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So Long, 2024: The HRSC Staff Recap

Everybody's show choir season is officially in the rearview mirror, so some members of the HomeRoom staff answered a few questions about the 2024 season.

What was your personal favorite show this year?

William Soquet, Editor-in-Chief: It has to be Gretna. When I saw Johnston last year, it shot pretty well up the list of best shows I saw. The vocals were impeccable and the visuals were clean, appealing and powerful. Gretna this year was all of that plus one of the most impactful shows I’ve seen in a long time. Revolution’s show this year hit the middle of the bingo card - incredibly sound technically and incredibly moving emotionally. Katelyn Wallace and Dakota Mathew are building the next big national powerhouse, bar none.

AJ Prentice, Indiana contributor: Huntington North Viking Volume for sure. I made sure to see it every time I could. Since the theme was “America”, I feared the show was going to be preachy or try to make a statement. But I was pleasantly surprised after watching the show. My favorite number had to be the second one. 

Tae, graphics: I really like Plainfield Femmes Fatales! I really enjoyed watching them at ISSMA. This show is viking-themed with talented singers and dancers as well as an unforgettable color palette that you cannot take your eyes off. For me personally, I love a show theme that is confidently out of the ordinary and Femmes Fatales really showed that they can take a unique theme and make it bold. I am very proud of this univoice group for doing well this season! 

Justin Ternet, Indiana contributor: Lafayette Jefferson First Edition takes this one for me. Their show was so well thought out, with the auditorium starting dark and everyone dead silent while the two minute video of old videos of First Edition play was so amazing. Everyone was watching the history of one of the oldest Indiana show choirs which in a way unified everyone there, watching something that they love evolve. Then add in the glow in the dark costumes, the confetti, the costumes, the smoke wall. All of these technical aspects made for one of the best show experiences I have ever witnessed.

Chris Mendoza, western contributor: It’s gotta be John Burroughs Powerhouse. I’ve seen a lot of Powerhouse shows in my day, and this was the best group vocally I’ve seen from them. As serious and dramatic as their beautifully designed show is, there are some vocal moments that will have you grinning from ear-to-ear with excitement.

Michael James Breen, New England contributor: I would have to say Waltham Music Unlimited. This year they tried doing a different kind of show and it truly paid off. They incorporated a story telling kind of element/through line message and from competition to competition added new elements of acting or replaced a dance break with a new one - it just made the show even better. Shoutout to their amazing staff and leadership for an awesome year!

Who was a group that pleasantly overperformed this year?

William Soquet: Shoutout to Valley Vista Vocal Thunder from Arizona. Our western writer Chris Mendoza has been firmly singing their praises all season and I am firmly in their camp. They pieced together a nice three-competition season that put the West on notice. Vocal Thunder cleaned house close to home at Boulder Creek, and stepped up to advanced in California. The result? Two podium finishes in division, with placements above established advanced programs like Chaparral and Bonita Vista. Arizona as a whole is a rising tide, and Valley Vista is right there at the front.

Tony Holeman, southern contributor: Grenada. Hands-down. Initially being left out of the southern preseason rankings, Grenada started out with some question marks placing third at their first competition of the season. However, that was to the likes of Homewood and Brandon (the latter of which they had placed of ahead of in the preliminary results). They would go on in the rest of their season to win two Grand Championships and two runner-up placements (one of those at Show Choir Nationals) with their entertaining and energetic “Ugly Duckling” show. They only lost to groups such as Clinton, Homewood, Center Grove, and split their matchups against Brandon. It was a very impressive year for a group that not many people had high expectations for before the start of the season.

Justin Ternet: I think that Noblesville’s NHS Singers were much improved from other years. By starting out getting Best Vocals over top groups at Beavercreek, they had momentum to have a great season and beat some notable groups, like beating Plainfield at Ball State’s MASCC. And even with the scoring error at Nationals, they proved their reason to be there by beating Cedar Rapids Kennedy in finals, showing that they were still a force from Indiana.

Ava Lackey, graphics: Solon Music In Motion had one of their best seasons in years. They came right out of the gate with a grand championship and sweep at Findlay FEst, marking their first overall win since 2020 ahead of talented groups such as Piqua and Grove City. The choir then continued to place extremely well against some of Ohio’s top groups, and ended their season with three overall grand championships. After a few years on the downlow since the pandemic hit, Solon definitely deserved their comeback in the Ohio scene.

What competition that people slept on turned out to be great?

William Soquet: Solon wound up having another drop-down, drag-out battle on multiple fronts. Following a controversial 2023 set of results, the competition made the change from scoring finals on raw points to scoring finals on consensus ordinal rankings. If organizers were hoping that would spread out the results, they were mistaken again. Piqua took a title in the final competition of their season with… Best Band. Grove City took second with… Best Choreography. Findlay took third with… Best Vocals. The back end of finals was no less exciting, as Twinsburg put another solid placing on its resume and Lowell qualified after coming down from New England.

AJ Prentice: Totally biased, but I think the Columbia City Cup had some of the best performances of the year. Since it’s the last stop before state in Indiana (qualifying is never guaranteed) every group performed their heart out. We also got to see the small division shake up the norm and take both first and second place in the finals. 

Chris Mendoza: Also totally biased, but I think Hart Encore was one of the best competitions this year. They advanced division was absolutely stacked with locals and visitors alike, leading to some familiar and brand new matchups. A Big Three member, local small groups, and some out of state competitors made Hart an edge-of-your-seat experience at awards.

Ava Lackey: Grove City Voices in the Grove turned out to be a battle between three of Ohio’s top show choirs. Coming out of being swept by Solon the week prior, Findlay was out for blood. And Marysville continued to dominate the Ohio circuit this season. It was no surprise when Marysville and Solon were announced as the top two in the large mixed division, and Findlay as grand champion of the medium mixed division. Preliminary points revealed the full standings to be Marysville in first, Solon second, and Findlay third. All three groups brought the house down in finals, which led to a nail biter final awards. Solon placed third with Best Band, Findlay second by 0.5 points and Best Vocals, and Marysville first by five points and Best Choreography. However, this just scratches the surface of this competition, as other Ohio powers Marion Harding and Olentangy placed fourth and fifth respectively.

Michael James Breen: Bishop Hendricken’s Lil Rhody Rumble!! I am biased since I am an alumni. However, this competition seemed to be one of those that the scores were going to be super tight (which they were). I was expecting one result and none of my placements/predictions came true! Since the competition is still relatively new, a lot of eyes are not on Rhode Island yet, but hopefully heading into their fourth year they are able to bring in some out of state groups. 

Did any storylines emerge throughout 2024 that caught your eye?

William Soquet: Scoring. While how to score show choir is a discussion as old as the art form itself, scoring reared its head on a couple different fronts. One was how to score the rankings - raw points, consensus ordinals, the matrix, or some other way. The other was a trio of high-profile scoring errors - one at Wheaton Warrenville South, one at Show Choir Nationals and one at the FAME National Finals. While the stories of the errors themselves have been told plenty of times, it was curious to see that there were errors on three of the biggest stages this season and really only one or two small local scoring errors that mostly got swept under the rug.

What’s a theme or song that you would be okay with never seeing again on stage after 2024?

William Soquet: It’s popular and there have been good performances of it, but if Backstage Romance from Moulin Rouge was suddenly deleted off streaming and disappeared from arranger catalogs, I wouldn’t mind.

AJ Prentice: I can’t think of a single reason why I saw so many home renovation shows this year but I’d be happy never seeing one again. They were all great but they would’ve been better if they weren’t one of four I saw in Fort Wayne alone. 

Justin Ternet: Even though this theme has led to some fantastic shows - I think that time travel shows are so overdone. Especially because whenever time travel shows happen you automatically know that you’re going to hear Time Warp.

Chris Mendoza: I think Circus by Britney Spears has run its course. It was never a great choir song to begin with, and it never sounds good due to its very quick and one-note chorus. It’s unfathomable just how many groups fall into the trap of using it.

Ava Lackey: Singing in the Rain has been used frequently over the past few years, and while it’s a nice song to use, it gets boring after seeing so many groups perform it. It also tends to put a drag in the show, because it’s a slower song.

Camila Del Moral, video content: I would be perfectly okay with never hearing Dance the Night Away in a show again. It’s a good pop song but SO repetitive after seeing it in shows over and over again.

What did you love about show choir in 2024?

William Soquet: I love Lincoln, Nebraska. Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln East, Pius X, Lincoln Northeast, Lincoln High, and Lincoln Northwest all had banner seasons for where their programs are at. There really wasn't a group in Lincoln that had a true 'down' year this year. Hunter Boe is ready in the wings to debut Lincoln Standing Bear's group, Renegades, for 2025 as well.

AJ Prentice: This year felt like a lot of groups we tend to sleep on in the smaller divisions stepped it up a little. At the same time some groups that are usually very strong just didn't have the same effect this year. It led to some interesting results in the small divisions. 

Ella Gosain, Illinois contributor: I loved the 2024 show choir season because of the resurgence of incredible womens groups! Tift County Ladies' Choice won the overall competition at Albertville on February 3, and a number of womens groups, including Tupelo Synergy, Brandon Bellas, and Wheaton Warrenville South Esprit, have mixed it up with the best mixed groups out there.

Simon Zimmerman: I love Though the website has seen its fair share of difficulties with slow loading times and server overload throughout the year, it remains one of the best sites of its kind, providing a central place for performers, fans, and anyone else involved in show choir to find information quickly. 

Michael James Breen: I love the feeling of groups getting better year after year. Since the revival of school-life after COVID-19 most programs have raised the bar for excellence in all areas of the activity. The vocal and choreography capacity of some groups of recent are on par with professional broadway performances. Choirs like the Los Alamitos Sound FX and Linn Mar 10th Street Edition have fronted community headlines, it makes it more exciting each time you see a performance and wonder what’s in store next. Also a niche opinion, but I love the shift in choreographers among groups, feels refreshing to see more new collaborative efforts with the artistic direction staffs in the community and willingness to try something new for the students. 

Chris Mendoza: I loved the competitiveness of this season. Across each region there was style changes, upsets, and close calls. Every week gave way to interesting results. Show choir is better than ever, groups this year did not come to play. The hard-fought battles made each win feel that much sweeter!

Tony Holeman: I love the uniquely competitive nature of show choir itself. There really is nothing else truly like it out there in the arts department. You have theater, choir, and other artistic branches sure, but there isn’t any other sector that truly does bring out the nature of competition that show choir does. Between the emotions on stage, the tension from waiting throughout the day, and the awards themselves, the highs and lows for such a form of art seems unparalleled. Those competition weekends are what bring light and energy to many current and former, including myself, performers’ lives.

Michael McHargh, Ohio/Iowa contributor: I loved being able to see the variety in show designs from different states and regions. In previous years, I have only seen one to two groups from outside of Ohio each season but this year I saw groups from 10 different states across five different regions. It was so refreshing to see so many new styles of choreography and story-telling. 

Camila Del Moral: I really loved being able to experience both kinds of show choirs. Missouri is a very storytelling-heavy state, which I LOVE, but it was an interesting change of pace to see more traditional show choirs.

It’s never too early for 2025. Name a breakout group or storyline that you think will come to fruition.

William Soquet: It seems like there was a group of competitions that just exploded off the page this year with the amount of heavy hitters there and then another group of traditionally strong competitions that had trouble attracting elite programs this year. I predict that there will be many competitions that have 3-4 top dogs at their competition and very few that have more or less.

Justin Ternet: I think we are going to see a rise in the Huntington North show choirs. Both mixed and unvoiced had a fantastic season in 2024, and I think they will use that as momentum for more fantastic competition sets and more Grand Championship titles.

Chris Mendoza: If La Cueva Underground decides to take the national stage next year, the world is theirs. Underground’s showmanship is just next level, and much larger and more established groups would have to fight for their lives to keep that choreography caption away from them.

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