By Michael Campbell
Eleven came to the preliminary rounds. Six moved on to the final round. One became the champion. Students from across campus came to give it all they had to be the next Husson’s Got Talent champion. While it seemed too close to call at many points during the results, this semester, the returning champion was just too good and Julia Steer remained Husson’s Got Talent’s champion, after previously winning last semester. Sterr was very pleased with her win.
“Both of the songs I sang, [Over the Rainbow and Rumor Has It] were suggestions to me,” said Steer. “I had friends suggest them to me and I said I would look them over. I’m really happy with the way they turned out.” Steer won a small cash prize.
Organized by the brothers of the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity, the competition brought almost a dozen different acts, all trying to become the next Husson’s Got Talent champion. One of the funnier parts of both the finale and the preliminary round, despite not being a contestant, was the antics of emcee John Costello. Costello joked with the audience and the contestants, telling stories of how he knew them throughout his time at Husson. Costello said that his banter with contestants is not scripted.
“All of my jokes are ad-libbed,” said Costello. “My co-host TJ and I just bounce off each other. I hosted last semester and I’m coming back to do it again next year.”
The preliminaries took place on April 7. Many of the preliminary acts played guitar in addition to singing. Out of the eleven acts, only two didn’t sing and only one, Chris Fritz, performed something that did not involve singing or musical instruments. Fritz performed a comedy act where he told jokes about television, Twitter and the irony of having a sign to use the stairs on the ground floor in the event of a fire.
“What I’m trying to do is to bring a comedy scene to Bangor,” said Fritz. “Just one show at a time.” Fritz got several laughs from jokes he told about what would happen if he were on popular television shows. “This is me, if I was a character on Game of Thrones,” Fritz explained to the audience. “Hey guys, what’s up, aggh. Dead.” Fritz also joked about his imminent death in The Walking Dead and even though it’s not a violent show, The Big Bang Theory. Fritz was however not one of the acts that made it through to the next round.
Zach Hoogkamp, a Husson student, performed the rock ballad, Home by Daughtry in honor of his girlfriend. Daughtry’s lead singer Chris Daughtry first came into prominence by placing fourth in the fifth season of American Idol. Hoogkamp recently decided to pursue professional wrestling and no longer gets to spend as much time as he would like with his girlfriend on the weekends.
“It’s tough. It really is difficult,” said Hoogkamp. “And those nights when I don’t get to see her until she’s already asleep. It bugs me but as soon as I get home to her and hold her in my arms again, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.” Despite being popular with the crowd during his performance, Hoogkamp did not get a high enough score to move onto the top six from the judges.
The top five acts were voted on by a panel of judges, all members of the Kappa fraternity or sorority. The judge’s favorite act was Chris Kovarik, who sang and played guitar. While most contestants sang classic hits, such as Fleetwood Mac or Leonard Cohen, or newer music, such as Sam Smith or Adele, Kovarik chose to sing a comedic song from Monty Python and The Life of Brian. The song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. The final act, Shenina Hall was voted in by the audience. Hall performed the Cohen classic, Hallelujah. The other top acts were Olivia Bloomer, who sang an acapella version of The House in New Orleans, Hollie Legendre, who performed the Fleetwood Mac hit Landslide, and two duets: Nathan and Dylan, and Sam and Ridge.
The final performances were held on April 14. However, the venue was changed from the Furman Student Center to the Gracie Theatre. There were also a few changes to the lineup. Each contestant was allowed to perform two songs each, instead of the single performance from the preliminary rounds. The acts got much tougher. In a surprise to the audience, due to a late injury to Sam from Sam and Ridge, they had to bow out of the competition. In their place, Hoogkamp was able to perform.
This time, the preliminary round judges did not get to voice their opinions. The final judging was left up to the audience members. The contestants were also more involved with the audience during the finale, telling stories about their lives and experiences. Hall explained that her song choices were to bring comfort to the crowd and talked briefly about her past in foster care. Hoogkamp had to put together his act in ‘ten minutes.’ According to Hoogkamp, while his last performance was seen as heart-warming by many, he did have one encounter with an audience member.
“One girl came up to me after my last performance and she slapped me across the face,” said Hoogkamp. “She said ‘You [expletive], you made me cry.”
After the performances, Costello and his new co-host, Theodore “TJ” Wacholtz, lined up the final contestants. Costello announced that there would be a bracket format to determine the winner. Acts would go up in pairs and the audience would cheer for their favorite until one was left standing. Steer was automatically advanced because she won last semester. In a few close matches, the top four were Steer, Hoogkamp, Nathan and Dylan, and Legendre. In the end, only one came out on top, and Steer narrowly defeated Nathan and Dylan. Husson’s Got Talent will return next semester.