Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The first annual Swarthmore version of the popular television series American Idol debuted Friday night in Mephistos. Willets Idol, complete with cynical judges and enthusiastic singers belting cheesy pop numbers, also featured performances by the a cappella groups Lodge 2nes and Essence of Soul. All of the acts, ranging from a rendition of Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” to a comedic show tune from the cartoon The Family Guy, were received with screams of appreciation from the large student audience.
The comic a cappella group Lodge 2nes kicked off the night with a few rousing camp songs, before the hosts for the evening, Jeremy Cristol 05, Gabriel Rodgers 05 and Joe Raciti 05, explained the nights procedure. Performers were to be judged on accuracy of lyrics, creativity and, not least, sex appeal, as Raciti reminded the crowd several times during the night. The hosts introduced the table of judges: Rafael Zapata, Intercultural Center director and college staff members, Al Meisner and Don, as well as Joyce, a familiar face from Tarbles snack bar. Each judge had the chance to rate on a scale of one to ten each performer. Rafael started off as the Simon Cowell of the bunch, but was pressured by the hosts and booing crowd into judging less harshly.
About ten acts were featured; most students singing solos, with two duet acts. Shingo Murata ’07 impressed with his empathetic gestures; Chris Schad ’05 pulled out a classic American Idol song, Clay Aiken’s “Invisible”; and Myra-Kate Vallianos ’05, one of the shows’ main organizers, elicited a lot of applause with her dance moves, supplemented by a moon-walking Nathan Shupe ’05 cameo. John Egan ’06 and Seth Hara ’08, the show’s final act, were also the show’s winners. With Hara as the baby evil genius and Egan as the dog, their hilarious rendition of a Family Guy song stirred audience and judges alike. Egan and Hara will receive coffee bar gift certificates and preside as special guests of honor at the upcoming Willets Carnival.