Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!

This is
'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. Two "Battles" per month, on the 1st and 15th. Six days later (the 7th and 21st), I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.

Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of 'DOG BITE High Gravity Lager' (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!

[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Friday, March 27, 2015

BATTLE OF THE BANDS Advice From The D-FensDogG House

Recently, my friend, Dixie Polka of the blog DCRelief ~ Battle Of The Bands expressed some concern about aspects of putting together a solid Battle Of The Bands installment. Also, there has been some yak lately about BOTB ties and shutouts.

Today I want to share a few related thoughts with you and also formally invite anyone hiding in the fringes, or the shadows, or the fringes of the shadows to come out and join us BOTBers if they'd like. There's nuttin' to fear but fear itself (...and shutouts).

I was so pleased that my last BOTB blog bit posted automatically as scheduled, because I was on the road (again) and wouldn't have been able to get it up get it posted otherwise. And had my 'Low Rider' installment not seen the light of day, considering the previous song was Gospel and the next song is likewise going to be Gospel, y'all might have feared that I had become a one trick pony one trick dogG.
Those of you who are amongst the devil's minions can rest easy: I don't have any more Gospel BOTB songs lined up in the immediately foreseeable future, following my April Fool's Day BOTB. And if this next one seems too "Gospelly" for your tastes, just remember how I recently Rocked your world with percussion from War and the blitzkrieg of "Who He?" Hoey! I'm NOT a one-note Charlie and a one trick pony... or dogG.

Dixie Polka (dp) expressed some doubts recently about how to find potential BOTB songs and worthy competitors. This strikes me as odd, seeing as how dp has already posted some really good BOTB blog bits. But she's still a relative newcomer, so I gave her some advice that went like this:

I agree that you shouldn't pick your Battles based on how you think others might respond...

As far as HOW you come up with your two contestants, that's TOTALLY IRRELEVANT (and there's no reason to even tell the audience HOW you arrived at them). I do know quite a bit of music, so I would guess that 75% of the time I know beforehand which artists I am going to pit against each other.

But in that other 25%, I will either go to Wikipedia (at the bottom of each "Song" page they usually list other notable performers who have recorded it) or go to YouTube and just put the song title into the Search Window, and all the YouTube-posted versions will come up in your Search results.

Also, of that 25%, there have been times when I planned to use two specific artists but out of curiosity, I searched to find out who else may have recorded it. And as a result of that search, changed my mind about one of the two I was intending to use.

A good example of that is when I was going to use the Atlanta Rhythm Section hit 'Spooky'. I was going to put ARS up against someone else, but at YouTube I found the unknown (to me) Dusty Springfield cover and thought it was really good and might make an even better match-up than what I had planned...

So I put Dusty's cover up against the ARS hit (which I voted for) and she udderly wiped them out on their own song!!! I was surprised like you wouldn't believe! I mean, I KNEW she was going to get some votes ('cause her version was damned good) but I did NOT expect her to win. ...And sometimes the surprise is the best (and most fun) thing about BOTB.

You can ask ANY BOTBer and they will all tell you that... "You never can tell."

[My biggest BOTB shock ever came in my second Battle Of The Bands installment. I put the Fleetwood Mac original of 'OH WELL' against the cover by The Rockets, which is far better in every conceivable way, in my op. I was sure The Rockets would clobber The Mac on their own song. To my slack-jawed amazement, my own totally honest vote for The Rockets was the only vote that saved me from a dreaded shutout!]

In my opinion, the MOST IMPORTANT 'BOTB' RULE-OF-THUMB is to (almost) ALWAYS use two recordings that YOU personally like.

In the past, I think a couple of BOTBers have gotten themselves in trouble when they put 'Dramatic Diversity Of Arrangement' ahead of 'Do I Like This?' on their list of considerations when preparing a BOTB blog bit.

If you always select song versions that YOU genuinely like, you can never go wrong with your BOTB installment.

Only TWICE (so far) in 40 BOTB installments have I used a recording that I really DIDN'T like in a BOTB contest. The first time was in MY VERY FIRST 'BOTB' BLOG BIT, when I used the exact same vocal track by Bebel Gilberto of the song 'AGANJU' with two different backing bands and drastically different arrangements. That FIRST Battle of mine was meant as an object lesson in the importance of arrangements in song recording, and not a "true" competitively matched BOTB installment. I really like the Latin Project version of 'Aganju' and I dislike the Spiritual South version. I expected a shutout in that BOTB installment, but one person (God bless her!) voted for Spiritual South, and saved me from a shutout, which I could have accepted... that one time only. (I've never yet had a shutout and I hope to keep it that way.)

Yes, it's fun to see how outrageously different we can get with our BOTB competitors, like putting a White male Rocker against a Black female Jazz singer, etc. But I think it's important to first make sure that the BOTBer likes BOTH versions before considering the diversity of performers and arrangers. Be true to yourself first... and only then should you think about how "wild" you want to get with the choices.

There is also something to be said for using recordings that aren't THAT much different, thus forcing the listener/voter to really concentrate on the minor differences to justify their vote for one or the other. (Sometimes just the vocal quality alone, or a brief instrumental break can make one version of a song seem better'n the other.)

However, having said that, you don't want to use two versions that are just WAY TOO SIMILAR in almost every respect. Example...

I am a huge Waylon Jennings fan - he is one of my very favorite musical artists of all-time and the most entertaining concert performer I ever saw (and I saw many, from Punk Rock to Jazz) - but there is no way I would ever put Waylon's version of 'CHEVY VAN' up against the original by Sammy Johns. That'd just be begging for a shutout.

Then there are certain songs where, even if you could find a cover, you really have to question the wisdom of putting something up against the original. For example, Thin Lizzy's title track 'BAD REPUTATION'...

Or perhaps Radio Birdman's 'ALOHA STEVE AND DANNO'...

Could anyone REALLY come up with covers that might give them some serious competition in voting? Maybe. But I wouldn't want to be the bloke who tests that water. I like being able to say "I'm shutoutless".

So, you wanna be a Rock & Roll star BOTBer, too? All ya gotta do is lemme know so I can add a link to your blog and announce your presents ("just send money - how about tens and twenties"?) presence.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Just last week I was watching something that suddenly gave me a new idea for a BOTB blog bit. Within the next couple months I may again add a new "twist" to the BOTB format. (Don't worry, no Tiny Tim involved.) If I do this thang, I will actually be using a song I really hate. And I won't 'splain my (good and interesting, methinks) reason for it until after the voting and the results are in. But you may... or may not... find this new BOTB-envelope-expanding idea fun. We shall see, but not before the middle o' May.


  1. D-FensDogG House?

    Thanks for the mention, I think. I could use more traffic - to aid in my supreme confusion.

    >>..."This strikes me as odd, seeing as how dp has already posted some really good BOTB blog bits."

    Those factory elves I hired weren't helping. I felt like I was at the mercy of my experiences, and you guys... well, one outta two ain't bad. Ha! Seriously, if not for you and Arlee, I woulda chuck this game in January. Wait, wasn't that the month I started BOTB??

    >>..."In my opinion, the MOST IMPORTANT 'BOTB' RULE-OF-THUMB is to (almost) ALWAYS use two recordings that YOU personally like."

    That's great; I've never thought of it that way. I did do that with All Along the Watchtower and maybe that's what helped. I knew no matter what, I wouldn't suffer a shut-out. But I had a heck of a time deciding which one I'd vote for.

    After you left that information on my BOTB blog post, I had the April 1st. battle, and competitors chosen in less than a day. So if you need help packaging this new program... I'm sure it will sell. DogGHouse Music, INC., anyone?

    I'm not doing Gospel for April Fools' Day. So I'll be around to hear what you're serving. Seems our battles are going to be on extreme spectrum. Long as it ain't, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." That was my first grade stage song. (grin)

    dp ~

    1. dp ~
      Ha! My bestest girlfriend used to request that I sing 'SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT' because it made her laugh. (I'm NOT a 'Song & Dance Man'.)

      I used to sing it in this preposterously low, put-on voice and it cracked her up. I'd never even get past those first 4 words when she'd be laughing... and I could stop singing it then.

      I have sometimes deliberately flirted with shutouts to show how... uh... "courageous" I am. However, most of those times, I have already known that I was going to vote for the underdog, so, secretly, I knew for sure that it wouldn't really be a shutout, thanks to my own vote.

      My next BOTB blog bit on April 1st has the potential to be a shutout. But once again, I will be voting for the performer I think is going to lose by a fairly large margin, so I'm sure I will get past another BOTB installment "shutoutless".

      ~ Stephen

    2. "I have sometimes deliberately flirted with shutouts to show how... uh... "courageous" I am."

      Interesting word choice - courageous, but yeah, I can see that. I kinda lost my nerve with the last battle. Second guessing kicked me hard. Oh well, time will tell.

    3. Huh? Your last one wasn't even close to a shutout. Didn't Bryan Ferry get 5 or 6 votes?

      ~ D-FensDogG

    4. Ferry got 5. But the problem I refer to is changing the two opponents at the last hour. I wasn't going to post Adele or Ferry originally. My other two were both country - I chickened out. Put in Adele, but then realized she'd bash the other challenger - worse than she did Ferry. I didn't like my move - was not smooth.


    5. Ahhh! OK, Dipster, got it!

      Offa the toppa my head, I can only recall one time when I changed a competitor very late, just before the BOTB installment went up. That was when I brought in Dusty Springfield to go against the Atlanta Rhythm Section's original 'Spooky', and she left them in the "Dust".

      Maybe second-guessing ain't so good a thang.

      Truthfully, the ARS version wasn't really the "original original" either. The song was a Top 20 hit for Classics IV. Later, two of the members of that band joined ARS, who recorded another version of the song which again went Top 20. (So, interesting trivia question answer: Two musicians - J.R. Cobb & Dean Daughtry - had two Top 20 hits with the same song in two different bands.)

      But even the Classics IV version isn't the "ORIGINAL original" because there was a non-Top 40 instrumental version by someone else that was actually the "original original original". (OK, it's getting complicated now.)

      I changed to Dusty because her version was "more different" but in hindsight I think it's safe to say that Classics IV versus ARS would have been a closer contest.

      Well, ya never know. All we can do is do our best and learn from the mistakes we make.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  2. Good advice there. Use two versions of a song that you like. If it's hard for you to decide, it just might be tough for other folks, too.

    1. GIRL WONDER ~
      Yep. I figure that if I really like BOTH versions, then it should be a pretty decent contest, and at least it won't result in a shutout. (Although I was very nearly wrong about that when I used 'Oh Well' by Fleetwood Mac and The Rockets.)

      Also, if I like both versions (even if I like one recording much more than the other), I don't feel like I need to "root" for one over the other. I remain emotionally detached from the Battle and can just let it play out the way it will without judging the votes and the voters.

      Basically, it's whatever "works" for the BOTBer, and these are things that have worked for me.

      See ya on 4/1/2015, eh?

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, MIKE! See ya on the first, Brother.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  4. It's always fun tuning in for BOTB, because I'm never sure what surprises you'll have in store! Stephen, you even gave me a new appreciation for Tiny Tim! April 1st will be crazy with BOTB, IWSG, A to Z, and my mom also scheduled a stress test for the same day! See you soon!


    1. GEM JULIE ~
      Hey, thanks!

      Really? I gave you a new appreciation for Tiny Tim? That's great. I think the guy was far more entertaining than most people imagine. Some of his stuffs is indeed unlistenable, but the stuffs I like I REALLY like.

      Oh, wow! IWSG too? I didn't know that. Yeah, that's a lot of blogtivity. Oh well, the good news is that you have a week to make it to my blog and cast a vote.

      Hey, good luck to yer Ma with that stress test. I've never taken one but... I really dislike the whole concept of them.

      If you don't mind my axing, what's your Ma taking it for? Is it heart-related or something else?

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  5. To my recollection I'm pretty sure I've never had a shut-out, but since I don't recollect a lot of stuff we might not be able to rely on that. I have had a few ties and some very close contests which to me is a good thing since it shows that each was good enough for people to enjoy and cast a vote for.

    Then again there were those cases where it was a matter of which choice voters disliked the least. That's okay since in those contests I liked both versions and I was just trying to present something new to folks out there and they didn't care for my taste. And that's okay too since it was what I liked, what I though had merit, and what I wanted to introduce my visitors to. I'll do it again I know, but it's worth the chance because my doing this has stimulated a few good discussions.

    I've used the approaches you mentioned and I too have deviated from versions I originally set out to showcase because I found something that I thought was better or more interesting.

    Fact is, right now I think I have enough match-ups to last the next year or more. I had to stop setting them up because I just have too many. I don't guess I'd run out of Battles for the next several years just based on what I already like. And that doesn't even take into account the new stuff I run across or old stuff that I'd forgotten about.

    So much music, so little time. Looking forward to your "new twist".

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. BOIDMAN LEE ~
      I don't think you've had a shutout either. Not that I keep track of that when it comes to other BOTBers, but I can't recall you having one.

      Yeah, I like the REALLY CLOSE Battles too. That's a good sign. But I prefer to have a declared winner, even if it's only by one vote.

      I really think that choosing two songs the BOTBer genuinely likes is a good key to creating good Battles. It's OK to use a disliked song but I think there should be a valid reason for it. Like an experiment or a BOTB "twist" - something like that.

      But I wouldn't want to stray away very often from the idea of using versions that I myself truly like to some degree. Within that context, I also sometimes like to present the listeners with something they might not be familiar with, to maybe turn them onto something they might be surprised to find they appreciate. (I think I've done that with Tiny Tim in a couple instances, and a few other artists, too.)

      I have a list right now of BOTB match-ups that could probably carry me through the rest of this year plus TWO MORE years of BOTB.

      In fact, while writing that last comment to Dixie Polka, I even thought of ANOTHER Battle I could do. I haven't even bothered to write it down though because I have so many already. Sometimes I've even tried to "give away" BOTB match-ups to FAE because I just can't use 'em all. (So far, she hasn't used one of mine, which is fine. And the last one I offered her - which she said she wanted to do - I am going to take BACK because I feel I NEED to do that one. I haven't told her this yet though. Maybe she'll find out in THIS comment section.)

      >>... So much music, so little time.

      Ha! Right on, McBrother!

      I pre-wrote all my BOTBs through May 1st, because I wasn't sure what my situation would be like after making Reno. So if I do "the next BOTB twist" it won't be before 5/15.

      I don't think you'd like it though, because it would utilize two totally different songs by totally different bands in totally different genres, with no discernible theme or connection between them. It would look like I just randomly chose two songs by tossing darts at a list of recorded music.

      Of course, in casting my own vote and the results, I would then explain WHY I put those two particular songs up against each other and then everyone would go "Ah-Ha!", realizing that there really WAS a method to my madness after all.

      Well, we'll see when I get there.

      Yak again on April Fool's Day, Lee. That's gonna be a pretty busy day in our "corner" of the Blogosphere, eh?

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  6. Howdy Ho, I think you should go international, stalking entertainers worldwide who sing hits made by American pop stars. You need to check out Japan...it will change you...

    1. CHERDO ~
      It will "change" me?

      But... I'm already "different".

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  7. I don't like shutouts either. Isn't that so boring? The comments are just a string of "I hated the second one, so I voted for the first one," followed by an endless supply of "Yep, I don't like that one either" because nothing else really needs saying.

    For me, the closer the better. People are more likely to really explain themselves or really argue their case for a particular song... and I like that. Discussions are fun. Arguments are fun. "This sucks" is not.

    But maybe that's just the Internet troll in me. Cheep cheep cheeeeep.

    ~6B (just throwin' around the ol' football)

    1. 6-B ~
      Agreed. The closer the better... except, for me, a tie is too close. That's "kissing your sister" time.

      Yeah, discussions and arguments can be fun, but "this sucks" sucks.

      When I vote against a song I strongly dislike, I will usually explain WHY I disliked it. I generally tend to analyze EVERYTHING, because I want to learn how and why something works... or doesn't. So I can even have some fun in explaining WHY I hate such-and-such a song. But to just say, "I hate this one" and leave it at that is not informative or entertaining.

      Hey, Buddy, if you're gonna throw that football around, maybe you should step back some paces. I mean, tossing it back and forth from a foot away is a little baby's game. Ha!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  8. Well Sir Music Mogul, I bet I've broken every "preference" you have listed - from posting songs/bands I dislike to no shut outs. I'm pretty sure I've had at least 2 shut outs. Fun fun fun. I usually know what song I want to show case, then go out and find an opposing cover, or even have to find the original artist on a song I thought was the bands own original. A nice way to waste a day and still be productive :)

    I don't really know anything about music though. I don't play any instrument and haven't studied forms or anything. Probably why I don't post often for BotB (surely it can't be because I rarely post anything anymore?). I am taking a blog break in April, so I should be back in time for your fabulous new twist. Is it a sexy twist? (I did read you comment to Lee, so at least I know it will be devious, A-ha.)

    Have a good month Dude. Safe travels, and rock-on!! Oh, you totally redeemed yourself with your Waylon comment. Except Garth Brooks is probably the best entertainer I ever seen (sadly not in person though).

    1. Howdy, DONNA!
      Thanks for stopping by. And, yes, I wish you posted BOTBs more often. But we'll take what we can get from you.

      Will my "fabulous" new BOTB twist be a "sexy twist"? Well, what kind of a question is THAT? Do I do ANYTHING that isn't "sexy"? C'mon now, credit where it's due. (Ha!)

      Enjoy your April blog break. But feel free to come by here and post a BOTB vote. The door's always unlocked and you have an open invitation.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  9. Now that we've all been tutored - YIKES! (Think Gary Larson, Ha, ha, ha!) I'm all ready for April 1, but then you knew that. I have a very, Very, VERY Dynamic Diversity of Arrangement (DDofA) planned for my BATTLE, but have no fear I really, Really, REALLY like both versions this time.

    The Boys and (LF's) may be Back in Town, but there ain't no grass growing under their feet. I admit I would like to see somebody come up with a cover of THAT. Also, admit that I was completely unaware of that second 5-0 tune, in a dumb blonde sort of way. No matter, cause I don't care no mo.

    Oh and 'sexy twist'... and you keep telling me you don't dance.

    1. FAE ~
      A man writhing on the ground in pain because he twisted his ankle, strained his calf, and pulled a hamstring while attempting to do "The White Man's Overbite"... is that YOUR idea of "sexy"?

      If so, dig my sex appeal!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

    2. D-FDG

      Well, I can admit when I'm wrong. I'll try not to make THAT mistake again.

  10. Not sure why the consensus seems to be that a shutout is bad...

    I always approached it as trying to find a version that people had not heard before rather than achieving a tie.

    I do agree that certain songs are pointless to feature, as the original (or sometimes even a cover) is so iconic that it's not worth the post.

    I don't like jazz anyway...

    1. Ha! Give it some time and I think you'll be a JazzFan yet.

      >>... certain songs are pointless to feature, as the original (or sometimes even a cover) is so iconic that it's not worth the post.

      Well, that's pretty much what I think all of us who agree about shutouts are saying about them. Anytime you have a BOTB contest where one of the two contestants didn't even manage to get one single vote over their competitor, THAT indicates that their song was probably not worth posting.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  11. All very good tips. I used to think I knew a lot about music, but then I started coming here and realised I have a lot to learn.

    1. Yeah, MICHAEL, I think we have all learned things about music from visiting the various BOTB blogs.

      I know I have been surprised a couple times to learn that the recording of a song I THOUGHT to be the original was in fact a cover. Also, I have been surprised a couple times to find that I actually liked songs by performers whom I figured couldn't record something that I'd appreciate if their lives depended on it.

      Yep, BOTB is fun and sometimes even educational.

      Thanks for stopping by, Brother.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'


All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted and responded to as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.