Monday, June 29, 2015
There is Still Work, But
Friday, June 26, 2015
Sing It On Episode 7: South Finals
(Sorry, due to some technical glitches, this post got deleted, so sorry for those of you who have already ready this post.)
In Florida, Andie, Dani, and Becca of All Night Yahtzee (ANY) have gathered in the pool to remind us all that ANY came in second at their quarter finals, possibly because of their innovative, non-ballad-having set. The Acaphiliacs, also from FSU, took first place at quarterfinals leaving ANY in second. All three express were shocked since they thought the ANY performance was great, but they lost by 16 points. Andie tells us they all three are seniors and best friends, so this could be their last ICCA performance together.
In Boston, the a few of the Nor'Easters meet up with alumnus Ty. He asks why they think they lost. Sam thinks it was nerves. Ty said they looked too much in their own heads. Isaac reminds us that the Nor'Easters are eligible to participate in the wild card round, which will be held virtually. Rob asks Ty to film their video submission and Ty agrees. Isaac says they are focused, hungry, and ready.
Back in Florida, there is one week left. Michael shows them the video of their quarterfinals performance. Michael has apparently already watched this hundreds of times and likes to freeze it and check out various expressions. This is mostly a visual joke, but he demonstrates for us at home, selections he's found in the performance that he describes as "mad at your boyfriend face", "see your parents in the audience face", and "boy band face". Michael tells us the biggest areas of concern points-wise were "general showmanship" and "stage presence". They discuss the positives first. Then, critique. Generally, they need more emotion.
Four days to go, Michael reminds them to emote with the upper half of their faces since they will have mikes.
In Illinois, No Comment (NoCo) is planning a surprise birthday party for Morgan who is 21. Micah reminds us NoCo still has the wild card round, but first, party! Morgan seems genuinely surprised and touched. She tells us it wouldn't be an "aca-birthday" without someone (meaning pretty much all of them) sucking down some helium and singing "Bang Bang". Oh, kids. There is some suggestion they should do this for the wild card round.
In Florida, Michael reminds us that half of ANY is graduating so this may be their last chance to win. He's hanging out with roommate, friend and Acabelle member Amanda because he has a secret plan to woo her away from the Acabelles. (It will become clear later that the rest of ANY is in the dark about this plan.) He says he wishes she would sing with them. Amanda tells the camera her original preference had been for ANY, and she does sometimes wonder, but she's happy being a Belle. Michael suggests she ride the bus with them to semifinals, since she's coming to watch anyway and she agrees.
ANY are in their performance outfits which Dani tells us is not standard for rehearsal, but Michael has a plan. He has invited several theater majors to come help them workshop their facial expressions and stage presence.
Dani, who you might recall is a dancer and the group's choreographer, feels this is a waste of time because they should work on their staging and choreography.
The theater majors are calling out to them as ANY runs through their set. Most of their comments are about not looking at the floor and when the songs get sexy to, well, act sexy. Angel, the beatboxer, gets kudos for her swag.
On the party bus to semifinals Michael tells ANY that he's invited Amanda to ride with them. They are not clear why a rival would be on their bus. (Although given that the Belles are firmly out of competition this year, I suspect they are less worried about her taking notes and more just thrown by having an extra person on their when they're all jittery.) Amanda notes that she definitely feels out of place. Actually, her plan is to take notes, on being music director, since she's thinking of maybe doing that next year, for the Belles.
ANY, Andie tells us, has two traditions, a "dice or die" cheer, and a spirit stick. Molly has apparently been in charge of the spirit stick. Apparently she took it out for a good time (your guess is as good as mine) and it broke. (Again, this is a different teen movie guys.) Molly was apparently maybe hoping no one would notice? I have no idea, unless this was last night, why she thought finding out on the bus was the best place to have that discussion. (Unless she was hoping they forgot. Which, that did not work.) Michael tells them they don't need a spirit stick. Amanda, meanwhile cannot believe Michael is letting the group be this rowdy.
At the auditorium there are ten groups (although, sorry we're only going to see bits of five of them, I'm sure the other five were lovely too). Only one group advances. Michael brings the spirit stick pieces with him to pick their performance order, and gets ninth, while the Acaphiliacs got fifth, so maybe the broken spirit stick is helping. (Or who knows.)
ANY has a lot of time to kill backstage, but Amanda is texting updates from the auditorium. We see bits of the Beltones, BisCaydence, and VirtuOSO which Amanda declares to be good but a cappella-y. A few of them go up to see the Acaphiliacs. Michael says they have a great blend, but essentially they performance is exactly the same as quarterfinals. (Which they won, but I see Michael's point. All these groups came in first or second, so in theory you should be stepping up your game.) Daniel declares that performance nothing they can't beat.
As they get ready, Michael reminds them to overexaggerate their dynamics.
ANY goes on and sings "Bang Dem Sticks" and "Your Lips Are Moving". (If they did "Bang Bang" again, as I assume they did, we did not see it this time.") The clips are energetic and the audience seems engaged.
They head backstage and Michael declares it their best performance. Andie's heart is racing. Dani agrees best ever. They are all getting happy texts and photos from family and friends in the audience. Amanda texts Michael and he reads to the group that she thought it was energetic and clean. Traditionally, the winning group does a little encore, Michael asks if they want to brush up "Bang Bang" (so maybe they didn't do it?) but Andie declares that would be to "jinxy".
The judges are done, it's awards time. ANY wins best choreography again. In third place, we have All Night Yahtzee. Michael is devastated but smiles as he picks up the certificate. Andie is down. Second place is the Beltones. First is VirtuOSO.
Michael is at least glad they beat the Acaphiliacs. And that's our third group in the wild card round. In case you were wondering if this was rigged. Backstage again, Michael says they are a great group of musicians who didn't compromise. Dani loved the whole set. Jordan thinks it was pioneering. And Michael thinks they are ahead of the curve. Andie reminds them seven groups tonight are all the way done with this year's ICCAs, so at least they still have a shot. Eleven groups are competing for the one wild card spot. The group hugs.
And, before we go on, trigger warning for depression and suicide.
A black screen tells us that the Nor'Easters got some terrible news.
Sam explains that their member Kevin lost his battle with depression Several of the Nor'Easters including Jessie, Sam, Isaac, and Rob gather together to talk about how much they loved Kevin. Rob mentions that Kevin thanked him and Isaac after every rehearsal and that sometimes it was annoying because it had been a brutal rehearsal for Rob, but Kevin was always so positive about it. Isaac says that "music is what made Kevin our family". They decide to put on a memorial concert called We Sing for Kevin to raise money for suicide prevention and depression.
Over clips of the Nor'easters singing "Say You Love Me" Jessie says that Kevin was one of the most wonderful people. They show shots of Kevin from the show, smiling, singing, even one clip where he's talking about how he and Isaac joined the group at the same time and he's watched Isaac grow into probably the best music director they've ever had. Isaac thanks him and says he had a lot of help.
An in memoriam card appears for Kevin Mayer.
And Isaac and Sam, would like to point anyone battling depression or feeling suicidal to reach out to: ASFP.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Three Interesting Things
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The Cat Cafe
DC now has a cat cafe. Now here's the thing about the cat cafe, it is essentially and in our out type deal. Either a cafe full of cats who may want pets, playtime, or naps sounds great or it doesn't. Since I have already visited, I think which side I fall on is clear. There have been quite a few articles about the opening. Also, as to the cafe part, the food is actually prepared across the street, they basically have a deal with the cafe and take your order and run across and get it for you. So no onsite kitchen, no worries about food prep. There are two levels open to the visitors, with a third for employees and for the cats who may decide they have had enough. There are chairs and lots of cat friendly furniture. Many of the chairs are low to the ground to encourage cat human interaction. There are also some high shelves for cats who may feel that they wish to observe the hums from on high. I was there mid-day so some of the cats were still playful, but quite a few were ready for nap time or pets. Or sometimes both. Two cats had moved to the human bathroom, perhaps due to the cooler tile floors, or perhaps to have a better vantage for human invaders.
There was a tiny bit of hissing, over some territory, but nothing that I saw damaged either humans or cats, although one cat did hunker down in the litterbox. (He was still friendly to the humans.) Humans were also fun to observe. Some were playful, some stuck to one cat and tried to form deep bonds, and some tried picking up all the cats to see how they did with that. All the cats are available for adoption, and so hopefully some of them won't be back the next time I visit. And yes, part of me did wonder why I was leaving my cat to go visit others, but hey, it was a totally platonic visit, it meant nothing! Just harmless fun hanging with some other cats.
Monday, June 22, 2015
When Live Isn't Live
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Three Interesting Things
1. A valid point about the correct use the word transracial.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Sing It On Episode 6: Northeast Semifinals
Throughout this episode, it will come up many times that the Nor'easters only beat the Vassar Devils by four points and a long list of things the Nor'Easters lost points on will come up. Rather than list them throughout, let me just compile them here: choreography, "set cohesiveness" (which Isaac mentions is basically song selection), diction, intonation, dynamics, blend.
Sam says BONR gives them a chance to perform their ICCA set in a low key environment. As a note, the only other group we'll see in BONR is the Melodores. Nor'Easters go on and find that the audience response to "Jaywalk" is not particularly enthusiastic. I would reference No Comment's firehouse performance, but this is an a cappella showcase. There should be nothing but fans here.
In Illinois, but not for long, No Comment (NoCo) is going on spring break before they worry about their wild card submission. Micah has planned a road trip to Florida where they will beach and eventually meet up with All Night Yahtzee. Several of the NoCo members unused to beach sun, have gotten wicked looking sunburns.
Back in Boston, the Nor'easters watch the video of their BONR performance and seem to agree that "Jaywalk" is the weak link of their set. It's too late to learn a new song but there are other songs they have done. Sam really likes "Jaywalk". A song they refer to as YNTSLY comes up and Isaac explains to the camera that "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You" is a song they did last semester. (No one brings this up, so I'll just mention that this might be where eight new members becomes a factor.) Jimmy points out that new choreography would be a lot of work. They sing the song through with Sam trying out the solo which is new for her. And ultimately, everyone seems in favor of changing. I have no idea how representative of the norm that is, but that's now two groups changing their set right before semis.
The Nor'Easters bring back alum Shams to help with music direction.
In Florida, All Night Yahtzee (ANY) meets up with NoCo. Michael notes that they are all really attractive. Jessie tells them she's finding Florida a little humid. The groups quickly discover they are both performing "Bang Bang" and in answer to my internal question about this, Micah tells us practically everyone has an arrangement of "Bang Bang". They decide to have a Bang Off. We only see snippets, but it is clear that these are different but energetic versions of "Bang Bang". Both groups nod and cheer. (Interestingly, they seem to be doing this entirely in the spirit of fun and don't seem to need to designate a winner.) Michael thinks they should join forces and form a super group. Micah hopes ANY wins their semi, NoCo wins wild card, and they can all meet up in the finals…where NoCo will crush them.
In Boston, alum Ty is back to help with choreography. He tells us choreography is important otherwise they could all just send albums to the competition. Isaac explains that with Ty there are two options, "[Ty's] vision or [Ty's] vision".
Sam has declared Isaac's feet an emergency and taken him for a pedicure. He argues that he wears shoes.
Two days before semis and Sam is having trouble with the syncopation at the start of her solo and it is clear she is reaching her breaking point rehearsing this. Isaac tells her to "think about doing it right instead of what she's doing wrong". Sam knows how it should sound, she just isn't there yet. She tells them she needs to walk out. Isaac and another member follow her and give her a pep talk.
And we're at semifinals. Sam was asked to go pick the group number but didn't want that responsibility (one could say there's a lesson in this somewhere) so Brian goes on stage. However, by the time it's Brian's turn, 9th, 5th, 8th, 6th, 2nd, and 7th have already been selected. Sam has a "strong personal belief" that performance order is important. Isaac says you want the judges to have time to warm up, the audience to get into the groove, the sound "guy" to be all set. So, of course, they are all hoping for 10th. And Brian pulls 1st. Sam says that's the "worst thing" that could have happened. And reminds us this may be her last time on an ICCA stage.
Backstage, another member whose face I can't see well enough goes over to Sam and tries to be a positive calming influence. Isaac gives the whole group a pep talk before they go out. He tells them to be "the first thing the judges see and the last thing that they remember". Jessie mentions that she gets bad stage fright and now she's getting stage fright about stage fright.
Again, we're only shown snippets, although they are getting longer, but the Nor'Easters start off with YNTSLY featuring Sam and Isaac. Then "Say You Love Me" and "Elastic Heart". During "Elastic Heart" Jessie's hand starts shaking. We see close ups of her shaking out her hand, trying to get it to stop, trying to tuck it behind her. I can't tell how it looks from the judges table, but it really does look like a tic to me, not like she's trying to do weird choreography with her hand.
The second they are backstage she is in tears, saying if they lost it's all her fault. Sam tells her they are a group, not individuals, but reminds the camera one little mistake could cost them. Jimmy goes over to talk to her, again reminding her that it was a group performance and everyone worked hard and everyone made mistakes. Isaac is worried because he does not think that was a championship performance.
We see the tiniest snippets of the other groups (feel free to get out your a cappella bingo card): Choral Pleasure, Vassar Devils, Harvard Opportunes, Sigma'capella, Potsdam Pointercounts, Acappellics Anonymous, Charlie Chords, The Mixtapes, Distilled Harmony.
The Nor'Easters think the Vassar Devils and the Charlie Chords did well.
The judges deliberate.
Backstage Jessie tells Isaac she has a stomachache that is from "here to my vagina".
The results are in. In third, the Charlie Chords. In second, Nor'Easters. In first, Vassar Devils. Isaac's response to the camera is bleeped.
Backstage they are all very determined that this is not the end, they will move forward into the wild card round. Brian even suggests this will make them hungrier to succeed. They only lost to the Vassar Devils by five points, so once again it was a tight race. And it looks like we'll be watching two groups in the wild card round.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Friends from the Internet
Friday, June 12, 2015
Sing It On: Episode 5 Midwest Semifinals
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Sing It On Episode 4: South Quarterfinals
Michael, ANY music director, says that group camaraderie shows up in the performance, so it's great that they all get along, but too much fun in rehearsal can be bad.
He also mentions that he has an edgy plan to not include a ballad in their set. They have seven seniors so next year they'll be in rebuilding mode.
In Boston, Isaac of the Nor'Easters tells us they only won their quarterfinal by four points so the choreography needs to be stepped up. (Quick note: I did not mention it before, but No Comment indicated that they won by forty points. Since no totals are mentioned for the Nor'Easters, it's impossible to tell if that's a difference in regions or if No Comment actually did significantly better. And there will be new scores at semifinals.)
Isaac and Jessie meet with Ty, who is another Nor'Easter alumnus who won two choreography awards. Ty tells the camera he has an idea what this meeting is about.
What follows is a supes awkward meeting. Let me speculate wildly here. I imagine that at this point, what Jessie and Isaac want is to tighten up the choreography, rather than reinvent it. Ty is either busy or has graduated or, I suspect, doesn't want his name attached to choreography he didn't, well, choreograph. Eventually, he agrees to the suggestion to come on in a consultant capacity.
Back in Florida, the Acabelles tell us they have never won the ICCA, and as an all female group they are an underdog. But Tatiana tells us the Belles have girl power and sass. Amanda says she's enjoying being a Belle, even if she had originally planned to be in ANY.
Dani is the choreographer for ANY. During a rehearsal, where they are using water bottles and smartphones as their mikes, Christian and Daniel in particular are having trouble with the choreography. Andie finds this adorable. Michael, you'll be surprised to hear, is not pleased.
Dani holds a special rehearsal for just Christian and Daniel. They demonstrate their seriousness by showing up in sleeveless shirts, sport shorts, and sweatbands, like a workout video parody.
In Illinois, No Comment (NoCo) is doing a little fundraising, since they have to pay for things like party buses to semifinals. They are performing at a firehouse, which Max tells us they do a lot throughout the year. The audience seems to skew a little grey-haired and the relative quiet seems to indicate they aren't sure about this performance. Most of the songs are of the more classic variety not from their ICCA set, although they do break into a rousing rendition of "Bang Bang".
In Florida, roomies Amanda and Michael are throwing an a cappella party. Amanda, for reasons that will become clear, declares that Britanny can sing lower than Michael. Britanny says no she can't, clearly wanting no part of this competition. But finally they harmonize against each other using "The Star Spangled Banner" and Michael does seem to sing a little lower than Brittany. This leads Michael into a spiel Amanda has clearly heard before about how it is "factual" that you need male voices to have a good sound. Amanda suggests that female a cappella is it's own thing. Michael says they are in the same competition. Amanda counters that then it would be more impressive when they do well. Michael says no.
Amanda tells the camera all female groups hear this kind of crap a lot. In many ways I think they have neatly summed up the issue, all female groups are accused of being unable to sound as full, and yet, get little to no credit when they sound good or better than other groups.
ANY does a preview performance, Michael tells us, "If your preview is lame, your ICCA will be the same." Dani feels Christian and Daniel's dancing was much improved so that extra session paid off. The audience seems, if you'll forgive me, very aca-savvy. One member gives a very specific note about a missed piece of the choreography, and another asks why there was no ballad.
In Boston, Ty has come to the Nor'Easters rehearsal. He tells the camera he is not worried about people's feelings. This seems like a good point to note, there is no mention of who was officially in charge of choreography for the group, prior to Ty's consultancy.
In Florida, ANY has a party bus and a spirit stick. (Don't they know that's a different teen movie?) Michael is a little worried that the bus rowdiness will tire out their voices. Christian decides now is the moment to make the official ask to Andie to be his girlfriend. She tells the camera that the bus is not her "ideal romantic location" but she does agree. Most of the ANY members express happiness for the couple. Michael, you'll be surprised to hear is unhappy that his "aca-dating" rules have been broken. He also seems surprised she kept it a secret. While Andie and Christian do mention they had been keeping it secret, it really seems that most of the group was in on this, so I'm not sure if they intentionally kept Michael out of the loop, or if he was just not noticing the evidence.
Michael tells us the ICCA South is super competitive. Andie is worried about their lack of ballad. They draw for order of performance, ANY is nine out of ten, Acaphiliacs get eighth and the Belles get seventh, so the judges and the audience are in for an FSU stretch.
Andie and Christian have embraced their outness and are sitting holding hands on the floor backstage, being an "aca-couple".
Michael and Amanda meet backstage to wish each other luck.
The Belles go on and while they're singing their hearts out, the audience seems to be, well, texting and generally not paying attention. It's hard to tell if the audience is just at their a cappella fill or what. (Six groups before them with twelve minute sets, these audience members have been here a while. Sounds like a great afternoon to me, but still.) Caroline is proud of their performance. Backstage the general consensus is that they thought they did really well, but felt like the audience energy didn't reflect that.
Michael can hear the Acaphiliacs as ANY moves into place backstage and says they sound meh to him. Caroline leads the group in a somewhat non-denominational prayer. Angel, their beatboxer kicks them off. Amanda has snuck into the audience and notes that ANY gets a standing ovation. Backstage ANY is giddy and Michael tells them he's proud.
The results are in. ANY gets an Outstanding Choreography award. In third place, the Acabelles. In second, All Night Yahtzee. First, the Acaphiliacs. (An FSU sweep.) Amanda and Caroline are bummed the Belles aren't going on. Andie is thrilled ANY gets to go on, Michael is shocked they got second. He decides the judges weren't edgy enough to "get" his innovative set.
So, three quarter finals, two out of five groups sent home, one second place, and two winners.
Three Interesting Things
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Sing It On Episode 3: Northeast Quarterfinals
Jessie and Samantha have a discussion about the plans Jessie has for the group to wear.
Due to the magic of TV, NoCo is still making their way back to/through Illinois on their party bus except for Jessica, who you may remember rode separately. Since the folks on the bus have the score sheets and are processing, they note it would be kind of nice to have their music director with them. The judges did apparently mention that there seemed to be a rushed feeling, particularly in the last song. Micah says that was probably her fault. They have 48 days until semi-finals.
Back in Boston, the Nor'Easters, who in case you forgot are former champions, have very high standards to uphold. They are doing part checks, where they break folks into groups by part (I'm guessing an soprano, an alto, a tenor, and a bass) and have you go through the song while Isaac, Jessie and someone else stand near each group to evaluate. Eric notes that he can tell when he makes a mistake, because Isaac, who is facing away from him, will tip his head each time.
Isaac makes me wonder if he is a business major, since he tells the camera that Eric is "not implementing notes" and he tells Jessie and the other dude who's name I don't know that Eric was not good, and they need to meet with him. In said meeting they tell Eric that this is consecutive part checks that he has failed and, they stress that this is them speaking as music director and president and not his friend, but they cannot allow him to compete with them. Eric says he understands and tells the camera that he's bummed that they'll be on stage without him.
Over at Pitch Please (who apparently use a comma and an exclamation point, and I'm sorry, just no) they remind us all that they are an all female group, defined by their sassiness and their signature gold heels. This is their third year as a group, and they made it to semi-finals the last two years. Callie tells us female groups are usually considered childish. (Say what?) In rehearsal, she mentions a number of them are sick, there are several shots of various members coughing, sneezing and speaking in stuffed up or hoarse voices. They have two days before semi-finals and apparently still have a song and two dances to learn.
In Boston, Jessie and Sam from Nor'Easters go shopping.
In Illinois, NoCo they goes out for karaoke, which Lizzie explains, over shots of her singing "Let it Go" that karaoke is her reason for life. Max tells us that Lizzie is their court jester, bringing the fun. Micah sings "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and tells the camera she has her mojo back now.
In Florida, ANY is having an anti-Valentine's Day party, which, I think they are doing it wrong, because the only anti part to it seems to be that they are all currently single. There are hearts and red and pink all over. Christian tells the camera he's had a crush on Andie since high school (playing the long game there, dude). Michael tells the camera he has strict rules about what he will later call "aca-dating" because apparently the last time there was intergroup dating the dude dumped the dudette and she left the group and formed the Acabelles. (I went to a university that only had an all female a capella group, so I know female a capella groups that weren't formed in response to something going on in the coed group exist. Sadly, it appears we will not be meeting any in this show.)
Someone decides they should play suck and blow, and apparently far too many of them have never watched "Clueless" or are pretending they don't know about this game. So, as you might suspect, Christian and Andie end up next to each other and, oops, Christian drops the paper and kisses Andie. Andie is embarrassed that this has happened in front of everyone, but otherwise does not seem to mind.
In Boston, Sam, Sara, and Isaac of the Nor'Easters are chilling after a long week of intense rehearsals. They fail a bit at chilling because Sam asks Isaac if he has planned out the sound check and then is horrified that he hasn't and starts trying to plan it for him. Because she says, the "sound check determines what happens at the show".
Callie, who you'll remember is Sam's roommate and Pitch, Please! member, arrives back visibly tired after a four hour rehearsal. The Nor'Easters all seem shocked that they rehearsed that long the night before quarter finals.
And now we are at quarterfinals. Isaac tells the camera he doesn't just want to win quarterfinals, he's planning to win the whole thing, by a landslide. He thinks Pitch, Please! and the Vassar Devils are their biggest competition.
Callie and the rest of Pitch, Please! are trying every remedy under the sun, chugging honey, olive oil, sniffing wasabi, and generally trying not to cough and sneeze.
The soundcheck is ten minutes for a 12 minute set, so they go through bits, so the stage manager can check the mikes and such. The Nor'Easters have some issues with mikes, which of course means they are all worried now. Except Jessie who says that a bad rehearsal means a good performance.
Isaac gives them a pep talk, saying this is their last chance to give it their all. Sam reminds the camera she is a senior so this is maybe her last ICCA performance.
The Nor'Easters go on, and again I'll note that at this point we're seeing such tiny snippets of the performances, it's hard to get a sense of them. I understand why, since for the groups who continue we'll see these songs many more times, but it makes trying to recap the performance pretty impossible.
The Nor'Easters get a standing ovation which they tell the camera is unusual.
Backstage they are all giddy and all convinced it went as well as possible.
Pitch, Please! is making their way to the stage, and Callie's jumpsuit rips. Jill sews her up while other members do last minute honey shots. Tamani says it wouldn't be Pitch, Please! if the didn't have a minor disaster backstage.
Sam reminds the camera that she and Callie are competitors but roommates and friends too, so she goes to watch Pitch, Please!. Pitch, Please! seems happy but in a soggier way about how things went. Sam tells Callie she's super proud.
Isaac, Sam, and Jessie go to watch the Vassar Devils and look very worried.
The results are in, and in third place is, and the announcer starts with Northeastern University leading to two groups perking up, and it's Pitch, Please!. Vassar Devils are in second, and Nor'Easters are first.
Backstage, Emma, the music director for Pitch, Please! tells them that third place is still awesome, even if it means no semis for them, but everyone should be really proud. Callie is happy for Sam. The Nor'Easters have an after party.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
Sing it On: Episode 2: Midwest Quarterfinals
A soloist needs to be determined for their final song "Surrender". Morgan, Micah, and Jessica each sing it with the group, then they go outside while the group picks. This is an interesting way of doing things, considering Jessica is their music director. (Not suggesting it's wrong, or even necessarily uncommon, just noting this.) Micah, who has told the camera she won't get it because it has a high F and she's sure Morgan would get it, is awarded the solo. This is also when Jessie breaks out her use of "aca-bullshit" in her discussions with the camera.
In Boston, Nor'Easters and the all female group Pitch Please have arrived at some sort of generic place of fun for the evening where, as they attempt to imply always happens when two a cappella groups show up in the same place, an "aca-battle" breaks out. Pitch Please describes themselves as "bitch belters" who are not your stereotypical girl group. (Whatever that means.) Isaac takes the time to tell us that Pitch Please was formed by people who didn't get into Nor'easters. There is a reference to "aca-drama".
Shams, their now graduated music director, is here again. I don't know if this is all very close to the day of auditions, or if Shams has a job in Boston or at the university, but I'm just going to mention that here is Shams again.
The battle is determined to be a sing off of Britney Spears' "Toxic". The Nor'Easters imply that they are inventing an edgy new arrangement on the fly. (Again, I shall use the benefit of four episodes to mention that what a cappella people claim is edgy and unusual, often, seems, um not.) Pitch Please does a quick run through of the song and gets working on choreography. Callie from Pitch Please, by the way, is roomies with Sam from the Nor'Easters. Pitch Please goes and they are loud and proud, and they employ several sexy moves which gets some judgey comments from the Nor'Easters to the camera.
The Nor'Easters do their arrangement, which includes "new harmonies". Callie makes bowing motions, so it seems, even before the official call for approval from the audience that there is agreement that Nor'Easters won that.
In Florida, All Night Yahtzee (ANY) and the Acabelles (Belles) have arranged a scavenger hunt, which is basically a hunt for large paper puzzle pieces in a courtyard of sorts, with the pieces color coded by group. ANY finds their pieces pretty quickly, possibly because most of theirs, Amanda notes, are barely hidden out on the ground, while the Belles' pieces seem to be up high in trees and on poles and, when they get back, Amanda counts and notes that the Belles had 15 pieces to find and ANY had 14. So, Michael feels bad and awards the prize money to the Belles. But he seems to think this group bonding was successful.
NoCo is rehearsing. Each group gets twelve minutes, so most groups go for three songs, they tell us, but NoCo is cramming in four, but given there's a time penalty they are very concerned. (Trust me, this will come up again. A lot.) They are using water bottles as their mikes. After they run through "Surrender" Jessica is thrilled. Micah asks to check the pitch because she says she is a "human pitch pipe" and can tell. (Given the high F in her solo, I'm guessing she can tell, even if I disagree with her metaphor.) Jessica checks the pitch pipe and they are in line. Micah notes that Max was having trouble with their pitch too, and that if they are matching the pipe the pipe is clearly wrong. They appear to be having this discussion in a room with a piano, so it's hard to tell if Jessica doesn't want to have her directorship questioned, or if the piano is out of tune, or the concern is that the piano won't be with them at quarterfinals. When Jessica notes that this is the pitch pipe they have for now, Micah offers to buy her a new pitch pipe. Max notes that Micah is not right about everything (again, implying that Micah might have control issues that come up a lot, I may be over-interpreting here) but she is right about this.
And...at their last rehearsal, Jessica notes that the pitch pipe is now in tune.
They warn the newbies that there will be big cards at 3 minutes left, 2, 1, and not to stress and don't try to force the tempo. (Foreshadowing.) They are at 11 minutes, 42 seconds in rehearsal, so not a lot of room for error.
The party bus they are taking to quarter finals arrives, and Max is the last to get on and tells them that Jessica is driving separately. There is some discussion about how as music director, Jessica is the leader, and it would be useful for her to be on the bus, and also they are ignoring her instructions about quiet, because there's a pole on this bus. Jessica notes that she prefers quiet before the performance. (I'd be curious to know if Jessica, and/or the group had done this previously. And why she didn't tell the group herself. This doesn't get addressed in this episode, so I shall remain curious.)
NoCo arrives and races inside worried that they are late, and Jessica sneaks it looks like as introductions and instructions for the groups are happening.
There are 10 groups here, the top two advance.
Lizzie explains that a cappella group names come in four categories: bad puns, sexual innuendos, silly music references, and then one's like No Comment which...she trails off and then declares she has no idea why they're called No Comment.
There are clips of other groups. Maddie and Lizzie sneak up to watch Sedoctave, and then come back to tell the others that Sedoctave is 5000 times better than anyone. Now, let me interject that part of what I find fascinating is all the different ways different members process pre- and post-performance jitters. So, Maddie and Lizzie have taken their jitters and decided to share them.
Jessica gives a pep talk mentioning that she will have them ask for no applause between songs, but she suggests that no matter what they have a great performance out there doing what they love.
We see clips of each of the four songs. (As a note, the clips we are being shown are short enough that it's really hard to get a sense of the performance, except for a particular moment, that we will get too. I am working on the theory, that the performance clips will get longer for groups that continue on, but if you cannot wait, You Tube is probably your friend.)
Micah tells the camera she is (also) a "human metronome" and can tell they are dragging and she's freaking out about time and trying to push it forward. (I assume she means in her mind, if she, as the soloist, tried to sing faster than everyone else, that would be messy.) Well, we near that high F near the end, and there's a crack as she tries to hit it. The music of the show bongs to tells us of doom, but it is, as Morgan tells Micah once they are backstage and Micah is in full freak out mode, a small crack and she continued on like a professional. Scott explains to the camera that Micah is a perfectionist. And Max tells them that they can't fix Micah's crack, they can't fix if they went over time. There are hugs with the family members there. Jessica, who had been putting on a good face with the group, cries that she's so worried about the time.
And the results are in, Sedoctave took third, the Husky Hunks took second, and in first, NoCo! They do get their score sheets, it's not entirely clear to me if they actually didn't go over time, but they do mention that there was some stray clapping so they think the judges might have been gracious that the clapping impacted their time. Jessica notes that people were worried about her as music director, but she just got them a quarter final win. And that's it for episode 2.
Monday, June 08, 2015
Sing It On: Episode 1: Auditions
We get introduced to the show with an explainer, references to "Pitch Perfect", a reminder a cappella uses no instruments, just voices. ICCA (International Championship of Collegiate A cappella) is the "superbowl of a cappella" and uses a bracket system to narrow things down from 300 groups to one final winner. (Don't worry, they will mention the process a lot.)
We start in Boston at Northeastern University with the Nor'Easters, who are crazy if they think I'm going to keep typing that whole name. Isaac, their music director, is wearing a fabulous hat as he explains that he did his freshman year at college in Florida and found things "conservative", discovered the Nor'Easters, and decided to transfer to Northeastern so he could become a Nor'Easter. And last year, they won ICCA.
Sam, who has long red hair, explains she and Isaac are super best friends. Auditions begin, they will later explain that over 125 people auditioned. We see quick cuts of singers auditioning with, shall we say, varying levels of success.
And now we head to Florida State University (FSU), where we meet Michael, the music director for All Night Yahtzee. ANY (which is how I'm going to abbreviate that) we are told is attractive and sassy. Michael is a sophomore and he tells us it's particularly amazing for him to be a music director as a sophomore.
Andie, their president, tells us they need 3-5 new members and we get some quick cuts of various auditions. Andie gets a little overheated at the hot singing boys. (Note: One could consider this foreshadowing.)
We meet Amanda, who is blonde, and is Michael's roommate and friend who is auditioning for ANY.
Then, we meet the Acabelles, an all female group also of FSU. (Later, we will see a glance of a third group at FSU, so they are not kidding when they mention FSU has a vibrant a cappella scene.) The Acabelles mention they had a video of their arrangement of "Royal" go viral last year which probably annoyed the other groups. Caroline is their president and we learn they need 4 females.
Let's take a moment, because this will come up a lot. Female groups are often viewed as lesser, particularly in the a cappella world, because potentially, a group of female voices could lack percussion and/or deeper notes and listeners tend to be trained to find the sound thinner without, well, the bass. Now of course, it depends on the arrangement, of course there are many wonderful female percussionists, and there are females who can sing very low. But, this is a persistent thing that dogs all female groups, it comes up whenever there's a female group on "The Sing-Off", so when this keeps coming up on the show, it's a thing that these groups are constantly being told. Okay, moving on.
We see snippets of auditions, including Amanda. Dun, dun, dun,
And now we go to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for No Comment (who will later reveal that they often go by NoCo, and I am lazy so I am going with that). They are all about sound, but also consider all their fellow members their family. They have made it to ICCA finals two years ago. (Later they will mention that last year they did not progress past quarter finals.)
Jessica, their blonde music director tells us they really need a bass and soprano. It's unclear if they emphasized that in the audition notice, but they end up also seeing a some people in other parts. In typical reality fashion Max, states that he would have to "die" or "crap his pants" (he may not have used the word crap) to agree they need an alto or a tenor. Cue Trent the tenor and Maddie the alto. There is also a guy who Lizzie apologizes to the others for, after an off key audition. He had apparently told her he had choir experience.
They end up discussing that if they take four (assumedly the bass and soprano, plus the fabulous tenor and alto) that this would be a shift in their numbers which affects arrangements, choreography (or choreo as they all seem to call it) but they all seem to agree it's doable.
And now, for the other groups we are at callbacks.
ANY, Acabelle's, and Nor'Easters all put them into groups by sections. ANY and Acabelles seem to have called back about 20 whereas Nor'Easters seem to have a larger group. I know you are shocked, shocked to discover that both ANY and the Acabelles want Amanda.
Nor'Easters has brought in Shams, their music director from last year to help provide feedback. Jessie references the Nor'Easters use of what they call "sex breath", the ah exhalation at the end of certain words. (Now seems like a good time to mention that yes, there is a Jessie and a Jessica in this show.)
And now we get to the barter part of the audition process for the two FSU groups. (I assume that since the other FSU group(s) are not participating in the show, those conversations happened separately.) There are three women who have auditioned for both ANY and Acabelles, and they both want them, one of whom is Amanda. They have asked those auditioning for both groups to write down a secret preference which Michael says is stupid, which initially sounds like bluster from Michael, but given that they clearly ignore it when convenient, he's not wrong. Molly and Amanda have indicated preference for ANY, Kelly for the Belles and well, no one wants to give on Amanda.
Andie, ANY president is clearly worried that things are reaching a point of serious contention (and possibly, aware that this is all on film) and suggests they take a break.
Back at the Nor'Easters they run the potentials through one more song and then let them go, telling them not to sleep because they'll make calls once they've decided.
Back at FSU, there is various bitching about how the other side is not negotiating (they are not wrong, partly because both of them seem to think they should get exactly what they want). Back at the table, one of the ANY members also mentions that there was one female who only auditioned for them, plus they lost slightly less female voices than the Belles, so basically, the Belles will get Amanda.
The Nor'Easters are having a huge debate, because after all their talk about the number of people they've weeded out, they still have a huge list, such that one member mentions that many newbies creates a lot of work, leading to Isaac accusing him of being "afraid to do the work". I will note that for all the back and forth going on here, they are still being pretty nice too each other considering it's now the wee hours of the night. (In a later episode, the Nor'Easters will note that they have eight new voices, which is a large amount.)
Lists are posted at FSU. Calls are made to tired new Nor'Easters. And we are done with the first episode.
(There is one more group, we'll meet later, Pitch Please.)
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Three Interesting Things
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Monday, June 01, 2015
Secret Drinking Buddies
So, my point is that I recognize that knowing someone on the internet - either because you read their blog or hang out with them in chat rooms or message boards - is not the same as having met them in person, it gives one the sense that one sort of has an idea about someone.
So, there are people*** who I know on the internet, and feel that should we really get a good opportunity to know each other, we would be drinking buddies. There are also people who I "know" from reality shows that I think this about too. So, I like to think of these people as my secret drinking buddies. Secret for many reasons. One, because I am not going to say who they are. Nor I am delusional enough to be attempting to actually stalk them on the off chance that we land in some sort of coffee shop or bar together and discover that we really are just meant to be friends. (Yes, I feel I should clarify, I believe I would be friends with these people, not anything more, although yes you could argue I have already jumped from drinking buddies to friends with these people who do not (really) know who I am.)
So, it is such a secret that it is secret from these people (which, yes, does infringe on our ability to imbibe together). But I have found this does not infringe on my ability to remain certain, that we would in fact be great drinking buddies.
*Or, so I imagine, since I've never done that.
**I know. I'm old.
***No, I will not say who.