A Music Debate--With A Twist: No. 3
Debate Rounds (5)
I have been hooked recently on Meghan Trainor's latest (posted to the side). I got the urge to do another one of these on DDO. Hence, this music debate with a twist--the twist being that each round will focus on different elements of music appreciation and performance.
You don't have to be a music prodigy to accept--I am certainly not the world's best vocalist. I cannot sing to save my life, but I am willing to let DDO see that for itself. Really, I just want a fun, good-humored, relaxing debate where we can talk about something of mutual interest: music! I wish whoever accepts good luck, and I thank them in advance for accepting!
R2: Select a Song and write an analytical review of the Song (you're are NOT to review the video)
R3: Select a Song and critique its official music video, emphasizing the appropriateness of the performance/video regarding, and their link with, the lyrics.
R4: Select a Song and provide a video (or audio) of you Singing it
R5: Show us a Song that you like (you may post a description of the song in 625 characters or fewer); also provide a 1,000 character statement or fewer of why you believe you won the debate
The winner of this debate should be decided holistically. Rounds one and two should be evaluated based on the depth of the analysis, the clarity of the message, etc. Round four should be judged based on the singer's ability (were they pitchy, did they choose an easy song technically, did they stumble, etc.) Round five has lesser importance than the other rounds, and judges should give weight to the song they personally enjoy more.
1. No forfeits
2. All songs in all rounds must be cited using a link to Youtube or to a reputable lyric site (e.g. Metrolyrics). Citations may not be in the comments.
3. Songs must all be "clean" versions
4. For the purpose of this debate, "rapping" shall not be topical
5. Stay civil and decorous
6. Violation or non-acceptance of any of the R1 rules or setup constitutes an automatic loss
to whomever decides to accept this musical bonanza!
"Swingin' Party" by Lorde is an unsettling, melodious, deeply-thought out song that, if listened to closely enough, haunts its listener with its imagery. In short, it is typical Lorde. Its production and visual imagery are two of this already strong effort's greatest strengths. And while an excellent song, Swingin' falls prey to several issues, most notably its rhyme scheme, that keep it from matching some of Lorde's greatest works, like Royals, Buzzcut Season, and Tennis Court.
But, I feel that it would be disingenuous to begin my analysis with a critique, as this song is certainly very well done. It first piqued my interest with it's minimalist production. At the onset, it seemed reminiscent of Tennis Court, but, unlike Tennis Court, the percussion isn't present, and the volume is greatly reduced. Swingin's production is instead characterized by slow, continuous, extremely quiet, thumping synths. This choice has two interesting effects. Firstly, it exposes the vulnerabilities in Lorde's voice. Lorde's upper register, and her difficulties in hitting and sustaining the note on the word "feather" in all choruses, esp. the second iteration, are easily called into attention with no strong musical backdrop to support her.
Secondly, the production choice builds upon the motifs created by the lyrics. References to "lampshade," or a depressant drug, mesh well with the selected synths--both serve to "down" their consumers, and both have a depressive effect. Lorde's ongoing references to prison and to execution by hanging are only emphasized by the somberness of the track. Moreover, the lyrics themselves are very well constructed.
The use of the idea of a "party"--typically a happy notion--to instead imply something tragic or something devoid of positive feeling, twists the concept on its head, so as to make it stand out to every listener. The unique way in which she uses the term makes the irony impossible to miss, and thus serves to underscore her oppressive message. The idea that "being wrong [or afraid] is a crime" is one that makes an interesting critique of today's culture where everyone is expected to put forth their best performance at the risk of losing social status. There is no room for mistakes, and when mistakes are made, you are isolated--a pariah in a social "jail" where it is better to get drugged up on lampshade than to try to escape.
The idea that popularity, esp. among young people, is the end-all-be-all is, as this song reminds us, is not tenable or just. But surely, this can be applied to more situation than that. I see it as relating to teens because I myself am one, and because Lorde is as well. Though, there is no reason why this could not apply to anyone who was never able to be themselves, who felt an overwhelming desire to conform, and found that burden overwhelming and that life unfulfilling. Life can be "jail" for those who feel that. Lorde seems to give us an indication that this is what she is reference when she talks about having to quit school to never "go fishin'." Life has been reduced to pounding the pavement, working hard, with no time to enjoy life. And, in this type of environment, where one is thrown into the water, but never taught to swim, how can anything be expected but for you to drown?
When the lampshade runs out, or, maybe, when it is at it's pinnacle, the swingin' party truly begins. In other words, the lampshade just gets one in the right frame of mind to commit suicide by hanging--a grisly scene portrayed in so few, mellifluous, and softly-spoken words.
The beauty, though, of the way Lorde constructed the message is that there are multiple interpretations through which everyone can relate. It makes the song meaningful to us as an audience.
And while the song succeeds so spectacularly in its imagery and lyric quality, it does occasionally seem to be a slave to its rhyme scheme. The "forever-feather" rhyme, for instance, seems almost gratuitous. Why the feather example (re: strength), is a clever turn of phrase, it almost seems like the motivation for that line wasn't that it wittily conveyed a core message of the song, but rather that it rhymed correctly, and, more as a bonus, sounded smart. The same can be said of "proposition-fishin'." But, while these issues exist, and while the rhymes sometimes seem forced, they are, in my opinion, but minor complaints. I therefore give this song a 8.5/10.
My chosen piece is the song, Summer, sung by Josh Gad as the character Olaf in the move, Frozen.
A little background: Olaf is a childish snowman brought to life as an important plot facilitating character. Olaf sings his song after he hears the protagonists' desire to bring back Summer. At the word's utterance, Olaf goes off describing what he imagines Summer would be like for him as a snowman. The piece is sung in a light cheery tune which perfectly embodies the optimistic, happy nature of its singer. The song's perfect illustration of Olaf's impossible yet simple dream is so charming and bittersweet that I could not but fall head over heels for Olaf's character.
The song consists in majority of Olaf's describing what he imagines Summer would be like when he finally sees it. The song's lyrics begin with the image of bees and playful children:
Kids'll blow dandelion fuzz"
The going-ons of Summer are then paralleled with Olaf's open-ended: "and I'll be doing whatever Snow does in Summer"
After a second iteration of the same melody and a similar verse, Olaf hits a passionate note where he sings of his simple desire to
"[..]finally see a summer breeze blow away a winter storm
and find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm"
This second melody enjoys a much smoother and more continuous accompaniment than the bouncier, playful melody before it. While Olaf imagines Summer to be fun and playful, he also expresses how strongly he yearns for the simple joys of summer and warmth (isn't that just so sad, sweet and adorable??).
The song then returns to its original bouncy tune in which Olaf continues to express his desire to live in a Summer world:
"and I can't -wait to see
what my buddies'll think of me
just imagine how much cooler I'll be in summer!"
This last line plays a little pun with the word cool which can be taken to mean either socially fit or to lose heat. It's oxymoronic because the summer environment generally does the exact opposite of cooling a snowman.
Olaf then forgoes lyrics (mostly) and launches into his bouncy tune, which once again leads up to one of my favorite moments in the piece. This is the moment when Olaf sings:
"Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle
but put me in summer and I'll be a"
Here the song pauses, causing the listener to unconsciously imagine the word that would match both the rhyme and rhythm of this couplet (the word "puddle" in particular). Instead of finishing this part of the song rhythmically (or even melodically), Olaf assertively declares that he'd become a "Happy Snowman!!". Olaf's delightful optimism is quite powerfully emanated in these latter lines.
Once again, the song returns to the passionate note hit earlier. This time Olaf sings:
"If life gets rough I like to hold on to my dreams
relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin' off steam"
This part sums up Olaf's output to life with the song's most moving melody, making it that much more impactful to the listener. The moments in which Olaf sings the first line is my favorite part of this song, touching deep chords that I rarely have the pleasure of feeling.
Olaf's song nears its end as he presents the ending touches to his Summer dream:
"the sky will be blue,
and you guys will be there too
when I finally do what frozen things do
This song, Olaf's exuberant energy and cheery optimism, was a joy to hear. Its puerility and simplicity matched the character perfectly. I can't really come up with any fitting word to describe it. The song is lovely, and I believe it deserves a 10/10.
The role of a good music video is to convey the meaning of the lyrics. It would be patently ridiculous, for example, to take Amy Winehouse's classic, "Back to Black," and pair it with a comedic video of her at and her entourage at a circus. Videos can serve, when used well, to emphasize the meaning, emotion, and context of a song. When done incorrectly, the video and the song feel disjointed and unconnected; the video leaves one confused, rather than enlightened--it is a quintessential "what the fvck" moment. Videos like that become all the more cringe-inducing when they are paired with a good song. You almost feel as if the video is an embarrassment to the lyrics, as is unfortunately the case with One Direction's "Steal My Girl."
The video starts out with some very poor quality, obviously rehearsed dialogue between the bandmembers, who then, in predictable fashion, exclaim "Look!" as--guess who!--Danny DeVito drives up. Unfortunately, this video was not sunny, and that desert certainly wasn't Philadelphia. Danny DeVito's monologue was, a series of unfunny comedic tropes, for instance: "Any questions? No questions!" There wasn't an original line in that segment, and it clearly had nothing to do with the song, which is about a boy being protective of his girlfriend. The only actually amusing line DeVito contributes is his pronouncement of "Balls" at the end of his diatribe--and even this is barely chuckle-worthy.
The scene then transitions into a series of vignettes where the One Direction crew lip sync to the song. Sumo wrestlers, chimpanzees, circus paraphernalia--all of these things abound. It's as if Pandora's box as opened, and everything got out except any relevance to the lyrics. Probably the example of this lack of connection is when Zayne is singing "She's the one," and the camera zooms in on the face of a male Sumo wrestler.
Now, to be fair, the video's goal was to encapsulate the sense of fun that the song exudes. Besides several badly delivered lines from DeVito, the video does achieve that goal. But, perhaps, this same sense of fun could be captured in a way that stayed truer to the actual text of the lyrics. The current video, while it does get across an upbeat feeling consistent with the song, does not really emphasize any lyrical meaning, and in fact detracts from the songs lyrics. Therefore, it earns a 4.5/10. Not the worst possible video that could have been made, but certainly nowhere near the best.
While some music videos follow the lyrics of their respective songs to the letter, most music videos are dedicated to enhancing the mood produced by the song both lyrically and melodically. Vanilla Twilight is one such song. The video opens with the view of a light tower against a white, cloudy sky and an icy cold, snowy environment. Twinkles of light flash from the tower as Adam Young's voice softly begins to sing. Although the video doesn't exactly portray the subject of the song's lyrics, the mellow feel of the song is paralleled by the video's mellow background and colors. The light tower's flashing lights will be a recurring visual theme of the music video. The video then begins to feature a series of people looking up, their faces contracted either as a reflex against some glare, as signified from the change of lights on the ground behind them, or as a reaction of surprise. The video begins by having these people go about doing everyday activities. One man is just leaving his house, one woman is walking with groceries, another man is simply walking with his hands in his pockets. The grocery woman suddenly stops to look up to the sky just as the Young stops singing and hits an instrumental key area of the song. The abrupt change is mirrored by the people's abruptly captured attention. As the instrumental section plays, the people previously introduced, along with a few others, are shown to look up into the sky. All of them are acting as if they are both hearing young's voice from some point in the sky and seeing some unusual phenomena. The song's mellow nature continues to be matched by the slow, drowsy colors of the video's snowy-white setting while the flashing lights give an illusory hint of warmth.
We are then shown the phenomena, at least the visual aspect of it, that the actors on the set are shown to be gazing at: a massive swirl of clouds surrounding a hurricane-like eye. This visual apparatus emanates soft hues of lights at its crevices. At around 2:20, Young drastically ups the dynamic level of the song as it hits a passionate key area. One of the characters raises his arms at the same moment. A series of appreciative gestures are depicted: a boy takes off his hat, three other characters smile in different cuts, a hobo drops his cup of change, a girl runs out from her home with her eyes to the sky and her face fixed in a smile.
Just as dramatic notes or melodies can infuse a tingly burst of energy in the listener, the people depicted in the video react very appropriately to Young's hitting the dramatic key area of his song. During this upkey, the lyrics sing: "Oh if my voice could reach back through the past, I'd whisper in your ear: darling I wish you were here."
Young's voice was literally singing from the sky into what the viewer can assume to be the past (as that would make most sense). Finally the previous cuts of the song take on a definite meaning. All the other aspects of the lyrics of this song, stars, hands, lying awake, etc., are visually ignored; they weren't really even necessary. The video succeeds in making a scene, a story even, out of one main aspect of the song which explains what the singer was intending to do: singing back into the past to some beloved person who is no longer there with him.
I think the primary aspect which makes the video very relevant to the song is its artistically matching visuals and colors. The blue-ish hues and the warming lights brilliantly capture the mood of the song's general feel and melodies. Artistically, the images were very beautiful, as is the romantic thought of singing back to the past to someone very much missed.
However, the moment at the end of the song when one of the video's characters looks directly at the camera (the viewer) and smiles is disconcerting and feels somewhat detached from the rest of the video. Otherwise, I really have no complaints.
This video earns a 9/10 in my book.
Nicely sung, bsh. :)
The pressure to produce this video was surprisingly much greater than I thought it'd be. Any thoughts of procrastinating this were swept away in one badly slept night (I didn't want to go through another).
Anyway, the song I'm covering is the very same song I used in Round 2: Josh Gad's Summer. I enjoyed the movie song, and I absolutely love this particular song. Thus I believe it deserves another, albeit worse, iteration; an oncore.
Bees'll buzz, kids'll blow dandelion fuzz
And I'll be doing whatever snow does in summer.
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob'ly getting gorgeously tanned in summer.
I'll finally see a summer breeze, blow away a winter storm.
And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm!
And I can't wait to see, what my buddies all think of me.
Just imagine how much cooler I'll be in summer.
Dah dah, da doo, uh bah bah bah bah bah boo
The hot and the cold are both so intense,
Put 'em together it just makes sense!
Rrr Raht da daht dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah doo
Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,
But put me in summer and I'll be a — happy snowman!
When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream,
Of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin' off steam.
Oh the sky would be blue, and you guys will be there too
When I finally do what frozen things do in summer
Thanks again to Beginner for a great debate! I think that this was a fun and interesting debate, and I hope anyone who read, listened too, and voted on it enjoyed it.
"Starry Eyed," by Ellie Goulding, is a fantastic song, managing to seamlessly incorporate folk, pop, dance, and other influences into one production. The vocal effects, with her voice fading in an out, almost mimic the twinkling stars, her main reference point. Her voice--breathless and energetic--embodies the "star-struck lover" that she is personifying as well. As she works up to the final "we're touching" sequence, it is if she is almost begging for sex--dragging out each line in breathless anticipation. Danceable and upbeat, this song is appropriately cheerful, fun, and easy to listen to. I'd say it's worthy of an 8.5/10.
I am going to use this space, and the 1,000 character allotted to me, to ask you for your vote. I believe that my analysis throughout this debate has been more critical than Beginner's. By this I mean that Beginners has focus a lot more on summary vice actual analysis. Take, for example, the following passage (R2): "The song consists in majority of Olaf's describing what he imagines Summer would be like when he finally sees it. The song's lyrics begin with the image of bees and playful children." This type of summary-heavy reflection doesn't really do anything to explore the deeper meaning of the piece, nor to critically evaluate it.
Additionally, I covered a more diverse range of songs (alt rock, pop rock, country, and folktronica/indie pop) than Beginner has. In fact, he even did the same song in two of his rounds (R2 and R4). My willingness to delve into different genres and songs shows, IMO, greater breadth in my ability to explore the realm of music. So, for these reasons, I ask for your vote. Thank you.
Twas a pleasure! This is the first time I've sung to anyone else but myself. Although this debate has left me feeling slightly embarassed, I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
My last song of choice is one of my favorites. This song has been repeated often over the past few decades, but the original is written by Joe Raposo for Sesame Streets (from where I first heard the song). This song has been adapted in many forms, one of the more popular ones being the cover done by the Carpenters, featuring a selection of instruments (this version uses the tambourine to emphasize the beat). However, this song is not constrained to any selection of instruments. It can even be performed with voice alone. The song's versatility makes it easy to sing and is an anthem to aspiring singers if there ever was one. I love this song, and am very glad for this opportunity to share the original with you.
Conclusion (to my performance in this debate!!!)
I believe my analysis to be much more comprehensive than that of bsh, who uses emphasis on only a small segments of his songs to provide a general characterization of them. I've extracted the various lyrical, melodical, thematic and artistic facet(s) of every segment of each song analyzed and pooled it into a characteristic whole: by disseminating and reconstructing the song piece by piece, I am able to analyze every portion: its lyrics, its meanings, its melodies, its effects, its moods. By critically examining every piece of my songs, I could better judge the song as a whole and construct a holistic view of its overall aesthetics.
On another note, Pontoon's tiny range of keys is severely outmatched by the wide range covered by Summer.
Additionally, it is presumptuous to assume that such a limited set of songs can determine variety.
I believe my R4 song of choice's greater difficulty and my, IMO, better form of analysis, gives me an edge in this debate. Thus, I ask for your vote.
Thank you for reading and listening!.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Bsh1 wins with 1D. I don't really think there is an objective way to judge these things... so it's really just a luck of the draw thing, but overall I liked bsh1's better than Beginners anyway. Also, "sources" to bsh1 for correctly embedding the videos in round. I know that might be excessive, but I think it's fair given the importance of the videos in debates like this.
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