better music challenges July 1, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Meta Music filter. As a newbie, I was a touch underwhelmed by the recent song challenge. "The theme of water" seems so broad as to be kind of, well, boring. Why not 'love' or 'nature' or 'loneliness.' Might I suggest something a bit more kooky, esoteric, and actually challenging for the next one. Something along the lines of, "you make me touch your hands for stupid reasons." (via) Maybe nothing that gimmicky, but come on! Can't we do better?
posted by es_de_bah to MetaFilter Music at 9:23 AM (31 comments total)

The only reason water was the theme is that no one could agree on the theme. Don't blame the decisive messenger, man.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2007


We'll probably try a pretty wide variety of themes, es_de_bah, some quirkier/weirder/niche-r than others. As Jess says, we kind of just went with a workable suggestion to kick this thing off.

Having something fairly broad and open to interpretation seemed like a good idea for the initial theme, regardless: let people get a taste of picking an angle on something without too much connotative baggage to deal with, just to get the engines running. I'm pretty pleased so far by the variety of different conceptual takes we've gotten on "water" so far, and I'm curious what else we'll see in the next few days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2007


I thought it was a pretty good theme to start with. You can take it in lots of directions.

Doesn't all have to be "drip, drip, drip".
posted by gomichild at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2007


I hope next week it's Earth. Earth's a badass. Heart, however, was incredibly stupid, except for the pet monkey.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


What gomi said. I would prefer far more generalized or abstract themes that are open to interpretation as opposed to concrete subjects, which I think are limiting. For example, "Break-up Letter Week" would probably be good for some laughs but the super-specificity of the topic could fetter creativity or result in a lot of cliched songs, whereas the theme of water gives a lot of room to explore genres, styles, and subjects.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:32 AM on July 1, 2007


What about something that's happened in america, involving an american, doing something very american ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:34 AM on July 1, 2007


...for a change.
posted by timeistight at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2007


I know:
Relationships.
posted by chococat at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2007


The next theme should be "The Indisputable Correctness of Declawing Your Neighbor's Cats".
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on July 1, 2007


I'm sure I speak for a lot of people here when I say I'd love to hear a few songs tackling the prickly subject of Peter Lorre eating a bowl of cereal on a roller coaster.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:10 PM on July 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


...in the style of jim kerr singing 'waterfront'.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:14 PM on July 1, 2007


From my armchair, I see the participants each providing a possible theme. The ones that get the most positive reactions will be used serially.
It is better to suggest one theme than curse the darkness.
posted by Cranberry at 12:24 PM on July 1, 2007


Being the guy that "complained" about the theme on the title of his song, I have to admit, the theme is the least important thing.

For a while now Mefi Music had been very slow, and last week we had an outburst of new songs and a lot of people commenting on them. It was fantastic.


(I'd also like to take the opportunity, in case Baby_Balrog comes back, that it would be great to hear more Who Hi John? songs, man I loved that band

posted by micayetoca at 12:31 PM on July 1, 2007


The theme is "Chinese Chi Balls"

What? I just got a gift set. There's a lot more too them than just rolling your balls around in your hands. Although that is kind of nice. They also came in a nice sac to put them in. I get lots of requests for people to touch them. Chinese Chi balls are nice.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2007


I hope next week it's Earth. Earth's a badass. Heart, however, was incredibly stupid, except for the pet monkey.

I don't know, heart could turn out to be pretty interesting.
posted by Many bubbles at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2007


Themes like this make it difficult for people with no lyric writing or singing ability. How about the theme of "Songs between 90 and 100bpm with a theremin"?
posted by Jimbob at 5:23 PM on July 1, 2007


This is the very first time for this new idea at MeFi Music. There's going to be a new challege from here on out every two weeks And somebody chimes in straightaway that the theme is no good. I tell ya... MetaFilter can be a funny place.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2007


Doesn't all have to be "drip, drip, drip".

Hey, wait a minute there, gomichild! What's wrong with drip, drip drip? Happens to be one of my favorite sounds.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:41 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Would someone please touch Burhanistan's Chi balls?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:42 PM on July 1, 2007


What about something that's happened in america, involving an american, doing something very american ?


Well, I dunno sarge, I'd say the current water theme fits that bill perfectly. For example, I'm told they drink (and occasionally even bathe) with water back in the U. S. of A. And let's not forget waterboarding: what ol' Deadeye Cheney so amusingly referred to as a little dunk. American as apple pie!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:45 PM on July 1, 2007


F@M, I was thinking the same thing! Jeez o peez!

I thought that "Water" was excellent. It really left the door wide open for experimentation and expression.

In fact I'm thinking about recording a song in which I gargle and play harmonica with my nose simultaneously. What not great about WATER?!
posted by snsranch at 5:55 PM on July 1, 2007


Oh and sarge, perhaps most American of all: Bling h2o!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 PM on July 1, 2007


Hell, honestly I think the theme is close to irrelevant - simply having and observing a theme is enough for me. I love this challenge and have loved clicking on mefimusicchallenge to see what people are doing.
posted by ORthey at 6:26 PM on July 1, 2007


I wish I could get the guys I jam with interested in this. I brought it up last night, but I'm just the bass player. They kind of looked at me like I said something, then started playing Whats Inside A Girl. (Water?)
posted by Sailormom at 7:43 PM on July 1, 2007


I kind of like the water theme, but who am I to judge? The admins are going to come up with the themes for now, and we've just got to get on with the writing.

I spent all evening working on a bridge...
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:18 AM on July 2, 2007


I spent all evening working on a bridge...

Over troubled waters, no doubt.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:05 PM on July 2, 2007


"The theme of water" seems so broad as to be kind of, well, boring. Why not 'love' or 'nature' or 'loneliness.'

My two cents (not that anyone cares):

1. "love", "nature", "loneliness" -- all boring, overdone music themes. Heck, almost every single musician who visits this site has at least one song ready to submit right now. That's not to say that the theme should be unusual to prevent fraud; just that the prevalance of songs on these topics in your average songwriter's personal catalog is indicative of them being overused and common.

2. I wrote a great little (emphasis on little) song inspired by the water theme, and may or may not submit it (time willing). Nevertheless, I would have liked something more specific, so as to increase the difficulty. That's why SongFight works for me personally (the difficulty level.) I'm not suggesting this should be just like SongFight (on the contrary!) but that I enjoy a challenge more than I enjoy how "interesting" a theme is -- in fact, the challenge of making something boring/stupid/confusing into a viable and engaging song is where I find all the fun.
posted by davejay at 3:22 PM on July 2, 2007


I think davejay made some good points there. There is perhaps one thing worth mentioning at this stage, though: not everyone at MeFiMusic writes songs. We shouldn't forget that the themes for the challenges should be broad enough to apply to those who make and submit purely instrumental music as well. This time around the broad theme of "water" is applicable to either vocal or instrumental music, and as such I think it's a pretty good theme. Something like "loneliness", however, will be pretty much applicable only to lyric-based music.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:01 PM on July 2, 2007


I dunno, I think that's a matter of perspective, flapjax. I've heard some damned lonely instrumental pieces.

Now, "the last words of Chester A. Arthur, repeated five times" would be lyric-centric.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:09 PM on July 2, 2007


Of course you're right, cortex, and that's why I wrote "pretty much applicable...". Naturally, states of being, emotions etc. can be conveyed with instrumental music. Still, the room for personal interpretation of these intangibles within the context of instrumental music is so wide and subjective as to be, well... very wide and subjective. So much so as to make them practically useless as specific themes for instrumental music in a challenge situation like this. At least, IMHO.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:00 PM on July 2, 2007


I hear you.

I think what's likely is I'll start a Metatalk thread come Friday night or Saturday, as a bit of a post-game/what-next/topic-talk catchall for the transition from the first challenge to the second—we'll get some ideas collected from folks who participated and folks who didn't, and see if we can't develop some further ideas about the whole thing.

It strikes me that having a forum for hashing out some more specific ideas and even dares for those inclined could serve the purpose: we have a theme, and then we have a sort of open discussion of the theme where some of these refined notions can get aired, for the benefit of those that want it. The pending Metatalk thread would be a good place to do it for now, and in the future we might pursue something more dedicated if there's need.

I get excited just talking about this stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 PM on July 2, 2007


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