Dartmouth Idol semifinals in Spaulding this Saturday

by Zach Cherian | 2/3/17 2:00am

While American Idol may have finished its historic run last year, Dartmouth Idol is still going strong. Every year in February, aspiring singers from every class come to Spaulding Auditorium to try and impress the audience with their talent. With this, of course, comes a lucrative promise: the first prize winner will receive $500 and a two-song demo deal. The first and second runner-ups are also awarded cash rewards.

All contestants have to audition offstage to make the first round cut. If they were chosen by the panel of judges, the contestants are launched straight into the semifinals, scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 4.

Sammi Khangaonkar ’19 noted that the audition process was short and straightforward.

“I sang if ‘I Ain’t Got You’ by Alicia Keys and then the director just had me try practicing the song in a few different keys,” Khangaonkar said.

Many semifinalists may have different reasons for wanting to get up on stage and sing in front of what promises to be a big crowd.

“I’ve been told that it sells out,” Robert Moore ’20 said.

A member of the Christian a cappella group X.ado, Moore said that he chose to audition so he could get extra practice outside of his singing group.

“My music director for our group basically told me, ‘You should audition, it’s just good experience,’” Moore said. “He told me you get feedback [from the judges] and everything.”

More personally, Moore said that he had only discovered his singing talents right before coming to Dartmouth and wanted to remind others that they too may have latent talents.

“They ask you why you want to compete on Dartmouth Idol, and what I wrote down basically was that you don’t have to start out with a lot of experience to be able to sing,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of people who have talents that they don’t know they had, and I never knew that I could sing.”

This year’s contestants come from a wide variety of singing backgrounds. While some, like Moore, are in a cappella groups, plenty are not.

“I don’t sing on campus or anything — I just got really tired of only singing in the shower and probably annoying my floormates, so I figured I needed another creative outlet,” said Khangaonkar, who will be singing “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.

Moore will be singing the ’70s classic “American Pie” by folk-rock singer Don McLean. While he ultimately picked his own song, he noted that there is a larger, cohesive production that it fits into.

“I choose three songs to submit ... the judges will build a program out of the songs that we send, and they pick one of our three songs,” Moore said.

Brooke Bazarian ’20 will be performing the jazz standard “Summertime” by George Gershwin but plans to give it her own touch with “an R&B-jazz rendition.”

When asked if they were nervous about performing in front of a big audience this weekend, none of the contestants seemed too worried.

“I’ve been singing since I was really little,” Bazarian said. “[A large audience] doesn’t really bother me, to be honest. I think I’m just used to it at this point.”

Although she has not recently sung in front of a large crowd, Khangaonkar noted her prior experience singing may help with nerves before the show.

“I used to do a lot of musical theater as a kid, and then have done nothing in the last five or six years, so we’ll see if I get my stage nervousness back or not,” Khangaonkar said.

Moore also seemed to be more excited than nervous about the large crowd.

“I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun, and I’m going into it with the expectation of just going and doing it because of the fun experience,” Moore said.

Dartmouth Idol semifinals will start at 8 p.m. The finals will be almost a month later, on Mar. 3. Tickets are $5 for students.