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Best Scholastic Original: Apples and Oranges

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 12:29am by Robert Comments Off on Best Scholastic Original: Apples and Oranges

Apples and oranges have more in common than these tracks.  Literally.  At least both of those things are generally the same shape.  The only thing these songs have in common is that people in the groups performing them wrote them (with one exception).

I love this category.  I’m so glad it exists.  But without any kind of guideline or criteria as […]

Pop/Rock Album: The Best of the Best

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 3:42am by Robert Comments Off on Pop/Rock Album: The Best of the Best

I could write complete essays about each of the albums nominated in this category.  Instead, I’m going to do the exact opposite.  To mix things up a bit, I’m just going to share with you the notes that I took on each one after about 2-3 listens (edited for readability, of course!).  If you thought any of my previous posts […]

CAL Album: One Album to Rule Them All

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 4:48pm by Robert Comments Off on CAL Album: One Album to Rule Them All

You needn’t look any further than the nominees for best Pop/Rock album to find the winner here.  That’s right; Hold That Thought (Fermata Town) boasts a nomination in this category, and in that one as well.  The nominators thought that this album deserved to throw down with the best in the biz.  I agree.  It’s the clear winner here.

Now, this […]

Male Collegiate Arrangement: New Twists Abound

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 11:03pm by Robert Comments Off on Male Collegiate Arrangement: New Twists Abound

Last week, when I talked about the Mixed Collegiate Arrangement category, I mentioned that it’s all about emotional resonance with me.  Evoking a feeling is paramount – regardless of whether it’s something simple or complex.  Well, in this category I was treated to an arrangement that accomplished this so well that it actually made me rethink a song that I […]

Male Collegiate Album: Menergy!

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:50pm by Robert Comments Off on Male Collegiate Album: Menergy!

This is one energetic category!  That’s the one thing I can say about all of the nominees: each one packs a punch in its own right.

But punch isn’t always enough (especially if everybody exhibits it).  Which albums went above and beyond?

I think three of the nominees can be more or less grouped together.  They have a lot in common in […]

Soul/R&B Song: Spotlight on the Solo

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 5:49pm by Robert Comments Off on Soul/R&B Song: Spotlight on the Solo

In this category, more so than any other, I just want a stellar lead.  That’s saying something, because I always want a great lead.  It’s doubly important here.

Soul music (and to a different extent R&B) is at its very core about communicating something from the depths of one’s self.  I like to think of it as the things we can […]

Hip Hop/Rap Song: Too Legit to Quit

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 10:35pm by Robert Comments Off on Hip Hop/Rap Song: Too Legit to Quit

To me, the winner here is the track that is most authentic.  I define authenticity as such:

1)   Does the beat groove?  Is it danceable (if applicable to the song)?

2)   Are the vocals energetic enough to match the intensity of the instruments they are replacing?

3)   Does the lead vocal communicate emotion and story?  If it’s a rap, does it flow in […]

Mixed Collegiate Arrangement: All of the Feelings!

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 6:46pm by Robert Comments Off on Mixed Collegiate Arrangement: All of the Feelings!

It’s all about communication.

When it comes to arranging, I appreciate technical wizardry as much as the next music theory nerd.  But you have to engage me emotionally.  That’s what it’s all about.  All the substitutions, clever bell chords, and nifty groove change ups have about as much value to me as the world largest cubic zirconia, unless they’re being utilized […]

Mixed Collegiate Album: The Best Singing Wins

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 10:33pm by Robert Comments Off on Mixed Collegiate Album: The Best Singing Wins

I’m going to be honest – I wish there was a little more sonic variety in this category.

As I was preparing to write this column, I did a test with a friend of mine (who is very familiar with a cappella, but hadn’t heard any of these albums).  I told him that I was going to play five tracks from […]

Pop/Rock Song: When Genres Collide

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 6:59pm by Robert Comments Off on Pop/Rock Song: When Genres Collide

The song categories are especially tricky.  When it comes down to it, I think the only way to really evaluate something this general is a gut check.  Which one just feels the best to me?  In the absence of something more specific to analyze, this seems like as good an approach as any.

…except that I like many of these tracks […]