VI English Song Contest
Fun, unparalleled competition and unique spirit
As always, our acute transition into the new year and, above all, into a brand new and even more daunting semester has been nicely sweetened by an event by all means out of ordinary. And so again, wealthier by a year’s worth experience, we eagerly gathered in the crowded School Gym to witness and participate in another incarnation of the legendary English Song Contest, which by now has become one of the dearest traditions of our lovely school community. Even despite the rumours of its imminent cancellation, the ESC prevailed – and oh boy, in what splendid a style!
For some, it was the first opportunity to partake in this highly anticipated pastime; for others, it was sadly the last. For many, it was just another milestone in the course of school-life continuum, a pleasant pause right before the winter break and its two beautiful weeks of undisturbed laziness or, for the record, since this may be viewed by the pedagogical body, passionate and zealous learning. But for each of us the event has acquired great significance and is one of the rare confirmations of the fact that school-life does not end on learning; non-academic talents are by no means inferior and it is just as important to foster them as to prepare for exams. And beside all this gibberish, there also exists this one particular (and sadly often omitted) thing emphatically called fun.
And the English Song Contest certainly puts fun as its most core value. Because what isn’t fun in comfortably seating (or uncomfortably perching on a bench – but well, let’s not exaggerate) for a few hours that would’ve been monotonously spent in a classroom otherwise, and observing in pure amusement the crazy follies so carefully and meticulously prepared (but again, let’s not exaggerate) by our friends who had so kindly decided to entertain us with their awe-inspiring vocal or instrumental skills – or even with both at the same time, just like Mr J. Chmielewski, who certainly outdid himself this year by drumming and singing simultaneously.
And so some things had changed and improved, while some have remained exactly the same, like the peculiar jury’s taste, to name but one thing. The voice audibility and volume still left a little to be desired and its fixing unfortunately happened at the expense of the few first bands. But certainly none of those little setbacks has even slightly diminished the pleasure of participating in this year’s ESC – which was, as always, nothing short of magnificent!
The event was to officially begin at 10 am, although many crafty members of the audience had come much earlier, in order to hunt down any unoccupied, solitary chairs and thus cherish a slightly more comfortable experience. The laggards had to satisfy themselves with the softness of the floor, but nonetheless no complaints were to be heard anywhere - contrary to the omnipresent sighs of awe, the first round of which was almost certainly caused by the appearance of the splendid presenting duo. This edition’s hosts, Mr J. Żabiński and Miss M. Kałymon, who were initially slightly displeased by the rowdiness of the audience, introduced one another, greeted everyone as cordially as they could and announced the first band to perform.
Enter the dragon! The crowd welcomed the Gentlemen Jabbas with rounds of excited roars and applause, shaking away the remains of its sluggishness and preparing for a marvellous performance. The dazzling foursome, proudly sporting shaggy full caps and glowing sunglasses (apparently trying to fill the niche caused by the absence of Sawero Boys and thus adapt to the jury’s well-known taste slightly better) run onto the stage in a truly ecstatic manner and quickly picked up their instruments, one of which was an accordion. Their front man, the one and only Mr J. Chmielewski himself, manned the drums and took the microphone at the same time. The first band was certainly very promising and professional, so the audience sat back, awaiting to be amazed.
But poof, just as one year ago and just as two years ago, Gentlemen Jabbas experienced a terrible sound problem and the vocals were hardly audible! And it must be said that in the song of their choice the vocals were enormously important, gluing together all the other instruments. But the boys were too professional to pull the let-us-start-over-once-again card and continued nonetheless, trying their best to keep their cool. And it easily could’ve been one of the best performances (even accounting for the obvious disfavour of the jury towards the band and its front man).
But the audience didn’t even have the time to figure out what the performance could have been if we lived in a universe devoid of technical problems, because another band was already on the stage. Lonely Square Dinosaurs, notorious for their extremely funny though utterly senseless name (which even abbreviates to LSD, making it double-funny in a brand new way!) appeared in some makeshift cowboy costumes and began their performance.
And so we, the audience, once more sat back (well, those of us who have the luxury of a chair did sit back) and let the music flow through us. The song began with a melodic sequence of a few notes played by the keyboardist and slowly built up. A bassist joined, the drummer added his share of noise, and then the acoustic guitar joined in increasing our anticipation. The two female vocalists meanwhile made sweet eyes towards the jury and smiled mysteriously, waiting for their parts to come. The build-up was progressing, the quiet vocal joined and the audience hungrily awaited the imminent big-bang at the chorus.
And in this most crucial moment the band decided to stop. What an awful anti-climax! They suddenly demanded the vocal audibility be fixed (in Polish, an unforgivable breakage of the character) and brazenly began their performance once again. And even though this was certainly not a professional thing to do, the audio problem was more or less solved, a thing from which all the subsequent contestants doubtlessly benefited.
And so, once again, the keyboardist began, the bass joined, the drums set in, etc. And here came the chorus with the freshly empowered vocals – and this time, it was spectacular. When the two girls began executing the centrepiece of their song, everybody got stunned, either by the might of their voices (now excessively turned up in volume up, a recompense from the Sound Engineer it seems), or by the emotionality of the whole experience. A great instrumental performance, an excellent choice of tune, a genuine vocal talent and a lack of technical problems ensured a marvellous performance this time.
When the two first bands (which had been adversaries since their first ESC performance apparently) finished their duel, the time came for a modicum of soloists. And so there was a too-well-known Amy Macdonald’s song performed by M. Dworzynska, followed up by another song by M. Kiec, which ended with a very emphatic and honest exclamation of the phrase ‘F*** you’; who was the addressee? I’d rather not speculate, especially given the jury’s distress caused by the remark.
And then again the stage was lit up by the personage of J. Chmielewski, who apparently was not a quitter and continued to further his plan of finally showing the jury who’s who. Armed with an electric guitar, he sang a poignant and emotional song of Stone Sour called ‘Bother’; the might of his voice combined with the powerful yet subtle instrumental backup ensured that no one ceased to have the creeps for the entirety of the performance, save for one particular member of the jury who kept covering his ears (that narrows it to two culprits I guess). Why? Maybe he was not ready to give himself in to the emotional magic of the song, or maybe he decided to no longer conceal his disfavour of Mr J. Chmielewski. But the applause of the smitten audience once the last few notes dispersed spoke well enough for itself and for the first-rate performance.
Then a duo of H. Mielniczuk and M. Subocz came onto the stage with the notorious ‘I see fire’ of the even-more-notorious Ed Sheeran – and gave a truly brilliant performance in terms of both vocal and instrumental quality. Opened by sonorous a Capella humming, the song powerfully evoked the images of Peter Jackson’s dwarves indefatigably travelling through plains and forests to reach their misty mountain and *spoiler alert* conquer all the evil ogres, dragons and such. And when the acoustic guitar joined in with its quiet, calming whispers, we literally entered the Middle-Earth. Well, technically we did not, due to its obvious inexistence, but the effect was genuinely magnificent. The voices of the duo perfectly resonated with one another, just as Bilbo’s flair did with the dwarfed courage. The performance was truly one of the most enchanting spectacles that the ESC had ever had.
And then the already-famous Olga Kubeczak performed - last year’s edition winner. Again, her voice control was striking and again the excellent execution of the song left little to be desired; yet, everything was almost identical with her previous performance. But if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it, as the saying goes.
Afterwards came the time for the solo showmen, to call them emphatically. The first to perform was B. Wocial, who made quite a big show singing the “Passenger”. Euphorically bearing a fedora, he successfully spilled his passion onto the audience, which instantly stood up to dance and bounce to the sounds of his tremulous voice. And oh boy, the moves! He certainly felt the lively spirit of the song. The chants of his name once he finished were sufficient a proof of the critical acclaim of his performance.
Then came the time for the one and only MC Blade. To be frank, I was not expecting much initially; and how wrong I was! The MC, dressed in swag clothes, a full-cap and the mandatory chain, run onto the stage, greeted everyone in a way that would befit Snoop Dogg himself and, brazenly calling the audience ‘his hood’, ‘homies’, and ‘the gang’, began abusing the mike like a true boy from da streets. And the audience felt the hip-hop spirit! Everyone stood up and began rocking rhythmically; for a moment every homie seemed to be belonging to the MC’s crew. A dang hella good show!
And then came the third showman, the most battered and experienced of the showmen kin, with a carefully designed master-plan of our hearts’ conquest and a self-composed song as the weapon of choice. The truly incredible Mr M. Szkibiel charged onto the stage, this year alone, took a comfortable sit at the keyboard stand and began with a quick preliminary speech to the performance-hungry audience, which was already dripping with anticipation. But something was missing! Mr Watson without Mr Crick? Emerson without Thoreau? Why was he alone? Where was his inseparable partner-in-crime, Adam?
But Mr Szkibiel gave the answer immediately; while Adam was not there in person, he was undoubtedly present in the lyrics of the song, which was officially dedicated to him as homage to a true friend. In body we could not see him on stage; yet the whole song was imbued with his spirit, permeated with his presence, and it felt just as though he had been standing there for us. And so Mr Szkibiel began singing the song of his own, “Legend of Headmastering”; even though the lyrics were totally incomprehensible, everybody still laughed, taking their obvious comicality and wittiness for granted. The build-up progressed to the chorus, the centrepiece – and then the happy shouts of the name “Julies Narban” filled the room, filled our hearts, reached into our souls. And even though we had been assured that any coincidences were to be purely accidental, the name of “Julies Narban”, whoever he was, bore traces of some awful familiarity... was there a hidden message? Was he trying to tell us something between the lines? Those big questions aside, the genuineness of the performance and the fun that Mr Szkibiel had obviously been having while singing his presumable masterpiece ensured that the awestruck, smitten and literally-fainting-from-euphoria audience adamantly demanded an encore. And an encore was granted! In fact, Mr Szkibiel sang for so long that the presenters had to begin announcing the next contestant in the middle of his hearty yelling. But he did not mind, not at all; he simply performed his signature move, a jacket-spin to a jacket-throw, cordially declared, ’is good’ and left the stage with a broad smile.
And then, when everybody’s strength had already been drained by continuous laughing, came the time for the dancing-groups, one of which unfortunately had to withdraw prematurely. But the remaining one stood up to the challenge and did some dancing nonetheless. Makaretki (it should be in caps by the way, since MAKARETKI are apparently so grand that only majuscule could possibly capture that grandeur) sang the Lazy Song by Bruno Mars and danced as well as moved some chairs to the lyrics. The choreography was intricate, the singing was cool. A great performance, though no fireworks.
Did someone mention fireworks? That’s exactly what the following group had! And what about some bearded women? Check! Sabbaton songs? Why of course! Oh, some Cohen’s Hallelujahs? Hell yeah! Summersaults? Yup. You name it – they had everything one could think of. And that so-lyrical name, The Sparrows. To top it off, they performed quite nicely, certainly did a big show, and above all, demonstrated to us the necessity of having a brainstorm moderator. Oh boy, they certainly did.
And then came a band enigmatically called Jelasqa and performed an Iron Maiden song (J. Chmielewski on the drums, 3rd appearance). Their performance was a textbook case of a well executed song combined with the saddening lack of anything extraordinary – and that was a grave mistake to make as an ESC contestant. The jury was – not surprisingly – unimpressed, while the audience certainly had fun and got nicely warmed up before the annual grand finale.
And so, enter the dragon – for the second time! The Jelasqa band members did a quick switch with one another and so, Grochans Brothers with Chmielu (finally a name that made me slightly smile) miraculously appeared on the stage! During the little mayhem they ensued the jury were debating the winners – and as always were unable to observe what the best part of each ESC looked like. But well, at least we could! And so the audience stood up and bounced, jumped, rocked and had tremendously good time rampaging to the hits of the trio, lead by Mr J. Chmielewski himself ( a 4th appearance, we do have a record, ladies and gentlemen!). And that concert was something, certainly.
Then came the jury with their verdicts (peculiar as always) and the concert had to be finished. The tired and already sweaty audience unwillingly sat down to let the presenting duo announce the winners. In the first category, the Best Show, the third place went to ex aequo to Mr Szkibiel and Mr Wocial, which was indeed agreeable; the second place went to MC Blade, a well deserved reward; the first place was awarded to Makaretki (to MAKARETKI, I beg your pardon) and I am definitely not going to question this decision. Perhaps moving a chair requires much more talent than playing a musical instrument, but I am not an expert.
In the Best Performance category the third award went to the splendid performance of Hanna and Marek; the second was given to the Lonely Square Dinosaurs (LSD, if someone forgot); the first went to Olga. The podium looked awfully similar to what it was like last year.
But the fun we all had was unbelievable. The singers, the players, the spectators, we all had tremendously good time and certainly felt the unique spirit of this unparalleled competition flowing through us all, biding us even closer in our lovely school community. And that was the purpose! And so, what can we do now but hope that the next year’s incarnation will be just as splendid (and hopefully a bit less predictable) as this one!
We are happy to announce that the VI English Song Contest will take place on 16 January (Friday) 2015 in the school gym.
The contest is open ONLY to Gim. Nr 16 and XIII LO students.
Those (soloists, groups of vocalists, musical bands) who want to enter the competition must first register with : J. Skowroński, D. Kostrzewa, M. Jasiewicz, or with your English teacher
The closing date for entry (the deadline for participants to sign up for the competition) is 12-01-2015 (Monday).
NO ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THIS DATE!
Participants must provide the organizers with the following information. NB FILL IN THE APPLICATION FORM!
- Name, surname and class of each performer and name of your band or group of vocalists.
- Type of playback or musical accompaniment provided by participants
- Equipment provided by the organizers (microphones, a CD player, etc.)
- Title of your song
- Who is the original performer of the song ( if it is a cover)
Each contestant can sing one song only. The lyrics must be in English and the song may not exceed five (5) minutes in length. If you want you are allowed to have a group of back-up dancers or other supporters to make your performance more attractive and add to the artistic value of your show.
The contest will begin at 10 o’clock. All participants are obliged to come no later than 30 minutes before the beginning of the contest to confirm their participation with the organizers (report to Mr Skowroński or Mrs Kostrzewa)
The organizers will provide the participants with a sound system, a stage, and a common rehearsal and changing room (classroom 10)
The competition will be presided over by a panel of judges comprising three ZSO 7 teachers and three students.
The winners will be announced (shortly after the last performance) in two categories:
- the best performance!
- the best show!
The following aspects should be to the fore in the minds of the participants as well as the judges:
- performance/show style and manner
- performance/show musical and artistic professionalism and attractiveness
- performance/show originality and creativeness
- audience engagement and response
- English language skills
- ability to introduce the song/show in an appropriate style and manner.
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