VPC5 Round 5: Parents Just Don't Understand
We've had our celebration of the VPCs past, from hook challenges to fandom raps. We've had a celebration of VPC present with selling out challenges. There were four VPCs before this and four challenges plucked from each, and now it is time for us to take a fresh look at the future. And in the words of another Whitney, "I believe the children are our future." This is a round dedicated to them.
Write a song aimed at children. It can be didactic, soothing, serious or humorous in any proportion that you choose. You can also include a guest vocalist if you wish – but that guest vocalist must be a child. Oh, and since this one's for the kids, no swear words. Keep it clean like Mario C.
Sample a piece of children's media for your song. It can be a kids movie, tv show, song or lullaby or anything else child like you deem appropriate. Heckin gosh, want to let your little brat beat away on some pots and pans with a wooden spoon? Sample that and flip it into your beat.
We expect nothing but the best. With any luck, your tracks will be an awesome welcoming for the next generation into nerdcore. Remember kids, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, but we definitely don't recommend being a nerdcore artist.
Adam - 8/10
Love the intro. This song got stuck in my head more than any song this round. I really enjoy the “run along kids” break before getting more serious. Lyrics are very solid and personal. Reverb is a bit harsh at high volume. Other than that and the backing vocals being a little unintelligible the mix is solid. The “which I don’t wanna do” section feels like it’s missing something, like a lead or some cuts. My kids found the song creepy.
Most nutritious 8/10
Emmanuel - 9.25/10
Beaker - 7/10
Animaniacs sampled right up front. I gotta eat, I gotta eat or I’m gonna die. OK. I feel like this track is fucking way more meta than the voting public has processed. I gotta swim, I got a friend… there are layers of existential absurdity here and it’s highlighted by the intentionally manufactured-happiness of the beat… this song actually really bums me out. I know it hasn’t been well liked but I wonder if there is any consensus amongst the angst here. Because at 2:35 all my suspicions are confirmed. Jesse D has been really public, especially in the last few years, about his struggles with his weight and social acceptance – this year that dichotomy has become even more prevalent since working at a donut shop with what appears to be a disproportionately outspoken, fatshaming clientele.
The message here is that “I am fine” and this song could have CRUSHED the round if it had been delivered in a “love yourself” message for little kids instead of a reaffirmation for the author. Instead what should have been a touching, likely heartbreaking delivery of a narrative we all know the song becomes a weird carnival of self loathing. I like it.
Navi - 9/10
There’s a lot of fun conceptual aspects to this track. The message veers wildly through a lot of different ideas and counterpoints, making for a very fleshed out take on a simple subject matter. A lot of the finer nuances of it would fly over kids’ heads (if we’re saying the primary audience for this song is children, they’d potentially tune out the entire second half) but I think constantly reprising and evolving the hook keeps it tied together well enough, and it doesn’t go to far into complex depths.
The sample at the beginning is cool, but it feels a little generic and tacked on, which is a bit of a let down, given how creative this team has been with the challenges in the past. I love the instrumental, and in general, this is a fun bouncy song that has some easily learnable phrases, a kid-friendly message, and a heaping dosage of adult cynicism.
Public Vote - 7.8
Round Overall Score: 41.05/50
Round Standing – 5
Competition Overall – 239.15/280
FINAL Standing - 1
Adam - 9/10
The transition from the intro into the first verse is amazingly smooth. The “brought to you by the letter y” meets “always ask why” theme is fun and is pretty thoroughly explored with clever wordplay but this does feel a little stiff compared to Lex’s delivery on previous rounds. Of course stiff for Lex is still very high quality. The bridge is so fucking good. This song easily has the most energy this round and is very fun even after multiple relistens. The kids loved the beat on this song, “how smooth the words came”, and that it kept repeating “y”.
Most inquisitive 9/10
Emmanuel - 9.75
Beaker - 8/10
as fun as expected - I have REALLY turned on to this team during the VPC. Lex (the other one) comes through with that solid delivery and word play I have come to expect. The song itself is more standard than I would prefer – the gimmick around “why” and its infinite flexibility was recently featured on Sesame Street (and I’m certain not for the first time) and my kids liked this song as much as that segment, but then again they are 18mos old and not very smart.
I had to ask somebody else what kids material was used here, but I love the beat regardless.
Navi - 8/10
Loved building the song around a letter, ala Sesame Street. It leads to some really witty lines. The instrumental is a parade of fun, goofy moments and parts. All that said, I think my main issue here is: while there’s definitely an ongoing sense that the song is supposed to be for kids, there’s so many complex, layered ideas and words that I don’t think any kid would get anything out of it beyond shouting the letter Y every time they hear it.
Maybe I’m putting too much stock in that aspect of the challenge, but this round was all about songs aimed at kids, and, for better or worse, that means a lot of consideration to your vocabulary choices and lyrical complexity. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t bother me in the least. In this case, I think it’s a cool song with a lot of relistening value, but it doesn’t really expand or embrace the challenge. Great performance this competition, though!
Public Vote - 7.32
Round Overall Score: 42.07/50
Round Standing – 3
Competition Overall – 234.26/280
FINAL Standing - 3
Be Like Me!
Adam - 8/10
We get it, other Lex. You didn’t want to write a kid’s song. Challenge aside the song is pretty great. I really love that slippery bass. Solo’s production just keeps getting better and better. The concept is a little heavy handed to the point of being hokey but it works for what it is, even if what it is might be the opposite of what we asked for? Ultimately, though, this song is a friggin banger and the kids agreed. “It was really cool.” Four thumbs up.
Most too cool for school 8/10
Emmanuel - 10/10
Beaker - 9/10
settle for real. I am guessing this is a rick and morty cut? Ok I really hope this is a rick and morty rip. I am way in to the idea of rick being a self loathing tool who, if given the glimpse, would despise his own fan base. Idk if that was the point but that’s how I took it. My only bitch is that rick and morty dosent really count as a kids show – everything else was dope af
Navi - 8.5/10
Definitely feel like these kids are getting all sorts of mixed messages this round. Deep life lessons in the form of “What Not To Do.” Love this instrumental, and I really think Lex hits the flow/singing style on this. The bridge is cool, and really puts some icing on the sarcastic antihero POV in this song. It’s a short song, which kept the pacing tight and didn’t let anything get too stale. This is another entry that may also fall more in line with what an actual kid might listen to, but what do I know? I’m not havin’ em.
This meets the requirements of the challenge, but doesn’t really embrace it. There’s a degree of awareness that prevents it from going full “I’m making a song for kids”, and while I think that lends well towards post-VPC replayability, it doesn’t quite nail the round.
Public Vote - 6.91
Round Overall Score: 42.41/50
Round Standing – 2
Competition Overall – 228.25/280
FINAL Standing - 4
Penzel Washington & Danny DeBeato
Adam - 8/10
Okay. I fucking love this sample flip. This is a fun song that does a really decent job of feeling like a “kid’s song” that’s obviously not aimed for kids. The beat is simple but extremely effective and the vocal delivery matches it flawlessly. I’m not really feeling the lyrics on this one, though. They seem very disjointed and I’m not entirely sure what’s supposed to be happening there except a fragmented description of the current state of marijuana politics stuffed into a pile of loose references and vegetable puns. I honestly didn’t even realize how much the shifting imagery bugged me until I read the lyrics because the delivery is so smooth, so maybe I’m just being too nit-picky on Ardamus’s artistic choices here. Maybe it’s just supposed to sound like the rambling of someone that’s very high. Either way I love this song. My 12 year old said it sounds like a good mix of “90s and 2017” but ended too suddenly. Maybe stick with the fadeouts, kid.
Most terpenes 8/10
Emmanuel - 9.5/10
Beaker - 10/10
the grassssss sooooo green. Yo this is fucking great. Idk what I have to do to get bill beats to beef up a kick. Bass, bill beats. Boomier bass. Raps are dope af, dopping the beat in v2 turned me on, I love this track. Im actually gonna listen to this track in my car and shit. Really nice job PW&DD
Navi - 8/10
The verses toe a really fun line between being about eating vegetables and…something else? Maybe, in this day and age, we need more kid-friendly songs about…vegetables.
The song is light and fun. It’s another really short entry, but to the point. There’s a bit of an overreliance on the vocal samples, but it’s jaunty enough that I didn’t mind it too much. I think the second verse gets a little too heady for kids, which prevents it from perfectly landing the challenge itself, but I did really enjoy this song!
Public Vote - 6.4
Round Overall Score: 41.9/50
Round Standing – 4
Competition Overall – 223.93/280
FINAL Standing - 5
Wash Your Hands
Adam - 10
This is a song aimed toward kids. Like, directly. This could totally be on Yo Gabba Gabba! The lyrics are really clever and tight. Standard Shubz delivery is incredibly effective both with the instrumental and the content. This song is so fun to listen to. The beat is super bouncy and engaging. I feel bad for Shubz being so sick all over again. THE HOOK IS SO GOOD! The kids both have assumed this song is going to win this round. I’m inclined to agree.
Emmanuel - 9.75/10
Beaker - 8/10
holy cow shubz. You have shined this entire competition and this track is no exception. I don’t recognize the sample/source but like the other entries that really isn’t impacting my enjoyment of the track, and in this case, not at all. The mix on this feels a little loose, which is weird for a klop track. And nobody would believe I actually listened to this track if I didn’t mention the FLAWLESSLY ADORABLY guest on the hook.
Navi - 10/10
On the spectrum of “Songs Directed At Kids” to “Songs For Kids”, this one most completely lands in the latter. It’s upbeat, fun, and catchy; with a cheesy truism for a message and only the slightest hints of adult pessimism. I can totally picture a kindergarten class singing along to this. The beat is just corny enough to work, and I love that minor progression that sneaks in there to lead into the chorus. I wish that the “wash your hands” had been recorded clearer; context lets me know what’s being said, but on its own, the phrase is a bit muffled. Not a dealbreaker thought.
I think this entry best fulfills this round’s requirements. Nice work!
Public Vote - 8.47
Round Overall Score: 46.22/50
Round Standing – 1
Competition Overall – 236.13/280
FINAL Standing - 2
The Go Hamurai
炭酸 | COLA | 炭酸
Adam - 7/10
No lyrics. This one makes Pencil Automatons feel more relevant this round by comparison. I guess by the end of the hook it’s clear this is literally supposed to be about someone teaching a kid how to cook crack. K.
The kids liked the rapping. I didn’t tell them what it meant.
Most Ish 7/10
Emmanuel - 8.75/10
Challenge: ? 8 I suppose since I can tell it's a sample but dunno what it is
Beaker - 7/10
Ish beins this class with the wholly unbelievable premise of him being a professor. The intro rolls in to a nice and heavy drum line – again the ham produced a great beat. The vocal effects are throwin me for a loop. V1 opens up with a ref to my band, so that was a good call but then I was left wondering “where are the dick references” – I hear the call to the fiends, but do they fiend for penis? It’s not entirely clear – until the line “you can make some good money off of peoples bad habits…” for a childrens song you might be taken aback by the hook describing at a high level how to produce crack cocaine, but a deeper analysis of v2 brings us back to the Hamurai we have come to expect in the VPC. The Boys from the East, come around to try and test – the first time is the hardest – sigh, relax, but time is money kid and now its time to act. The entire verse is a proposition of the young men Ish has, in this narrative, turned in to fiends for his ‘bad habits’
whip it in the pot, indeed.
Navi - 7/10
This is – ostensibly – aimed at children. It’s also, to the best of my understanding, full of clean verses (although, there could be a debate about what constitutes ‘adult content’ that I’m not going to touch.) I enjoy this beat a lot, as well as Ish’s flow on it; I can’t deny that every entry this team’s subbed to the compo has shown a solid grasp of the craft. And (perhaps problematically) this track may be one of the only ones submitted that children might actually listen to on their own.
This team didn’t disclose their sample, and it’s not something that’s easily recognizable so I’ve gotta dock some points there.