Friday, August 05, 2016

Sing it On - Season 2 Episode 2 Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals #1

As you might suspect from the title, we will get two Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals this season, but first, we check back in at UMass with the S#arp Attitudes who are now having callbacks. Sam says they had over 50 auditions, and now have 15 callbacks. They are using "Boy" by Little Mix as their callback piece.  Sam says these women need to bring the sass and reminds us that they also need a beatboxer.  As will become clear, their plan, given the lack of natural undiscovered beatboxers in their audition, is to bring Melinda, who was one of the group's founders, to beatbox for the callbacks. They are basically hoping that since she's still there as a grad student, she will come back. 

Melinda, perhaps unaware of the secret plan, declares that these were the best callbacks ever.  She tells the camera she loves the group but had to focus on her studies. 

At Maryland, which I am going to be referring to as UMD, Josh tells us that the quarterfinals for the Faux Paz are the first week of classes, so they've been working really hard to rehearse with all the new members. Dave reminds us that the Faux Paz made it to finals last year, so there's pressure to repeat. They have brought back their old music director Michael to help out. 

I guess this answers the question I had last season of how common it is for old members to return to assist.  Either that or "Sing it On" has picked a high number of groups with alums hanging around.

Lynnique explains that the dynamics are the loud and the soft, and you want to see variation to keep it from sounding boring. Mikul has never soloed before, so he's nervous.  It does seem that Michael is paying particular attention to Mikul in this rehearsal, not in a mean way, in a very exacting way. Lynnique says Michael is her best friend, and she loves this arrangement of Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" where she is a soloist.  Music got her through her grief when her mom passed away, and she is channeling her mom, the relief she must have felt near the end as she sings this song.  

Back at UMass, Sam from S#arp Attitude tells us it not just about sounding sexy, it's about the whole package. Members are discussing the callbacks, and Melinda just happens to be there. They put her on the spot, telling her they couldn't find a new beatboxer, and really hope she would consider coming back. She says she'll think about it, she's concerned that she has a tendency to overload herself.  They say they really need to know now. 

This was tough to watch because they clearly knew all along this was their plan, and it's understandable that she would want to think about it.  I do agree, that they needed a clear answer quickly, so they could figure out their plan either way, but they seemed pretty sure they could talk her into it.  However, everyone here is an adult, and she had apparently already planned to go to the ICCA's with them. Melinda asks if it would be weird to have a five year member of the group.  I checked the ICCA rules and didn't see anything that prohibited it, so her question is more of a should I still be in this group or should I have moved on.  Once she agrees, she tells them they better win. 

They put hands in and chant, "1, 2, 3,bitches get money!" 

Over with the Hexachords, Craig explains that while they only have two new members, that's a third of their group.  They rehearse an arrangement of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood".  Craig says it was good except for where it was lame.  I'm working on the assumption that somehow his full commentary was edited, because that did not sound like a useful critique. Brandon, one of the aforementioned new members, feels that what the song was clearly missing was a me moment, ie, the song did not contain enough Brandon.  He suggests this to the group.  But he does have more specifics, a place where he could add a riff.  Katie asks if he's trying to steal her song  - as she was the soloist.  There is some muttered I think so's, but it mostly seems in good fun.  Craig does tell the camera he knew that Katie and Brandon might be conflicting personalities. They try Brandon's suggestion and really like it.  Linnea mentions she so happy to be singing and not beatboxing as she did for S#arp Attitude. This allows one member explains that Melinda has rejoined S#arp Attitude as their beatboxer. 

And let me armchair theorize here.  I know Sam had mentioned last week that she thought a lot of Linnea's decision to leave was hanging with her boyfriend, but if we can take Linnea at her word here, she seems pretty happy to not have to be a beatboxer.  Given the gang press over beatboxing we've witnesses, it seems like S#arp Attitude might not have been willing to let her make that switch.  Of course, there's no reason to believe Linnea actually asked. I don't think the boyfriend time is hurting, but if Linnea became a beatboxer because they didn't have one, and not because it was her strength or passion, it seem understandable she would switch.  

And at UPenn, Off the Beat (OTB) is rehearsing.  Jasmine says this rehearsal is all about choreography. Rohan reminds us that while he is (co)president, Jasmine runs rehearsal. They are doing "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Simple and Sweet" but since they are focusing on choreoography, Jasmine has them speaking the words so they can focus on the moves and not the notes. Rohan explains that good choreography is important, but it is not their strength. Rohan suggests some facial expressions.  Jasmine is concerned those will screw up the vocals. Jasmine tells us her rehearsals are meticulously planned but every time Rohan starts talking, the breaks get shorter.  Rohan reminds us they are an ivy league school and everyone has a lot of work, so these long rehearsals are a big ask.  

And we're at quarter finals, which conveniently for the Faux Paz are being held right at UMD.  David says they have a home team advantage. We go through the number picking, with one team member picking out of the bucket to see what order they will perform in.  Mikul says ideally you want to close the first half or be last.  But never first. David of course says they pulled first last year.  So...I still get why it's not ideal, but anyway it doesn't matter because he pulls third. And just when you thought the tension was over, they go backstage and Josh explains that Lynnique is not answering his texts which he hopes means she's already on the road back from her sister's dance competition.  But they would really like her there for their soundcheck since she has a solo.  Mikul reminds them to please watch tempo and then tells the camera that he knows he's the tempo problem, so his reminder was more for himself.  David explains that if you go over the allotted time you lose a place, so instead of first, you would be second, and so on, and when only two groups advance, this is a big penalty.

Lynnique arrives and all is well.  She tells the camera the group has been really understanding of the fact that with her mom gone, she has to step up more with her sister.  Sadly her sister's dance group did not win.  But I'm sure the support was appreciated.  Michael has also showed up to watch. 

And because we know there's nothing so adorably puntastic as list of a cappella groups, here is the list of other groups: 

The Stilettos (University of Maryland Baltimore County)

PandemoniUM (UMD) 

DaCadence (UMD)

Vocalign (UMD)

Treblemakers (UMD)

Sons of Pitch (George Washington University)

Phalanx (Elizabethtown College)

Georgetown Phantoms (Georgetown University)

YCP Rhapsody (York College of Pennsylvania)

This is probably more a function of university density, but in contrast to some of the quarterfinals last year where folks had to bus a few hours, this looks like most of the groups had a short trip.  

The Faux Paz circle up and do a call and response. Mikul tells us this is his first ICCA solo and there are really a lot lot of people in that theater. 

And yay!  Those of you who watched last year, know that we mostly got clips, although they got longer as groups progressed.  But this year, we get a whole song!  (Or most of one.  I didn't compare lyrics.) Also, for those of us who may be song challenged, they are including a little caption of the song and original artist. We get to see the Faux Paz arrangement of Tears for Fears "Mad World" with Mikul soloing.  It's a haunting, dark interpretation with simple choreography that seems designed to highlight some shifts but the focus is primarily on Mikul who sounds great in his first ever ICCA solo.  The audience looks rapt.  We see clips of "Dog Days" where the faster tempo and powerful solo from Lynnique has the audience bobbing their heads. As they finish a few people in the audience jump up for a small standing ovation.  

The group seems happy with their performance.  Mikul says the other groups are so different. And, as with last year, we are only seeing the tiniest snippets of the other groups, so it's hard to sense how the Faux Paz did in contrast.  David had earlier mentioned that DaCadence was big competition for them. Lynnique says the pendulum (of top group) seems to swing back and forth between the Faux Paz and PandemoniUM. 

Back in UMass, Sam of S#arp Attitude tells us that "aca-bitches" show up in person, which seems to mean that rather than calling or emailing new members, they hunt them down on campus with large signs.  The new members are surprised and happy. 

And back in UMD, the judges are ready. First, they have a special award.  Special award can go out, at the discretion of the judges, for soloist, arrangement, choreographer, and/or percussion.  No special awards have to be given out, and because the groups are judged on a combination of things it is not a guarantee that a group did well, but it doesn't hurt.  Josh, in his first year as music director, gets awarded outstanding arrangement.  

And now for the winners.  In third place, the Treblemakers. In second, the Fauz Paz.  In first, Pandemonium. (A UMD sweep.) 

David is not thrilled to lose to PandemoniUM. But the Faux Paz are moving to the next round, and because they had one of the earlier quarterfinals, they have two months to get ready for semifinals in Philadelphia. The group agrees, they got second with two weeks of rehearsal, they can kill it in two months.