This past Saturday, the Susan B. Anthony Residential Advisors and Hall Council sponsored the 2008 UR Idol Competition. Fifteen groups came out to perform in front of a large crowd of students and a panel of three more-than-noteworthy judges with the hopes of claiming the title of UR Idol.

The judges this year included senior Nate Chenenko playing the role of Randy Jackson, Dean of Freshmen Marcy Kraus as Paula Abdul and Acting Dean of Students Matthews Burns as Simon Cowell. And, although FOX’s Simon has become more amiable in recent years, UR’s Simon had no intention of doing so. Luckily for the performers and the audience, UR’s Paula and Randy took on the tactful and likable characteristics of their real-life counterparts.

This year brought out a wide range of performers with some fantastic vocal performances. Groups sang songs by artists ranging from John Mayer to Michael Buble to One Republic. Some vocalists showcased their ability to play an instrument as well. Many played guitar, but there was also a marvelous pianist and a six-foot electric mandolin player who was definitely unexpected but quite entertaining. A few rappers showed up as well; sophomore Demetreus Hargrove performed an original piece with a mellow beat entitled “Life.” The Greek Mafia performed an original as well, with witty and provocative lines that kept the audience wanting more.

But many of the acts pushed the envelope above and beyond, engaging and exposing the audience to areas of musical performance not typically considered for a competition such as this. Junior Nikki Ferron blew everyone away with her passionate rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” through sign language. Although people may not have been able to hear what she was doing, seeing it was incredibly moving. The reigning UR Idol, senior Shane Campbell-Staton, beat-boxed an intricate beat of sounds that seemed to be humanly impossible, referencing Salt & Pepper, Michael Jackson and more contemporary artists such as Justin Timberlake. Junior John Culver, an Eastman student, performed Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” on jazz clarinet. Finally, junior Svet Radoslavof played hip-hop violin with a mix of the “Thong Song” and “Crank That.” The competition could not have asked for more variety.

All of the performers did an amazing job, but the audience could only choose one. Votes were taken as UR Hip-Hop entertained the audience, and then the results were in. Anticipation was building as the judges began to announce the winners. In second place was a UR version of the Backstreet Boys, consisting of freshmen Tom Karo, Aviv Brokman, Eric Nielsen, Michael Andrews and Justin Chan. Even though the judges made it clear that did not “want it that way,” the audience obviously did. Their performance was entertaining and they definitely had a unique stage presence that earned them second place in the competition.

But finally, the time had come to bestow the title of UR Idol to the deserving individual. This year’s winner and the new UR Idol was freshman Zack Brown who played an intense solo on the drums. At one point, he went from playing with two drum sticks to four and went wild on the drum set. At times, his arms seemed tangled due to the speed and intricacy of beats he was playing. No one else did anything remotely close and his unique performance won over enough votes to crown him the 2008 UR Idol.

Massie is a member of the class of 2011.

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