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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 launched a brand new form of creative combat here at the Stop.

In this age of manufactured and painfully earnest talent contests, we 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…

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.

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At the very end, there stood but one Challenger - who faced off against one Master of Song Fu.

The Master was Jonathan Coulton, and the Challenger was Jeff MacDougall. Both met the Final Challenge head on, and then left their creations to be judged by you, the public. At the end of the day, in a very close race - with a vote count of 397 to 316 - the winner is JONATHAN COULTON.

As the winner, Jonathan wins remarkable (and potentially off-putting) bragging rights and a clutch of fantastic mystery prizes, as well as becoming the proud owner of the magnificent, one-of-a-kind MASTER OF SONG FU TROPHY, designed and handcrafted by [adult swim] superstar Dana Snyder.

Ah, but there’s also something for Jeff MacDougall. While it’s not an “I Fought A MASTER OF SONG FU And Did Pretty Damn Well” t-shirt, he also gets a clutch of fantastic mystery prizes for making it this far. Hopefully, he’s also gained the confidence and support of you, the public, and will continue making music with the knowledge that there a whole bunch of new listeners eager to hear what the future holds.

And, since many of you have written in wondering…

SIGN-UP FOR THE SECOND MASTERS OF SONG FU COMPETITION WILL BEGIN ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 5th, 2008.

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Below, you’ll find the history of the inaugural MASTERS OF SONG FU competition…

The initial entrants were given one week to complete their Round 1 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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And that brought us to the Final Challenge songs from both Jeff and Jonathan, which you’ll find below (as well as the lyrics and some background on their creative process).

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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 RESULTS

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The Fu Shall Return.

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Comments:

One Response to “Masters Of Song Fu #1: The Winner Revealed!”

  1. So you think you’re a songwriter? | ControlRoom - Mixin' it with Dr. J Says:

    [...] Details Here. [...]

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