In this case, I didn't feel like the performance matched the intensity of the lyrics, though. I wanted you to be more you. Clever interpretation of the challenge.

Paco del Stinko – Classic Paco: the Dead Milkmen meet Steve Vai in a dark alley. The use of the origin of mankind as the story made me say “Nifty” out loud while I was listening in my car.

Cybronica – This is a terribly catchy song. Well-crafted and well-arranged, but a tad repetitive. I couldn't parse all the words, and since you didn't post your lyrics I can't be too sure how well you met the challenge. Frankly, this hurt your overall rating with me.

Berkeley Social Scene - This song has a great groove, and a great arrangement up until the chorus. What is that noise? A guitar? It seems too deliberate to be a production error, so I have to assume it's an intentional part of the arrangement, and it's quite distracting. I think you overreached by combining the song with the main fight – I don't see this as an origin story at all, and that really hurt your ranking.

Rabid Garfunkel – Wow, it's 1993 and I'm listening to Machines of Loving Grace in my dorm room again. I love the sound and the arrangement, but you can't skimp on lyrics when the challenge is a lyrical one.

RankCorps – Very industrial, which is a thing I can get behind. It's about an origin, but it doesn't really feel like a story. I'm stuck in the middle of the pack here where it's hard to find anything to criticize, but it's also difficult to find something to praise.

Boffo Yux Dudes – Whoa. That big change does not feel natural at all. I was into this song for the first half, but that change was just too much. Clever tie-in with the challenge, though.

Levittdown – This is another middle of the pack not bad but not great song. You could have used a few more takes on the vocal track to really nail it.

Potato Dentata – If you're going to do G&G, it really has to shine. An arrangement like this only works if the song's structure is impeccable, which this is not. The concept of the lyric is good, but it falls flat here.

Ken Mahru – The refrain is catchy, but that's the end of it. The structure and arrangement just bored me, and the self-referential lyrics have got to go.

DuToVa – I like the funky bass riff, but this song is clearly vocal-driven, and if you're going to put the vocals at the front and center of the arrangement, the lyrics can't suck.

Zack Facco – It sounds like you're reading an encyclopedia entry over a random guitar track. It doesn't match up, and I see no effort made to craft the lyrics into something song-like.

Michael J. Samuels – The drum fills all sound like they end a beat too early to me. The staccato nature of the vocals only seems to call attention to the timing problems. This is another song where I can't catch all the lyrics (and you didn't post them), but from what I can make out, this doesn't strike me as much of an origin story.
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Re: Nur Ein XI- Round Zero

Post by BenKrieger » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:12 am

inevitableguy wrote:Solo Frijoles – You really nailed a clever and complex vocal.
Thanks! I wrote the song pretty early on in the week and spent the rest of the time editing the lyrics so that I was able to breath and sing them, and then rehearsing. Had to eliminate a lot of pronouns and determiners.
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Re: Nur Ein XI- Round Zero

Post by Niveous » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:32 pm

Hey folks. More reviews. *insert Kermit the Frog yell here*
I’m probably always going to be the last of the 5 judges to post their reviews but post I will. So, you should know that with me, I am looking for songs that will stand the test of time. Nur Ein songs live in my jukebox and I run into them a lot during a normal day’s listening. I need songs that aren’t going to make me want to reach over and hit the next key. A good song with some listening power ranks high with me. I like when bands nail the challenge but often I use that as a tiebreak. Good song first. Also note, I don’t read the other judges’ reviews before writing mine, so I may be beating some dead horses.

Michael J. Samuels: Acoustic singer-songwriter which is a large amount of what I listen to because I frequent open mics. This fits right in. It’s got some technical issues that take away from my enjoyment and takes away from repeated issues. Otherwise, it’s a mellow little tune that would’ve landed in the middle of the pack if not for the error which brings it further down the list. (LOW)

DJ Ranger Den: Being the most experienced judge here does have its drawbacks. This is one. I feel like I have heard this from DJRD a bunch of times. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but I feel like it’s something Den can pull out of her hat at any time. I’ll be anxiously waiting for later rounds where the challenges will push her. For now, old hat = middle of the pack. (MID)

DuToVa: A song about the time slipping away and having to cobble together a song for the round. Not the first time we’ve had one of those. I personally don’t appreciate that kind of self-reflexive turn. Musically, it has a little charm. I hope for better next time. (LOW)

Potato Dentata: I enjoyed this one a lot. Double tracking the vocals on the chorus and keeping the guitar staccato there gave it a lot of charm. I didn’t dig the “Don’t worry, this is not a test, it’s a conversation” lyric as it felt more like a shoehorn than anything. A little short too. I would’ve liked a bridge and maybe another chorus with some extra punch. (UPPER MID)

Boffo Yux Dudes: BYD must hate having me as a judge because I clearly don’t connect to their comic sensibilities. The song is “This is not a Test” yet is about standardized tests. Smdh. I may not be big on the joke but there’s some charm and solid music making here so it lands in the middle of the pack. (MID)

Inflatable Vegetables: I just couldn’t get into the chorus of this. The Na-na-na’s feel like “I just don’t have a lyric here”. The sound effects were kind of unnecessary. This song sounds a lot like it would have been done by last year’s host Jon Eric. Not a bad song by any stretch but definitely not my cup of tea. (LOWER MID)

Paco del Stinko: Being the most experienced judge here does have its drawbacks. This is one. I feel like I have heard this from PDS a bunch of times. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but I feel like it’s something Paco can pull out of his hat at any time. I’ll be anxiously waiting for later rounds where the challenges will push him. But that guitar solo was tasty. It may have been a short little tune but it was fun. (UPPER MID)

Cavedwellers: Glennny’s pronunciation of Eurydice (You-Rid-Uh-See not Airy-Dice) stopped me dead on my first listen but I didn’t hold it against them. What I will hold against them is this lyric which is all over the place. It makes it hard to pick out the pieces of the origin story when there’s Greek myth, the Matrix and the self-reflexive Megalodon all wrapped in one non-cohesive package. Musically, it’s strong but like the lyrics, it’s a bit disjointed and I couldn’t get into it fully. (MID)

Cybronica: I can’t really find “This is not a Test” in this. I guess it’s implied. I can dig this Ren Fair EDM. The vocals just ride the edge between serious and completely camp, so she’s gotta watch that. It does nail the challenge. I could do without the gimmicky ending.(MID)

Zack Facco: Missed the mark with me completely. There’s a nifty guitar solo over some poorly done drums and a boring spoken word. By the one minute mark, I already felt mentally worn out by this and since the second minute added sirens and bad vocal effects, I disliked this greatly. (LOW)

Micah Sommersmith: It’s a mix of superheroes and the movie Nightcrawler. The composition is well done. I like the bass that moves the song along. The story is well done and delivery is on point. Being able to move from newscaster voice to the sing-song narrator to the wild in-the-weeds voice is a tough thing to do well and Micah hits this out of the park. (HIGH)

Ken Mahru: The chorus is very very weak and the verses don’t carry much heft to them. I enjoyed the bridge but when one third of the song is a lackluster chorus, the whole thing ends up at the bottom of the pile. (LOW)

Rabid Garfunkel: A sampled riff played shrilly while Rabid sings Prometheus 12 times and doesn’t really tell a story. I’m not a fan of this. There’s just no meat for me to sink my teeth into. (LOW)

Levittdown: The mix seemed a bit muddy and that just dragged down repeated listens. It’s a very short song and just doesn’t go anywhere, not storyline-wise or musically. I get that it’s supposed to be a superhero style origin and you fridged the mom so the hero has something to fight for. But it didn’t go anywhere beyond that. It’s just an okay song overall. (LOWER MID)

bgm: A risky play to use a sound that clearly stated as unpleasant as a part of their song but the music has a lot of charm to it which helps to elevate the spoken-wordy bits. I feel like I’m beginning to like it less and less with repeated listens but since the voting caught me on the upswing, this gets an (UPPER MID). In hindsight, (MID).

Grumpy Mike: The rocked out tale of a fighter pilot who fights out they have powers. The reveal comes very very quickly at the end, so it can be a bit easy to miss. Still, the crunchy rock riff is a lot of fun and the chorus doesn’t overstay its welcome. It should stand up to repeat listens. (UPPER MID)

BSS: This is a good song called “Baked Out Of My Gourd” with “This is Not a Test” poorly shoehorned in. If I had to pinpoint the worst part of the song, it would be “This is not a test, this is an acid test”. It’s an ugly lyric and the only thing that makes this a dual entry. Luckily, the rest of the song is pretty good. I would have liked to hear a bit more of that guitar solo and some cleaner basswork. (MID)

Strangely Brown: A very smart take on the title and the challenge, using “Rugby test” and “State of Origin”. The story is extremely told well. Spoken verses and well sung chorus made for a good balance. The love of the subject is so prevalent in every line. It made me want to find out more about Artie and the Crow. I adore this song. Well done. (HIGH)

Solo Frijoles: The machine gun fire delivery of the verses made this song. Adding “Of my love” to the title was a smart play. The drums may be as flat as can be but the song still comes together very well. Well done story as well with excellent descriptions. (HIGH)
RankCorps: I’m not a big fan of the overly affected vocals but the music is a lot of fun. The chorus is strong; especially with the hint of background vocals (I wish it was more than a hint). I’m split on this. The vocals bring it down. The music keeps it up. Lands in the middle of the pack. (MID)

Pepper Jane: The tale of the universe which its fluid lyrics and on-point vocal makes for a good song. The sound-test bits don’t fit in. It takes me out of the song and it’s kind of grating. Sure, they make the song stand out in the crowd but not in a positive way. (MID)
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Re: Nur Ein XI- Round Zero

Post by glennny » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:24 pm

Niv, I love you man, it's a fair review, but I know how to pronounce Eurydice.
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