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We here at Quick Stop Entertainment are true lovers of music, in all its forms. We’re also quite keen on the spirit of competition, and of spurring creativity through said competition.

To that end, we’ve launched a brand new form of creative combat here at the Stop.

In this age of manufactured and painfully earnest talent contests, we’ve decided to instead shine a light on the quirky, quixotic underworld of musicians that don’t get nearly the attention they deserve.

Ah, but I did mention that there was a competition involved…

A few weeks back, we sent out the call for challengers. Hundreds of you heard the call and fought for a chance to be in the initial group. 20 were selected. Only 19 responded in time.

Like a songwriting version of Iron Chef, the challengers were presented with a very specific songwriting challenge. They were given one week to complete their songs - however they saw fit, within the parameters set forth below…

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ROUND 1 CHALLENGE

You must do a song in the style of a classic television show. Not only that, but this song is the theme for a fictional television show about yourself (or your band). By “classic television show” theme song, we mean the type of themes found in shows from the 1960’s - 1980’s (ie Gilligan’s Island, Cheers, The Fall Guy, Diff’rent Strokes, Welcome Back Kotter, Greatest American Hero, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Facts Of Life, Green Acres, Gimme A Break, The Monkees, etc.). Your theme song must include both lyrics and music. It must run no shorter than 30 seconds, and no longer than one (1) minute.

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When all was said and done, only 16 of the 19 Challengers were able to send in the songs in time. You voted HERE. The TOP 7 vote getters then moved on to Round 2. Here’s the challenge given to our 7 Semi-Finalists…

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ROUND 2 CHALLENGE

Here’s where we step things up a notch. Your challenge is to write a song that utilizes a repeating syllable (ex: la, na, doo, etc.). The syllable must repeat at least 5 times in a row (ex: la la la la la). The resulting “repeated syllable” phrase can appear anywhere in your song, but must be repeated in full at least 3 times within the song. Also, this challenge includes a thematic element. Your song must feature a conflict between two (2) elements, provided below. You must choose one (1) element from COLUMN A and one (1) element from COLUMN B.

COLUMN A
—————

Santa Claus

Miami Dolphins

Stephen Hawking

A Beach Towel

High School Physics

Albania

The Color Orange

A Toothpick Factory

Marc Singer

Hydroponics

———————————————————————–

COLUMN B
—————

Dracula

Linux

Pudding

Coupons

Scabies

Cosplayers

Your Kindergarten Teacher (must be named)

Albert Camus

Non-Alcoholic Lager

Doc Hammer

Your song must be at least 1m45s in length. Finally, your song must be an ORIGINAL CREATION, both music and lyrics, and can not utilize or sample a preexisting work.

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You also voted on the contributions of our three Masters, eliminating one. Two Masters remained, and they were presented a special challenge of their own. Their entries were also be voted on by you, the readers. The winner of the Masters Challenge is the one who dueled with the winning Challenger.

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ROUND 2 MASTERS CHALLENGE

The following challenge applies to our Masters of Song Fu only. As Masters, it is expected that they have achieved a musical voice all their own - but does their mastery extend to assuming the voice of another artist? With that in mind, Each Master is tasked with writing a song in the style of their opponent. The Masters will be judged on how accurately they write a song in their opponent’s style without it becoming a simple parody. When listening to their entries, you must genuinely believe that they were written by the original Master. Got that? The Master’s songs must also be no shorter than 1m45s.

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Well, you voted on the Round 2 Challenge HERE. Your Challenger was Jeff MacDougall, and the Master he had to face was Jonathan Coulton. They were both presented with a final challenge…

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FINAL CHALLENGE

THE REIMAGINING (aka THE RECKONING): For this final duel between Master and Challenger, we’re going to combine a little bit of all the previous challenges. For this ultimate show of skill, adaptability, and personality, you will be given a preexisting song. Your task is to completely reimagine that song with your own lyrics and music - while retaining the same basic story and at least some sonic “cue” or “quote” from the original tune (a short phrase or series of chord changes; the key word here is “brief”). THIS IS NOT A COVER - you are crafting something more akin to an homage, but with your own creative voice. Here is the song you’ll be reimagining:
DAVID BOWIE: “SPACE ODDITY”
You will be judged on how closely your reimagining hits the basic “story points” - spaceman goes up, spaceman talks with control, spaceman goes for a walk, spaceman disappears - but beyond that, anything goes.

The song must be at least 1min 45sec, and must be an original creation.

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Below, you’ll find the Final Challenge songs from both Jeff and Jonathan, as well as the lyrics and some background on their creative process. You will then be able to place your final votes and determine Round 1’s MASTER OF SONG FU!

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MASTER OF SONG FU

JONATHAN COULTON

songfu-01.jpgJonathan Coulton on Jonathan Coulton: “In 2005 I left my day job writing software to pursue music full time. To keep myself busy I released a new song on this website every week for a year in a project called Thing a Week. A few of those songs became big internet hits (my folky cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, a funny video called “Flickr”, a song called “Code Monkey”), and I am now fortunate enough to make my living as a musician.

I write about a lot of geeky stuff because I am a geek. Some of it’s funny, but a lot of it’s not so funny, and even more of it is somewhere in between. I’ve been compared to They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, Loudon Wainwright III, and other musicians you REALLY LOVE.

I give lots of music away because I believe it helps my cause, and I love it when people use my music to create other stuff - music videos, pictures, remixes, etc. At the moment I’m unsigned, and I’m proud to say I’ve created this whole thing mostly on my own (with plenty of help from an amazingly supportive bunch of fans). But it certainly is getting busy… I will probably sell out and go Hollywood any day now…”

Official Website: www.jonathancoulton.com

FINAL CHALLENGE SONG:Space Doggity

“You’re right, I almost went with the first monkey in space, but I didn’t want to be accused of going overboard with the monkeys. So I went with the first dog in space instead.

Her name was Laika and she went up in Sputnik 2. In doing my research I discovered that Russian scientists recently released the truth about what happened to her during the launch, which is that she died just a few hours into it, and not after a week as they originally claimed. She died from stress and overheating (the cooling system malfunctioned and it was 104F in there) but mostly she died from being LAUNCHED INTO SPACE IN A FUCKING ROCKET.

I thought it would be much nicer if instead Laika gave scientists the finger, stepped out in a spacesuit and then disappeared. Whereabouts unknown…”

Lyrics:

The cage is very small
A tiny silver ball
That makes you a hero
The moment you step inside
The world is watching you
What you’re about to do
Will live on forever
Even though you’ll be dead
And gone
Buckle up
We’re about to turn the engines on.

Boyoyoing

Hello from Sputnik 2
I am receiving you
Thanks for the dog food
I’m somewhere above you now
Guess what Malashenkov?
I took the collar off
I’m holding my own leash
And walking myself outside
This door
I don’t think
I want to be a good dog anymore.

Now I’m floating free
And the moon’s with me
And it’s bright enough
To light the dark

And it’s so high up here
And the stars so clear -
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?

Moscow to Sputnik 2
I think we’re losing you
Your life signs are fading
We can’t really say that we’re
Surprised
It’s a shame
There is always something that gets compromised

Now I’m floating free
And the moon’s with me
And it’s bright enough
To light the dark

And it’s so high up here
And the stars so clear -
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?

ROUND 2 SONG:Big Dick Farts A Polka (in the style of Paul & Storm)
ROUND 1 SONG:Monkey Shines

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THE CHALLENGER

JEFF MacDOUGALL

songfucomp-16.jpgThe Deal: After 20+ years making music as a hobby, I recently wrote and recorded a song for my daughter. I got a little taste of mild success (hey, my mom liked it). So now I’m taking my music out of the closet, dusting it off, and seeing how it does in the sunshine. Who knew there was so much work in just attempting to do music for a living. I feel like I am opening a Subway franchise (Only opening a Subway franchise seems more fulfilling in a creative way).

Official Website: jeffmacdougall.com

FINAL CHALLENGE SONG:High

“When I first read the final challenge I was, at once, excited and scared. Such a great song to use for inspiration and also, a very high bar to get over. I mean, trying to measure up to a Bowie song is bad enough, but trying to do it and do it better than Jonathan Coulton?… yeah… no problem… I’ll get right on that.

Right away I decided to do try something grand, to keep in the spirit of the original. Whether or not I achieved that remains to be seen. I didn’t want to try to be funny because A) It’s not really a funny story, and B) I’m not going to do funny better than my competition. I’m just not. So here you go… the end result. To sum it up, I just really tried to re-do the song with my own song writing and production style. I think I achieved that… for better or worse.”

Lyrics:

Safe in the capsule,
gonna leave here soon.
Nothing around me,
though there’s not much room.

It’s quiet. It’s calm.
Can you hear me? It’s Tom.

I’m high!
Can you see me?
I’m the blink in the night sky.

I’m not afraid.
So much to fear.
Hey, I can see my house from here.

No air to speak of
and still my hand is on the door.

I give it a shove
and I’m out into the clear.
Don’t want to take a fall from here.

Out of the capsule,
gonna leave here soon.
And the stars look very different today.
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way.

I’m high!
Can you see me?
I’m the blink in the night sky.

I’m not afraid.
Everything’s clear.
There’s nothing left to engineer.

I’m high!
Can you see me?
I’m the blink in the night sky.

I’m not afraid.
Everything’s clear.
Tell my wife no need for tears.

ROUND 2 SONG:A Brief History Of Pudding
ROUND 1 SONG:Jeff MacDougall Dot Com

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FINAL CHALLENGE VOTING

And now, it’s time for that all important voting, where you’ll decide who has shown the most Fu in the final challenge. This person will not only win the remarkable (and potentially off-putting) bragging rights and a clutch of fantastic mystery prizes, but also become the proud owner of the magnificent, one-of-a-kind MASTER OF SONG FU TROPHY, designed and handcrafted by [adult swim] superstar Dana Snyder. Please remember, you can only vote FOR ONE song - so choose very carefully. You may only vote once, so make it count. VOTING CLOSES AT 11:59pm EST on THURSDAY, JULY 31st.

[poll id="4"]

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Good luck, and bring on the Fu.

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Comments:

55 Responses to “Masters Of Song Fu #1: Final Challenge Voting Begins”

  1. Jack F Says:

    Wow!! Both songs are great, but JoCo really hit the mark. This may be one of Jon’s best ever.

  2. Jack F Says:

    I was actually the first person to vote for Coulton in this round. I feel all geeky inside.

  3. Jonathan Coulton » Blog Archive » Song Fu Final Challenge Says:

    [...] Song Fu Challenge #3 was to do an homage to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that hit the main plot points and referenced the original song subtly at least once. Yes you’re right, I almost went with the first monkey in space, but I didn’t want to be accused of going overboard with the monkeys. So I went with the first dog in space instead. [...]

  4. SevinPackage Says:

    I really enjoyed both songs. Jeff had a good melody and a few nods to the original, where JoCo has a great songwriting style and a cool solo. Both of you deserve to win something cool (I hope my adoration is enough, until I get a millionaire girlfriend)!

    I think that not only would Bowie be proud, but Peter Schilling, too! Great job, guys!

  5. Bill Cunningham Says:

    I’m a huge admirer of JoCo’s songbook, but I’m pleasantly torn - Jeff MacDougall’s piece is very, very good. I keep listening to it tonight, it’s really doing something. The Space Oddity quote (both lyrical & musical) comes at just the right place, slightly unexpected, and then kicks back into Jeff with a kind of opening up. I like it. Good Show!

    Voting on this one is damn Solomonic. Which half of the baby do you want? I can’t pick.

  6. Kevin Ballard Says:

    Both songs are extremely good. This is a very tough call, but I’m voting for JoCo because I can see myself listening to his song more often than I can see myself listening to Jeff’s.

  7. Matt Says:

    Wow…tough call. Both songs are excellent, with Jeff’s being a closer homage to the original “Space Oddity”.

    But, I think that JoCo’s song comes at it from an unexpected and appealing angle (space men and space monkeys are easily brought to mind; who thinks about the first space dog?), so it gets the nod.

  8. Jason Morris Says:

    I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Coulton, but I honestly think Jeff hit the mark a little better than Jonathan this time.
    Jeff’s just felt a wee bit more Bowie-esq.
    Still, I am a little torn, because Jeff actually lifted a couple sections straight out of Space Oddity, and I’m not sure I would have chosen to be quite that blatant.

    Anyway, good job guys!

  9. Scott Says:

    I love JoCo, but I think Jeff wins this one. I hope there isn’t going to be a lot of homerism going on here. Listen to both songs before voting, people.

    As for “lifting sections”, I don’t agree he did, but it is supposed to be reminiscent of the song to be a true homage. The chorus rules. Great tune.

  10. Dave Says:

    As for lifting sections, here are the rules;

    Your task is to completely reimagine that song with your own lyrics and music - while retaining the same basic story and at least some sonic “cue” or “quote” from the original tune (a short phrase or series of chord changes; the key word here is “brief”).

    Jeff lifted “quoted” a short phrase as required.

    Jeff got my vote.

  11. Jason Morris Says:

    You don’t agree? Have you ever heard ‘Space oddity’ before?

    Ok so Bowie wrote:
    And Im floating in a most peculiar way
    And the stars look very different today

    And Jeff wrote:
    And the stars look very different today.
    And I’m floating in a most peculiar way.

    looks like he lifted those lines to me, but hey, I guess it’s all about ones interpretation.

    And being reminiscent of a song and pulling whole lines directly from a song and plopping them into yours are two different things.

  12. Patrick Says:

    Jason:
    From the challenge, ““cue” or “quote” from the original tune (a short phrase or series of chord changes; the key word here is “brief”)” The lines weren’t really any more than about ten seconds or so, in the 3:28 song.

    Anyway, I like them both, but voted for Jeff simply because it would bring it closer to a tie - because they both did well. I’m a JoCo fan, but they both need to be recognized.

  13. Stacey Leggieri Says:

    Both songs are really impressive and well done. JoCo wins the tossup by educating me. I learned something, and found out in a way that somehow makes it seem a little less bad.

    A BBC article about what happened to Laika the space dog:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2367681.stm

  14. Johnny J Says:

    Argh. Tough, tough choice.

    I think JoCo’s dogmonaut ballad is a great continuation (really a preamble, I guess) to the adventures of Major Tom while both maintaining the ‘Space Oddity’ feeling and introducing us to a new character with her own different story to tell. I definitely got more of a Bowie vibe from Jeff’s and think it’s a delightful retelling of the story of Major Tom, but I think it’s JoCo by a nose^Wmuzzle for me.

  15. Jason Morris Says:

    Patrick & Dave:

    See, this is what happens when people dont read properly!
    sorry guys. My bad!

    I had already voted for Jeff anyway. :)

  16. Erin Says:

    Wow, I came in thinking the vote would automatically go to JoCo, but it was actually a tough choice! Well done Jeff!

  17. Jordan D. White Says:

    I really like them both very much…

    But I voted for Jeff. I just think that this version could actually sit there next to “Space Oddity” and “Major Tom” as three songs about the same event.

  18. Edie Scott Says:

    Loved the song….. I hate pudding too. BUT …vacationing in Maine is dum dum dum???? C’mon! LoveYa!

  19. Phil Scott Says:

    Nice work, Jeff.

    Phil

  20. q3c Says:

    I gotta say I am very impressed by both songs. Jonathan is brilliant as usual, Jeff does a wonderful job with the vocalization actually getting quite close to that of Bowie’s.

    No idea who to vote for.

  21. Declarent Says:

    I don’t know that I’ve seen a song-fu with an ending so close with two songs so high above the bar.

    Congrats, gents. At this point, it doesn’t even matter who wins the vote.

  22. Ryan Ferrel Says:

    I love JoCo to death, he’s probably my favorite musician. I’d give him my babies, and probably my house and my car too. He’s the only musician I’ve ever actually wanted to see perform live.

    I had never heard of Jeff MacDougall until this challenge, but still, even I have to admit that Jeff completely stole the show with the final challenge. His vocalization and the music behind it blew everything else away.

    I think the massive international fan base behind Coulton decided this one from the start, but good luck out there Jeff - you’ve got an incredible talent.

  23. Avi Says:

    I figured JoCo would have the fan vote, so I was trying to give extra consideration to Jeff’s entry, which is really, really good. In the end I voted for Space Doggity, but just barely. I think JoCo’s song is slightly more polished and would stand up to repeated listening better. But it was a tough call - Jeff did a great job here in round 3 - it’s a great take on Space Oddity, and if he wins, I won’t complain!

  24. Heather Conway Says:

    Loved the singing, Jeff gets my vote!

  25. Liza Says:

    A really talented bunch of musicians all around! I voted for JoCo because I enjoyed his song and its interpretation of the theme more.

    I just wanted to say that Jeff really wrote a killer chorus. But whenever I heard one of these songs in this challenge, it seemed like he was channelling someone else (not that I could do better, mind you). And while I do like the chorus for “High,” the arrangement on the verses didn’t sit well with me. Every time I heard the opening, I started to sing “Sullivan Street” by The Counting Crows.

    I think Jeff has a lot to offer in terms of beautiful playing and great lyrics, and I look forward to further developments. Well played, gentlemen!

  26. Nina Says:

    If there was to be a trilogy composed of Space Oddity, Major Tom and another song, it would have to be “High”.

    Jeff may be ‘the new kid on the block’, but he sure has what it takes to write fantastic songs.

  27. Catherine Says:

    It’s a pleasure to listen to both songs. I wish I didn’t have to vote, but at the same time I really want to…

    Jonathan Coulton has as usual written a wittily touching song (love you, JoCo!), but there’s an undeniable catchiness to Jeff’s contribution. (but I may be biased by my love of his history of pudding?)

  28. Auntie Sandra Says:

    Well, as Jeff’s Auntie, and since he inspired me to start writing my own songs,
    I had to vote for Jeff. Sorry, Jonathan.
    http://www.highway49.net

  29. Brian Says:

    Definitely a hard vote, but, like the US electoral system, if 51% goes to Jonathan and 49% goes to Jeff, then Jonathan carries the state. Both, however, are great songs, in their own right.

  30. Blake Says:

    I am a die hard JoCo fan but I have supported McDougal since the beginning, I just liked his syle and voice. I think it is because he sounds a lot like Josh Joplin (if anyone knows who that is), which is another of my favorite musicians. Anyway, good luck, great songs.

  31. Melissa Says:

    I loved the Space Doggity lyrics, so sad… they were the final deciding factor in my vote.

  32. Jeff Little (To Serve Mankind) Says:

    Heavens! Good songs, like everyone says. I listened and voted before viewing the current numbers - and was shocked to see such a spread between the songs. And although I fully expected to vote for Coulton’s Doggity, MacDougall’s was simply High-er. Congrats, Jeff - You’re “The Next Fu Network Star” to me in this round.

  33. Gerry Says:

    It was a VERY tough choice and ultimately, despite the vote count, I don’t think one winner clearly emerged. I listened to the three songs for about 2 hours in this order: JoCo, JeMac & Mr. Bowie. Maybe that’s why I thought JeMac’s homage was much closer in style and substance. He went for a touch of funny with the “Hey, I can see my house from here” line while still doing the multipart vocals (although actual harmonization would’ve sealed it). While the Jonathan Coulton song was good, his song was less homage than “I can write a space song, too”. I also couldn’t identify with the dog so couldn’t really connect (maybe a monkey really would’ve worked better?). I was however ridiculously pleased with the clever subtlety of JoCo’s guitar line incorporating Mr. Bowie’s opening “Ground Control to Major Tom…” riff but overall, he sounded way much more himself than Mr. Bowie… Jonathan Coulton is still brilliant and I hope he doesn’t punch me in the face the next time I’m at one of his show but for this Fu challenge, my vote goes to Jeff MacDougall.

  34. Song-Fu: The Final Countdown | Steve Chatterton's Music Blog Says:

    [...] only two days left to cast a vote in the final Masters of Song-Fu Challenge. The field has been narrowed to two contenders: Jonathon Coulton and Jeff [...]

  35. Dave Says:

    Well said Gerry, I agree with your analysis except that I fail to see how a dog or a monkey fits with the task they were given “You will be judged on how closely your reimagining hits the basic “story points” - spaceman goes up, spaceman talks with control, spaceman goes for a walk, spaceman disappears - but beyond that, anything goes.” To truly be homage to Bowie it had to be a spaceman. Check out Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” and see if you don’t think “High” was well named and the better homage to Bowie.

  36. crazy diamond Says:

    don’t make me choose! i love them both!

  37. Cambiata Says:

    Hmm, maybe my preference has to do with how I read the challenge. To do your own take on someone else’s song means to *make it your own*. Being too much like Bowie’s actual song, in that context, seems more of a liability than an asset; it says that you really don’t have the creativity to remake the song in your own image, you can just tweak the original. Mind you, I *don’t* think that’s what Jeff did this time, I just think that being too much like Bowie’s song was not a point in his favor.

    Also? I really just liked JoCo’s song better. And it actually isn’t because I’m a rabid fan and I didn’t have to work a little to make the choice. I, too, listened to both songs over and over again and found it a tough choice. Space Doggity simply appealed to me more.

  38. Dave Says:

    Cambiata, At least we agree that Jeff’s song is not just a tweak of the original. As for being too much like Bowie’s actual song and style that’s where homage (something that shows respect or attests to the worth or influence of another) comes in. I think it must have been more difficult to stay with a spaceman and not come up with what would be perceived as a tweaked original than it was to switch the main character to a space dog, a real dog at that, and write essentially a new song about a real space dog and place that character in similar circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very creative song but I disagree that to “completely reimagine that song with your own lyrics and music” means “do your own take” and toss out the main character. Jeff got to the finals by writing a song about pudding, had he written it about Jell-O instead would that have mattered? Jonathan got to the finals by writing a song in the style of his opponent, would it have mattered if he wrote that song in his own style? Perhaps I am reading the challenge and it’s judging guidelines too literally. “For this final duel between Master and Challenger, we’re going to combine a little bit of all the previous challenges.” I interpret the challenge to mean this song was supposed to be a song about a spaceman in the style of David Bowie with your own lyrics and music. I also liked both songs and I don’t want to take anything away from Jonathan’s creativity but I do think the challenge meant to limit the bounds of that creativity “For this ultimate show of skill, adaptability, and personality” adaptability is the key word here. You say you are a “rabid fan” of Jonathan’s well, I’m a fan of Bowie, I was around on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed and Bowie released his song in the UK; I’ve also been a fan of Major Tom and although disappointed when Jeff demoted him to a civilian, replacing him with a dog went too far.

  39. Cambiata Says:

    Er, I thought I made it clear that I’m not a rabid fan?

  40. Cambiata Says:

    Actually, it’s kind of interesting… it sounds like you’re telling me you *are* a rabid fan, of Bowie. And as such, you don’t like his legacy toyed with, which possibly makes it difficult for you to be objective in the choosing of the song. In any case, “anything goes” does not mean “follow Bowie’s plot exactly”, which is good, because that would have been boring.

  41. Steven BREWER Says:

    I like JoCo’s song better — they’re both good, but his hits me where it counts.

  42. Dave Says:

    Cambiata, Sorry I miss under stood your comment “And it actually isn’t because I’m a rabid fan” and you did not quote the entire statement “You will be judged on how closely your reimagining hits the basic “story points” - spaceman goes up, spaceman talks with control, spaceman goes for a walk, spaceman disappears - but beyond that, anything goes. “BEYOND THAT ANYTHING GOES” You may be right about Bowie’s legacy but I certainly did not find either song boring.

  43. Gerry Says:

    Not until Dave pointed it out did I re-read the rules more fully. Its true that he doesn’t have a spaceman in his song and that is listed as a basic point. It is definitely a good and complete reimagining though which was also a requirement… hmmm… this is a quandry to say the least…

  44. SaganGathering Says:

    I just now heard about this musical contest, thanks to an Eric Schwartz video about the Amiga using the song “Still Alive”. I hit the songwriter’s site which directed me here.

    The SAS site is under construction but on it there are already references to monkeys and dogs being exploited for space research.

    These songs are good in different ways. As a Laika sympathizer, JoCo’s lyrics won me over by a nose. A wet nose.

  45. Cambiata Says:

    Eh, I think you guys are taking the rules too literally. If one of the two had made Major Tom into a woman, would that have been against the rules? I don’t think so. In my opinion, they only say ’spaceman’ for lack of a better generic term. ‘Space person’ sounds retarded. And the term astronaut is far too regional.

  46. Gerry Says:

    Major Tom as a woman would have been a good reimagining as well but changing gender is one thing. Changing species is completely different. The term ‘manpower’ is considered gender neutral these days and Man, Woman and Human are usually pretty interchangeable as well. Dog doesn’t really fit in there.
    Rules are by definition literal. Would it also be okay if one of them had sent in a painting of Major Tom in space instead? An interpretive dance maybe? Rules should be followed as stated because it looks like JeMac limited himself to all the rules pretty strictly and that JoCo bent one, albeit in the well intended spirit of following a separate one.
    I’m very literal by personality and trade so I’m sure that affects this perspective. I’ll shut up at this point cos its moot in the vote. Maybe this is just a justification to me for why my choice isn’t ahead, as I think he should be, but unlike those folks in that other election, this case won’t go to the Supreme Court (anyways, I don’t think Ken P. would touch this with a ten foot Snyder…). ~gerry

  47. Dave Says:

    It’s clear to me that writing music about the space industry is a whole lot different than designing parts to extremely rigid specifications. Sorry if I took the “specs” too literally and I apologize if I offended anyone. The music was great and the discussion eye opening. Good luck to both Jonathan and Jeff with their music endeavors. When I think about Bowie releasing Space oddity in conjunction with the Apollo 11 moon landing I can’t help thinking what a risk he took. Had something bad happened on that mission Bowie’s song would have been pulled off the air and buried forever. Congrats to both of you for your songs and your willingness to risk entering a contest like this.

  48. Dave Says:

    Gerry, Thanks for the support but as you say the point is moot. Just for the record, Laika was a female, all Russian space dogs were female because they peed in a more predictable fashion. Laika was the only one that was sent on a one-way trip with no hope of ever returning alive. Sad.

  49. Cambiata Says:

    Well, just out of curiosity, what if they had changed the planetary species of Tom? What if they made him a gender-neutral tiny green person from Alpha Centauri? Would that have violated the rules? For that matter, how do we even know if the ORGINAL Tom was a man in the sense of being human. For all we know, he might be one of the featureless blue Gods of the Andromeda galaxy. Nothing about where he’s actually from (or when) is specified in the original song. Which, in my humble opinion, is part of it’s beauty.

  50. Dave Says:

    We know he was a man because he was asked by ground control who’s shirt he wore. That’s British slang for what soccer team do you support?

  51. Major Jim Says:

    Jeff, you really made the grade.
    Love,
    Ground Control

  52. Cambiata Says:

    Oh yeah, and Bowie says “Planet Earth is blue”, so he must be human - or at least launched by Earth. I still think it would have been cool for one of the contestants to make the song about an inhabitant of another planet, thus changing species in a different way and throwing people into a tizzy.

  53. Dave Says:

    Ok, I’ll make one last comment. Perhaps it would help if I explained what I think Bowie’s songs are about. Bowie puts a lot of hidden meaning in his work, to get a good Idea of what that meaning is, will require listening to several one of his songs but let me see if I can get the gist of it across with just Two songs, Space oddity and Ashes to Ashes. Listen to both songs, print the lyrics and then read the rest of this.

    Bowie writes about a Spaceman but his songs are realy about drug addiction and his personal struggle with it. In Space Oddity, Think of Major Tom as a metaphor for drugs, heroin most likely. Think of Ground control as the drug dealer. Think of the trip to space as tripping out on drugs. Think of “I’m floating in a most peculiar way” and “the stars look different today” as being high on drugs. Think of “my space ship knows which way to go” and “There is nothing I can do” as the drugs are in control. Eleven years later, in Ashes to Ashes, Bowie is much clearer about the drug connection, “We know Major Toms a Junkie Strung out in the heavens high hitting an all time low.” And “Time and again I tell myself I’ll stay clean tonight” and “I want to come down right now” and at the end bowie repeats 4 times “My mother said to get things done you’d better not mess with Major Tom.” There is more but I hope you can see why I thought Jeff’s “High” was the better reimagining and homage especially when Jeff left in the two lines, although reversed in order, “And the stars look very different Today” “And I’m floating in a most peculiar way.” and added “I’m high!” I don’t know if Jeff intended the double meaning but I’ll give it to him.

    If you want more on the drug connection in Bowie’s songs, check out the lyrics to Bowie’s China Girl. Here are a few, “I could escape this feeling, with my china girl I feel a wreck without my, little china girl I hear her heart beating, loud as thunder Saw the stars crashing I’m a mess without my, little china girl Wake up mornings where’s my, little china girl……” Get the idea?

    There is a lot hidden meaning in Bowie’s work perhaps this one is relevant. In Ashes to Ashes Bowie gives us a clue to the identity of the person that inspired him to use “Major Tom” as his metaphor for drugs that have wrecked havoc on the world. He wrote “Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis (a synonym for Fusion)….aint got no hair (radiation sickness)….the planet is glowing….one flash of light but no smoking gun.” (atomic explosion.) Was Bowie thinking of Major Tom Ferebee the bombardier on the Enola Gay? Major Tom Ferebee pulled the lever that dropped the first Atomic Bomb; he watched through the bomb sight as it went off and wrecked havoc on Japan killing thousands instantly and thousands more very slowly.

    If this makes me a “rabid” Bowie fan, so be it.

  54. Dave Says:

    My last paragraph was somehow clipped, here it is.

    As for “Bowie says “Planet Earth is blue,”” drugs allow one to escape the reality of the world. In 1968 we had the assassinations of DR. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The Vietnam was going strong and British troops were sent in to take streets of Northern Ireland. The world was not a happy place. “Planet earth was blue.”

  55. Spiffworld | Blog » Live Says:

    [...] you can be forgiven for thinking it actually is a Jonathan Coulton song. It was written for the “Master of Song-Fu” songwriting competition. The challenge put to both Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm in that [...]

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