Belated reviews! I don't really have any overall comments this time, other than that I'm a bit disappointed that some of you took the title to mean that your song should itself be "ugly." There were a few songs with unsightly blemishes this round, and I get the impression that most of y'all would have been inclined to polish a bit more had the word "ugly" not been in the title. Ah well! Nick was the leader of the pack by a wide margin here, but no offense to anyone else here - all of these songs were at least pretty good.
Here they are...
Some of these harmonies aren't spot-on, and I can't tell whether that was on purpose. The whole "took an ugly girl home" approach is a bit distasteful to my ears, but I like the wordplay on "out of sight" and the twist at the end (poets who've gone to college might call that a "turn" or "Volta").
Man, am I sick of hearing about Cliven Bundy. You wear your politics on your sleeve, which sometimes works and sometimes comes across as preachy. I think it works for this song, especially because your execution is perfect. Your singing voice is great, and the harmonies showcase your range nicely. This is also paced really well, with the third-verse percussion breakdown also reflecting a meditative turn in the lyrics. Great job!
Man, I know you have issues singing, but relying so heavily on the synth choir sound for this song might have been a tactical error. I like the lyrics, the moody feel, the delay on your spoken-word vocals, and most aspects of this song. I feel bad about it, but I'm docking you on challenge implementation.
Paco del Stinko
You've got some steel cojones, making fun of everyone else in the competition. I'm still hearing all the previous challenges; did you rope a family member into this one too? When Reist first suggested a contest like this, he described it as "Song Fight Survivor." This song really reminds me of a different reality show: it was on The Bachelor that one of the contestants famously said "I didn't come here to make friends." Sounds like you're taking that to its logical extreme. And yet it's only the second funniest song this round! Which leads us to...
(Who the Hell is) Nick Soma
I love the groove you made with all the different percussion instruments. The layered vocals work wonderfully, not a note missed on any of the harmonies. You even got in a few jokes! I laughed at "How do they survive? They don't even eat!" I love this song and it's an easy pick for winner this round.
I think you picked the wrong round to push the boundaries of the challenge; that synth bass doesn't sound anything like percussion. Later, you introduce some instrument that sounds like an electric guitar - I know it's probably a synth vibraphone run through distortion or something, but the challenge really depends on the instrument being recognizable as percussion. If not for the challenge implementation, this would be a contender for sure. I like the "ah ah ah ah oh" vocal break, and it's paced well. The marimba breakdown in the bridge is clever too. Strong work, but not your strongest, and definitely not worth stretching the challenge for.
Great job stretching your vocal range to the limit. Some of the bass notes sound like you were struggling to hit them. I also think you missed some of your harmony notes, which might have been on purpose, which contributes to the theme of "finding beauty in ugliness" and lends to the Muppet-esque feel (which is done REALLY well, it should be said), but every time I come to one of those five-part harmony sections where one voice misses the note at first, it just makes me cringe.
I was considering doing an exhibition song with a very similar approach. The handclaps and chanting work really well, as does the spelling out of U-G-L-Y. However, I think you might have the chanted chorus in there one too many times. I really appreciate that the structure of this song is so varied. Great rapping and singing! The chimes in the end work well, too. Needs a real ending, instead of just hitting that chant one last time. Caravan Ray has been nailing the codas this year, maybe a collaboration is in order?
I normally don't mind the effect on your vocals, but it's kind of important here: if it's a vocoder - if your voice is blended with a pitched synthesizer - it's against the rules. I'm also hearing something that sounds like a bass guitar, but when that instrument hits slightly higher registers, it clearly has a percussive "chime" to it. I'm also not really sure about these lyrics - is this just about some kind of nasty Lothario who names his penis "The New Ugly?" Ugh. In truth, I had some questions about the challenge implementation, but thanks to the lyrics, this was my least favorite song in the round, which made any concerns about the challenge irrelevant. I just gave you a free pass on the challenge, and you still wound up at the bottom of my rank. You had a nice run, and I appreciate the fearlessness of your lyrics, but they rubbed this juror the wrong way.
Love the timpani. I'm less certain of the borderline atonal verse melody. Wait, scratch that "borderline," you're doing 12-tone, aren't you? Vocals have sometimes been a weak point for you, so I was concerned that needing to rely on them so heavily would be bad for you. Instead, you nailed some really complicated vocal lines, but they're complicated to the point of being inaccessible. That matches well with the Rush-esque lyrics, at least, but I'm not sure if there's enough time in this judging period for me to listen enough for this to make sense and "feel right."
I like the way your bed of harmonies builds up. I'm sorry, man, I like your stuff, but it seems like every single week, when it comes time to review the Balance Lost song, I just go, "Ah, yeah, this is pretty good," and I somehow lose my ability to speak critically about the various parts of the song and what makes them tick. Sorry if that makes for some not-very-compelling feedback. I had you in 4th, if that makes any difference...