Blarghity Blargh Blargh Blargh Blog

March 23rd, 2010 by Jules Leave a reply »

It is after 2am and I should be asleep. Especially as I have creatures I have to wake up in a few hours and get them ready for school But my head is currently spinning itself in circles. And maybe it is best that it is spinning now instead of during the day so that I can spit out my thoughts in relative peace and quiet, while the rest of the world sleeps and I do not intrude upon them once this blog gets spit out to the world and I do not have to subject many with my blarghity blargh blargh blargh blog.

I have a choice I have to make that I am not really looking forward to regardless which option I choose. I have a post I have to create for Geeky Pleasures tomorrow regarding the final round of Song Fu 6. Well I don’t really have to create it but in some ways I do. It really isn’t about obligation but yet again it is. I suppose it boils down to being happy with the choices I make. And if I chose not to write the post, I’d be much unhappier than the other two choices I am faced with.

This whole choice is about fairness. I like to think that I am a fair person. I like to think that others recognize this in me. I like to think that some of my readers read what stuff I spit out because of it. I am also a bit of a mouth piece and I make no apologizes for this. I think this goes hand in hand with being fair. People, for the most part, know what to expect from me. I am upfront, blunt and honest. I do not mince my words. If I like something, I say so. If I don’t like something, I say so. This is regardless if I am friends with someone, have respect for them or know them in any way shape or form. It is for these reasons that I agonized for quite awhile before I wrote my review of Wil Wheaton’s latest book “Memories of the Future: Volume 1” because what I had to say wasn’t exactly negative but it wasn’t all full of unicorns and rainbows either. It was a struggle especially since I could not allow myself to let any personal feelings I may or may not have interfere with giving a fair and unbiased review. I am also known for not talking out of school about people. If I do happen to make comments about people and they are not there to defend themselves, I expect it to get back to them. Especially when we live on the internet and news travel quickly and you no longer need to physically meet someone to get to know them and find things out about them

I am at yet another very similar crossroad. The final songs are in. I’ve cast my vote. And now, I have to write about it. But what do I write? Now if it were any other round, I would give a quick little something something and then post the songs I voted for. Some of those songs even made it to Geek of the Week. But this is different for so many reasons.

In the rounds leading up to this, there wasn’t as much at stake. I do not think my votes swayed anything one way or another. I think proof of this is how each person ended up placing in the end. But Geeky Pleasures is (aside from press releases I receive) about things that I geek out over and catch my eye. It was created as an offshoot of my radio show to spit out things during the week that I couldn’t necessarily cover during my shows. So stating what songs I voted for wasn’t about telling people who they should vote for, it was to bring attention to these awesome musicians who are given a challenge (to write a song in a specific style or with a specific theme/subject matter) and then have to write and produce it in a week. Also the other purpose was to fulfill the intention of that site, to share with people things I was geeking over.

Now it is the final round and there is something at stake. People say the votes don’t count. And really they do and they don’t. They matter in so far as it is nice to get a pat on the back for the work you’ve done and some type of recognition. And they don’t matter as (and this is after spending many hours talking with the awesome Fu participates about this on Too Much Awesome) they do it because they love it. It is a wonderful way to force creativity with real goals and deadlines. Because when all is said and done, all you get in the end if a sense of self-satisfaction and if you happen to win, questionable bragging rights, a trophy you cannot show anyone and the title of Master of Song Fu. But I personally feel there is much more on the line in this final round. I am not going to go into it as it matters but it doesn’t.

Actually, fuck that! I am going to get into it. And I hope those involved understand my point of view, especially since I respect all parties involved. Some I even have the awesome honour of calling my friends. Which makes this even more difficult. In the final we have an up and coming musician, Mike Lombardo and we have the songwriting teams of Dave Leigh and William Hoover. Both have very different styles. Both work hard at their craft. But I honestly think one deserves to win it and one doesn’t. Considering I’ve had Mike on my show, it is hard for me to say this, because I don’t want feelings hurt. I’ve told Mike time and time again that I find it incredible how much he has accomplished at his age. But when all is said and done, when the songs are finished and turned in, Leigh and Hoover have a far superior product. That is the bottom line.

But I have a fear. I have a fear  because in some ways Song Fu boils down to a popularity contest and not about the songs put forth. In some ways, it is very American Idol-ish and this bothers me. Because Mike has a following that the other two do not (not to mention every one else who participated. There was a definite handicap as far as votes and popularity). Now to be fair to Mike, this is not his fault at all. It is the nature of the beast. He even tweeted yesterday after the listening party was over “Please note: Don’t just vote. Listen to both songs and pick your favorite. K? K. http://bit.ly/9pQPzD“. But here in lies the problem, people did not listen to the songs and then picked their favourite. Maybe some did, but a good majority (I am willing to go all-in on this) voted for Mike because they are a fan. And for those few who did listen to both, I want to believe that some did think Mike’s song superior. Just because I do not think it is, doesn’t mean everyone is going to be of the same opinion. Everyone has different tastes. But I’ve been in this business long enough to know that not all votes were cast after people listened. I’ve also been in this business long enough to know, that regardless of genre preference, people would recognize Leigh and Hoover’s song is better.

And Mike’s song isn’t bad. My number 1 criticism of Mike during this incarnation of Fu is all of his songs were about the same thing: a song about a song he had to write for Song Fu. Sure the music may have been a little bit different each round, however regardless of the topic given for each round, they all ended up being about the same thing if you boil it down. I do not know if it is because he has some huge pieces of awesome going on in his life right now that have him not fully in the game, but bottom line is  I do not feel he put his best effort into it. Well maybe he put the best effort into considering his circumstances and he needed to prioritize. But that being said, other people who participated have other lives as well and they put in a far greater effort. Circular thinking Jules is thinking circular again.

Leigh and Hoover on the hand set clear challenges for themselves. And it showed in each round. They went into Fu with a purpose and they met their goals. Their songs were unique and not about a gimmick. And it is not that I am against gimmicks, especially when you consider that a good majority of the songs that got my vote were because they were of a geek nature and because of this, pleased me. Leigh and Hoover pushed their boundaries. And their final song really illustrates this. They did not really on any tricks. They did not really on any pre-existing fan base. They did not really on anything beyond their ability to fulfill a personal goal. Doing so, they consistently spit out some amazing songs. And this paid off by landing them in the final round. They are what Song Fu is about. Well one of the many things that Song Fu is about. In the end though, regardless of how someone tackles it, I think all of the contributors do it to achieve a personal goal. I know that quite a few of them, the goal is to spit something out in a week within a specific framework that they do not get to lay out. It challenges them creatively. I wish more people were aware of Song Fu because it really is quite amazing.

Where on earth was I going with all this? BLARGH! What do I do?!? Do I present the songs and not say a thing or do I say who I’ve voted for? I don’t want to sway votes because it isn’t about what I like and that is fair. But I do want to sway the votes because there is, in my mind,  a duo that deserve it more. A duo who do not have a pre-existing fan base and deserve all the attention they can get and this is fair too. If Mike can use his fan base for votes (whether intentionally or not, that is the final result) then why can’t the people who believe Hoover and Leigh should win this, speak up as well? People rally for what they believe in yes? But is that being fair and unbiased? I have reached my decision in an unbiased fashion. I looked at the submissions from both parties and weighed them. I know all the parties involved. I talk with them or interact with them somehow on a daily basis. I did not reach my decision lightly in the least. I know I am unbiased in reaching my decision. But will others see this? Will others understand this is not a news event where you just spit out facts and let people decide but it is entertainment and people give opinions on it. And my opinions are based on weighed evidence (as much as you can weigh a subjective art form)  not because I like or dislike someone or something.

And yes I know what others think really doesn’t matter. I have to live with my own decisions and screw what others think. But this becomes more difficult when I am told people respect my judgment and my opinions. And even if it is just one person who looks towards me for any type of guidance, that matters. There is a certain obligation that goes with that. To quote Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When you have an audience that listens to what you have to say, regardless of size, there is power in that. And even in the smallest magnitude, that power is great. And thus comes the responsibility, as trite as that may sound. But it is simply the truth of the situation.

BLARGHITY BLARGH BLARGH BLARGH!! I really am not liking this. And some may think I am being tarded over this. Who cares, right? It is just a silly little song writing competition, right? Well it isn’t silly and I care and that matters even if it doesn’t matter to you.

It is over an hour later and maybe I am closer to reaching a decision. Some may say I’ve already made it by typing this all out on my personal blog. But I haven’t. Strangely, or not, only a handful of people ever read this side of my blog. And due to the hour of the day, I am thinking it will mostly go unnoticed. If I am wrong (which is possible) hopefully regardless of how I approach the final post on this tomorrow, everyone involved understands. I hope everyone understands that I want this to be fair. Part of this being fair has to do with merit. Part of this being fair is I’ve never suppressed my opinions on such things before, so why should I know? I’ve set certain standards and I’d be failing both my readers and myself if I did not live up to them.

I just want to be fair.

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11 comments

  1. Russ Rogers says:

    Hey! I read your blog! I haven’t heard Lombardo’s song yet, for that matter, I haven’t heard the final version of Leigh and Hoover’s either. I will give both a listen and decide for myself. But I’m tired of songs about writing the song.

  2. Joe Covenant says:

    We love ya Jules.

  3. Everett Leigh says:

    Excellent assessment!

  4. Katie says:

    I will admit that I’m a fan of Mike and that’s what led me to start watching the Song Fu competition. However, when it came to voting I was sure to always listen to all the songs and really pick which ones I thought deserved it. I pride myself on not being a sheep, blindly following the herd in whatever I do.

    I think what it boils down to though, is that a song (or any kind of art in general, really) just can’t be classified as better or worse than any other song. Okay, this is difficult to get into because a professional musician is probably able to write and perform a piece better than a 3 year old just starting to learn his or her instrument. But if the competing musicians are at roughly the same skill level, what distinguishes them from each other? The lyrics, the vocal quality, the song’s melody? It’s impossible to say that one set of lyrics is “better” than the other because it’s really a matter of the listener’s preference. Somebody may prefer simple rhymes, and someone else may prefer elaborate, insightful lyrics. Someone might rather listen to a rough, gritty voice over a smooth crooner-like sound. People who listen to the Song Fu songs aren’t always going to have a critical musical ear, but are most likely going to vote for what they sounds the best to them based on their taste or what they’re used to hearing.

    If we’re going to get this picky about the final round of Song Fu, I think the only way for it to ever be completely “fair” is if all the competitors played the same style of music. There could be no variables between the artists so that the listeners could sincerely choose the best song of that style. But how boring would that be?

    The alternative is keep the Song Fu format as it is now and just let listener preference keep voting. It may seem like a popularity contest but like you said, Mike always instructs people to not just blindly vote but to actually listen to the songs and pick their favorite. He even asked the other challengers’ for their thoughts before promoting the competition to his fans. It shouldn’t be held against him if his fans are biased towards his music and vote accordingly, especially when he made his intentions clear about not just clicking his name without a second thought.

    TL;DR – Listeners are going to vote for what they like hearing and with all the differences between the Song Fu challengers’ styles, it’s extremely difficult to just be able to say “Yeah, this one is definitely the best”. Mike and Leigh & Hoover are both awesome and the winner of the contest is ultimately going to be based on voters’ personal preference. Your opinion is that Leigh and Hoover have the superior product, but I listened to both songs (several times, I might add) and felt Mike’s was better.

    Okay, my use of “TL;DR” was horrible because I just keep rambling. A few more notes though: I highly doubt that you know how much effort by the challengers was put into the songwriting and for writing a blog about fairness, you were clearly very biased.

    • Jules says:

      Thanks for your well thought out response Katie.

      I want to address a couple points you have made. Nothing in my post is an attack on Mike. And it bothers me you see it that way. Especially considering I’ve had Mike on my show, have promoted the hell out of his music, featured him as Independent Musician of the Month for the radio station I work for and Geeky Pleasures website, and have featured both his music, gigs and TMA on my Geeky Pleasures website.

      As for musical preferences, neither style (Mike or L&H) is my preference. Yes I enjoy both styles, but I wouldn’t consider them styles I listen to a lot of the time. My decision was based on who I think best accomplished the challenge. I know both Mike and Dave of L&H quite well. I talk with them both frequently and have great admiration for what they do. And as I said in my post, not everyone is going to agree with my choice and thank bob for that. If everyone liked what I liked or what anyone else liked, the world would be a very boring place as it would lack variety.

      As to your last point re: what it takes to make a song, you obviously have no idea what it is a I do and what my background is. I am more than fully aware of it.

      It is a shame that you think I am attacking Mike, because I am not. It is a shame you think I am attacking the fact he has fans, because I am not. I have stated many times and in this post and my post on GP that Mike has earned his fans and his success and it amazes me how much he has accomplished at such a young age. Maybe you should listen to my interview with Mike before you make assumption about what I may or may not be thinking here and where my biases are.

      I agonized for hours over this post and thought it out very carefully before making my statement here on my personal blog and over at Geeky Pleasures as my business blog (http://juliasherred.com/2010/03/masters-of-song-fu-6-final-round-voting-is-now-open/).

      All that being said, I do value your opinion and thank you for it :)

  5. Lisa says:

    If everything else were equal, Katie, you would be right. Preference would be the deciding factor. But everything else isn’t equal. L&H met the challenge. Mike avoided it with his third song about a song in a row. What a letdown. Mike’s tune would be nice if it weren’t so rambly and half-finished, but the writer’s block lyrics completely ruin it.

    From what I read here Jules is an impartial judge. She gave good objective reasons why L&H wrote the better song. Even if it’s not your usual style it did meet the challenge better, and that’s why I voted for them.

  6. Amber says:

    Lisa i don’t think Mike avoided the challenge. I think the challenge was making sure he had an entry despite all the other stuff he has going on and his vitcroy is that he finished his song in time. thats a challenge and a victory. i think its an open ended challenge and that may be an unconventional way to respond but accusing him of ‘avoiding’ the challenge is unfair.

  7. MiLo says:

    Please excuse this brief comment, as I’m squeezing this in between appointments today.
    I’d like to weigh in with my $.02 (is that $.03 in Canada?)

    1. Jules is well within her rights to say whatever she wants here. This IS her personal blog, after all. I don’t view any of her statements as an “attack” on myself or any other artist, and moreover, she made it extremely clear that this was, in fact, her personal opinion. When you release work publicly on the internet, people may say things about your work that you might not agree with. That’s part of the deal.

    2. As a professional, there is a line to be drawn between someone and someone’s work. Jules is friends with me, she is friends with Leigh and Hoover, and she is friends with many (if not all) of the Song Fu’ers and the TMA community. Just because she is my friend, doesn’t mean she has to enjoy all the songs that I write. She’s heard a lot of my stuff; I know for a fact there is some that she likes, and some that she doesn’t. That’s part of art. It’s subjective. I have friends who create some really awful music, and I have people I don’t get along with who are incredibly talented people. Saying she didn’t like my song is not a personal attack on me.

    3. Saying you felt ‘let down’ by my work is while within your rights, however I don’t appreciate anyone saying that I ‘avoided’ the challenge. That would undermine the competition, be disrespectful to both Ken, who spends a lot of time and effort keeping things running smoothly; Leigh & Hoover, who I know put a lot of time and effort into their music; and all the fans and followers of the competition.
    I worked to create something that I genuinely believe to be funny, sincere, and entertaining within the guidelines set forth by Ken.
    Again, if you don’t think it is any or all of those things, that’s perfectly fine, but it is unfair to say that I ‘avoided’ the challenge. I did not half-ass this entry or shrug it off, rather a lot of time and thought went into it. Actually, more time and effort than my previous entries.

    Ask Hayley, who was around when I was working on writing and recording the tune. I asked for her input several times, swapped out some lyrics in revisions, recorded several takes until I was happy with the performance, and made some other creative decisions that I would not have made if I was just trying to make a deadline.
    So I’m sorry if you felt “let down,” but I don’t believe anyone but myself is in the position to state how much work went into my songs, and statements like that would lead me (and Jules) to believe that you don’t really have a clear idea of what goes in to writing a song.

    If you thought Leigh and Hoover’s entry was superior to mine (and it is, indeed, an excellent entry) then you should vote for it. That’s the idea of the competition. But it is, as Ken will affirm, JUST FOR FUN, and it’s not worth people upsetting each other over.

    Just vote for the song that you like. I’m pretty sure I can speak for all the challengers when I say that any votes an artist receives should be from people who listened and picked their personal favorite, not from people who voted a certain way because they were urged to by others.

    (Jules, I hope you will understand if I can’t sit here and continuously participate in this discussion, because I have some important things to take care of, both personally and professionally, but) I’m glad so many people are passionate about Song Fu and the Song Fu community.
    I think we need that – Song Fu is not driven by the artists – it’s driven by the listeners.

    If need be, I can be reached through email or twitter, but I may not be able to respond right away – it’s crunch time for getting this new album out the door by the deadline.

  8. Joe Covenant says:

    MiLo said:” I have friends who create some really awful music,”

    I *knew* Mike was my friend!
    ;’ )

  9. Interesting thoughts. I knew some of these issues were going to crop up, and that MIke was hesitant to enter SongFu 6 because he was concerned it might turn into a popularity contest as opposed to being about the music and creating new songs.

    A number of us nudged Mike to compete despite his well earned following on the net. I felt instead of taking away from the competition, it was a way to expose all the artists to new followers – It needs new blood and new listeners or it will not continue to grow like it has.

    Voting is just the way we have fun with the entire process, and it’s going to be a fickle beast. I know our entries for ‘Boffo Yux Dudes’ gathered some of the lowest totals, but I was happy with the songs that came out of the process. If it wasn’t for Song Fu, the camaraderie and the deadlines, our 5 tunes wouldn’t exist.

    Another big part of Fu is dragging friends and competitors in to help create new music. I’ve harassed some old friends back into the fold to help write and perform on our songs, because we were having fun, and I wanted to share that with them. And it worked so far, with Podcaster Dan Klass, and scriptwriter Scott Mercer (LA) joining Al (Chicago) and I (Boston) for some cross country creating that we couldn’t have done pre-internet.
    Hopefully they weren’t lying through their teeth when they said they enjoyed the process.

    I enjoy the fact it’s a constructive process, even with the ‘competition’ aspect. Hurtful words have been rare, and it’s been more about opinions with fact behind them. ‘Your first verse has the vocals lost in the mix’ or ‘How many times are you write about Necrophillia?’

    I’m looking forward to SongFu7 and working it into the usually hectic schedule life brings us. The old fogies like myself and Jeff MacDougall, who are very close to being recruited to join AARP – still manage to get in some time to do songs in between the cracks of work and family.

    So, obviously this must have touched a nerve with me to be such a long comment. But I didn’t take your comments as ‘attacking’, but more trying to figure out how you wanted to vote, because, lets face it, we have 2 talented groups of people in the finals. And that’s the way we really want it to be – a tough choice between quality material.

    Tom