Monday, December 1, 2008

the Second Annual McFarren Matriarch CD Challenge

The Challenge:
My brother Kyle and I selected 15 tracks that we thought our Mother would enjoy. Our brother Adam compiled and randomized the songs, replacing any duplicate selections with a track of his choosing. Mom graded each song on a scale of 0 to 5 (including half points). Highest total score wins.

The Songs:
Mom's score follows each song title. G or K indicates whether it was a Grant or Kyle selection. Running score totals are provided, along with number of tracks scored. Mom's comments are provided below each song.

1. Skinny Love - Bon Iver - 3 (G=3/1)
"I enjoyed the music more than the words (later: it sounded like guys trying to sing too high)."

2. Big Easy - Raphael Saadiq - 3.5 (K=3.5/1)
"motown-esque. I could understand the words"

3. As Tall as Cliffs - Margot & The Nuclear So & Sos - 3.5 (G=6.5/2)
"we haven't gotten to the very last note yet...i didn't like the end, the very end"

4. Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons - 3 (K=6.5/2)
"Parts were a 2.5 and parts were a 3. I liked the instrumental more than the words"

5. Blue and Gold Print - Mates of State - 3 (K=9.5/3)
"All these songs are falling between the 2.5 - 3.0 range. It grew on me."
Kyle in a note to Grant: "I think mom decided if she gives bad scores she won't have to do this again next year."

6. Another Day - Jamie Lidell - 5 (G=11.5/3)
"That was my favorite song so far. I understood the words and I liked the musicality (that's a big word on Dancing With The Stars)"

7. Not on my Side - Cameron Mcgill - 3 (G=14.5/4)
"Too folk-songish."

8. Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo - Jens Lekman - 4 (K=13.5/4)
"I like the beat...could understand most of the words. It was a happy song."

9. A King and Queen - Okkervil River - 4 (K=17.5/5)
Grant: "Shocking!" Mom: "Why? I enjoyed it." [grant didn't think it was poppy enough]

10. Buildings & Mountains - The Republic Tigers - 3.5 (G=18/5)
"I was going to give it a 4, but the instrumentality at the beginning and end went on too long."

11. Lights Out - Santogold - 3 (K=20.5/6)
Mom: "reminds me of someone else." Dad: "wasn't this in a commercial somewhere?" [Yes: the Bud Light Lime ads this past summer]

12. Keep Me On - Bodies of Water - 2.5 (K=23/7)
Mom: "It was a very dreary song, but I liked some of the guitar parts and I pictured the people in all black clothing drearing along" Dad: "It was a dirge"

13. Auctioneer - The Broken West - 3.5 (Adam's filler song)
Mom: "It was happy" Dad: "It wasn't slow and they weren't in black"

14. Parties in the USA - Jonathan Richman - 5 (K=28/8)
"I'm torn...ok, a 5! I enjoyed the familiarity of it"

15. Always a Friend - Alejandro Escovedo - 5 (G=23/6)
"I liked that reminded me of Huey Lewis and the News"

16. John Saw That Number - Neko Case - 2.5 (K=30.5/9)
"2.5...too twangy. The beginning reminded me of my least favorite part of "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" down by the river with the muses and those sirens. But, it had a good beat."

17. You Came Around - Nico Stai - 3.5 (G=26.5/7)
Mom: "3.5" Grant: "It's not over yet." Mom: "oh" "Yes, 3.5. Here's what I say: if they're playing it live, people will start clapping because they think the song is over." Dad: "The music was louder than the words."

18. Foux du Fafa - Flight of the Conchords - 2.5 (K=33/10)
"Soup du jour? It was hard to sing along to, but I liked the music."

19. Hitten - Those Dancing Days - 3 (G=29.5/8)
"Umm, 3. It had a good beat, you could dance to it." [a car from hawaii almost caused 2 accidents during this song]

Intermission: Mom: "I generally prefer songs by guys, and not a lot of pre and post instrumental."

20. Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? - She and Him - 5 (G=34.5/9)
"I liked that song (I know I just contradicted myself)"

21. Keep Sending Me Black Fireworks - Of Montreal - 3 (K=36/11)
"Too many changes in the tempo, it was alright. Parts I didn't like but I liked the chorus."

22. Walking on a Dream - Empire of The Sun - 2.5 (G=37/10)
At the start of the song: Kyle: "whoa" Grant: "Yeah, I'm not sure how this is gonna do." Mom: "2.5" Grant: "Better than I thought!"

23. Darling Be Here - Bodies of Water - 2.5 (K=38.5/12)
"This was an angry black Paso Doble song. Was that the same group [as earlier]?" Grant: "You were lucky to get 2.5 out of that song." Later: "It reminded me of Warren Sapp in black leather stomping around." [another Dancing With The Stars reference]

24. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes - 2.5 (K=41/13)
"Hmm...that was just an average song. Maybe the one before it should've been lower."

25. Would You - Richard Swift - 5 (G=42/11)
Dad: "I knew she'd like that song." Mom: "It sounded like Little Anthony and the Imperials."

26. Airline to Heaven - Wilco - 4 (K=45/14)
"Bob Dylan-ish. It grew on me."

27. Born to be Your Man - Birdmonster - 3 (G=45/12)
"Easy to understand the words, but I heard something about blood and when your uncle died."

28. I Stand Corrected - Vampire Weekend - 3 (G=48/13)
"I say 3"

29. Life is Long - David Byrne & Brian Eno - 5 (Selected by both Kyle & Grant, so not counted in totals)
"easy to sing along with" Mom to Dad: "Do you agree with me most of the time on these songs?" Dad: "nope."

30. Neverending Math Equation- Sun Kil Moon - 3.5 (G=51.5/14)
"Better than some, not as good as others."

Final Score (14 songs counted for each):
Grant - 51.5 total - 3.68 average
Kyle - 45 total - 3.21 average

Grant wins for the second year in a row!

Songs with that "Motown" sound generally score very well (see: Jamie Lidell, Jonathan Richman, & Richard Swift). We have also learned that Mom prefers: male vocals, intelligible lyrics, shorter & less instrumental songs, and a general lack of dissonance.

Both Kyle and I took more risks than last year, with varying results (but more fun!). Kyle's stubborn love for Bodies of Water didn't do him any favors (although a controversy arose when it was discovered that Adam had failed to replace one of the Bodies of Water tracks, as per Kyle's instructions, with the Heartless Bastards' "Piano Song". It would not have made a significant difference in our final scores). I put Empire of the Sun's "Walking on a Dream" on the mix for a laugh, fully expecting it to score a 2 or below, so I was pleasantly surprised with the 2.5 it received.

1 comment:

kyle said...

After further review, the fault was mine and not Adam's.
Songs I expected higher scores out of: Raphael Saadiq, Mates of State, Neko Case, Flight of the Conchords, Fleet Foxes.

Next year I will have 15 songs from Sufjan and Wilco.