Song Challenges – Challenge 5: Synth Nation – WINNERS!

Song Challenges – Challenge 5: Synth Nation – WINNERS!


It’s been a while! But we made it! This morning I received a mail from our judge, Marc Doty, informing me of his winner and giving me feedback on every single one of the entries. So, let’s get right to the point here and announce our winner….

Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of the Forum Song Challenge V: Synth Nation is….

Martin Brown
Itchy Brother Music

Congratulations Martin!!

Martin wins himself a copy of the Synth Nation ReFill from SampleFiends. Sedric will be in touch!!

So, what did Marc have to say about Martin’s entry?

“I heard this song, and it wouldn’t leave me. I have found myself singing it over and over again. I heard it when I’m just on my way to work, or at the store. I really think it is quality songcraft, and I love it! I love the melody. It is very compelling to me with the music. This is a great pop song. I hope it’s not offensive, but it sounds like something I would have loved in the late 80s. I would have totally bought the single. I like the stereo chord thing in verse two. The building in the verses is really effective. I found my head bobbing at the second chorus! 8675309… ha ha ha ha ha! The various parts are really effectively placed… instrumentally Cool end!”

And what of the others? Well, one of the reasons Marc took his time over the judging process, aside from carrying out his day job at Moog Music and the Bob Moog Foundation and his own work as Automatic Gainsay, is that he wanted to give constructive feedback to you all, so, in no particular order, here is what he had to say…

Doesn’t Matter

The string dynamics lend authenticity
Singer is talented.
I like the vintage sound of the portamento-y lead.
The section with the frequency-diminishing snare, and the subsequent break is really cool.
Guitar solo is a good guitar solo.
The ending was unexpected, and I liked that.

Gray Cloud
noise beats sound

The girl’s voice, the way she uses it, and the words are really cool.
The timbral choices really in line with what I like.
The simplicity is elegant.
The note choices in that sort of distorted-filter sound are interesting.
I like the vaguely-string part and how it builds.

Andy Hyde

Nice vintage feel.
I like the intimacy of the vocals, I think it’s really consistent with the topic.
I didn’t expect the organ stabs, and I found them pleasing.
The high pitched thing over the organish and pianoish was nice, and then when the phasey guitar-pluck came in, I was really happy.
I like the guitar-pluck break.
I think the ending was interesting, how the vocal lines were broken up, and then the “much lighter” ending.

But the Stars

I like the timbres at the beginning
I like the girl’s voice, and the melody
The harmony is powerful when it comes in
I like the unexpected nature of the little synth solo before 2nd verse
The bridge is cool and welcome… vocals are a really nice contrast… dreamy
The vocals around 3:00 are really cool
I like the octave version of the vocals and what it bleeds into… that noise. Very cool

Ceiling Fans

I love the honesty of the recording. I like that the piano sounds like you’re in the room with it, and I love the honesty in your voice.
When that whirry space sound comes in, it’s VERY powerful.
I like the combination of the piano and the electronics
I am really into the build that happens in this song.
Wow, the break is unexpected and beautiful… the phone… GENIUS.
This bridgey part is poignant, the backing vocals… powerful… and then the drums/synth come in. Well done.
Ha ha, the chant… unexpected, and still works.

Something Wonderful

The naming sample is a great choice
I always like those staticky-burst snares
The full-drum entrance is powerful.
The chords and realization of this head part are really beautiful.
It has a soundtracky aspect that is very compelling.
The end of the break part is really cool.
The timbral choices work well together.
That gated snare is awesome.

Keith Floyd The Wall
The Quixotes

The arpeggiator part is beautiful, and confusing time-wise in a good way.
The strings are a good choice.
The bass sound is really pleasing, and the phasey synth chords!
The thereminey part when the beat comes in is well done.
The transition to the “happiness” part is interesting, and that tiny snare sound that happens for awhile…
The vocal samples are effectively implemented.

Hatred is Foolish
The FatControlleR

Bertrand Russell? Awesome.
I like the feel of the synth parts against the drums. That syncopation is compelling.
Ooh, the dreamy EP sound is interesting, and a good choice.
Very danceable, my head is bobbing.
I like the placement and implementation of the vocal samples.
The big fat bass sound is cool.
The break is fantastic. I like the chords against the bass with the vocal samples.
I like the interplay between the two different synth parts against the beat after the break.
The drum/bass/synth/sample breakdown at end is cool.


I like the rhythm sounds at the beginning, and how you don’t expect it to have a swing feel at first.
Really creative feel.
I like the verse melody, and your voice. Especially that triplet chord thing happening in the verse.
That weird chord synth sound that separates the second verse is really cool, and an effective connection.
The solo is really effective and suits the song very well.
The electric piano part at the end: EXCELLENT


I like the low end, the drums and bass.
That synth sound during the verse is cooler than crap.
Also, vocals and your voice are really cool.
I like how well the basic bass-snare-bass-snare works!
This is just a great pop song all around.
The various parts work well together, and it’s a nicely crafted song, too.

Welcome Back Home

The string-sounds and the music they’re playing are very nice
This reminds me of the sort of balladesque electronic pop I loved in the 80s, very well emulated!
The way it builds is fantastic. The instruments that are added are great additions.
Backing vocals… very well done.


Juicy synth sounds!
I like the chord progression and how it’s realized with the synth implementations
Very creative use of timbre and articulation
When the beat started, it got my head bobbing!
The portamento lead is pleasantly haunting over that bass.
The timbres are so present and textural…
I like the triple feel of the end!

How Can She Be Sure

The aggressive beat is compelling
That growing sound scared the shit out of me, very cool!
I loved when the echo dropped out of the drums
The syncopated bass part is hardcore, and the sort of thing I love
I like the extensive drum experimentation that happens… it is always changing!
The weird pitch thing that is happening on that last sound is really interesting!

Echo Chamber
Bureau of Broken Sounds

This reminds me of a band I was obsessed with in 1986. I hope that’s a compliment!
Okay, yes… once the verse starts, and yeah!
This is a good pop song, and appeals to me because this is very much what I liked.
The snare sound post-Chorus is very cool.
Love the chord sound that comes in in second half of second verse
Solo at the end is very moving to me!
I like how the equalization and delay happens at the end! Cool!

Funky One

This is definitely the right combination of timbres for funk!
Yep, and it’s danged funky on top of that. The bassline is REAL funk.
The production is a fresh change from much of what has been submitted, it stands out!
Great funk feel and sound, had a great time listening

energie(monotone galaxie mix)

I am always a sucker for vocoder.
The bassline grabs me already!
The place the drums lie in regard to equalization and timbre is AWESOME and unique
Uh oh, my head is bobbing.
If I were on a dancefloor, I’d be dancing.
The background synth with the filter is really cool.
You are great at using basic elements and arranging them in a compelling way

Synth Mania

I like the nonMoog sounding choices right off the bat
also, nice beat!
There is a DX-ish thing going on that is catchy
The chorus is a nice combination of the synth sounds! Great
A nice laying and combination of motifs
I like the solo sound and part at the end!

Sexy Sax

Oooh, Drum and Bass sound! I love it.
I like the bass wobble deal… that is VERY cool and unexpected
Then, of course, the sax is very nice
The breakdown part is welcome and compelling
The synth sound in the breakdown with the LFO is excellent
I like the vaguely choral sound underneath the sax in the second breakdown
the drum fill that brings the beat back in is SO cool

Dig Team One

Nice lead up to where the dreams come in, and then once the drums come in, cool!
Verse vocals are extremely cool
I like the swelling synth sounds behind the vocals in the verse
The pitch-dropping bass drum is SO cool
I like the string break
Echo on verse 2 vocals… superb
Excellent and moving song
Ending feel, timbre, and chords- beautiful

Boxing Day

Cool robotic bassline- filter work with it is interesting
Guitar sound… powerful!
Vocals are nice
OH GOD, yeah… the doubletime is just FANTASTIC
Is that a real drummer?? Awesome drums

Come and Go
Ray Man

I like the Dead Can Dance vibe at the beginning
When the beat and synth come in… very cool
I am into this feel, nice vocals, too
I like that synth sound implementation in the break
The bridge section with the broken-up vocals… oh, wow. I love it

No Boundaries

I like the intro sounds chosen, and the realization.
The phasey synth is very cool. I like the focus on it.
This is a cooooool build. I like the Numan-esque synth part, and when the bass starts doing its thing.
I like the moody string part towards the end.

A Reason to This Rhythm

I like the triplet feel of the initial melody, and the production is really nice.
Nice production
Ooh, nice guitar solo!
The Electric Piano-ish part is very expressive.


Nice feel, and I like the surging production
The melody is cool, and I like how the harmony in that voice interplays with the melody
The “more bass!” part is awesome
The momentary break is compelling!
I like the portamento lead.
The end nicely features the timbral texture of that bass sound

All the entries can be heard here…

So, there you have it! Another challenge over and another bumper crop of incredible talent on display. My thanks to Marc for judging and to Sedric for providing the sound palette. And my deepest thanks to all of you who took part. Without you, this stuff wouldn’t happen. A big thank you to you all

So, a little time to regroup and Song Challenge VI will be upon us soon!

Until next time….

comments so far
  • Marc Doty says:

    You guys were amazing. I feel really fortunate to have the honor of listening to the music that all of you made. I have to admit, I expected that I’d probably have to listen through a lot of boring stuff to get to the good stuff, but I was totally wrong. There was NO boring stuff… there was a lot of excellent songwriting, creative production, talented musicianship, distinctive and interesting sounds and choices, and overall: great music worth listening to. It was really hard to make a single choice! You all rock, and thank you for being great at what you do and making my task so fun.

  • Ed / Gem says:

    Your detailed feedback is very welcomed. I’m grateful for it. Thanks for taking the time to listen thoroughly. This has been another learning experience and so much fun to be a part of. Thanks Marc & Rob for making this possible.


  • Thanks very much, Marc and Rob! Your support and time involved is uber appreciated. Hugs, H

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