Adjective Battleship

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a group called Little Dragon and how my friend Greg’s 5-word description of their song “Ritual Union” — he called it “alien Motown in the snow” — made such a fantastic and indelible impression that my enjoyment of the song went through the roof. Listen to the song here. He’s totally right, right? I know!

Well, Greg came up with the awesome idea of trading these types of descriptions back and forth (an idea I promptly militarized*, being a dutiful son of Norfolk, VA) and after we traded a few emails about how fun this would be, the joys of structured creativity and about Spin’s new Twitter reviews, which aim, with no small amount of chutzpah in my opinion, to sum up and rate new albums in 140 characters or fewer, Adjective Battleship was born!

While you won’t find any star-based or scale-of-1-to-10 ratings below, I hope these descriptions, or “unread footnotes to a haiku” as Greg put it, will help you find something in these songs to latch onto and love, as happened for me with “Ritual Union.” Before we get started, here are the rules, as ratified by the two contestants.


  1. Each player nominates 3 songs.
  2. Each player provides a description comprised of up to 5 words, not all of which actually have to be adjectives, for all 6 songs.
  3. There is no time limit on composing descriptions.
  4. The player who compiles the descriptions for posting purposes cannot look at the other player’s descriptions before finalizing his or her own.
  5. There is no winner, just congratulatory high-fives for a game well played.

As for listening strategies — that’s entirely up to you. Song then description, description then song, song then description then song… do whatever floats your boat. Without further ado, let the battle commence!

You Hear That’s Nominations

1. Chairlift — “Met Before

(Click here to buy from iTunes.)

YHT: Siri tries to find love.
GREG: Frozen tribal merry-go-round.

2. Daniel Rossen — “Saint Nothing

YHT: Rainy days are pretty too.
GREG: A smile buried alive.

3. Future Islands — “Balance

(Click here to buy from iTunes.) 

YHT: Sensible party elephant washes ashore.
GREG: Elephants dance, small and large.

Greg’s Nominations:

1. Alcoholic Faith Mission — “Season Me Right

(Click here to buy from iTunes.)

GREG: Soft star-wheel, rolling.
YHT: Helena Bonham Carter plays dominatrix.

2. Yuck — “Operation

(Click here to buy from iTunes.)

GREG: Electric knife (strut and wiggle).
YHT: Dirty and clean go rollerblading.

3. Baths — “Nordic Laurel

(Click here to buy from iTunes.)

GREG:  Breathe deep the stuttering sunrise.
YHT: Super Mario abdicates the throne.

Aaaaaand scene! High-fives all around! As for the overlapping elephants in Future Islands’ “Balance,” I can assure you there was no tampering. Such is the magic of Adjective Battleship.

I hope you had as much fun reading and listening as we did playing. I’d like to say a huge thanks to my opponent Greg, whose creativity and taste in music totally kick ass, for coming up with the premise behind this here game. Now go forth and challenge one of your music-loving friends to a descriptive battle on the high seas!


*Had to mention this… is anyone else totally weirded out by the retro Battleship box pictured above? The gender dynamics, the creepy way the dad is holding his arm, the kid’s seemingly disembodied hand… just brutal.

6 thoughts on “Adjective Battleship

  1. YHT’s 1) Female spy falls off building 2) Break up, then get coffee 3) First day of clown college

    Greg’s 1) And now, your life begins 2) Bastard kid stole your money 3) Last ones at the rave

  2. Pingback: Daniel Rossen | You hear that?!?

  3. Pingback: H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y | You hear that?!?

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