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, kindakinks.net. 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.