Memorial Tournament Finals!

FINAL RESULTS!!! These songs are all incredible. Collectively you gave them eight 10s, perfect scores, hitting in the moment. At a time we need great music more than ever…

Here we go! The bronze goes to the sweet and beautiful “Stand by Me”, with 114.6 points. It was one voter’s first choice. (Hi Brynna!)

At #2, the silver, the runner-up, the almost-champ: “Romeo and Juliet”, with 125.2 points. It was seven voters’ first choice, and for many, the sentimental favorite of the tournament.

And our Guillermo C. Olivos Memorial Music Tournament Champion, with 133.4 points, and eight first-place votes, is “Under Pressure”. Congratulations to Queen for another tournament championship, Bowie for being our favorite stardust in the sky , and thank all of you for a memorable and special two-month reunion. 

We’re going to improvise here and declare a three-song final! While “Stand by Me” won comfortably in the semis against “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, in the other bracket “Under Pressure” beat “Romeo and Juliet” by .1, with both scores outperforming “Stand by Me”. That’s basically a tie, so it’s only fitting the trio face off to decide this thing.


We thought Gmo would have a 3-song solution here. And be happy that this tournament brought us together. Much love!

And to be honest, people were dropping some random scores that (“7.8”) that I might have been more of a stickler about in the past. I let it slide, but it resulted in two songs being separated by a negligible amount.

So let’s roll with this three-way. Regular rules apply, score it as you would any other match-up, and the high-score wins!

Vote in the comment section below by Wednesday at midnight, EST. Since this one will surely be down to the wire, that’s a hard deadline – we’ll announce the winner at midnight. Please push especially our Biloxi friends to participate.

It’s been an absolute pleasure tournamenting with all of you these past few weeks. Thank you to our regular voters, the beating heart of the music tournament. And a special thanks to Lindsay, Natalie, Brian, and especially Aiko for your collaboration on the posts, scoring and playlists. Hope to see many of you in person when that becomes possible.

And now, without further ado, the playlist for your final match-up:

“Under Pressure” (Queen w/ David Bowie) vs. “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) vs. “Stand by Me” (Ben E. King)


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Memorial Music Tournament: Semi-finals!

RESULTS: “Stand by Me” def. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, 104.4-98.4. The other semi-final is too close to call! We’re reviewing right now. UPDATE: While “Under Pressure prevailed 109.8-109.7 over “Romeo and Juliet”, we’re declaring it a tie – see more in the Finals post!

Welcome to the Final Four! I don’t think many people would have filled out their ballots with this quartet, but now they each have their own path to victory.


A love-struck Romeo, 80s-style

“Smells Like Teen Spirit”, a nostalgic favorite for people of a certain age (many of Gmo’s friends and fam), lost in the fourth round of the Living the Dream tourney and the finals of the Best Opening Track tourney, and comes into the semis with a record of 11-2. Fwiw, this song also won a 256-song personal tourney I did freshman year after downloading thousands of songs on Napster, though I voted the other way in the quarters.

“Stand by Me” won the Living the Dream tournament in literally the same fashion it’s winning here. Let’s face it, no one really *dislikes* this anthem, and it survives round after round by racking up solid scores from some and great scores from others. But here we are. “Stand by Me” comes into a semis with a 13-0 tournament record.

I knew Guillermo nominated “Romeo and Juliet” to the Peoples’ Choice Tourney, where participants had up to three noms depending on past voter engagement.  I forgot what a good run it had – putting up big scores before suffering a shocking upset, 221.25-220.9 (yes, you’re reading that right) at the hands of “Midnight Train to Georgia”. Less noteworthy is that the Killers’ cover of “Romeo and Juliet”, which got pulverized in the Best Covers Tourney. “R & J” rolls into the semis here with the high score in the quarter-finals, and 9-1 tournament record.

Last but not least, those Killer Queens. Here’s a stat – they come into tonight with a staggering 26-4 tournament record from nominations “Under Pressure” (lost to “Stand By Me” in Living the Dream Tourney), “Somebody to Love” live in Montreal (won Peoples Choice), “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen” and “Radio Gaga”. No one wants to face off against Freddie Mercury in a tournament, much less with David Bowie wing-manning.

Here are the match-ups and the playlist. Vote by posting your score in the comments before midnight on Friday night.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) vs. “Stand by Me” (Ben E. King)

“Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) vs. “Under Pressure” (Queen w/ David Bowie)

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Memorial Tournament: Quarterfinals!

RESULTS: Semi-finalists!

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) beats out “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey) 139 to 136.9 (7.7 to 7.6 average). Interestingly, these are the two lowest scoring songs of the round, and both would have lost out in any other match up.

“Stand By Me” (Ben E. King) just barely beats “Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) 146.3 to 142.4 (8.1 to 7.9 average)

“Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) scores our high score of the round, beating “Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) 150.8 to 144.75 (8.4 to 8 average)

“Under Pressure” (Queen w/ David Bowie) will move on instead of “Train in Vain” (Clash), 150.1 to 143.3 (8.3 to 8 average)

We couldn’t be more pleased with the eight songs left standing, most of which won convincingly for the right to be here. We re-seeded them, so old Divisions no longer apply. Other than, surprisingly, “Don’t Stop Believin”, the seven other quarterfinalists have posted spectacular averages throughout the last three rounds, and the difference in average score between the #1 seed (“Teen Spirit”, 8.2) and #7 seed (“Change is Gonna Come”, 7.7) is a mere half-point.


Elton in his trademark glitter singing Tiny Dancer in 1971

That means anyone could win from here. Dire Straits probably comes in with the most momentum, multiple people suggesting it could go all the way. “Stand By Me” has still never lost a tournament match, and Freddie Mercury is the last voice you want to go head to head with. Let’s do this!

We’ll give people until midnight on Monday to score in the comment section below, and the playlist is here. Enjoy!

#1 “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) vs. #8 “Don’t Stop Believin'” (Journey)

#4 “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King) vs. #5 “Tiny Dancer” (Elton John)

#2 “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) vs. #7 “Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke)

#3 “Under Pressure” (Queen w/ David Bowie) vs. #6 “Train in Vain” (Clash)

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Memorial Music Tournament: Sweet 16, 2nd Draw


Division E Final: “Under Pressure” (Queen) defeats “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley) 121.85 to 99 (8.1 to 6.6 average)

Division F Final: “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) defeats “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding) 122.8 to 110.8 (8.2 to 7.4 average)

Division G Final: “Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) defeats “Paradise” (John Prine) 116.4 to 99.8 (7.8 to 6.7 average).

Division H Final: “Train in Vain” (The Clash) defeats “In My Life” (The Beatles) 114.6 to 101.9 (7.6 to 6.8 average)


Here’s the second set of Sweet 16 contenders.  There are some very strong matchups here, with average scores from previous rounds coming in at about 7.5 and up.

Vote by commenting below before midnight on Thursday.  Here’s your playotis reddinglist:

Division E Finals

“Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley) v. “Under Pressure” (Queen)

Division F Finals

“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding) v. “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits)

Division G Finals

“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) v. “Paradise” (John Prine)

Division H Finals

“Train in Vain” (The Clash) v. “In My Life” (The Beatles)

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Memorial Music Tournament: Sweet 16!


First off, let’s extend congratulations to Maegan and her partner on welcoming Guillermo’s nephew on July 24! Good news, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will be continuing on, which has apparently been successful in soothing other tournament babies to sleep. It won’t be the most ridiculous thing you’ll try to get that little one down.

As we crown our division champions, we have to report averages to the thousandths because that’s just how close some of these match-ups are.

Division A Champion: “Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke)

In our closest match up and only upset of this round, “Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) just barely defeats “Africa” (Toto) 144.4 to 141.3 (7.85 to 8.02 average). This means Sam Cooke will go head to head with our…

Division B Champion: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana)

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) beat out “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) 142.1 to 137.7 (7.89 to 7.65 average). That harsh split from Sarena was probably the death knell for poor Stevie.

Division C Champion: “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King)

“Stand By Me” (Ben E. King) continues its winning streak and squeaks out the high score of this whole round, beating “When Doves Cry” (Prince) 145.4 to 138 (8.08 to 7.67 average). Will voters continue to stand by Ben E., or will them keep believing when this song goes up again the…

Division D Champion: “Don’t Stop Believin'” (Journey)

“Don’t Stop Believin'” (Journey) ekes out a win against “Caravan” (Van Morrison), 137.6 to 133.95 (7.64 to 7.44 average).

This tournament started with 64 songs in tribute to our dear friend Guillermo, and I think he would be pleased with the field of 16 we have left. Any of these songs could win the tourney if they get hot – though the reality is you’re going to get burnt out on some.

We created eight artificial “Divisions” for organizing the tournament, and each of those Divisions is having its final match-up this week. Once we’re down to eight songs, we’ll re-rack them based on scoring average for the quarter-finals.


Here is your first set of Sweet 16 contenders.  Some of them come in with outstanding pedigrees, from Stand By Me’s Living the Dream Tourney win, to Superstition’s Hurricane Camp Tourney win, to Journey’s karaoke prominence.

Vote by commenting below before midnight on Sunday. Here’s your playlist.

Division A Finals

“Africa” (Toto) vs. “Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke)

Division B Finals

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) vs. “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder)

Division C Finals

“Stand By Me” (Ben E. King) vs. “When Doves Cry” (Prince)

Division D Finals

“Don’t Stop Believin'” (Journey) vs. “Caravan” (Van Morrison)

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Memorial Tournament: Round 2 (G & H)


“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) def. “The Joker” (Steve Miller Band), 118.7-92.9. Tiny Dancer with today’s high score. It’ll be heavily favored next round.

“Paradise” (John Prine) def. “Chicago” (Sufjan Stevens), 102.5-98.7.

“Train in Vain” (The Clash) def. “Wagon Wheel” (Old Crow Medicine Show), 117-116. The nostalgia songs ending up splitting 1-1 after this brutally close match-up. I think this is the deepest a Clash song has gone in a major tournament.

“In My Life” (The Beatles) def. “Valerie” (Amy Winehouse w/ Mark Ronson), 110.7-110.1. This was perhaps the closest match of the tournament so far! Don’t let anyone tell you that every vote doesn’t count. I’ll admit I’m bummed, was a big Valerie fan! Also no more women left in the tournament.

This grouping of songs will wrap up the Round of 32, with Divisions G and H.  Post your votes by Wednesday at Midnight.  You can vote by giving your scores in the comment section below the post. The playlist is herethe clash

And the songs:

Division G

“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) v. “The Joker” (Steve Miller Band)

“Paradise” (John Prine) v. “Chicago” (Sufjan Stevens)

Division H

“Train in Vain” (The Clash) v. “Wagon Wheel” (Old Crow Medicine Show)

“In My Life” (The Beatles) v. “Valerie” (Amy Winehouse w/ Mark Ronson)

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Memorial Tournament: Round 2 (E & F)

wake upRESULTS!!!

This was the overall highest scoring day of Round 2 so far, and saw only the second song this round to achieve an average score over 8.0!

Blind Melon started off strong, but in the end, “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley) squeaked by  “No Rain” (Blind Melon) 133 to 121.8 (7.4 to 6.8 average)

“Under Pressure” (Queen & David Bowie) handily defeated “Home” (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes) 142.5 to 123.4 (7.9 to 6.9 average).

“(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding)  defeated “Wake Up” (Arcade Fire) 143.9 to 124.9 (8.0 to 6.9 average)

Fan-favorite “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) beat strong contender “Shelter From The Storm” (Bob Dylan) 145 to 134.5 (8.1 to 7.5 average)


Today’s  matchups feature some sweet songs that averaged above an “8” during the first round.

Get your votes in the comment section by Sunday at Midnight.  Here’s the playlist.

Division E

“Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley) v. “No Rain” (Blind Melon)

“Under Pressure” (Queen & David Bowie) v. “Home” (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes)

Division F

“(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding)  v. “Wake Up” (Arcade Fire)

“Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) v. “Shelter From The Storm” (Bob Dylan)

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Memorial Tournament: Round 2 (C& D)

RESULTS: There were really some close ones today! Except for “Stand by Me”, which rolled to its 11th consecutive tournament victory.

Division C
“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King) defeats “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Israel
Kamakawiwo’ole) 102.3 to 79 (7.9 to 6 average).
“When Doves Cry” (Prince) defeats “When the Levee Breaks” (Led Zeppelin) 90 to
87.8 (6.9 to 6.8 average)
Division D
 “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey) defeats “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
(Rolling Stones) 88.5 to 85.8 (6.8 to 6.6 average)
“Caravan” (Van Morrison) defeats Golden Slumbers Medley (The Beatles) 95 to
89.5 (7.3 to 6.9 average)

Today’s matchups feature no fewer than four tournament icons – Stand by Me: Living the Dream tourney; You Can’t Always…: Best Album


Steve Perry performs with Journey at a Chicago-area concert in 1981.

Closing Song; Caravan: Best Song about the Radio; Don’t Stop Believin’ – most popular Biloxi karaoke staple.

Get your votes in the comment section by Tuesday at Midnight.  Here’s the playlist (  And a note on the playlist – You’ll find that the Golden Slumbers Medley is three separate tracks (“Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End”).  Just treat it as one track for voting purposes. (Though I guess we know where Spotify stands on the Golden Slumbers debate!)

Division C

“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King) v. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

“When Doves Cry” (Prince) v. “When the Levee Breaks” (Led Zeppelin)

Division D

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (Rolling Stones)  v. “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey)

Golden Slumbers Medley (The Beatles) v. “Caravan” (Van Morrison)

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Beginning of Memorial Tournament Round 2!


The next round will see us selecting our division winners! At this point, it’s all about standing up to repetition, as tournaments answer the question, “Which song do you never tire of?” In this round, the crowd found that “Thriller” doesn’t bear repeated listens, especially in the heat of summer. “Thunder Road” inspired high scores from several commenters, but they’ll need to put it on their own personal playlists, as it was narrowly defeated.

Going forward, “Africa” seems like it should be a strong favorite to clinch Division A, but only averaged .1 above Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come,” so that match-up could be tighter than expected.

In Division B, “Superstition” lost some steam, dropping from an 8.2 average first round to 7.5 this round. It will take on this round’s high scorer, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which dropped less than .1 from round one.

Division A

“Africa” (Toto) defeats “When My Time Comes” (Dawes) 106.2 to 83.9 (7.6 to 6 average).

“Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) defeats “Thunder Road” (Bruce Springsteen) 105.1 to 102.8 (7.5 to 7.3 average)

Division B

Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) beats “Thriller” (Michael Jackson) 97.4 to 79.8 (7.5 to 6.1 average)

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) defeats “With a little help from my friends” (Joe Cocker) 108.5 to 101.4 (8.3 to 7.8 average)


Dawes are the least likely of these eight songs to advance, so here’s their moment in the sun

And then there were 32. Thank you to everyone for whittling the field down from 64 over the past two weeks. Based on scoring averages and reputation, there are very few songs left that don’t have a puncher’s shot at winning the tournament if they get hot at the right time.

Vote for the following Division A & B match-ups by Sunday at midnight. Treat yourself to a weekend voting party with loved ones & friends.

Here’s the playlist.

Division A

“Africa” (Toto) vs. “When My Time Comes” (Dawes)

“Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) v. “Thunder Road” (Bruce Springsteen)

Division B

“Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) vs. “Thriller” (Michael Jackson)

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) v. “With a little help from my friends” (Joe Cocker)

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Memorial Tournament: Division H


Results: The votes broke late for “Valerie”, which was close a huge upset at the hands of Rage Against the Machine.

“In My Life” (The Beatles) def. “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” (Digable Planets), 129-97.5 

“Wagon Wheel” (Old Crow Medicine Show) def. “Hold you in My Arms” (Ray LaMontagne), 123-104.5.

 “Train in Vain” (The Clash) def.  “Sinnerman” (Nina Simone), 136.5-113, with today’s high score.

“Valerie” (Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse) def. “Killing in the Name” (Rage Against the Machine), 127.5-122.

Here we are, folks, the last batch of fresh songs before we move on to Round 2! This is quite an eclectic group of songs (which could be said for all divisions, but this one feels especially so), spanning several decades and genres. Something for everyone! 

Listen to them all on this Spotify playlist, and share your scores in the comments section below. Voting is open until Thursday at midnight.

Round 1, Division H:

“In My Life” (The Beatles) vs “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” (Digable Planets) 

“Hold you in My Arms” (Ray LaMontagne) vs “Wagon Wheel” (Old Crow Medicine Show)

“Sinnerman” (Nina Simone) vs “Train in Vain” (The Clash)

“Valerie” (Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse) vs “Killing in the Name” (Rage Against the Machine)

Stories from the vault…

“In My Life”  by Brian: When I got married a few years ago I immediately asked Gmo to make a playlist for Friday night and after the band Saturday.  He obviously killed it.  This was what played as we walked back down from getting married and he and I spent a long time discussing this pick.  I wanted to find something more classically G but I got stuck on this so here we are.

“Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” 

“Hold you in My Arms” by Ryan Q: G-Mo and I met in Nevada and caravaned to Lake Tahoe in November of 2006.  Me in my Tundra pickup and him in his old Astro Van with his dog, Hellicopter.  He’d just learned about Ray Lamontagne from visiting Elizabeth in Colorado and had been playing almost nothing but this album.  We camped one night before snowstorms began and they never stopped.  We were essentially trapped in a blizzard and our only recourse was to both sleep in his van.  Snowtrucks plowed 24hrs long, and we wouldnt get more than an hour of sleep before a truck would force us to wake up and move to a new spot so they could plow the freshly accumulated snow.  Every time this happened the stereo would ignite at the turn of the key and Ray would wail his tunes.  Rinse. Repeat.  I must have heard this song alone 50  times, and it didn’t really get old, even when it was fetching me from a peaceful sleep.  It was so damn cold in Tahoe during this experience I swear the opening guitar riff to this song actually gives me a shiver though.  It was brutal but a worthwhile experience to have had with a good friend.  I love that music can send me back to that place.


“Wagon Wheel” by Jaye: This came on Pandora today as I was driving and it seems fitting since it is the one song I remember when I think about Biloxi

“Sinnerman” by Amy: Gmo hosted a casual tournament one day at 188. I joined. I am notorious for hating games, but every now and then I’ll give one a try. So I nominated this song and I gave it a 10. G said I just CAN’T give it a ten. Ten is like off the charts. Nothing gets a ten. And then I defended the song and talked about how awesome it was and he thought about it and was like, actually you’re right.. this might actually be a ten. It was tough to choose between this and Mississippi Goddamn. 

“Train in Vain” by Astrid: Besides Africa, there is no song that reminds me more of Guillermo. In the summer of ’06 this song was on his everyday playlist. There was always something about it that captured his spirit to me, this uplifting vibe no matter how bad it got. 

“Valerie” by Committee: Covers Tournament Champ

“Killing in the Name” by Scull: Given current events, I found myself listening to this one a few times in recent weeks. Not sure if Will was ever a big Rage fan, but his shared political leanings and commitment to making the world a better, more just place were never in doubt. Also with regard to the path usually taken in life – “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” is pure Guillermo, except he would probably cackle after. Miss you buddy.

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