“Sing it just how Cardi B. would, but clean.” Despite these instructions, the first audience competitor was very engaged in his performance and accidentally dropped “fuck” in the second line of the song. His facial expression made it clear that he realized his mistake, but he continued on nonetheless.
The annual Homecoming Talent show was a night filled with not only talented groups and individuals, but also with competition, laughter, prizes, and spontaneity.
The emcees for the night were Tim Johnson, senior history major, and Andrea Davis, a senior psychology major. Johnson is a programmer in the (seb) executive board while Davis is the organization’s president.
Due to technology processes, soundcheck was delayed and the doors to the Ballroom were not opened until 8 p.m., the intended start time. The show started approximately 30 minutes late.
“Other than [the late start], everything went pretty smooth,” said Justin Milton, junior media communication studies major and main point member in charge of planning the talent show.
While there were plenty of talented acts, the emcees broke up the performances with spontaneous competitions, such as a Bodak Yellow singing competition, a dance-off, and a search under chairs for prize-winning wristbands.
The organization took the opportunity to give away Homecoming swag. The first 50 students to arrive received a Homecoming-themed travel mug, some with bonus prizes inside. Inside one cup was a ticket to the sold-out Trevor Noah comedy performance. At several points throughout the show, the hosts threw homecoming t-shirts into the crowd.
Some contestants were in established on-campus groups, like Retriever Bhangra and UMBeats, but others were solo artists vying to promote their own musical endeavors. Several acts, including rapper Drew Lynch and poet Benjamin Ballah, performed original material.
“I appreciated the creativity of certain rappers’ lyrics because they gave insight into students’ personal thoughts,” said senior double financial economics and global studies major Kelly Wan.
Many acts plugged their various online platforms before or after taking the stage.
One of the bassists from UMBeats took it a step further: “I know a lot of people were plugging their social media and I don’t have a Soundcloud or a Snapchat, but, 404-…-0264… ladiesssss?”
The Student Events Board promoted the show on their social media platforms to encourage students to audition. They also reached out to their contacts in performing arts groups on campus.
This is the first time we had more people apply than we had spots, so we had to cut people.”
Organizers accepted 12 acts into the show, but only 11 performed because one act did not submit their information in time.
They had auditions in late September over the course of two days in the Commons Sportszone. Milton, Kaila, and the club’s advisor listened to all auditions and graded them, eliminating about 5 acts.
The judges consisted of one student and two staff members: junior graphic design major Gerardo Herrara-Cortes, Student Life Coordinator for Student Engagement Jane Cruz, and Associate Director of Event and Conference Services of the Commons and Student Life Joel DeWyer.
The top three acts chosen by the judges were Retriever Bhangra, a traditional Indian dance troupe, Amber, who performed a freestyle song and rap with no background track, and Elfrieda, who sang Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
The winner received a Homecoming swag bag, an early entry ticket into the Trevor Noah show, and a free pass to the Homecoming Carnival.
“It’s a tradition at this point. It’s well known, and we always have a really good turnout,” said Milton. “I would say as far as homecoming, this would be the third biggest event besides the comedy show and the carnival.”
The University Center Ballroom was nearly filled for the duration of event. Organizers estimated around 300 people were in attendance.