Le Provocateur: AC Idol Draws Crowds
The stage was set, the lights were perfectly positioned and the microphones were in working order. The contestants took their seats and the judges proceeded to their table. Students, both sitting and standing, went wild as the background music stopped and the lights in Charlie's dimmed.
It was time to find out who would be the next AC Idol.
On Friday, October 21, Campus Activities Board held its annual Late Night @ Charlie's AC Idol event. Even though the event started at 8 p.m., students were already filling up seats at 7:15. Some were part of an entourage and wore specific colors to support their friends while others were there to cheer on all the contestants. All seemed to be excited for the event.
Ashley Recore, the Executive Chair of Music for CAB, was in charge of the event. She started brainstorming ideas about the event when she arrived back on campus in August. By September, plans for AC Idol were in full swing. "It's very gratifying when you put your blood, sweat and tears into something and you get to see everyone enjoying it and appreciating the work you did," she said. However, Recore added that she could not have made the event work without the help from other CAB executives, contestants, hosts and judges.
This year 10 contestants competed for the title of AC Idol, and the majority of them were seniors. Seniors Joe Grivers and Matthew Epstein represented the men in the contest. Seniors Andrea Gagnon, Eily Finn, Stephanie Bouley, Leah Bufkins and Melanie Hentz, sophomore Katerina Reilly and first-years Lea Rossi and Nicole Gamberale rounded out the top 10. Song choices ranged from the late Amy Winehouse's "Valerie" to Etta James' "At Last" to "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. It was evident that contestants gave each performance their all.
Hosts Jacki Carlson and Mike Weselcouch introduced the judges. Tyler Pau, the Resident Director of the Valley, Paul Belsito, Executive Assistant for Government and Community Relations and, former AC Idol winner, Ben Krol made up the panel this year. Carlson and Weselcouch then determined which contestant had the best entourage. Joe Grivers' entourage won and was upgraded to the VIP section in the front row of seating.
With the VIP section now filled, the contest began. It consisted of three rounds. Each participant had to select three songs to sing, all had to be approved by Recore. In the first round, each contestant sang one song. At the end of that round, the judges eliminated four contestants. Finn, Epstein, Rossi, Hentz, Gamberale and Reilly made it through to the next round.
The second round followed the same procedure. Each contestant sang another song and four more contestants were eliminated. While the judges deliberated, CAB raffled off an iPad 2 and the hosts entertained the audience. The hosts got members of entourages to voluntarily go on the stage, only to find out they had to take turns singing the National Anthem. Another time, other entourage members got to sing a song of their choice. The audience seemed to enjoy Weselcouch's rendition of Rebecca Black's song "Friday" and proceeded to sing it with him.
Before revealing who would move on to the final round, the judges requested that the hosts tell the audience that it was a very difficult decision to make. The judges selected Hentz and Gamberale. While there may have been some disappointment amongst the crowd, majority of the audience remained supportive of the two girls.
Hentz's final song was "Songbird" and Gamberale sang "Grenade" by Bruno Mars. Both girls gave great performances. In the end, Gamberale was named AC Idol. She won the grand prize of $500 and will now compete in the "Consortium's Got Talent" contest on November 4. If Gamberale wins that contest, she will receive another $1,000.
As a judge, Krol identified voice quality and control as main judging factors for the contest. "First off, I make sure you've got the voice. Obviously all of them had a really great voice, but being able to control it is important as well," he noted. "When you're up there it's exciting and your adrenaline is rushing and it's hard controlling that." He also emphasized the importance of stage presence, stating, "You have to be able to engage the audience and really get the crowd going."
Many who attended the event also noticed the amount of talent in this year's competition. Junior Sarah Lovas commented, "I thought that all of the singers who performed during AC Idol were great. I thought that they did a good job of picking out music that works best for their voice."
Overall, the event was a success. Kelley Arnold, a junior, particularly enjoyed AC Idol. "I've always had fun at this event," she said. "I've gone every year, but this year seemed to run much more smoothly than past AC Idols. I'm certain we have Jacki and Mike to thank for that! From our hilarious and dazzling hosts to our judges to our wonderful singers and to our fabulous audience- the night was beautiful."
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Michael Guilfoyle, Executive Director of Media Relations, Assumption College