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. You’ll find the very first of these competitions here.
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 week 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. Of those 20, only 13 responded in time (Them’s the breaks). You’ll find information about them below.
Like a songwriting version of Iron Chef, these challengers will now be presented with a very specific songwriting challenge. They’ll be given one week to complete their songs - however they see fit, within the parameters set forth…
ROUND 1 CHALLENGE
This is going to seem to be a rather straightforward challenge to kick off our second Song Fu competition. In actuality, it’s a pretty darn interesting way to give people a sense of just what your songwriting personality and style is. We’re taking a cue from a fellow named Paul Simon…
Your first challenge is to WRITE A SONG ABOUT THE MOON.
That’s it. The only other directive is that your song must run no shorter than 1 minute 45 seconds.
Right now, let’s check out the Round 1 songs from each of our Masters and Challengers (streaming links for all the songs can be found after the bio section). At the bottom of the page, you’ll then be able to place your votes, and decide which 5 Challengers garner the highest votes and get to bring their Fu to… ROUND 2.
MASTERS OF SONG FU
For this edition of Song Fu, we’re bringing in four (well, 7, if you’re being technical) very special Masters who you’ll be going up against. Think of them as the iron chefs of Song Fu, and your ultimate challengers, as you’ll square off against one of them mano-a-mano in the Final Round:
Jonathan 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
ROUND 1 SONG: “Always The Moon“
PAUL & STORM
Paul and Storm are a comedy music duo, and they have been performing as a duo since 2004. Before that, they were one half of a cappella band Da Vinci’s Notebook for about 12 years. A Paul and Storm show is part music concert and part standup/improv comedy–just enough of both to fit neatly in neither category. They like to engage the audience, and are known to award snack cakes and/or other prizes for good (and sometimes bad) behavior. Their show would be PERFECT as a cable special, and would make lots of money for whichever brave channel decides to air them first.
Official Website: www.paulandstorm.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “Cruel, Cruel Moon“
You know ‘em as the RiffTrax trio, but here at Song Fu they are the mighty RiffTones…
MICHAEL J. NELSON - Michael J. Nelson is the creator of Rifftrax.com, and is the former host and head writer of the Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning Mystery Science Theater 3000. Since that time, he has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows, penned a regular column for TV Guide, and authored best-selling books for both HarperCollins and Abrams.
His first book, Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese, thrilled critics, including Richard Schickel of Time Magazine, who said of Mike, “He’s more fun than a barrel of Val Kilmers… Smarter than a roomful of Patrick Swayzes… and almost as hilarious as Keanu Reeves.” Mike’s laugh-out-loud follow-up, Mind Over Matters, prompted Kirkus Reviews to enthuse, “From someplace called Minnesota comes a Nelson funnier than Ozzie, Ricky, Lord or Half,” and even dared to compare him to another legendary writer, saying of his Serious Speech to Business People, “[It] could easily precede [Robert] Benchley’s immortal Treasurer’s Report.” And Kirkus Reviews loved his novel, Death Rat!, saying, “Fast-paced, outrageous and funny, first-novelist Nelson’s mockery of media mendacity is as biting as La Dolce Vita or Network - only funnier!”
Mike speaks all over the country, is a frequent guest on radio and television, and along with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy sells out theaters with his RiffTrax Live events.
KEVIN MURPHY - “I’m probably best known for portraying that ol’ squat loveable bubble-headed robot Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact I’m the only member of the cast and crew to have worked on every single episode of the series, probably because I tend to like everybody. I also got to sing at the drop of a hat and collaborated with the lovely, leggy Mike Nelson on many of the show’s songs.
Right now I’m back with Mike and Bill for www.rifftrax.com , where once again we sit in close proximity to each other and make fun of movies; unfortunately we don’t write a lot of songs… yet. To exercise my musical jollies I occasionally write and record solo and with family members, under the name The Revolutionary Communist Mountain Boys. Oh, and I’m also writing my first comic book series, symptomatic of my terminal case of Adult-onset Geekdom.
BILL CORBETT - Beloved by literally billions of people, Bill Corbett is a former writer for Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the Sci-Fi Channel, and previously on Comedy Central. He was also a performer on the show, providing the second incarnation of the robot Crow and embarrassing himself in grand fashion as other strange characters - including the all-powerful but clueless alien The Observer, a.k.a. “Brain Guy.” Bill has always been an amateur musician (cough cough HACK cough cough), performing with garage-less garage bands, and writing / performing songs for MST3K - including the beloved-by-literally-trillions CANADA SONG. He now works with former MST3K colleagues Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy at Rifftrax.com.
Corbett is also a screenwriter and playwright. His plays have been produced at numerous theaters across the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and (seriously) Japan. He wasn’t able to attend the latter, but assumes it was a live-manga concept.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Corbett currently spends a lot of time in Los Angeles partying into the wee hours with stars like Skeet Ulrich, Harry Hamlin, and the late Red Buttons. But he actually lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Virginia, their two young children, and a small Jack Russell Terrier who really runs the house.
He hopes someday to raise alpacas.
Official Website: www.rifftrax.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “Moon Shine“
Doc Hammer was born in 1626 in Hamar, Norway, under the name Erik VonHamer. Being the son of a humble cobbler, not much was expected of the young man, other than to cobble and to not complain about all the cobbling. But Doc was destined for greater things. At 17, with nothing more than really well made shoes and a dream, he made his way to Antwerp to study oil painting under the great Rubens. Within a year, the two were at odds. Rubens spoke (infrequently) of Doc as “that creepy skinny kid,” and Doc spoke of Rubens’s work as “kinda unattractive if you really look at it.” By 1648, Doc had relocated to Leiden, where he found his master in Rembrandt. It was there, in his 23rd year, that Doc met “She Who Was To Deliver The Kiss Of Eternal Youth.” After a spicy courtship, “She Who Was To Deliver The Kiss Of Eternal Youth” and Doc were married. By 1650 Doc had grown weary of immortality and committed an unsuccessful suicide by burying his never-corpse in the basement of a Dutch cottage. In 1870, Doc again resurfaced. Using the name Vilhelm Hammershoi, Doc resumed his painting career with mild success. After thanking his bride for “the immortality thing” and nicely reminding her that he had “heard every one of her stories like a billion times,” “She Who Was To Deliver The Kiss Of Eternal Youth” and Doc split up in 1916. Again, Doc literally went underground until, now using the name Armond Hammer, he resurfaced and made a whole mess of money selling overpriced meds to the Russians. Sick of all the baking soda jokes, Doc faked his death. Biding his time till the MC Hammer thing had blown over, Doc again resurfaced as “Doc Hammer.” Today, Doc still paints in oils and writes, voices, and does other crap for The Venture Bros. (a show you can watch on cable TV).
Official Website: www.myspace.com/dochammer
(UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS ON VENTURE BROS, DOC HAMMER HAD TO DROP OUT OF THIS ROUND OF SONG FU)
In a moment, you’ll discover the details of the first challenge. First, though, here is the list of challengers:
The 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: www.jeffmacdougall.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “At The Moon“
RUN AT THE DOG
Run At The Dog are high energy, rock/pop, category-sluts with multi-gendered vocals and intricate arrangements. They are like Abba meets Faith No More meets Mos Def meets the Mormon Tabernacle Choir meets Steely Dan. The songs of this Minneapolis 5-piece are always written right away, with no respect for the calculating mind. Audience members are unsure whether to dance, laugh, or panic.
Official Website: myspace.com/runatthedog
ROUND 1 SONG: “Noon Moon“
I suppose I am what you could call a “Multi-Instrumentalist”. That is a nice way of saying “Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of-none”. I began playing drums as a teenager and spent a great deal of energy during my 20’s trying to “make it” in the music biz. As a drummer, I have had the opportunity to play with some pretty incredible musicians, garnering literally DOZENS of fans over the years. In 2004 I joined the band Celestial Static, and spent several years melting some face with good friends Jeremy and Julie Elzerman. Once that ran its course, I decided to spend more time locked away in my studio, writing my own songs and learning to play guitar, bass and sing. It doesn’t pay the bills, but I have a good time doing it.
Official Website: www.jason-morris.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “The Universe Outsourced The Moon“
Edric has been writing music (off and on) for the past fifteen years. He wrote and directed a musical, The Pushcart War, based on Jean Merrill’s wonderful novel. He has written and/or arranged a number of songs for various friends - some commissioned, some as surprises. He loves acting in community theatre, and is inspired by the music of Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Adam Guettel, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty - and yes, Jonathan Coulton, who in addition to writing wonderful songs, also served as a portal to finding out about the Song Fu competition.
Official Website: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2arBC7f-6FY
ROUND 1 SONG: “Blue Moon“
“BUCKETHAT” BOBBY MATHESON
“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson is an awkward teenage accordionist and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in superhero-themed and “Comedy” music, and who works for minimum wage in the fast food industry. With his style varying from polka to folk, punk to pop, and then again from rock to bluegrass, we’re left unsure what to expect. One thing for certain is that Bobby doesn’t like talking about himself in the third person, and therefore will stop this silliness right now.
Official Website: www.myspace.com/buckethatbobby
ROUND 1 SONG: “I Hate The Moon“
Insane Ian is a comedian and writer from Baltimore, Maryland who specializes in all things nerdy, both in parody and original compositions. From Sci-fi TV shows and films, to video games, to comic books - no nerdy topic escapes his sardonic (and satiric) wit. Among his peers - such as Sudden Death, the great Luke Ski, Jonathan Coulton and, of course, “Weird Al” Yankovic - he is the only artist to have written this bio, and remains at the top of that list. Currently, his song “Guitar Hero” (from his upcoming album n3rds0ngs) is the number three most requested song on the Dr. Demento radio show for last month. Usually for a song, I.I. surrounds himself with talented people to make himself look better…and now is no exception, as friend and producer Mike S. helps on instrumental duties.
Official Website: www.insaneian.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “Luna, See?“
Hello everyone. I’m Bram Tant, a 19-year-old Belgian student who enjoys playing the electric/bass guitar, singing, and writing songs in his spare time. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional musician, and I’m psyched to have been selected for this awesome contest. Having greatly enjoyed the first edition, I want to test my humble songwriting Fu against other (hopefully) great artists. Unfortunately, I do not own decent recording equipment - all I have is a computer microphone. Still, I’ll try the best I can to record the best song I can write. About musical influences - lately I’ve been really awed at/inspired by the work of Jonathan Coulton, and I found out about this contest through his website/forum. Else, I enjoy a bit of everything. My musical style is a bit hard to define: I play a bunch of stuff like soft/hard/classic rock, punk, metal, folk, jazz, lots of improvisational stuff, and I seem to have a knack for writing love songs, probably because of a subconscious yearning for love… Anyway, I wish the best of luck to all the other competitors, and may the best win!
Official Website: studwww.ugent.be/~btant/
ROUND 1 SONG: “What Gives“
The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” could almost have been invented to describe Mick Bordet’s musical existence. Writing and recording songs since the tender age of thirteen, a quarter of a century’s experience has failed to produce any music his family can relate to. This may be because he steadfastly insists on bouncing between and across genres at every opportunity like a hummingbird with ADD, or perhaps it’s the eclectic collection of instruments he utilises for his sonic palette, from guitar and ukulele to theremin, yobstick and electric harmonium. Mick is a founder member of “The Lunacy Board”, Scotland’s premier progressive avant-garde skiffle duo, and cites influences as diverse as Edgard Varèse, Ivor Cutler, Conlon Nancarrow, and Roy Harper, to name but four. The duo have recently released three debut albums, including one written, recorded, and mixed within a single day – perfect training for the Song Fu challenge.
Official Website: www.lunacyboard.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “First Impressions“
Steve Chatterton is an independent musician living in the suburbs of Toronto. Known primarily for his jingle work on local television and his electronic project 11t1, he’s now putting all of his musical efforts into the ever-elusive self-titled singer-songwriter recording project he’s been wanting to get around to since he was 10-years-old and had just discovered The Beatles. Steve is an honors graduate of the jazz guitar program at Mohawk College, and has since performed in a wide array of bands that nobody has ever heard of. After retiring from performing to concentrate on raising his kids, he’s recently put together his own basement studio and has set a personal goal of producing at least one song a month.
Official Website: music.stevechatterton.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “Someday (You’ll See)“
Tom Rooney has participated under the band name Thomas F in the Record Production Month Challenge for the past two years, successfully completing an album of 10 new original songs within the month of February. The challenge provided a welcoming environment of diverse artists from around the globe all frantically striving to beat the end of the month deadline while encouraging and supporting each other. This experience has given Tom the confidence to put his music out there, for better or worse. Most feedback has been politely positive. Raving masses of fans still to come.
Official Website: www.virb.com/thomasf
ROUND 1 SONG: “Sparkle In The Night“
Fun, Zesty, Acoustic, Energetic, Crunchy. Some of these words describe the Baritone-Ukulele-wielding N8 Shivers (the others describe Taco Bell’s newest food-like invention). He began writing songs at the age of two, and taught himself to play the uke a mere 17 years later. N8’s Family members claim he’s the best uke-playing song writer they’re related to. He enjoys Stand-up Comedy, Coen Brothers movies, Chilly sandwiches, and Canadian sitcoms. His Turn-offs include Banana Flavored Things, Republicans, and Mountain Dew. N8 is currently employed as a Wizard in southern Ohio.
Official Website: www.myspace.com/ncomma8
ROUND 1 SONG: “Hide“
Jeremy Pierson is a struggling artist of that so-called RenGen crowd. His passion for music has run deep through his veins since his earliest days of hearing The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stevie wonder, and Marvin Gaye on his parent’s record player at home. As a songwriter, his influences cull from the likes of those legendary artists already mentioned, and include influences from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jamiroquai, Earth, Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Bob Schneider, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon. His greatest barrier as a commercially successful artist is clearly his lack of interest in limiting his musical creativity to any one genre. Jeremy also feeds his creative juices through his artistic work in photography, film, writing, illustration, and design.
Official Website: www.jeremypierson.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “Shadows On The Moon“
Johannes “Jutze” Schult (from Germany) likes to make songs about weird stories and situations. It’s all about creating a musical scenario that is somewhat original, yet believable by some stretch of imagination. Jutze used to play drums in a heavy metal band, and then founded his own pop band where he played guitar. These days he’s mainly doing solo work for the fun of it.
Official Website: www.jutze.com
ROUND 1 SONG: “The Moon Is Made Of Cheese“
ROUND 1 VOTING
And now, it’s time for that all important voting, where you’ll decide which 5 Challengers get to move on to Round 2. Please remember, you can only vote FOR ONE song - so choose very carefully. Also, be sure to vote for your favorite song from our reigning Masters of Song Fu - Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm, or The RiffTones. You may only vote once, so make it count. VOTING CLOSES AT 11:59pm EST on THURSDAY, AUGUST 28th.
ROUND 1 VOTING - THE CHALLENGERS
ROUND 1 VOTING - THE MASTERS
If you triumph, not only will you win remarkable (and potentially off-putting) bragging rights and a clutch of fantastic mystery prizes, you will 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. Yes. Dana Snyder.
Good luck, and bring on the Fu.
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