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Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Psychosis 2: Results for the Second Round

Hello everyone,

Well, it's a new month, but Summer Psychosis 2 keeps on rolling. The results from last time had some crazy upsets, and now it's about to get even crazier with playing to get into the Sweet 16. That's right, no less than FOUR high seeds went down this week, some of them crushed easily. I warned you that a song bracket is a lot more competitive. While a particular artist may be greater overall, the best song of another artist could be better on its own, leading to a surprising result. You're now really getting the tastes of our voters, and we can't say that we're unaware of our biases. Anyway, we're pressing on with seven voters and making things very interesting!

Like a Rolling Stone 6, Papa's Got a Brand New Bag 1

"'Like a Rolling Stone' is damn important. I can imagine tons of people hearing that songs and deciding to pick up a guitar. It’s a song that on paper almost seems like Dr. Seuss, but in practice has more knowledge, wisdom and experience then a 24-year-old kid should have." - Mark

"For those who don’t know, I do mock trial. It’s like 'Law and Order,' except more realistic and everyone can act better than Ice-T. In high school, there was a case about illegal music downloads, and the defendant was a huge Bob Dylan fan. One of the witnesses claimed that the defendant was “blasting” Like a Rolling Stone from his headphones. Now, I don’t know if you've heard it, but 'Rolling Stone' isn't exactly a rap or dubstep track; it doesn't seem like the song you would rock out to. But the fact that this song can be blasted and rocked out to by an imaginary 16 year old kid says something about it’s quality." - Eric

"Rolling Stone" is proving again that it is a stalwart of this tournament, defeating the definition of funky in "Papa." It is impressive that Dylan wrote his most acclaimed song at 24. What was Dr. Seuss doing when he was 24 years old? Writing humorous cartoons for magazines and newspapers on the eve of the Great Depression.

Sympathy for the Devil 7, Gloria 0

"I would still have it stand as one of the Rolling Stones’ greatest songs, if not the greatest. It’s extremely catchy with excellent lyrics and an authentic beat. This was an amazing achievement in rock n' roll history." - Dan

"This is tough. Sin versus sin truly, for both songs have a devilish feeling to them, but which the lesser of two evils? 'Gloria' is, and I'm going with 'Sympathy for the Devil.' I’m not a huge Stones fan, because while there songs have a lot of pop and edge in them; I never felt there was that much creativity. That is except for 'Sympathy for the Devil,' which seeps in a newness unmatched by many other songs." - Steve

The very nature of more voters makes it less likely that there will be sweeps. Still, "Sympathy" pulls it off and makes it look easy. And it's true, the Brazilian samba beat in "Sympathy for the Devil" is pretty authentic for a 60's English rock band. Hell, the Stones recorded a demo much later called "Samba" that didn't sound nearly as convincing.

Strawberry Fields Forever 5, God Only Knows 2

"This was actually a tough choice. 'God Only Knows' is a well written song, an arrangement that mostly keeps the listener interested, with simple and effective lyrical content. I’m sure countless couples sang this to each other in the 60’s. 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' on the other hand, is dirty in the best way possible. It’s mysterious and oddly satisfying. The Mellotron intro is so soothing, yet is slightly deceptive as it doesn't really prepare you for what’s to come. We’re past The Beatles' cutesy period at this point, and they’re making music that makes you think and keeps you guessing. Ringo’s drum fills in 'Strawberry Fields' are so hip. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those drums have been sampled in the EDM world a few times." - Bryce

"Ugh, how do I choose? They’re both big songs with big arrangements and impeccable melodies. One inspired the other. And you hear French horn in pop in 1966 as much as you hear trumpet and cello in 1967. That being said, I’m going with 'Strawberry' because it does just a little bit more. I do think the crux of the melody for 'God Only Knows' is stronger, but I love how Lennon’s voice sounds lower and a bit more intimate. Maybe it’s the double-tracked vocals, but it only makes the song better to me. The verse also resolves beautifully, with the trumpet and cello leading the way. By the slimmest of margins, the Beatles." - John

This matchup was a fascinating one between two compositions that were peers and were made with each other in mind. One had to come out on top. And you are correct, Bryce. I didn't find a sample of Ringo's drums for another song, but I did find this dubstep/house remix of "Strawberry" that uses them.

My Generation 6, Yesterday 1

"Today, ‘My Generation’ is so benign, but back in the day it might have been pretty scary. These guys have baggy colorful clothes, long hair, and destroy their instruments (or in Keith Moon’s case blow them up) after they play. They are out of control! And this song just stands there and confirms every one of those fears. Also John Entwistle, one of the most under-appreciated bassists in classic rock, provides a fantastic bass solo to this track." - Mark

"I will say by far 'My Generation.' This song is electric and filled with young angst and makes you want to grab a guitar and break it by the end of it. This song IS The Who, filled with a meaningful song with dabs of tongue-and-cheek propelled at you with explosive energy. My Generation, no question." - Jim

There go the Beatles, just narrowly missing two of their songs pitted against each other. Well, not really. "My Generation" romped. In fact, it was "My Generation" the Who played for their infamous 1967 gig on the Smothers Brothers comedy hour, where Keith Moon and Pete Townshend put extra dynamite in Keith's bass drum without telling each other.

Whole Lotta Love 6, Respect 1

"If I had a motorcycle, I’d listen to 'Whole Lotta Love' while riding…and nothing else (probably not the middle section though). And maybe 'Communication Breakdown.' Anyway, I just love this tune and Led Zeppelin in general. This song takes me through a range of experiences. At first I’m like, “YEAH!” and then I’m like “What’s happening?” and then I’m like “Hot diggity dog!” and then I’m like “I’m gonna Google ‘back door man’” and then I’m like “Well, yeah, that seems obvious now!” In other words, that guitar solo is dripping with sex and sweat, and I think that was precisely what they were going for." - Bryce

"I am flat out wrong on this one. 'Whole Lotta Love' is not better than 'Respect,' but I'm voting for it anyway and I will not apologize. Is it demographics? Me being a white male who has in his lifetime attended a high school, I think that it very well might be. 'Whole Lotta Love' could make even the meekest among us shed their inhibitions and don a persona they did not know that they had within them. It is a power both mighty and frightening, and that’s worth my vote any day." - Steve

Down goes Aretha! It's official, a #1 seed has been eliminated in the second round, and in stunning fashion. Be it high school memories, unconditional love of Zeppelin or liking rock more than soul, it made most of the voters go for "Whole Lotta Love." In response to Bryce's discovery of the extreme sexual innuendo, this article has "Whole Lotta Love" at #1 of Top 10 Led Zeppelin Sex Songs. I quote: "Saying that the guys in Led Zeppelin occasionally had sex on their minds would be perhaps the biggest understatement of the 20th century."

Hey Jude 5, For What It's Worth 2

"'For What It’s Worth' is a great exercise in modesty. Here’s our song, for what it’s worth. It’s a terrific one at that, with its muted kick drum and incredible guitar sounds. But what I can’t get over is the incredible boldness of 'Hey Jude,' from a pop standpoint. At this point (mid-1968), the Beatles could basically do whatever they wanted, no questions asked. Luckily for us, they dealt with something very meaningful, telling Lennon’s son that he should keep his chin up through his father’s divorce. There’s innocence in the verses, then things suddenly get melancholy in the refrains before a positive ending in the long coda. I’m hard pressed to think of a band (or a song) that can navigate those emotions with such power." - John

"Great song, not to mention very catchy. Everything from the very beginning to the climatic “Na na na Hey Jude” is brilliant." - Dan

There was a strong section of support for Buffalo Springfield, but in the end "Hey Jude" captivated its audience. The "Na na na na na na na!" coda was a big positive for "Hey Jude" during this matchup. It pushed the single's running time to over seven minutes while still topping the charts, a record that stood until 1993, when Meatloaf penned this little ditty.

You Really Got Me 4, Brown Eyed Girl 3

"Sha la la la la la la la la la I’m voting for The Kinks. 'You Really Got Me' is a heavy song. I think it was heavier than The Kinks even realized. If you watch videos of them playing it live, they’re kinda just bobbing in place, wearing their suits, looking all sharp. But the song has so much punk energy. I suppose losing their minds on stage probably wasn't the norm at that point in history, yet the song just begs for it. The lyrics even have a certain energy. This song…really got me." - Bryce

"This song is a classic with an edginess that was way ahead of the time it came out. The Kinks had a nasty, gritty guitar tone that would influence guitarists to achieve such a sound for years to come. Not to mention, the song is super catchy and really grooving. Awesome song!" - Jim

It was the bittersweet "Brown Eyed Girl" against the proto-hard rock "You Really Got Me," and the latter favorite just beat its challenger out. "Got Me" was truly ahead of its time, so much so that the Kinks barely knew how to present that much energy live. Then again, back in 1964 hard rock histrionics weren't invented yet .

Light My Fire 5, I Heard It Through the Grapevine 2

"'Light My Fire' is one of those songs that you look at and think how perfectly it described music at that point in time. Drug references ('Girl, we couldn't get much higher'), long guitar solos, even longer keyboard solo, trippy lyrics, and the infamous Ed Sullivan incident where they bucked the man and didn't censor themselves. Don’t get me wrong – Marvin Gaye and 'Heard it Through the Grapevine' are fantastic, beautiful, and amazing. But 'Light My Fire' just has a slight edge here." - Eric

"I love The Doors and I love this song! 'Light My Fire' is fantastic in both the instrumentation and vocals. It’s a very memorable tune and easily recognized." - Dan

The Doors were one of the icons of wacked-out excess in the 60's, mostly due to Jim Morrison. But that's partly due to songs such as "Light My Fire," which was introduced by batshit crazy beat poetry during live shows, which jammed like few rock songs had jammed before. If you like any of that stuff, 'Light My Fire' is easy to love, and you can see why it upset a #2 seed. And sadly, keyboardist Ray Manzarek recently passed away. R.I.P.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction 4, Space Oddity 3

"Are we all out of Bowie after this? Oh well, he’s more of a 70’s guy anyway (who am I kidding 70’s to present guy.) This bracket (or at least this match-up) deserves the Stones even if it’s still one of his best tracks." - Mark

"One of the great guitar riffs of all time. It literally drives the whole song. Simple song that packs a punch: that’s what the Rolling Stones were after on this one." - Jim

Another very serious challenge to a #1 seed, but "Satisfaction" escapes...barely. That's two Stones songs officially in the Sweet 16. For all of the delicious chord changes and direct narrative of "Space Oddity," that three note riff was still too strong. But don't worry, David Bowie is all over the upcoming 70's bracket.

All Along the Watchtower 4, Purple Haze 3

"I don’t know who’s better in this match-up – Jimi Hendrix, or Jimi Hendrix. On one hand, Jimi is one of the best guitarists the world has ever seen (and was super humble about it). On the other hand, Hendrix defined what psychedelic rock music was supposed to sound like. All that said, I have to go with Jimi Hendrix. On the reals, 'All Along the Watchtower' is easily my favorite Jimi song, and is an amazing reimagining of a Bob Dylan song. When the drum beat is just as memorable as the guitar on Hendrix song, you know it’s an all around amazing track. Plus, that breakdown halfway through, just… oh my god." - Eric

"On the one hand, Jimi Hendrix was the world’s greatest guitarist, a creative songwriter, and a champion of drug youth culture. On the other hand Jimi Hendrix was the world’s greatest guitarist, a creative… you get the idea. Here we get to put our best Hendrix foot forward, and I’m going with 'Watchtower,' I really think it’s a better song. 'Purple Haze' is just silly, it really is. Frankly there are plenty of instances in which Hendrix’s guitar shines brighter, his voice screams louder. Watchtower is a classic, and the fact that Hendrix got people to question whether he or Bob Dylan wrote that song is evidence enough for me of its greatness." - Steve

There were very passionate defenses on both sides of the Hendrix aisle, but 'All Along the Watchtower' came out on top of the fray. Many praised how the song built on the Bob Dylan original, creating one of Hendrix's most powerful songs. Who knew that an acoustic number could be rocked so long and hard?

A Day in the Life 6, Green Onions 1

"The title 'A Day in the Life' is pretty much self-explanatory, but the song makes the mundane sound magnificent. 'I read the news today, oh boy,' Lennon sings. The lyrics are just mildly-interesting goings on, but the way Lennon presents his findings leaves you hanging on every word. McCartney’s middle section is incredible as well, sounding disinterested and weary. 'Green Onions' rocks, there’s no denying that. But 'Day' is in its own little world." - John

"So much love for Booker last week, and now I predict it’s going to turn around pretty quickly. This Beatles track is the punctuation to (arguably) one of the greatest albums of all time (see Steve, I said arguably). It also personifies the end of one of the most prolific songwriting duos ever since one part of the song was written by John and one part by Paul. However, even as the ship is going down there is still beauty to behold in the wreckage." - Mark

Make that three Beatles songs officially in the Sweet 16! "A Day in the Life," with its reputation as the monstrous closer to arguably the Beatles' greatest achievement, cruised against the classic "Green Onions." Will the Beatles be forced to pull a Hendrix and have their songs face each other? We will see.

Oh, Pretty Woman 6, Be My Baby 1

"I think what seals this matchup for me is the uniqueness of Orbison’s voice. While the Ronettes have great voices and great harmonies, there’s just something great about Roy’s voice. Plus, it’s such a great song; he’s just constantly pleading with this girl, saying anything he can think of to make sure she stops and talks with him. And at the very end, you get this breathless excitement as you hear that she’s walking back, while the music starts to build. What’s she going to do? Is she going to talk with him? Is she going to slap him? Did she realize she’s going the wrong way? And, before you hear what happens, the song cuts out. It just…stops. It’s just so masterfully done." - Eric

"Roy gets it here. I can imagine Roy asking one of the members of the Ronettes, 'Pretty woman, won't you stay with me on this blog contest?' No Roy, no she will not." - Steve

Another #2 seed goes down handily, but with all of the support for Roy Orbison in this bracket it's not much of a surprise. Orbison's unique voice and rocking track cut through the din in a time when the British Invasion was king. And to be fair, the Ronettes were pretty women, were they not?

A Change is Gonna Come 4, Good Vibrations 3

"This matchup isn't exactly fair to The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys did what they did and they did it well. But what they did just can’t compare to what 'A Change is Gonna Come' accomplished at the time. Comparing these songs is like comparing successfully inserting a straw into a Capri Sun to graduating from college. Yes, they are both achievements, but graduating from college is much more meaningful, far reaching, and life changing. Though that may be a terrible analogy, you get my point. 'A Change is Gonna Come' is profound. Same Cooke is weary, but hopeful for the future of his people. The Beach Boys are playing with Barbies and talking about 'excitations.' Sam Cooke all the way." - Bryce

"I have said this before, but I’m not too big of a fan of The Beach Boys, and 'A Change is Gonna Come' serves its place in American history." - Dan

That's another #1 seed to go down! The profound, powerful 'A Change is Gonna Come' managed to capture more hearts than 'Good Vibrations.' With all the praise that 'Change' is getting, I'm sure some people are wondering how Cooke got stuck with a #8 seeding. Watch out for that one. And coincidentally, the Beach Boys HAD been playing with Barbie way back in 1962, before they were even signed.

California Dreamin' 4, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' 3

"I’m going WAY against the ranking here, but I think that worked pretty well for Queen last year if my memory serves me well. 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'' is nice, but I think it lacks something that 'California Dreamin’' has: context. 'California Dreamin’' can invoke a time, and a place. If you listen to The Mamas and The Papas you can’t mistake who they were and when they were. They were beatniks and hippies of the 60’s, preaching peace and love and traveling. 'Lovin' Feelin'' is nice, but it’s sort of been said before and since." - Mark

"Did I mention that I love the Mamas and the Papas? I have always considered Mama Cass to be the greatest white female vocalist of all time (roll over Joplin fans) and that is for good reason. The Mamas and The Papas represented the live fast die young attitude that punk would make so popular nearly twenty years before The Circle Jerks would pen Live Fast Die Young. And while punk was a clear revolt against acts like The Mamas and the Papas, they still hold a special place in my conception of the 60's and 70's." - Steve

In the battle of excessive apostrophes, the one with less won. End of story. But really, "California Dreamin'" is a classic folk song that has obviously struck a chord with our voters. It is an embodiment of the freewheeling 60's culture. And here's a sample of Mama Cass, for those who haven't heard.

In My Life 4, Reach Out I'll Be There 3

"It’s weird to think someone can write a perfect song for a certain occasion, but Lennon defiantly corners the “happy memories market” with this track. It manages to take a realistic look back at life without sounding to mushy but without leaving out the bad stuff either. For a 25 year old who lived a fantasy life for almost his whole life, Lennon’s words are relatable and pretty wise." - Mark

"Another great song by The Beatles." - Dan

The short and sweet "In My Life" has just sneaked into the Sweet 16, as a #14 seed no less! As the fourth and final Beatles song moving on, it draws on your memory banks and tugs at your heartstrings. No wonder it still resonates with people through acoustic covers, even by...Ozzy Osborne and Slash?

(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay 5, Honky Tonk Women 2

“Honky Tonk Women” flat out rocks. It’s gritty, raucous and above all a great song. But I’m sorry, how do you beat “Dock of the Bay”? After all of the rough times that Otis Redding has been through, he’s found some quality time to rest. With that crisp, tasteful guitar, subtle horns and gentle ocean sounds, I’d want to rest there too. - John

"This is a hard choice, but 'Dock of the Bay' is one of the saddest songs of all time. Not just because of the song itself, but the history behind it. It was released posthumously after Otis’ death in a plane crash. I also choose this song because Otis was a big influence on The Stones. They looked up to him by covering some of his tunes from time to time. Keith Richards originally wanted horns on 'Satisfaction,' and when he heard Otis’ cover of it, felt that he got a better sound for the overall song. I think even The Stones would side with me on this one." - Jim

Other #2 seeds have had their runs end early, but not 'Dock of the Bay.' It moves on relatively easily despite a bastion of Stones support. Up to this point, it seems that Redding can do no wrong with this song. He even did another song in the bracket the way Keith Richards wanted to do it. Definitely watch out for this one.

Best Minority Opinions:

Mark, on "Honky Tonk Women"

"I definitely need to defend this track because in my opinion it’s one of the most underrated Stones singles the other two being 'Star Star' (which is understandable) and 'Shattered' (which is NOT understandable). Every time I hear 'She’s So Cold,' or 'Angie' on the radio it hurts me because they could be playing these three songs instead…but I digress. This is just such a fun song, and fits the Jagger/Richards dynamic as well as any other Stones track. Like many British children at the time they loved old western movies, and the idea of the American West. They attempted to write many songs with the West as the backdrop and really only succeeded two times: this time and their cover of 'Dead Flowers.' Both of these tracks are as good if not better then anything I've ever heard on country radio, and from a couple of limeys no less."

(Editor's note: Mark, I know it hurts you to include those links, but I think people should decide for themselves what's good or bad)

Bryce, on "Green Onions"

"A day in my life where I listen to 'Green Onions' over and over…that’s what I’m talking about. I’m a Beatles fan, don’t get me wrong. But they don’t have a monopoly on good music. 'Green Onions' was basically just a kid messing around on the organ and making history in the meantime. It will forever be one of my favorite R&B/soul tracks of all time."

Steve, on "Space Oddity"

"Do people like 'Space Oddity'? I hope they do, because I certainly do and it would break my heart to see it lose here. Both songs have characters of course, and to me, the fact that Bowie’s is less believable gives him the edge. When you get right down to it, the characters in 'Satisfaction' and 'Space Oddity' are not all that different. The dude in 'Satisfaction' is just so much more relatable in terms of narrative than Major Tom, but the fact that on an emotional level Major Tom is more relatable earns that song my vote. It’s not every day I get to be a lonely spaceman after all."

Eric, on "Yesterday"

"This is a tough match-up for me, but 'Yesterday' has to take it. Ever since I was a kid, that song was one of my favorite songs. Not just favorite Beatles songs, but favorite overall song. It’s something we can all relate to – wishing to go back in time to when things were simpler, better. When life seemed fuller. When she loved you. And the simplicity of the song; just a guitar, with the occasional strings coming in and out – it has this intimate feeling, like Paul was playing this in his room by himself, privately lamenting a lost love, and just happened to record it."

Jim, on "Purple Haze"

Definitely 'Purple Haze' on this one. This is the song that shot Jimi Hendrix to fame in England, after he had outplayed Eric Clapton on stage at a Cream concert and showed London that Clapton was no longer 'God.' 'All Along The Watchtower' is a great song as well, but it came at a later period and had less of an important impact. Not to mention, it’s a cover. Bob Dylan is the original writer (props). While a great song, Purple Haze is the winner here, no doubt about it.

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