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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Summer Psychosis 2: Results for the First Round, Part One

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the first results section of Summer Psychosis 2! These sixteen matchups are the beginning of a long journey and it's already getting good. Props to the voters, new and old, who have dived headfirst into this abyss with aplomb.

Yet speaking of voters, unfortunately Casey has had to back out of Summer Psychosis, citing a very busy upcoming summer. I wish him well, and will miss his expected contribution (railing on Bob Dylan mostly)! This slight setback means that I did not vote this week, bringing the voter total down to nine in order to keep an odd number to prevent ties. But don't worry, Summer Psychosis will be up and running at eleven by next week!

Anyway, the 32 songs who squared off this week are all undoubtedly great; that's why they're here, after all. The top three seeds, otherwise known as the cream of the crop, all made it to the next round (some more easily than others). And let's just say it was great to be a fifth seed and bad to be a fourth seed. Here's a complete breakdown of the results, with a tally and quotes from the voters themselves:

Like A Rolling Stone 7, People Get Ready 2

"Is there a universe in which People Get Ready Is Better than Like a Rolling Stone? I’m not sure. Certainly The Impressions deserve their due, but Dylan’s lyrical poetry and tonal control is just brilliant. Imagine a world without that song; of course there would still be The Rolling Stones and 'Rolling Stone' magazine because both of those things got their name from a Muddy Waters song. 'Like a Rolling Stone' is all but perfect, a lyrical tour de force that is more quotable than 'Clerks' and 'Clerks 2' combined, and I don’t see it being voted out so soon." - Steve

While I like and respect Mayfield, it’s hard to compete with a legend like Dylan in his prime. And while “People Get Ready” is a nice song, there’s just not much too it. It’s soft and fluffy and sweet, like cotton candy. But the paper cone you put the cotton candy on is shaped like a cross and the cotton candy always comes out like Jesus. Man, I wish they served cotton candy instead of bread or wafers at church. I think you’d get a lot more people with that. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. “Like a Rolling Stone” wins. - Eric

As expected, "Like a Rolling Stone" cruises. In fact, "People Get Ready" was pretty lucky to get two. Oh well, thanks for playing Mr. Mayfield! To be fair, the 60's isn't your best decade anyway.

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag 6, Proud Mary 3

"Wow, as a huge CCR fan I instantly decided I though "Proud Mary" was the superior tune. Yet I figured I should at last give James Brown a chance before writing him off. I changed my mind the second that first chord struck my ears. I completely forgot that this song existed. When I think of funk, THIS is the song I think of. I am not even sure if this song IS funk (John will likely correct me here), but the song is THAT memorable. Also, while "Proud Mary" is a great tune, I would not describe it as CCR's best 60's song. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" got a new lease on life and will make it to the second round." - Elliott

"I would probably choose CCR over Brown under most circumstances, but I don’t think “Proud Mary” is one of their strongest songs. It’s definitely good, but when it’s put up against a funk and jazz staple like this I am always going to have to swing towards James Brown." - Mark

This is a bit of a surprise, considering how far CCR got in Summer Psychosis as an artist (Sweet 16). But with more people and a sense that "Proud Mary" wasn't the band's best, Papa moves on. And yes Elliott, it is funk, but it was also creating funk as we know it.

Gloria 5, I Want You Back 4

"Maybe I’m biased, because I grew up listening to the local oldies station. Hearing “Gloria” (and many other classics) brings me back to early Sunday morning when my mom would drive the family to church. And maybe I’m biased because I’m not a big Michael Jackson fan. And maybe I’m biased because I dig angry yet loving music (see also: my Paramore review). While “I Want You Back” is great pop song, there’s just something so much more passionate about Van Morrison screaming about how much he loves his girl, especially compared to a 10 year old boy in a falsetto pleading to have his girl come back to him." - Eric

"This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I’m going with "Gloria". Has there ever been a more ludicrous depiction of a woman? "Gloria" is like a fourteen year old boy's dream; the description of a late night booty call is so sexy it’s silly, and never in the history of bass lines has a bass line so perfectly fit the song as it does on Gloria. Seriously, listen to that bass line and try not to imagine the anatomy of the song's subject. Do I think Gloria will win? Probably not, but it gets my vote for sure." - Steve

Ladies and gentleman, the first upset of the bracket! Down goes MJ! This one was fought tooth and nail, but in the end, Team Morrison beat Team Jackson (yes, I went there). By the way, I have never heard "Gloria" on an oldies station in my entire life. WOGL, you have some explaining to do...

Sympathy For The Devil 7, Walk On By 2

"'Sympathy For The Devil' is one of my favorite songs by The Rolling Stones. I can remember the first time I heard those light conga beats and yells in the beginning of the track. And the iconic line 'please allow me to introduce myself' when the piano comes in. Its got amazing guitar work, a killer beat and subject matter that would have been difficult to swallow in the time it was written." - Carson

"When I think of a song with great lyrics, I think of this. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs by The Rolling Stones because everything about it is authentic, daring, and overall memorable. From the elaborate drum beats to the fantastic guitar solo, everything just screams out with such perfection. There really is no other song quite like it." - Dan

"Walk On By" got some well-deserved nods here, but everybody knew where this was going. From the outpouring of praise for "Sympathy", I'd look out for this one. And yea, talk about great lyrics. There are some references that I hadn't caught until now.

Strawberry Fields Forever 5, Gimme Shelter 4

"Man, this song must have been a surprise to whoever bought those singles. 'Magical Mystery Tour' and 'Penny Lane' are both so incredibly upbeat and normal. There is something incredibly unsettling about 'Strawberry Fields' though... It has a very sweet yet depressed tone, like a birthday balloon being deflated. Throw the weird ending section on top and you get yourself a really out there piece. 'Gimme Shelter' is a wonderful song that makes me think of Vietnam and all, but the feeling of 'Strawberry Fields' is much more 60's to me. I won't complain if it loses though. 'Gimme Shelter' is amazing." - Elliott

"This is a great song by The Beatles, primarily for its unique instrumentation. As part of the band’s experimental phase, “Strawberry Fields Forever” portrays more of The Beatles’ Baroque Pop feel. After every chorus is an array of sounds in each verse that flourishes as the song progresses. The track has so much to offer, including a hidden phrase at the end." - Dan

Whew, that was a nail biter! The Beatles and The Rolling Stones butted heads for the first time in this bracket and started a heck of a fight. Keep an eye out for another matchup in the future. "Fields" may best define the Beatles' off-their-rocker psychedelic period, while "Shelter" partially represents the death throes of 60's ideals. It's a shame one had to go.

God Only Knows 7, Runaway 2

"I got my first Beach Boys album on the way to the shore when I was about seven years old. Changed my life forever. I had never before heard such amazing harmonies in such easy to listen to and fun sounding song. Brian Wilson's haunting voice in the beginning spills into one of the greatest melodies in rock history." - Carson

"It took me a long time to really understand The Beach Boys. I still don’t completely. But I know there is both pure genius behind Brian Wilson’s writing and the performance of the band as a whole. I don’t think any other group has used voices in such a way that it harmony creates almost one instrument. A great example is the bridge of this song. I typically like my vocals with some grit and not always together, but this song really hits me deep. It’s beautiful. That’s it." - Jim

Sorry Mr. Shannon, but this matchup was a bit of a no-brainer. With its sophisticated structure and a powerful melody (one of the best indeed), "God Only Knows" is another one to watch out for. Here's another good example of the Beach Boys' harmonies functioning as its own instrument.

Yesterday 8, Suspicious Minds 1

"'Yesterday' is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs of all time, and I know I am not the only one who feels this. Many times it’s easy to get struck in the heavy drug induced "White Album" and how crazy and nonsensical it is. 'Yesterday' reminds you that the Beatles do have that personal element that everyone can relate to. It strikes a chord within every person." - Alexis

"Someone recently pointed this out to me: this really isn’t a Beatles song. It’s a McCartney song. It’s him on guitar, singing, with some strings that I’m sure as hell sure Ringo didn’t play. None-the-less, this song is really a great pure song, both beautiful and deep but still remaining cheery. There’s really not much to it, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s very pure, with a little bit of boost from the strings to add some color. I’m not one for acoustic songs, but this is really a good one. Also, 'Suspicious Minds'? Gotta be kidding me! I’d MAYBE enjoy that if I was wasted in a dive bar in the middle of Seacaucus, New Jersey at 2 am. And I don’t intend to be in that predicament anytime soon." - Jim

The songs that are the most dangerous in this bracket are the ones that still naturally resonate with everyone. "Yesterday" is one of the best at that it seems, which is why it crushed the very good (albeit melodramatic) "Suspicious Minds". Probably also why it's the most recorded song of all time. And Jim, what the hell? No no, don't apologize to me or Elvis, but the people of Seacaucus.

My Generation 9, Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel) 0

"I never thought the stuttering in this song was a good idea, but even aside from that it’s a fantastic 60’s song. Culturally, it was one of the first times when young people could have something in mass media to relate to. Nothing says your generation is different then a song about how your generation is different. Plus Keith Moon’s drumming. Nothing beats that." - Mark

"I’m a big Orbison fan, but it’s hard to go up against the song that defined a generation. 'My Generation' is the anthem for every new group of kids, whether they were sixteen in 1965 or in 2005. It’s all about how parents just don’t understand, which is something anyone, anywhere, and anytime can feel when they’re young and rebellious. Hell, you can even cite it as an influence on the punk movement 15 years after the song came out, from the angry guitar riffs to telling the old guard to ffffffff….fade away. It’s just one of the best songs in this tournament." - Eric

Boy, not only was poor Roy Orbison swept out of the building, but was dismissed as a man of the old guard (otherwise known as the man, man) despite only being 25 when he wrote "Only The Lonely". I guess when compared to "My Generation", most music seems stuffy and uncool. To accompany all of the praise about Keith Moon in particular, here's a little something.

Respect 5, Help! 4

"Alleluia, Sister! Sing it to the choir (literally, I was part of a choir)! Aretha’s powerful voice perfectly conveys the changing views of gender roles in the ‘60s. The second wave of the feminist movement was really just beginning and Aretha’s cover is basically the anthem for any strong independent woman (myself included)." - Alexis

"I gotta give it to my girl Aretha Franklin on this one. Opening up with those brass flares and that super slow bend with a guitar the song starts out amazingly. Then Miss Franklin comes in with her incredible pipes. So good." - Carson

Wow, a one seed almost upset in the first round? That's quite a testament to "Help!", an excellent song where you could how the Beatles were rapidly maturing as musicians. Though it's also safe to say that "Respect" is on thin ice right now; we'll see what happens. But it still holds a lot of significance culturally and carries more weight than the original.

Whole Lotta Love 7, House of the Rising Sun 2

"I didn’t even have to think twice about this. 'Whole Lotta Love' is one of the most rocking tunes of all time. The verse is so powerful, with Page and Jones locked in groove and Bonham’s thunder on top of it. Not to mention the amazing vocals by Plant, especially the intro. This song is also a favorite of mine because it really shows what Led Zeppelin began as: a Psychedelic Rock band. The break down a minute and a half in has acid trip written all over it, between Page’s melting guitar work and Bonham’s airy cymbal work. And Bonham’s fill into Page’s guitar solo is one of the most recognized of all time. Not to mention, Plant’s final scream of love followed by his moans in the last minute? Keith Richards once said that Jimmy Page WAS Led Zeppelin. This is a prime example of why he was completely off by that statement. Every member of Led Zeppelin was essential." - Jim

"More like House of the Losing Song. 'Whole Lotta Love' is sexy in a way that songs had never been up until that point, blasting from helicopters over Vietnam and from headphones in high schools everywhere. Besides, 'House of the Rising Sun' is, as the preview highlights, a traditional song. While the Animals did make it great, it isn't all that much better than the version by Woody Guthrie. Of course, Woody made a contribution to the song 'Whole Lotta Love' as well; Zeppelin was quoting him when they wrote “Shake for me girl, I wanna be your backdoor man”. Zep is getting my vote." - Steve

Well, it wasn't a sweep, but "House of the Rising Sun" was thoroughly blasted out of the room. That's a monster riff if I've ever heard one, made even better that it's only used at the bookends of the song. Besides, the Animals never turned "House of the Rising Sun" into a 23-minute epic when played live. Oh and Steve, lay off the inside jokes, we're in good company.

For What It's Worth 6, River Deep, Mountain High 3

"There were songs written in the 60's that weren't For What it's Worth? Huh... I seriously thought that this song was what the 60's sounded like if you put it into a record player." - Elliott

"Am I flat out wrong on this one? Maybe I am. Maybe I don’t care. Buffalo Springfield had the goods, and while they are easily most known for this song their other material is worth a listen for sure. For What its Worth has been featured in every Vietnam documentary ever made. Literally every one, I dare you to try and find one that does not have that song in it. Sure Tina has got her appeals, but 'For What It's Worth' is where its at." - Steve

Another big upset of a fourth seed! This one actually occurred pretty handily, praising is unique and iconic sound of "For What It's Worth". I can't say that I know a Vietnam war movie without the song, but the funny thing is that it's not an antiwar protest song, but a song about the Sunset Strip curfew riots.

Hey Jude 8, Will You Love Me Tomorrow 1

"Although 'Hey Jude' is one of the Beatles saddest songs, McCartney brings it in this super ballad. It is so touching and relatable as most people feel the best connection with John Lennon and his family. A really great song." - Carson

"I know Steve's not a big fan of this song, and that's good enough of a reason to vote for it. He probably said something like "Na na na nope" in his explanation, but judging by the votes he's in the minority. This song may be a bit hokey sometime, but it's still probably one of the most recognizable and loved songs of all time. Between the simple piano part, memorable lyrics and ensemble ending it's just a classic track." - Mark

I can't say I was surprised by this result. Just like "Yesterday", "Hey Jude" is another one of those very resonant songs that could go deep into this bracket. And it is a pretty sad song as people have mentioned, but at least it's uplifting by the end...except for this version digitally altered to the minor key.

You Really Got Me 6, A Whiter Shade of Pale 3

"This is another one of those songs that I could not pass due to the amount of catchiness that it contains. These tunes stick out among others, and from that point on they become instant classics. The Kinks are a great example of a band that releases such tracks." - Dan

"The Kinks really don’t get enough credit. Looking back on it, it’s fairly generic pop music; it was ahead of it’s time. Not very far ahead of it’s time, and the stuff it was ahead of wasn’t all that good, but they were progressive, which should count for something. Plus, 'You Really Got Me' fulfills my angry/angsty quota without having people give me mean looks." - Eric

The Kinks didn't really seem that angry when they performed it live, but it sure as hell was still catchy. It also hurt "A Whiter Shade of Pale" that it was a one-hit wonder, while "You Really Got Me" signifies just the beginning of the Kinks' long and storied career. Bottom line is that the Kinks deserve credit where credit is due, and so does Procol Harum, yet only one could move on.

Brown Eyed Girl 6, Jumpin' Jack Flash 3

"So, this song is basically my childhood. As being a brown-eyed girl, this song still brings up those same feelings. I cannot help but think of summer nights and backyard BBQs when my dad would play this song. Sometimes, songs are great, not for their actual quality in and of itself, because the images and memories it stirs in each one of us." - Alexis


The main strength of Brown Eyed Girl is its bittersweet, nostalgic feeling. So whether you remember it from your childhood or just want to sing it out, "Girl" works extremely well in both counts. Jumpin' Jack Flash is ridiculously good, but it couldn't hold back nostalgia. And on a side note, "Girl" was probably a good precursor to this album.

Light My Fire 5, My Girl 4

"What’s not to like about this song? It started The Doors off on the right foot with such great instrumentation and daring lyrics for its time. Jim Morrison’s poetry is unbeatable, while Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger’s keyboard/guitar combo is undoubtedly unique. The band certainly drew attention on themselves with this seven minute introduction to a sound that would influence artists for years to come." - Dan

"The Doors! I was waiting for this song to pop up eventually. Such an inventive band, the band draws the listener in and basically allows them to become one with the music (what can I say, it was the ‘60s! That was the point). They accomplish this through the long musical interlude. Many people may not like it, but I think it distinguishes the song and gives it that je ne sais quoi." - Alexis

Arguably the most inventive and expansive song this week, "Light My Fire" just beat out the short and sweet "My Girl". And why is "Light My Fire" so great? The back to back solos of Manzarek and Kreiger, respectively (which was recorded in one take, by the way). Then that entire instrumental middle section was cut, and the song became a hit.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine 9, Crazy 0

"Of all the choices, this is perhaps the easiest, even more so than the "Like a Rolling Stone" vote. Well maybe not that easy. Marvin Gaye has got that voice, nobody else has that voice. Of course there is a problem with "Through the Grapevine": nobody in their right mind is breaking up with Marvin Gaye. But still, is there anyone here who wouldn’t give him their vote? I'm not sure, and if there is, it certainly isn’t me." - Steve

"One of Marvin Gaye’s best. Such a grooving and emotional song. Really can hear the pain of this song in his voice. Also, the band on the track, The Funk Brothers, really lock it down here. Subtle but genius musicianship. Fun Fact: check out Gladys Knight and the Pip’s version of the same song! Same band, but totally different feel. I think both versions are great!" - Jim

The funny thing is that Steve's point is more or less valid, yet Gaye stills sells the broken-heart routine perfectly. That really shows his abundance of talent and how he really made "Grapevine" move. Here's the version Jim was talking about.

There's the choices, folks! Tune in next week for the First Round, Part Two. Until then, here's a fun part: the Best Minority Opinions. This is where nice write-ups make their way into a post, even though they voted for the wrong person.

Mark, on "Gimmie Shelter"

"I knew it would happen just like it did last year: an unlucky rank puts one of my favorites against something it probably can’t beat. Whatever, might as well go for broke. 'Gimme Shelter' is the Stone’s best song. First it has Richards playing some of his best guitar parts in open E, coupled with some very appropriate percussion instruments giving it an unmistakable eerie feeling. We have Merry Clayton delivering an incomparable vocal performance. It’s also personifies the feelings people had of the violence and uncertainty because of the Vietnam War better then any other song I can think of. It’s a song about chaos told from personal experience, and anyone else who has experienced it can relate to it."

Steve, on "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"

"Perhaps this is tempocentric of me, but 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' has got that sound. You’re at a sock hop, you’re listening to the Shirelles. You’re leaning on a jukebox and you are listening to the Shirelles. You’re at a drive in movie, you’re watching the movie, but in your mind you are listening to the Shirelles. And besides do I like 'Hey Jude'? Nah na Nah nope. Never cared for it, and while I'm not entirely sure why I would very much like to see 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' go on here."

Jim, on "I Want You Back"

"There’s no competition on this: 'I Want You Back' all the way. If it was a different song, I’d say it’s a hard choice because I really do like 'Gloria', but any Motown instantly gets major points with me. From a musicians stand point, 'I Want You Back' is an amazing song in the fact that it is so damn catchy, but it still remains a pretty hard piece to cover. The form of the song always gets tricky after the second chorus going into that amazing bridge, and then into my favorite part of the song, oddly enough when one of the Jackson brother’s sings besides Michael (not sure who it is) And Mike’s screaming at the end? Come on. ‘Nuff said."

Alexis, on "River Deep, Mountain High"

"I had never heard much Tina Turner, but now I understand why she is so famous. She is one of the few female singers that can make screaming sound good. Her energy plus the 'Wall of Sound' technique creates an emotional force that comes right at you like a speeding train. It is understandable why this can be considered Phil Spector’s magnum opus. And it is understandable that I am going straight to iTunes to buy it."

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