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Street Army Gospel / Blog

SpinTunes #6 - Round #3

Ok, so Round #3 was directly in my wheelhouse. I’ve always been into political punk bands like Crass, Conflict, Aus-Rotten, Mankind?, and all the other 80s punk bands no one remembers. You can hear the 80s crust punk influence in all my music (even the slower stuff). The only real problem I had this time was the content. I’ve always been more on the offensive side…not because I’m trying to push any envelope, but because I am a brutally honest person. I have no problem expressing my true feelings and opinions regardless of what anyone else thinks about them.

So immediately I knew I was writing a song about the Pledge of Allegiance. I have tons of songs about war, gun violence, and foreign affairs…but not once have I delved into my hatred of this brainwashing ritual in song. Just writing “I hate the pledge” in 60 different ways was not going to work for me…so I thought to myself, “What do I hate most about the Pledge?” Answer: The fact that this is the first experience where you are indoctrinated into this cult of a society. A society in which you are forced to like the same music, movies, and games as everyone else. A society in which if you dress differently than the people in your school or believe in a different God or no God, you are made fun of and bullied. The Pledge does the same thing with Patriotism as subliminal advertising does with consumerism.

So with all these thoughts in my head, I went to work…Each verse about another aspect of government brainwashing focusing on our loss of First Amendment rights stemming from being forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance when we are very young. It may seem a bit erratic or a bit harsh, but that’s what I believe makes a good protest song. You can’t get more in your face than the Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” or Woody Guthrie’s “Be No Church Tonight”. I am very pleased with the way this turned out…and have no doubt in my mind that I want to do this with a backing band. All in all, this is a folk punk song. This song is the truest to who I am and what I do. If anyone wanted the real me, you are going to find it in this song.

SpinTunes #6 - Round #2 (Part 1)

(to skip past my perilous journey directly to the song bio itself, please scroll to the next entry)

So, in this round, the challenge was to write a fight song about or favorite sports team… At this point, I was already at a disadvantage for one simple reason…I hate sports. And I mean ALL sports… I have no interest in watching games in person or on TV, I’m terrible at sports video games... I just think it’s silly to sit around and invest so much emotion into a group of guys or gals that I don’t personally know who are just playing a game. It’s like going to your friend’s house and they force you to watch them play through Metroid!! No thanks, sir!

So, within about two minutes of frustration, I realized….The challenge said it had to be our FAVORITE team…it never said it had to be a REAL team! So I went over a bunch of possibilities in my head. What fictional teams could I write about? I thought about the Springfield Isotopes, the South Park Cows, and The Dude’s bowling league from the Big Lebowski, but they just did not work out as very interesting songs… I thought about the Mighty Ducks and the Rockford Peaches from A League of Their Own, but the former was turned into a Disney-owned real team in Anaheim and the latter was already based on a real team, so that wasn’t going to work either. Eventually, I narrowed it down to five:

a) The Bayside Tigers from Saved By The Bell b) The Cobra Kai from The Karate Kid c) The Milwaukee Beers from BASEketball d) The Zanarkand Abes (Blitzball Team) from Final Fantasy X and e) The TuneSquad from Space Jam

I had to say goodbye to Cobra Kai because I remembered that there is already a song called “Sweep The Leg, Johnny” and I have to use in being redundant.

I figured the Zanarkand Abes were WAAAAAAYYYY too obscure for a contest…and I feared the judges may not know Final Fantasy X all too well, so I couldn’t risk it.

The Bayside Tigers already have a fight song – and it was hard to write lyrics without thinking of “We're the Bayside Tigers, and we're on the prowl. When we come to your school, we will make you howl.”

I eliminated the TuneSquad because I had trouble writing that song without making it about Michael Jordan or Bugs Bunny, rather than the team. This would have been the song I wrote, had that issue not continuously arisen.

SpinTunes #6 - Round #2 (Part 2)

So here I was, left with the Milwaukee Beers. And this couldn’t have been more perfect. The first thing I think about when I think of Fight Songs is the Dropkick Murphys (before they became radio friendly of course),. This Celtic punk band has written and covered fight songs for their favorite hometown Boston teams so I gained a lot of influence for this challenge from them and their amazing inspiration, The Pogues. Right away, I figured out my chorus, which was an homage (since I was in the Irish Fight Song mindset) to the traditional folk song, “Beer Beer Beer”… and created a mix between a standard fight song and an Irish drinking song, to really give it a kick – and I think it works perfectly! But now…what I was stuck on were the lyrics.

I am used to writing a more complex song, and I knew I wouldn’t be fulfilling the challenge had I added a bunch of clever lyrical puns and references…So I wrote a draft on February 2nd and let it simplify in my head for a while. Within a few days, inspiration hit me like gallon of Marlon Brando’s liposuction fluids! I removed the majority of the obscure movie references I had thrown into my draft and began to write about the overall sport. Gone were the odd movie quotes that no one would get unless they were a nerdy fan such as myself. [Of course, a few references stayed in, such as a nod to the extras in the film who were team members, but had no lines whatsoever (the blonde dude, Asian, and black guy)], and in went references to the team colors, the sport, the fans, and the undeniable love that goes into Fight Songs.

I was ready to record and mix everything on Friday & Saturday and do some final touchups on Sunday. I work Monday – Thursday and it’s way too late to record by the time I get home. Well, because of Heather, Winter Storm Nemo had other plans for me… The Long Island Railroad went down, power went out, my mom got injured, and roads were impossible to drive on. It just seemed like everything continued to prevent me from recording…I was ultra-screwed and there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I was able to finally get to my equipment and begin recording. I thought it was impossible, but I somehow banged out and mixed a phenomenal fight song to sing along to and cheer with by early evening. I uploaded the track…and lemme tell you…I knew luck was with me, because just a couple hours later, my email went down. If I had waited any longer, I would have been screwed!

Anyway, enough of my babbling…without further ado…this is Psyche ‘Em Out! (The Beers Fight Song). GO BEERS!!! WOOOO!!!!

NOTE: I came up with the idea for my song within an hour of it being posted...WAY before the judges made any changes. There was nothing in the rules that said the team had to be real. I can't stand sports of any kind, and I refuse to be dishonest in my songwriting. However, BASEketball is hilarious! :)

SpinTunes #6 - Round #1 Reviews (Part 1)

While Street Army Gospel is in the process of re-organizing ourselves, I decided to enter SpinTunes as a solo act. Since Round 1 Reviews go up tomorrow, I thought I'd post my own thoughts and musings...

First off: My song Jerry Skids - Not A Good Guy:

I thought it would be fun to write a song based on the Bert Is Evil meme from the POV of his lifelong best friend, Ernie. The music was semi-inspired by Ernie's ballad, "I Don't Want To Live On The Moon," which I thought was the quintessential Ernie song. As many best friends do, he refuses to believe that his buddy Bert is actually this evil monstrosity, but deep down, is fully aware that something is going on. He's not actually catching Bert in the act, but the skepticism about his actions are what really drives this song. Obviously, no humor comes out of "Bert was the second shooter on the grassy knoll." But simply, "I found a ticket to Dallas dated November 1963," is just vague enough that the audience gets it, but the muppet does not.

Okay, done with mine...now I will go on to my Top 7 (which is a Walt Disney World reference if there are any WDW nerds out there reading this).

7) "BucketHat" Bobby - Problems: The marriage between the meme and the lyrics/music is spot on perfection. This starts off my list at a very high bar. The Bob Dylan folk style really works with the whole social commentary of First World Problems. The only first world problem I had with this was the accordion levels, which should've been brought down a hair.

6) TurboShandy - Piss Lightning (My Canine Friend): I loved the first part of the intro...then it sounded like Rage..then it went into pop punk. Very confusing intro. However, with that said, this song had a very 90s pop punk feel. Kinda like Face to Face. I think this meme was a perfect selection for your sound, and the lyrics really worked well. I just wish there were more...like maybe a bridge or a 3rd verse. Either way, I really enjoyed it!

5) MC Ohm-I - Down In Plankistan: Those who know me, know I'm a fan of nerdcore (and just about anything nerd-related). I thought it would be impossible to sing about planking and make it interesting, but here you are creating a whole country around it! The chorus was very catchy and this is a very well-structured song, from the subject matter to the music, to the background vocals.

SpinTunes #6 - Round #1 Reviews (Part 2)

4) Steven Wesley Guiles - Boom Goes The Dynamite: Before the vocals came in, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. I was never a huge fan of the dance rock...Once the first verse started I made up my mind that this was great right away...BUT the moment the chorus came in I was ALL IN!!! This is one of the few songs where repetition really makes the song more phenomenal! What a well-structured melody! The only criticism I have is that the bridge seems to come come out of nowhere as if there should have been a small drum fill or a couple beats before the bridge began. Either way, this song rocked!

3) Josh Holober-Ward - Internet Cats: Wow, I really enjoyed the humor in this song. I loved that this was broken into 3 Acts and was told in the perspective of the meme (in this case, three different internet cats). This song really keeps in the spirit of the contest. The lyrics were well thought out. I love the music a lot. Very cohesive. I'd like to see a live meow sing along.

2) Edric Haleen - For Zoe: This was such a hard decision. This was tied for #1, but I don't like ties. This is one of the most tragically beautiful lyrical compositions I've heard. This one, just as the last, is from the perspective of the meme, but instead of humor, this one took a polar opposite direction - a poignant and somber stage ballad that truly told a story. I am all in on this one. You could've stopped there and the song would be amazing, but you even went the extra mile to get a vocalist who was the same age and gender of the meme. Pure gold. Seriously, this is genius.

1) Brian Gray - Descartes And I: This is such a magnificent take on the buddy song. Why do I love this song so much? First off, it's catchy as hell. The guitar-work is fun and spot on. The vocals are all perfect! That smooth lead vocal and the really nice backing vox really combine into something amazing. I loved the philosophical references and all the lyrics...just naming him Descartes was great on its own. There needs to be a video to go with this song, cos I can already picture it in my head. this is truly perfection in song form.

As I said before, I wish I could've tied 1st and 2nd place, but being that it wouldn't be a true list, the only reason Descartes and I beat out for zoe was because Descartes and I was a song I could just put on repeat in my MP3 player and sing along to. As amazing as For Zoe is, it's such a depressing song. And while I truly love the melancholy, that was the only deciding factor. Either way, I believe both songs should be in the number 1 slot.

And now for the honorable mentions:

Jenny Katz - Boom Goes The Dynamite: The music/lyrics/vocals were all amazing. I LOVED this song! The sultry voice, the beautiful jazzy tones. This song would definitely had been in the Top 3 up there with For Zoe and Descartes, but its one problem is...the only thing this has to do with the actual meme, is the title. That's the only reason it didn't make the list. But I love this song, regardless and can't wait to see what else ya got!

I have to say, I really enjoyed that "Hashtag" song...when I first heard it, I thought it had some really good socio-political commentary...but I have listened to previous songs by The Orion Sound, and I'm not so sure he's going for irony or what have you. So he's not going on my list. nuff said.

I also liked "Ask A Ninja" :)

Anyway, so that's that. My list is complete! Can't wait to see what happens in Round 2!

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