Kinks Kovers Kontest Kontroversy!

The remaining runner up prize in the Talenthouse Interpret a track for The Kinks competition was finally “announced” about three weeks ago.  I use inverted commas there because this was only via a page on the Universal Music website, and I only found that via unofficial Kinks website,  This remaining runner up was not announced on the Talenthouse site and the official Kinks facebook page only linked to the Universal post a couple of weeks later!  This, for me, was merely the final peculiarity in what has been a very strangely run competition.

Before I get accusations of sour grapes, let me be clear first of all that in no way am I suggesting that I should have won one of the prizes, (although I felt that my version of Sweet Lady Genevieve was a reasonably good effort!) and I actually think that the overall winner, Pamella Moo, was an excellent choice and a thoroughly deserving winner, and I really enjoyed both her track and video.  There were also a number of very good entries that I’d have been pleased to see amongst the prizes, but read on and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

Firstly, it’s significant to just recap on the brief of the competition.  The brief stated, “[The Kinks] are inviting musicians around the world to submit an audio or video with their interpretation of a track from The Kinks’ catalogue of albums that expresses the musician’s creativity and originality.”  I’m italicizing the key points here.  An accompanying video from Ray Davies has him saying, “This is a great opportunity for musicians to display their talent by re-interpreting some classic Kinks songs. Good luck, enjoy, be creative… be outrageous!“  Finally, the official rules state, “4. (a)… the Host’s Choice Winner and Additional Winner(s), if any, will be selected by the Sponsor-designated judges from among all eligible entries received on the basis of: (i) substance; (ii) creativity; and (iii) originality.”  Further guidelines, which became accessible once the “participate” button was clicked stated that the entry should be a complete song.  Unfortunately, that particular part is no longer accessible.

I’ve previously posted about how I approached my entry, but it’s fair to say that I put a great deal of thought into what I could do with the song to make it different, before I even picked up my guitar and hit “record”.  Others clearly skipped the thought part, and just switched on their webcam and played.

An overall winner and two runners up were to be selected by the band following a public vote, which would reward the highest two voted tracks with runners up prizes as well.  Now, let me dispel one or two myths in relation to the public vote.  In terms of the quality of the entries, the public vote means absolutely nothing.  Some have described the public vote as nothing more than a popularity contest.  Well, I’m afraid that even that is incorrect.  I worked this out a few days into the public vote period, when I was languishing around number 50 on the “chart”, yet some frankly rubbish entries were pulling considerably more votes than I was.  They must have more facebook fans than I have, I thought.  But, when I looked on their pages, they had fewer than me.  So where were all their votes coming from?  A few minutes with Google and I established that there are various vote exchanging sites and forums where you ask people to vote for you and promise to vote for them in their competitions in return.  That’s how these competitions are won.  I posted on a couple of these sites and within an hour I had moved some 20 positions up the chart!  It was all just a game.  With a lot of time spent exchanging votes, I managed to finish at #17.  Had I understood how it worked from the outset, I’m convinced I could have at least made top 10.

So, this process generated the two public vote runners up, Cara Braia and Dan Guyton / Fake Obsession.  Cara’s jazzy version of You Really Got Me seems to have been unpopular with Kinks fans looking at some of the comments on the facebook page, although I actually really liked it.  Dan Guyton / Fake Obsession was a medley, which in itself seemed to be against the rules to me.  It was just an acoustic guitar and a vocal which ran You Really Got Me into All Day And All Of The Night and then Lola, each of which were played just as per The Kinks versions.  It was well sung, but the guitar part was very simple and considering the brief, it was hardly a work of creative genius!

There was then a period of deliberation by the judges.  But, come winners announcement time, all that came was a post stating that The Kinks had requested further time to finalise their decisions.  Another couple of weeks or so elapsed before Pamela was announced as the winner.  But, still no runners up!  Another couple of weeks or so elapsed before Tom Shermerr / The Damn Truth were highlighted on Talenthouse as a finalist, but with no accompanying announcement from anyone!  I thought their version of Yes Sir, No Sir was great.  Following this, I tweeted both Talenthouse and The Kinks asking when the final runner up would be announced.  Talenthouse had responded to earlier queries from me, but on this occasion my query was ignored.

That final runner up was eventually announced on the Universal Music site, and was none other than Dan Guyton / Fake Obsession!  Cue one eyebrow raised unfeasably high!  Really??!  So, they won both a public vote runner up prize and a judges runner up prize.  Does this mean they get double the promotion part of the prize and two of the other bits??  It seemed strange to me that an entry already in the runners up prizes from the public vote should also then get an identical runners up prize from the judges anyway, but this entry??  It seemed to fly in the face of the spirit of the competition as well as the brief.  As a well known champion of originality, I had to question the genuine involvement of Ray Davies, at least in this particular decision!  I still fail to see how this entry ticks all the boxes of substance, creativity and originality.  Oh, and did I mention that Dan Guyton / Fake Obsession’s entry was actually promoted on The Kinks’ facebook page prior to the public vote?!  Coincidence??

Draw your own conclusions from all this, but for me, having poured my heart and soul into my competition entry, I was left feeling extremely disappointed at the way this competition was run.  But hey, The Kinks never did anything by the book!  But then again, I’m a believer in fair play.  And just like when The Kinks lost out to The Rolling Stones for the NME Poll Winners Best Newcomer award, despite The Stones having won it the year before as well, I don’t think things have quite been fair with the Kinks Covers Contest either.

I’d love to know your views.  Please do comment.

8 Responses

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  • Paul Dregseth on

    Paul– It was good to see someone blog about this. I had an entry in the Talenthouse Collaborate with the Kinks contest and would agree that the contest seemed miss-handled. Let me say straight out that I am more a fan of the Kinks than I am a serious musician, so I entered the contest with little expectation of winning (I submitted the cheeky Alvin and the Chipmunks parody of city squirrels singing “Plastic Man” in case you happened to see that). From extending the original submission “deadline” to the voting irregularities you mentioned, to the allowing entrants more than 1 entry, to your documented delays in the announcements of the winners– all combined to sour the experience. As a result, I have since contacted Talenthouse to delete my profile, and, when they requested an explanation, I provided them with one, which I would be willing to forward to you if you are interested. As I told the folks at Talenthouse, I am not angry or upset, simply dissapointed. Good to see someone else feels the same!
    –Another Paul, a dull and simple lad for North Dakota, USA

  • Paul on

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s good to know I’m not alone with these views! I’d actually forgotten about the extension of the initial submission deadline! I had noticed some multiple entrants, although I don’t think that any of those ended up amongst the prizes did they? Yes, I would be interested to see your explanation to Talenthouse. Did they respond to it at all? It would be very interesting to have an official comment on all this from The Kinks as well as Talenthouse.
    All the best,

  • Gary McKinney Sr. on

    I agree with you so much, Paul, that it’s downright scary how similar we think alike about this contest. I, too, wrote a blog that echoes your sentiments exactly. If you’d like to read my blog (which I suppose is a shade too critical of the Kinks to make it on Dave Emlen’s site) you can check it out here;
    Loved your contest entry, by the way! Keep up the good work!

  • kdennis on

    This was the second Talenthouse contest I entered this year – I also submitted an entry to the Neil Young Americana contest. Who owns Talenthouse? I didn’t do research, but they must affiliate with Facebook, a business that I don’t patronize or claim membership. I found the Talenthouse site to be extremely vexing from a technical perspective, and the “rules” were vague and apparently not enforced. I, too took Ray Davies encouragment to “be creative” to mean not play the original arrangements, so my entries – (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman by The Kevins, and with my partner/band Dave Allen & The Kevins doing Where Did All The Good Times Go – tried to expand the boundaries. Alas, talent contests are always subjective, and it was good to hear a great number of talented interpretations. God save The Kinks!

  • Matt Love on

    I got deeply stuck into Talenthouse a while ago, and thought I was part of a a deeplycommitted, supportive community, but soon I realized the friendliness was completely fake, people pretend to like you and your work just long enough to get you to vote for their entry. They don’t want to talk about art or music or life, they are climbing, clawing careerists. Every once in a while they have these high profile contests with Kinks or Rod Stewart or McCartney, and it brings in some fresh blood (like the people that posted here on this page) and they aleays leave disappointed, because there does seem to conclude there is something riggeed about these contests (and that’s probably right). I have admired he quality of work on Talenthouse, but have ended up concluding that the people who I admire the most artistically didn’t spend their developing years learning how to follow all the rules and sucking up to everybody but by breaking rules and being themselves. With that in mind, I have again established a presence on Talenthouse, where I poke fun at the careerism and polish of the creatively empty projects on offer. For example: Some people must like what I’m doing, I’m in the top 25!

    BTW, I just got this from Talenthouse in my email… this is how they deal with their critics. I wonder if they are going after one of you guys? Or me?

    Hi Artists,

    We’d Like to take this oppurtunity to thank you for being a part of the TALENTHOUSE Artist fraternity over 46 Projects in the last two years.

    We have come to know, that some competitive elements in market are spreading rumors trying to malign Talenthouse’s image.

    We are taking a legal recourse for the same.

    Be rest assured that the necessary actions will be taking against the same.

    We are here to provide real opportunities and we will continue doing the same. Please keep your faith in us and we will resolve this issue as soon as possible.


    If you have any queries please feel free to call :+91- 9167828492 or email us at

    -Warm Regards,
    Talenthouse India

    • Paul on

      Thanks for commenting, Matt. (And thanks to Gary & KDennis for the previous couple of comments that I missed at the time for some reason – sorry about that.) So a lot of us seem to feel the same way and it would appear that Talenthouse are throwing out the dummy over it. If they wish to seek some sort of legal redress over a number of people expressing thoroughly evidenced accounts of their personal poor experience with Talenthouse, I wish them the best of luck!

  • Matt Love on

    BTW, I actually won “the people’s choice” contest for one entry, and it was far from a life-changing experience (see attached below – the most recent of several emails I’ve sent to Talenthouse). I think that there must be a fair number of people fed up with Talenthouse for my joke entry to win out over serious ones. I’m not always attempting to be a musical humorist, sometimes I’m serious, and of course I would expect it would be a bitter pill for the artist to honor the terms of the contest and release my interpretation of his music on his label so I offered to do whatever it takes to make it actually release worthy. But instead of appreciation, I got… nothing. Nothing at all.

    Hi Meera,

    I’m digging deeper and deeper into my address book to try to get an answer to a question I have about a prize. I saw that you had written me a while back from Talenthouse, so I thought I might give you a try to see if you can take a hand in setting something right for me, or at least investigating the situation.

    I previously asked Derek, who has always been really helpful and prompt, to look into this for me, but this time, I wonder if he might have let me down, since I’ve had no reply.

    I then asked Danielle, who wrote to me about another matter, but she seemed friendly, and I thought she might be able to help, but as yet I have no reply from her either.

    The same story with Jo, she seemed very nice, but I haven’t heard back from her either.

    So here, is my situation; as you might know, I was thrilled to be the people’s choice winner for this contest:

    I was all about the honor, but then i noticed that there are supposed to be actual prizes associated with this achievement:

    People’s Choice

    Digital release on Dubstep Division Recordings
    £40 voucher for the Loopmasters online shop

    I waited a while, but didn’t hear from Mr. Goliath, so I attempted to contact him through his website and ask him when the prizes will be awarded. So far I’ve heard no response from him.

    Now, I don’t know if he ever drops by your offices, or maybe you go out to clubs where he’s djing or playing or whatever those dubstep guys do, but if you happen to see him any time soon, please let him know that while I can really use those products from his online shop, I’m most excited about the release on the Dubstep Division Recordings. i am also aware that however popular my conception of Dubstep might be with the public at large, I recognize that my mix was very rough, and might not be up to his professional standards. If you see him, will you let him know that I am willing to rework this material as many times as necessary to bring it up to the standards of his company?

    Thank you very much,

    Matt Love
    Mr. Worldwide People’s Choice Award Winner!

    • Paul on

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for commenting. Yes, it does all start to paint a picture of the professionalism and integrity of Talenthouse, doesn’t it! Mind you, I do know that the overall winner of The Kinks contest got their prize, cos I saw photos to prove it! Hope you get your prize eventually!

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