Nur Ein XV

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vowlvom
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by vowlvom »

Urgh, trying to write about my judging methods but it's difficult, and Mo already said most of the good stuff.

I'm going to try to take my genre biases on board when I do my rankings, so I won't rank (e.g.) a metal song low just because it's metal - if it's done well and nails the challenge then I'll do my best to rank it fairly.

The simple / complex musicianship thing that Mo listed is a big one for me. I complain about guitar solos a lot in my reviews, but the truth is that I like guitar solos! I just don't like flashy "virtuoso" performances if they don't benefit the song as a whole, and a lot of solos feel like an excuse to show off to me. If it fits the song well melodically / structurally then go for it. But the song as a whole is my focus and I don't care how good you are at playing / singing.

One thing that Mo's credo didn't really go into is lyrics - I'm a big fan of a smartly written lyric, and I love it when plenty of personality comes across in the lyrics. Give me wit, an interesting story, a smart take on the challenge or even just a few killer lines and I'm on board.

I'll be trying to listen to the songs as many times as I can before ranking, and will try to get some reviews written within the week too so hopefully that'll give some extra info on where my judgin' brain is at.
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by owl »

OK well my statement isn't really as well thought out as mo's, but here are my thoughts (which I might amend once we actually start judging and I realize I was totally wrong about stuff). I will do my best to give some feedback on all the songs for all the rounds as we go along. Sorry in advance if it isn't very good or detailed feedback, especially for the early rounds with lots of songs to listen to. And I took off Monday from work just so I can spend all day listening to the round zero entries, so I'll do my best to get a least a few listens in before submitting my scores :)

General principles:
  • Pleasure over admiration. I hear a lot of songs where I kind of admire the idea or I appreciate the technical skill in performing them or whatever, but I don't really like listening to them. Because I can rate these on whatever I want, I figure I might as well tell you that how much I like your song emotionally is going to play a big part. So yes, genre bias is going to come into play, but on the other hand I think it will have a leveling effect on stuff like technical prowess and complexity and production skills. Have fun trying to predict my gut feelings! The bottom line with this is I realized as the judges were discussing this that there are a lot of songs that would check every box on a scoring rubric but just don't do anything for me, and I'd be sad if I wound up putting those ahead of songs that I like but maybe fall short in certain technical aspects. That being said, I think there's a wide range of musical tastes across the judging panel, so everything will probably even out as far as "genre bias" goes.
  • Titles should make sense and be plausible as the title if you didn't know a song was written for this challenge, but I don't think it matters if the exact title appears in the song or is the hook/chorus.
  • Challenges: what mo said. Make a good faith effort to meet the challenge, doing it in some particularly good way will earn bonus points. I want the challenges and titles to be a catalyst for making good songs and not the end goal of the song, if that makes sense.
  • Would I listen to this outside this contest? Would I listen to this multiple times? OK, I guess this is kind of the same as point #1, and also a point mo made, but it bears repeating. Something might be a cute self-referential, clever novelty song that fits the challenge perfectly, but I would have no interest in it if it showed up on a mix tape or something.
There are always exceptions to the items below, but just to let you know some of the things I generally have a soft spot for or don't care for (plus you can always look at past reviews I've posted to get some ideas of my taste):

Here's some stuff I particularly like:
  • Catchy, hooky melodies and riffs
  • Good harmonies and backing vocals
  • Theremin and other cool synthesizer noises
  • Auxiliary percussion like vibraslap and guiro and handclaps
  • Good lyrics ("good" could be: carefully constructed, poetic, creative, clever, meaningful, flowing well with the music). Oh, and POST YOUR LYRICS IN THE THREAD. I am picky about vocal rhythms and accents and how they fit with the melody, although this won't necessarily ruin a song for me, I'll notice if they are either off or overly, robotically precise, or if they're weirdly phrased.
  • Unexpected key changes, borrowed chords
  • Earnest songs with Sincere Feelings
  • Ambitious creative intent, cool concepts
  • Driving beats, danceable rhythms (where appropriate for the song...) I am a simple woman and if a song gets metrically complex to the point where I'm thinking about the rhythm more than feeling it, I probably won't appreciate it.
  • Liner notes. I will read them. If there's cool stuff you want me to know about your song, point it out.
  • Creativity, showing your range, getting out of your comfort zone. I will be considerably more impressed if you write a bunch of songs that all sound pretty different and are all good than if you write a bunch that are all good but all sound basically the same. This is kind of a bonus thing though because not everyone is going to be able to pull off a bunch of different styles on short notice.
Here's some stuff I'm biased against:
  • Audibly autotuned vocals; this is a major pet peeve for me with modern production styles, and I have no excuse except I just usually really hate them the moment I hear them. (I mainly mean when this is used as a stylistic thing, not for fixing up your vocal takes in a more natural way, but sometimes I do hear someone leaning hard on the pitch correction instead of just doing a few more vocal takes and I never like it)
  • Vocal affectations: that 90's grunge vocal thing really annoys me, sometimes talk-singing or falsetto or ultra-dramatic vocals will get on my nerves too but not as reliably
  • Screaming (heavy guitars, drums, etc. are OK but I find screaming fatiguing to listen to)
  • Boring writing, boring arrangements. I like it when things come and go in the arrangement, you're not repeating the same part a million times, the lyrics have some kind of movement over the course of the song, etc.
  • On the flip side: songs that are overstuffed and incoherent. Sometimes you can have an idea and not have to put it in the song somewhere. Is everything there for a reason? Is it really adding to the song?
  • Related: songs that feel self-indulgent... are you playing this extended solo part because it's fun for you or because you think someone wants to listen to it?
  • Gratuitous assholery, for example, casual sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. in the lyrics (and not as some character study POV thing)
  • Songs that feel glossy and smooth and briefly enjoyable but ultimately empty, like eating a Krispy Kreme donut. I can turn on the radio and hear a million songs that are beautifully and professionally produced but have had all the edges sanded off, and don't feel like a song anyone was ever compelled to write just to get it out of their system. So I'd prefer to hear something that wasn't barfed up by a Nashville hit-making machine.
I don't really care about:
  • Complexity for complexity's sake. See what mo and Vom said.
  • Perfect execution. (That being said, being super off key/off rhythm/sloppy will definitely count against you at a certain point.) Please do put time into it and try your hardest, though.
  • Production. Nice production will score bonus points but (at least until we get into the later rounds and start getting really picky) a bad mix probably won't tank your song with me as long as the actual writing and arrangement is good.
  • Genre. Do your thing. (But be aware it might be harder to win me over with your death metal screams or 12-minute prog opus due to my biases listed above.)
  • Consistency for no particular reason. Sometimes people are out here in these contests counting syllables and analyzing rhyme schemes and scoring them on how well they stick to these things consistently, and I have no patience for that as long as the lyrics flow naturally. Same with the structure... if you want to change up the length of your verse or change the bassline the 3rd time through the chorus, great, if it works in the context of the song.
  • Whether a song is slow, fast, loud, quiet, happy, sad, or in between. I know last year a few judges expressed their preference for upbeat songs, but personally I don't really care about that, as long as the songs are effective in their own way.
Really excited to hear what you all come up with! Please be nice to each other and have a good time.
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by mo »

RIght? Trying to articulate this stuff sucks
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by Lunkhead »

You're all going to regret writing this stuff because now people will actually expect you to judge consistently with these statements. :lol: :lol: :lol:
owl
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by owl »

I mean my #1 criterion is basically “how much do I subjectively like your song for no particular reason?” so that might be hard to argue with
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by mo »

Luckily if you boil mine down, all I really said is, make good songs, and I don't know what that is, so you can hold me to that as much you want
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by Lucky Spoon »

My round 0 will definitely be better than last year's, but also there's always the inclination to take on the challenge of making it... worse.

I like that I met a few of you at Song fight live last year so I have more inspiration of who's listening vs just shit-posting inside jokes to Mike.


After a year, my favorite songs from Nur Ein XIV are still (in no particular order):

Grumpy Mike - Pump the brakes

Max Bombast - Where the streets have no name

Edit: Also, Can't forget: Agony Sauce - Pump the Brakes. Basically ruining everyone's name forever... reminded of this by seeing everyone's name again and immediately thinking of the quip from this song.

andofcourseBSSthinkingabouttheolddays
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by bennyharv3 »

I suppose it's my turn to put out my judging methodology, and I'll try and be brief. I think I've mostly been consistent if you've listened to Mike and I's show The New Ugly where we judge the songs already, but I generally care about these things, in this order from most to least important.

1. Is it clean? Are you on key, is the beat consistent, are your rhythms and instruments lined up. This isn't about production quality but just about the technical bits, because if you're off musically, my ear just will not let it go. I blame my high school music teacher.

2. Are you engaging with the challenge and title? I always appreciate when songs go after the challenge and title and don't treat them like something to check off.

3. Is it objectively good? I don't have great criteria, but this is my attempt to divorce my opinion of the song from its objective quality. Would folks listen to it outside the contest, is it catchy, does it attempt to invoke emotion, etc. I trust the other judges on this over myself, so if you can make them happy, I'll likely be happy.

4. Do I like it? This changes day to day, so good luck getting this one :twisted: But I generally like songs that either make me feel something, make me want to sing along, make me want to dance, or make me want to head bang.

And that's all I'm gonna say. Good efforts on the challenges and titles do well with me, and everything else comes after, as long as you're not sloppy.

Looking forward to round 0!
mo
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by mo »

I guess I should clarify since I didn't mention titles per se that to me that's part of the artistic concept. As an example, Duboce Triangle's "Stronger Than" was a song where D and I (mostly D) decided to write a lyric about Paganini and Beethoven wrestling, WWF-style. So the lyric tells that pretty vividly, I think, with good imagery and tension to the storytelling. The music tries to capture that mood, it's a simple Em riff, with "classical-ish" tapping bits and some sort of metal-ish guitar feel. The coin flip sound is something we put on bc it's dramatically related, who's going to win the fight (and we flipped that coin like dozens of times trying to "get it right" hahahahaha). The Roland 505 drum beat is the heart of the song really, and even though we didn't know Max Bombast yet at the time, we were trying to get that dramatic, bombastic, overwrought feel out of the beat.

So even though it's a simple little tune without a lot of bells and whistles production-wise or anything, I think it's still probably one of the better received efforts we put out because it took the title, had a strong and compelling artistic concept about the title, used our very limited arranging options in a way that maximized their impact to the song, and let's be honest, had Damian's voice doing an operatic musical theater-influenced performance. Because if I'd sang the same song, I wouldn't be here today because we probably never would've come back to SongFight hahahahahaha.

Anyway my point is that when I can tell or feel that everything that happens in the song is an artistically consistent choice (and sometimes random shit is an artistic choice too, of course) that makes songs work better for me, even if I don't naturally like the actual original artistic concept.
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by frankie big face »

If it helps the judges, I didn't read any of your judging philosophies and I have no plans to. I'll just write songs instead and if you like them, I will advance. If you don't, I will fade back into oblivion until next year. :mrgreen:
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by owl »

frankie big face wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 7:02 pm
If it helps the judges, I didn't read any of your judging philosophies and I have no plans to. I'll just write songs instead and if you like them, I will advance. If you don't, I will fade back into oblivion until next year. :mrgreen:
Round 1 challenge: summarize each judge’s judging philosophy in your song, in 20 words or less
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by frankie big face »

owl wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 7:10 pm
frankie big face wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 7:02 pm
If it helps the judges, I didn't read any of your judging philosophies and I have no plans to. I'll just write songs instead and if you like them, I will advance. If you don't, I will fade back into oblivion until next year. :mrgreen:
Round 1 challenge: summarize each judge’s judging philosophy in your song, in 20 words or less
HAHA!
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by BoffoYux »

I'm probably missing something basic, but how can I download the art for each round off the nure.in site for the LPs?

Nothing jumped out at me with source code, and right clicking in Edge and Chrome has no effect.
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by grumpymike »

Right now it’s a background image so it doesn’t show up in right click save like images usually do. Easiest thing to do is probably go to inspect element and either steal the URL to the image or grab it off the developer resources tab of your browser.
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Re: Nur Ein XV

Post by BoffoYux »

Thanks - That's a work around. Strange, I can't get the link to work in Edge, but it automatically downloads to a file on Chrome.

Works good enough so I have the file for air. Thanks!

Tommy G.
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