Pop Perfection at House Music

Pop Perfection at House Music

After a four-year break, House Song returned with a vengeance on Wednesday 5 July. All the Houses gathered in their designated rehearsal venues at 9am and met their coaches, all of whom were from the fantastic RockChoir musical team. (In Ridgefield and Lewisham’s cases, this meant heading into Caterham town centre, to the United Reformed Church and Soper Hall respectively.) We spent the morning learning our songs and fine-tuning our performances and vocal technique.

I had the honour to watch and work with Ridgefield’s rehearsals. Our coach, Katie, opened the morning by introducing the concept of a musical arrangement, and then we split up into two groups, with Group One generally singing in a slightly lower pitch than Group Two. Our song, which I had cryptically hinted at the previous day, was Bastille’s anthemic 2013 hit Pompeii, and we duly came up with some sublime harmonies throughout our performance. We also spent some time training ourselves on how to “act” the song, and devised some choreography. Seven of us stepped into the spotlight to take the lead in singing the bridge, which helped us to tell the story of Pompeii particularly poignantly.

Our rehearsal time ended just before lunch, and after a well-deserved meal and some hydration, we all headed to the Marquee for the grand showdown. The atmosphere of (sometimes hushed) expectancy and hype was superb – well worth the anticipation that we’d built up since 2019, the last time we’d been in the Marquee for House Song. When Mrs Richards stepped up to introduce the event, the blockbuster nature of this format came flooding back.

Ridgefield sang first, delivering our stirring interpretation of Pompeii. Newington brought Dua Lipa’s Levitating to life with a spirited performance, which was no small feat, given how fast that song is and how difficult it is to sing. Underwood, with Mrs Burtenshaw stepping up as conductor, gave a suitably versatile rendition of George Ezra’s Anyone For You (a title which suits House Events and Assemblies very well). Lewisham opened their performance of Katy Perry’s Roar with an a capella cold open by six of their leading singers, and the full House roared through the rest of the song. Harestone had the very difficult job of emulating BTS’ highly energetic Dynamite, but they rose to the occasion and lit up the Marquee (they even had time to drink a glass of milk on stage). Aldercombe’s arrangement of Coldplay’s romantic classic A Sky Full of Stars was a beautifully calming final act (although I don’t know how calming it was for their breakdancers).

This all left Mr Moore and Mrs Drummond, our judges, with what Craig Revel Horwood once called a “heinous dilemma.” They swiftly concluded that they couldn’t pick a winner, so they shockingly commissioned a sing-off between Lewisham, Aldercombe and Harestone – cue lots of gasps in the Marquee as this twist sank in! These three Houses received quick appraisals, which they needed to reflect on before their sing-off. It was fantastic to welcome them back onto the stage, even though Harestone didn’t drink their milk the second time around.

The BBC’s former political editor Nick Robinson once described the long wait for competition results as “exquisite torture,” which was a very apt description of the edge-of-seat atmosphere during the judges’ final deliberations. In his final announcement, Mr Moore emphasised that House Song is a singing competition first and foremost, and that on this basis, Lewisham were the winners, with Harestone in second and Aldercombe in third. Congratulations to Lewisham’s singers, coach, and staff supporters, and to everyone involved with any of the performances – it was a sublime day which I will always have fond memories of.

Anyone who has ever worked with me will know that I’m no musician. Yet House Song is my favourite House Event of the year. It reminds me so much of all the times in my last few years as a school pupil when I accidentally ended up performing on stage, having spent most of my school years staying as far away from the spotlight as possible. I loved these accidental stage performances so much that they have been instrumental in shaping who I am today. The magic of House Song 2023, with everyone cheering each other on and savouring our community spirit, has been unconquerable.

You might say, to borrow (sort of) a lyric from Pompeii, that if you close your eyes, it almost feels like you’ve been here before.

Mr R. Evans

Teacher of Chemistry, Head of Ridgefield, House Song supporter

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