This is by no means a flashy song. It’s emotional and clean, but it’s not something that’s actively going “hey look at all the fancy things I can do with a DAW!” And this is perhaps the reason some of the other judges disagree when I make the claim that this is one of the top tracks of the round. But a song doesn’t need to be flashy to be a *good song*, and there’s so much here to appreciate—the clean mixing and mastering, the beauuuutiful melodies, the story that the song tells. I loved the way the music box in the beginning foreshadowed the main melody, the perfectly sidechained and appropriately subtle kick drum, the vintage-ness and humanized-ness of the piano. Gosh I love this song so much. A 9.5 from me means that I was thoroughly impressed, and will definitely be listening to this song outside of the context of the NGADM.
While there is a ton here to love, though, lemme just go through and explain where the missing 0.5 went. I feel like this song could have been extended beyond its current length—and I’m not saying that 3:00 is too short, but there’s definitely more room for structural development. There’s a music-boxy intro, the establishment of the main theme, a melodic piano break, the main theme again, and a music-boxy outro. It would be awesome to see you switch up the song a bit—I mean, from 1:00-2:30 (a good half the song, and ¾ of the part of the song with drums), the beat stays the same! And it’s a good drum beat, yes, but that plus the fact that most of the song *is* the main theme makes the song feel somewhat stagnant, especially after listening to it for a few times. It would’ve been cool if the main theme wasn’t as prominent throughout the track, mostly because it’s SUCH A GOOD MELODY and not playing it as much would add to the replay value. Ya gotta leave us wanting more!
But in the end, that is a minor detail (and honestly, you could also interpret the missing 0.5 as the fact that at 2:49 you went for a C major chord instead of a Db aug). Amazing work, and I can’t wait to see what you put out for Round 2!