Written by: Miles Tickell 8V and Sulayman Idris 8V
Edited by: Ayra Ali 6V1
On the evening of 8th February, the widely anticipated inaugural House Music competition took place having been postponed due to snow. Each house was required to put together three acts, all with the intention of winning the prestigious title of ‘House Music Winner’. The show brought out an immense amount of creativity and a plethora of musical styles, from film soundtracks to a 16-piece ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, however credit must additionally be given to the judges, professional drummers Ian Aguado-Bush and Stephen Asamoah-Duah, who showed their commitment to music by helping with the event. So, without further ado, here is an ordered list of all the acts on the night.
Act 1, ‘His Song’ by Mia Golosino
This heartfelt love song was one of a few originals composed by the student themselves. Mia, on piano and vocals, showed immense musicality as well as technical skill in playing and singing, telling a compelling story over quiet, calm chords.
Act 2, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis
This musical performance, filled with the angst and emotion that characterised bands such as Oasis, featured Emily Henson on guitar, Samuel Anthony on keys, Freya Pearce singing lead vocals, Tom Broome on the drums, Jake Morris on lead guitar and Ellie Fenwick on percussion.
Act 3, ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane
‘Somewhere Only We Know’, which hit number three on the charts upon its release fifteen years ago, was a mainstay of English rock band Keane’s repertoire. The tune was given a Royal Latin flavour when singers from Year 7 to Year 13 banded together to create subtle yet sonorous harmonies, with the subtle playing of Willow Terry giving it a touch much removed from the original.
Act 1, ‘Nocturno’ by Frederic Chopin
The beauty of Chopin’s pieces, in particular his waltzes and nocturnes, shone through in the playing of Ella Mainard, a sixth form French horn player. Emotion combined with technical skill (she is Grade 8!) made this Nocturne the only and the best classical piece of the evening.
Act 2, ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ by Green Day
This Green Day song, was brought to life by Newton’s finest – Ben Cheese and Kaushal Kumar on pianos, Oliver Morphet and Luke Britton on guitars, Freya Steer and Flossie Verey on vocals, and Theo Hayhurst on the drums.
Act 3, ‘This Is Me’ from the Greatest Showman Soundtrack
Ubiquitous as it was in 2018, you would expect This Is Me or another Greatest Showman song to feature on the House Music programme. Here Newton use it for their last act, which, much like Ruding’s final song, is mainly singer-focused, with Kaushal Kumar and Theo Hayhurst both putting in another shift to provide the backing.
Act 1, ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons
This indie-rock smash is one of Imagine Dragons’ most popular songs. Here it is performed with a choir, two violins (Sachita Guru and Emme Kok), a drummer (Charles da Nobrega, a master of subtlety understated drumming and a mainstay throughout the whole Denton performance) and a guitarist (Rochit Shelkikar). Year 11 Adesewa Adetola surprised the audience mid-song with a rap, from which a glimpse of her brilliant songwriting credibility can be seen.
Act 2, ‘Let You In’ by Alice Usher
Alice Usher, a Year 12, has that rare ability to write songs that have not only feeling and musicality but technical merit. Here, with ‘Let You In’, her singing and playing are reminiscent of songwriters such as Alanis Morrisette and Adele. She is accompanied by Abigail Folwell on piano, Rochit Shelkikar on acoustic guitar and Charles da Nobrega on drums.
Act 3, ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings Of Leon
Caleb Followill’s longing vocals on the original track are echoed here by the gritty, melodic cries of Adesewa Adetola, backed by singer Manasvi Pawar. Adam Shaw and Thomas Sauvain both take up the mantle of guitar player from the decisive strumming of Rochit Shelkikar, with Alanna Fisher on bass and Charles da Nobrega on drums. Abigail Folwell switches from piano to saxophone to great effect, using the instrument’s tone to create a truly compelling Kings of Leon vibe.
Act 1, ‘The Pretender’ by the Foo Fighters
Switching up genres after the interval, this performance sees a band consisting of mainly mature players give the audience an alt-rock classic. The accurate, percussive tone of Sam Bryant’s guitar sits well against the aggressively technical drumming of Darsh Meethalaprath, with Sam Hens’ vocals cutting through the backing. Oliver Hall on bass gives the ensemble a nice finish.
Act 2, ‘A Million Dreams’ from the Greatest Showman Soundtrack
A Million Dreams, the second track from the Greatest Showman on the bill, gives a nice contrast from the last act – the song’s uplifting tone is given a softer edge by the duo vocals of Harshini Ragupathy and Amber Jones. Alexei Harris, a seasoned pianist, knows exactly how to bring out the singers and additionally the clarinettist, Phoebe Krelle.
Act 3, ‘Yours’ by Ella Henderson
Barton closes up their trio of acts with a trio of singers. Charlotte Viccars, Maria Hallows and lead singer Precious Oyekanmi fit together exactly right, almost as if they are their own band, with each singer’s individual merits being showcased as the others sit back. Sam Bryant returns with a different sound this time, much more suited to the vibe of this song rather than the last.
Act 1, ‘Alarm’ by Anne-Marie
The Year 7 band Unique, formed especially for this event, does not sound like a band that’s finding their feet – rather, they sound like they know exactly where they’re going. In this piece, they have managed to give a new character to the whole song, with the confident vocals of Charlotte Walker given a softer touch by the percussion-based sound of the backing band.
Act 2, Miles Tickell
Interestingly, the beat-based sound of Unique is placed in stark contrast with the piano of Miles Tickell. In this solo performance, Tickell displays his technical brilliance and songwriting ability with a filler piece that nicely segues on to the next act.
Act 3, ‘Love Me Again/Get Lucky’ (John Newman/Daft Punk)
Humour certainly comes out in the name of the band (Fiifi and the Flowertots), but the music of this group is also very joyous, revelling in its freedom but also retaining a steady backbeat. The guitar chops of Fiifi Clarke and the funk-influenced sound of Cody Garland’s bass sit against the chordal piano of Carson Yeung and the drumming of Miles Tickell. Daniel Hitchin and Rhea Khosla’s vocals finish up the piece.
Act 1, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables
Stratton, unusually, decides to give the audience a flavour of emotion first, rather than later. Piano prodigies Ellen Zeng and Tim Lieu are magnificent, as are vocalists Orla Crossen, Kate Hall and Sophia Mavin, who despite being a trio of singers retain a softer but more acrobatic style.
Act 2, ‘Elastic Heart’ by Sia
Even though there is a lack of rhythmic cohesion in places, the experience of guitarists Joe Hitchen and Jack Zanker bring the ensemble together. A confident rhythm section with Katie Roberts on drums, Tom Scott on keys and Dan Dean on the bass keep a steady beat from which the guitarists can work from.
Act 3, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen
In my opinion one of the best acts of the evening, the theatrical and tempestuous nature of Queen’s writing is brought out perfectly here by 16 Stratton pupils, who display the variety of different genres shown in the song without sacrificing the story-telling nature of the lyrics. The woodwind and brass section were magnificently musical, as was the lead guitar of Joe Hitchen.
House Music was enjoyable for all the participants, but only one house could win the title of ‘best house’ on the night. Denton managed to outplay the competition to win, with Verney coming second, Barton coming third, Ruding fourth, Denton fifth and Newton sixth. The Best Performance award was won by Miles Tickell. Furthermore, what was impressive was that all the Houses came up with three acts that were cohesive, technical and musical in a relatively short amount of time, even adjusting to a change of date (the event was supposed to take place a week earlier). We look forward to next year’s House Music to showcase more of the school’s creativity.