Thursday, June 09, 2011

My Ridiculous

Song: My Ridiculous
Artist: Jackie Tohn, Brian Judah, Jes Hudak
Album: Platinum Hit - Dance Floor Royalty

Bravo has this new show Platinum Hit that uses the Project Runway/Top Chef format for aspiring songwriters.  The channel had huge hits with the aforementioned titans of the genre, but for every Chef, there's a Fashion Show, Work of Art, and Make Me a Supermodel. (which okay... did have a pretty good first season.)  I'm embarrassed to say about 70% of my TV watching is Bravo, but even for me... I may get into a Kell on Earth, but then I skip a Pregnant in Heels, which I keep hearing raves about.

Platinum Hit stars singer-songwriter Jewel and songwriter Kara DioGuardi as hosts/judges and has twelve singer-songwriters who get eliminated based on songwriting challenges that start, thus far, with a write-a-chorus mini-challenge, and then a group complete-that-song main challenge based on that episodes theme.  The songwriters do seem genuinely talented, though are cast in the typical reality way of outrageous characters (and of course attractiveness.)  There's the crazy cocky but kinda really talented guy, the droll hipster, the loudmouth chick, the kooky outsider, the I'm-not-like-any-of-the-others innocent chick who may surprise people... you get the drill.  The pilot didn't really hook me on the show, as I'm just not sure how I feel about the format working for songwriting.

While I don't cook and have sort of a complete indifference to food in general... I find Top Chef riveting.  Same for Project Runway... I have zero interest in fashion and even less in dresses for ladies and yet... LOVE(d) that show.  Now as much as I like music, you'd think that I'd be down for a songwriting show... but it just didn't gel given the first episode.  But I did want to give it a second chance, and I'm glad I did.  Episode two was right up my alley... club songs, and featured a guest judge appearance by none other than the legendary Donna Summer.  This impressed me, and say what you will about the cheapening of an art through reality competition (which is totally valid) Bravo does get serious heavyweights from whatever line of business the show calls for.

The contestants first each wrote a chorus to a provided track intended for the club, and then the three "best" as chosen by the judges picked their teams from the remaining songwriters to complete the track.  Those songs were played for a "club audience," the winner was chosen based on their reaction, and then someone from the losing team went home.  Pretty standard.  I think there are some inherent issues with getting a wide variety of different types of musicians (from country, hip hop, folk, rock, you name it) and forcing them to write for a particular genre.  But according to Platinum Hit, they should be able to "get out of their comfort zone" and prove what fierce songwriters they are no matter the genre.  Take that for what you will... but could you see Bob Dylan trying to write a hip hop anthem?

Well, given I have an affinity for the genre, and the presence of Ms. Summer, I actually really liked episode 2.  And the songs that they ultimately produced are actually pretty good.  They are available on iTunes after the show for download (very smart) and therefore, I share with you my favorite of the night...

SPOILER ALERT, don't read unless you've seen the show or don't care....

So the winning team's song "Paint This Club" was certainly catchy, but upon a couple of listens... it grows a little annoying.  The song the judges panned, forcing the team to lose a member, "Make it Easy" is a little generic in the verses, but that simple chorus with not much more than a vocal hook is as Donna said, pretty anthemic.  It's been rolling through my head the last couple of days.  I like it.  But my favorite ended up being "My Ridiculous" which is cute, catchy, and a little dirty all at the same time.  It's chorus, as written by Johnny Marnell, was the winner of that first challenge, but got dissed in the end because the team decided to have the girls sing the hook, vs. Johnny which was what Ms. Summer thought made it unique and original.  I don't see this as a debt, but oh well... I'm not a judge.

Are you watching Platinum Hit?  What do you think?  Does it cheapen the art of songwriting... or give you new insight to how a song is built?


My Ridiculous
Paint This Club

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