In Illinois, Scott is taking James and Dirk for spray tans, declaring it key to winning semifinals. Scott breaks out the beatboxing and a terrible rhyme about tanning, I will not bother to repeat. Dirk had his girlfriend make a NoCo sticker that he places on his back so he can have a sun brand of sorts. Dirk apparently was not aware that most people spray tan either in boxers or with a sock, so the producers break out the blur-vision. They feel very bonded together now.
Michael says he made an official inter-dating rule. Andie says that was an overreach of his power. (Again, let me speculate wildly. I'm guessing everyone rolled their eyes at Michael's rule because, whatever, none of them were dating at the time anyway. But no one wanted to start trouble by calling him on it then.) And now, Michael is, in fairness, upset that the president of the group broke his rule, and now she is saying that retroactively the rule was unfair. Michael also feels like this violates their friendship and he wants an apology. Andie says he is her friend, and she won't let this affect the group.
In Florida, Michael meets up with Andie to discuss how Andie and Christian were sneaking around. Andie's point was that they weren't sure what it was, and so before it was too early to invite seventeen other people into their relationship. When Michael brings up the official girlfriend moment on the bus, Andie says she didn't make that happen.
Micah has offered to help by taking over choreography. A week out. Remember how Micah's a perfectionist?
Jessica wants to do an "unconventional twist" on a popular song that's not traditionally a ballad, which is "I'm Gonna Be" by the Proclaimers. Shots of three and one week out rehearsing.
Max says it sounds like she's really already decided - Jessica agrees to this - so then discussing it is kind of pointless. Max says it's hard to say which is more or less risky, keeping the set that risks them going over time, or trying to learn a whole new song and choreography in just a few weeks. (The quarterfinals start in January or February depending on your region. So, the groups would typically have been rehearsing these songs for about four months. One month to learn a new one would seem pretty short.)
Jessica tells the camera that she considers the things the members say, but ultimately, it is up to her. She takes the hit if things go wrong.
Max raises the concern that the four weeks they have is not enough time to learn a whole new song.
In Illinios, Jessica reminds them that they had talked about the possibility of switching out the set, since it was long (which I seem to remember was innovative before, but certainly given the amount of stress that caused, it seems, as Andie from ANY said, worth discussing.) Jessica wants to replace the two ballads in their set with one longer ballad (I assume we mean long for a ballad, not longer than the two ballads together).
Michael feels the aca-couple is teaming up against him.
Christian tells the camera he agrees with Andie, and suggests that a romantic ballad with him and Andie might be awesome. On the bus he suggests that ballads might provide some easy tens for them since ballads provide clear musical chord moments that linger and the judges can appreciate them.
Michael suggests all the nines mean they just need to perfect what they have.
Andie says she knows Michael doesn't want a ballad but they should at least be able to talk about it.
Michael says ballads are boring.
Kevin thinks adding a ballad would provide a quiet counterpoint. (Gosh, it seems like contrast and dynamics are becoming a theme.)
Andie reads a number of positive notes that include that the only thing the "championship worthy set" was missing was a ballad.
Michael reminds us their ballad-free set was innovative.
Andie reads the judges's notes.
Michael still mad about the aca-dating between Andie and Christian, in case you thought he might have softened.
In Florida, Michael reminds us that All Night Yahtzee (ANY) came in second. In the bus on the way back from quarterfinals, the group agrees that they need to step rehearsals up.
In Boston, Isaac and Sam have decided to bond through getting tattoos together, a geometric symbol for Isaac and a quote for Sam. Isaac's geometric design is a symbolic representation of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come". Sam's quote is from a poem by Arthur O'Shaunessy. Both Isaac and Sam feel that being in the Nor'easters has changed their life and these tattoos represent that.
Micah asks about her solo. Robbie feels building in more dynamics will give her voice enough soft points that she can hit those highs at the end of the set.
In Illinois, No Comment (NoCo) has brought in Robbie, an alum and former music director since even though they won their quarterfinal, they expect competition to be tighter at semis.
Micah, of course says this means they need to fix her.Robbie says he has reviewed the judges comments, and the biggest thing her saw was that their "softs aren't soft".
Micah tells us that dynamics (loud and soft moments) really allow the audience some time and space. (It also allows the audience to appreciate the big moments. If everything is all crazy loud, your ears start to see (hear?) crazy loud as normal.)Jessica says NoCo is known for bombastic sound, but need subtleties.
And now we have the final rehearsal before semis. Jessica says that the final rehearsal determines how the performance will go.
Lizzie, who whoops, I've been calling Jessie*, Lizzie says their voices are trashed after so much rehearsal.
Jessica tells them she knows everyone's tired and it sucks, but they cannot sound like this tomorrow. (It's hard to say if this is a pep talk, or just frustration or both.)
Hey, Jessica is riding the party bus this time. Either Jessica is a calming influence or they really are just that tired, because the vibe of the bus this time seems more sleepyhead.
At semifinals, only the top team of ten goes forward. Jessica tells them that she happy to be sharing her potentially last ICCA performance with fourteen of her best friends. Dirk unveils his sun, er, spray tan brand. Micah says maybe if they win, they'll all get "tan-toos".
Lizzie mentions she's planning to console the Huskie Hunks after they beat them again.
Micah declares Voices in Your Head their biggest competition, big and loud.
Max says Fundamentally Sound is all male and brings a lot of fun.
Micah's mom and grandmother have come in from Florida to surprise her. (The rest of the group is in on this.) She is shocked, happy, and overwhelmed.
We see clips of some raucous and weird warm ups. NoCo does something that involves rapid counting and much shaking of limbs almost like a hyper-hokey pokey.
Max leads them through a visioning of an awesome performance.
NoCo goes on, starting off with "Bang Bang". We are still getting snippets, not whole songs. Micah does note that Jessica was right, but she feels this set is a much better choice. The haunting version on "I'm Gonna Be" features Trent as the soloist, and seems quite amazing. And now we are at "Surrender", it's hard to tell through the TV, but the notes about dynamics seems to have been taken to as they seem start off much quieter. And there is not a crack to be heard in Micah's solo. Micah can apparently see her mom beaming with pride in the audience. NoCo went third so it's a long wait.
Fundamentally Sound also has "Bang Bang" in their set, and Jessica is surprised to find a male group singing it because it's really got some high notes.
Voices In Your Head goes on, and Jessica find their lack of dynamics, well, lacking, although she does find their performance intimidating.
As the judges deliberate, Jessica tells them she's really proud of their performance.
The ICCA announcer says 50 groups competed in the various Midwest finals, and the top ten are here today.
3rd place - No Comment
2nd place - Fundamentally Sound
1st Place - Voice in Your Head. Micah says that Voices are standing next to them, and while she's bummed for NoCo, it's hard to deny Voices their happiness.
And now they mention that actually, this isn't the end of the road for NoCo because there's a wild card round that the second and third place finishers get to go to.
Backstage they are sad they didn't win, but generally happy with their performance, and ready to rock the wild card.
*I will get that fixed. Sorry, Lizzie.