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VOCR3: Mercury Meltdown [RESULTS]

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I'm incredibly grateful to have done so well in this. The first time Phil and I entered a VOCR, it went over poorly. So I guess it's vindicating in a sense that so many votes came our way.

This was a lot of fun for me, and I hope everyone else involved enjoyed it as well. May VOCR live on--this is a great tradition! =D

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Congrats to the winners. I was really aiming for one of the top three to be honest. So while I'm disappointed in that regard, I'm happy with the overall final result of my entry, the few votes I've gotten, and the few comments that echoed the aims of my entry (I'll get to those in a bit).

I'd like to say to CN not to feel that bad about the lack of votes. As cheesy as this sounds, you experimented with a couple of things and the comments you get should open your eyes and ears on the faults. Search for the last VOCR compo...check out my track...I came out last place. I really took the comments from the last compo by heart and applied them here...and I think only DragonAvenger and Hale can judge the aftereffects since they were with me in the last compo. I would've liked more details in the comments about whether or not improvement is evident, but what was written to me was more than enough I guess.

I'd like to reply to some of the comments I've gotten if you guys don't mind.

Being compared to Shael is the biggest compliment one can get off this compo. So thanks, whoever you are. I wanted this track, especially the lyrics and "singing style", to sound hilarious but in the same time show that I've worked my ass off. To the one who was offended by using "shit", sorry, but I really wanted to keep that. I don't usually curse, but I did it anyway for the sake of the track's vibe. All these lyrics are based on my personal experience, by the way. And I was really feeling those words and the internal conflict of the song (between the verses and chorus) as I wrote them.

Clean production, fitting melodies, and confidence. Three of my criticisms from the last VOCR...seemed to be somewhat fixed here according to the comments. Thanks.

Now about the harmonies and the last line of the chorus, thanks for pointing those out. Yeah, those seem kind of unfinished and rushed. To be honest, I didn't really think about being innovative with the harmonies. I did enjoy doing the harmonies for "Great Scott...1.21 Gigawatts" and the final chorus. I think those were probably the best ones. But yeah...good points.

Now about the Arabic verse "not fitting enough for singing"...I'm really surprised that one of you got that impression off it despite not being familiar with the language...because it's kind of true to an extent. I'll tell you why. In my last VOCR, I used "proper" Arabic to sing, and people seemed to enjoy it. With this VOCR, I'm using my original hometown accent with words that aren't really suited for singing...or at least Arabic singers don't usually use this accent for songs. So kudos to whoever got the "weird" impression off it. I wanted to try and make my accent fit with the singing, but maybe it didn't come off too perfect.

Now for the final points of my post. First, I'd like to congratulate DragonAvenger for being the only one who has entered all three VOCR competitions so far! Secondly, thanks to Hale for organizing this compo and composing an awesome remix. Thirdly, I don't mind this thread to continue living on and more of you people posting/PMing your thoughts and criticisms of each track.

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Of the David'n'Phil who did Rock the World, I'm the David. I'd like to follow SwordBreaker's example and give response to what each voter said about our mix, because it seems like the proper thing to do in exchange for a victory. All opinions matter to me, so I'd like to say the following:

1. "- Got a nice almost Chris Isaak sound in the vocals

- Vocals slightly overpower the backing track. Hard to hear the background especially during chorus

- I like the creativity of the verse's rhythm and melody

- Maniacal laughter is a bit creepy."

a. I love it when people compare my singing to people I'm not that familiar with, because it gives me a chance to get more familiar with said people's work. After listening to the entirety of Wicked Game, the comment "almost Chris Isaak sound" is a good one to have. So thank you. :)

b. You weren't the only person to make the comment about the volume levels, so I'll handle all concerns about that here. Basically, yes: we screwed up on that one. Definitely could've made the vocals softer and still had them understandable. We did the recording session one weekend, and I actually did the mixing several weeks later, in one hasty afternoon on the day before an evacuation from a hurricane. Not a good excuse, I know. The fact that we achieved victory in spite of this (and other things) is interesting to me.

c. You liked the creativity! Yes! =D It certainly did deviate from what everybody else did rhythmically and melodically, which is what I was hoping for. And now for your last concern:

d. The maniacal laughter is from the introduction to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. As the lyrics dealt with supervillains, and both Phil and myself were big fans of Dr. Horrible, I arbitrarily decided to squeeze that into the ending segment. We have a version without it, but thematically speaking I like it there. The song had to have some kind of quirk, aside from my singing, right? Every other song had a quirk, whether it was beatboxing, pitch shifts, Arabic, or female. ;)

2. "- Your lyrics tell an interesting story. As far as things like pitch are concerned, I think you're the best one at it. But even though I hardly know enough rock to judge, I didn't think it had a rock feel, or at least not one that I was looking for. It was also chilling how you sounded, so I was able to catch on to your lyrics much better than without. Your note choices were pretty slick and catchy. It was pretty good overall."

a. First: Phil did the majority of the lyrics, and I agree that the story they tell is interesting; he gets mad props in my book for them, because without them I'd have had a hard time with the contest (instead of a GOOD time, like I did have!). Second: I'm glad you thought I was good with "things like pitch"--that's really a compliment to somebody who composes by ear, because I rely on pitch rather than theory when writing songs (usually). My thanks.

b. It really doesn't have a "rock feel," you and everybody else are right about that. With this genre, I was completely out of my element. Typically I do a lot of choral singing, musical theatre, operatic arias...which is the polar opposite of rock. So rather than aiming for the right feel, which I KNEW I could not pull off, I decided to focus on "things like pitch." And even though I didn't do a stellar job, in my opinion, enough people seemed to be okay with it for our mix to do well.

c. I attribute the "chilling" sound you described to the reverb on the vocal track. My actual voice is anything but chilling, I think. But if it helped you understand the lyrics, then in that case I'm glad it was chilling.

d. The note choices weren't anything incredibly complicated, but slick and catchy is the best I could've aimed for. Appreciate all the critiques.

3. "- The most solid overall of all the performances. The singer has a clear tone, a definate melody that fits well into the song, and good harmonies. I'm not sure if I like all the creative choices in the melody, but it's not too distracting."

a. Solid? Clear tone? Definite melody? Good harmonies? Many thanks! =D

b. Phil takes no blame for creative melodic choices, that's all on me. If they didn't distract terribly, I suppose there's no harm done. Glad you thought so many things about the attempt were solid.

4. "-No offense to the singer, but his style and tone of voice don't fit too well with the song. I like the tone, just not with the VOCR song. Not that I can say much myself."

a. I couldn't agree more, mine is not the right voice for rock music. I just wanted to enter the competition anyway and see how I'd fare. The fact that you liked my tone, however, is intriguing. If even my toughest critic thinks my tone is good, perhaps I should try a mix in my preferred genre. >=D

5. "- this is the best voice of the competition. Love the singing, even though it's not really fitting to this rock-oriented track. Lyrics are cool. The melodies follow the track's riffs quite well while being creative in the same time...but again not really rock-friendly. LOVE the harmonies of the chorus and the guitar solo parts. About the mixing and mastering, while the singing sounds very solid, the track itself is a bit too low compared to the singing. One final note, and you know I'll have to say something about this: WTF is with that part towards the end? lol. That was just weird, man."

a. Dave is glad you love the singing, and we're both glad you think the lyrics are cool. ^_^

b. ...Maybe I should've attempted some Nightwish-esque stuff, just to push the envelope. If real rock doesn't work... ;D

c. LOVE the harmonies? Really? Thanks so much!

d. If ever VOCR happens again--which I do hope it does--I'll make an effort to balance vocal and track volume more properly. Thanks to everyone who pointed out that flaw, as it's a big one.

e. Dr. Horrible FTW. Freeze Ray. Stops time. Tell your friends. >_>

Again, had tons of fun with this and enjoyed everyone's entries. I hope others can find the time to discuss their reviews and such in-depth.

Keep singing, everybody. =)

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Of the Dave 'n' Phil duo, I'm the Phil.

First off, thanks everyone for the votes. We worked hard on this.

Second, though David gives me mad props for the lyrics, I couldn't have finished them without his help. Indeed, he contributed at least as much as I did on that end.

Thirdly, Dave was awesome with the melody choices - I've got a decent hand at writing lyrics, but my music writing skills are crap. I'm very glad his melodies got compliments.

Fourth: We both knew his voice wasn't well suited to rock music, but we went with his mostly because I took the lion's share of the vocal work for the first VOCR, and my voice is nowhere near as good as Dave's is (though it isn't half bad). His voice also has a much greater range, which was needed for this, so I stuck to backup vocals, and it worked out great.

5th, the music/voice balance is something we've always struggled with when recording. We'll devote some extra time into this for the next VOCR - owing as we're both college students, we were struggling to fit in an afternoon where we could record and master. We got it all done, but our tracks do need lots of polish.

Sixish, as David told you, the ending laughter is from Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, an excellent 45ish minute online musical about a low-rent supervillain. It was written by Joss Whedon and stars Niel Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillian, and Felicia Day. It's got fantastic music and is a great film. Go see it at www.drhorrible.com (or just check the link in my signature).

And lastly, thanks again for the votes and comments. We did so-so in the first VOCR and missed the second one, so going from not placing at all to winning is quite the surprise. Hope to see y'all for VOCR 4 (provided a hurricane doesn't wipe us out).

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I suppose I'll follow suit. I'm the Noah of Kroze and Noah...

– Refreshingly serious lyrics. Some spots were iffy (like “tries I have gave”) but in general they were well written. You had some good harmony going on, and tasty melodic work.

Kroze and I tossed around lyrics for a couple hours straight one night, and passed mp3's around of melody/harmonies. The tries I have gave was a Kroze line, but I liked it. Not exactly proper, but I had no complaints (or I wouldn't have sang it).

I wish the vocal quality had been a little less dry; some effects could have made this a lot better. I did like it though, the most serious of the bunch and nicely done. In closing, I must say that the beatboxing section was impressive. :D

I actually had some EQ, Compression, and a bit of a chorus on the verse vocals. The beatboxing section came about as a...

Me: "Hey Kroze, I think I want to do an A Capella section of the chorus"

Kroze: "Okay."

-10 minutes-

Me: "Dude.... Should I beatbox behind it?"

Kroze: "Yes! Yes! Do it! Do it!"

Something like that.

I was looking for the Sound of Rock, and your song definitely showed it! Quite honestly, you could have had retarded lyrics or several bad note pitches, and I probably wouldn't have noticed. ...The lyrics weren't retarded, but I thought there were a couple of pitch issues.

I don't really think I have a Rock-suited voice, but I thank you for your comment. I did my best. I did have bad pitches, and I didn't really feel like autotuning them, because I don't really believe in autotuning for a vocal competition. I could re-recorded them, but I have very limited time due to class and my job with a marching band.

Again, I cared less. That middle freestyle part was one hell of a surprise, but very fresh. At the same time, it seemed maybe half-appropriate, and the abrupt blend back into the guitars wasn't transitioned very well. In the end, I liked it quite a bit!

As far as the beatbox section, I just did my best to have everything cut out, and cut back in. The point in the backing track didn't really leave much of a transition point because I actually cut out 4 measures of Hale's solo for it.

- Good melody, and a confident performance. Some of the harmonies are a bit out of tune and also slightly out of time from one another, which detracts from the piece. It would sound very nice cleaned up/autotuned.

As I said earlier, I don't really believe in autotuning, and had fairly limited time to work on it. I am kicking myself for not making more time to do it, and am REALLY kicking myself because the harmonies that you're talking about not lining up are because the harmony line was recorded two weeks before the melody line, and for some reason, Audacity doesn't like to line things up when recording for more than 10 seconds or so.

Vocals sound a bit dry/placed on top of the mix, or something.

This is the second comment I've seen about dry vocals. I have a preproc version floating around on my server, and compared to that, the submission track sounded REALLY good. But in listening to the other tracks, I guess I have to agree. I mainly did tweaks to fill the sound out, and not too much to tweak the listening experience. (I don't usually do a lot of vocal processing of that style because I record a lot of barbershop tags, and things need to be really dry)

Mucho points for the beat-box section. VERY nicely done.


This entry just clicked with me in an instant. While the singing voice isn't the strongest of this competition (a couple of kinks in the performance when hitting those high notes, but nothing to write home about), it's still not a bad voice at all...plus the singing is very rock-friendly.
*bows* Second comment on my rock-friendly voice. It took a while to get into the feel of the song, but I tried my best.
Creative lyrics, melodies, and harmonies...they all suit the track well. That chorus is damn catchy. That beatbox section surprised the hell out of me...fits so well and it transitions almost seamlessly to the main guitar riff (aside from that sudden spike in the track's volume after you're done singing in that part).

Kroze and I were talking after we submitted, and were saying about how generic our lyrics were. The Verse _b melodies were almost straight from the backing track, and the melodies were the first natural melodies that popped into my head. As far as the chorus, I think I drew inspiration on a relatively obscure song that had a similar chord progression, but I can't remember exactly what it was, but when I heard the backing track for the first time, I knew that I had the lyrics to fit the chorus. I did, however, have to altar the melody in the chorus line to be up at the E instead of down at the A. I also don't hear the volume spike after the beatbox section.

Recording and mixing are also pretty solid...I heard a weird "pop" in an instant or two. Whatever, though. Best track of this competition. Congrats.

Thanks for the compliments, feedback, and suggestions.

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Seeing as how I don't wanna look like the guy who didn't do it, I now have to respond as well...

I'm Kroze of Noah and Kroze. (Yay for being redundant!)

I do agree that "tries I have gave" was a bit improper grammar but there have been many songs out there which don't actually use correct grammar (Or spelling for that matter... "Rock wit u" anyone?), but I don't think it ruined the flow at all in the song.

And yeah, its odd to see a couple people mention how the lyrics were the most serious out of the bunch and that was refreshing when I really did think that a lot of the lyrics were pretty generic. Although, I think its worth mentioning that the original chorus lyrics were "Yoouuuuuuuuuu and meeeeeeeeee, I just Know we're ne-ver meant too be. From meeeeee to youuuuuuu, I just have to say I gotta gooooo." so I do think the current chorus is a improvement.

When Noah first started writing the song before he said I could help (Bribery and blackmail were used... almost too easy!), it was more about a "Psycho-bitch that almost instantly fell in love with me" which I didn't think would work too well with the whole song mood and feeling, so it slowly changed into a "cheating bitch that needs to get the hell up outta here" which I personally think suits the music a whole lot more.

I am personally happy how it turned out although looking back on it, makes me want to write a part for Verse 2b so there isn't that few seconds of music before Noah comes in with "I cannot live this way..." but ya live and learn! (HANGIN ON THE EDGE OF TOMORROW!!! Ahem... sorry... couldn't resist...)

Congratulations to everyone that was involved with this contest!

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