‘Black and Yellow’ wins Airband for second year in a row


Photo courtesy Chantelle Yazzie.

For the second year in a row, power groups Black and Yellow and 4pm took home the first and second prizes at Calvin College’s Airband competition. Newcomers MTB (Move the Body) took third place, and For the Kids won people’s choice.

“When we heard that 4pm won second, we didn’t think we were going to win,” said Jaunté Davis of Black and Yellow. “We thought it would be one of the other groups for sure.”

The competition was close, with eight groups of students competing for the best lip-syncing performance. The performances were diverse, ranging from the high-energy hip-hop feel of Black and Yellow to sillier, ensemble-based performances like 1-Z or people’s choice winner For the Kids.

The 10 members of Black and Yellow impressed judges with synchronized movement, audience participation and high energy. The crowd loved their nod to this year’s hit “Gangnam Style.” But their choreography is really what set them apart from the competition.

“We’re all comfortable performing and being on stage,” senior Jonathan Chong said. “All but two of us are in dance guild, so our dancing definitely gives us an edge.”

But winning was never the most important thing to them.

“We just want to have fun and tell a story,” Chong said.

And rather than a rivalry, Black and Yellow has a close relationship with second place finisher 4pm.

“When the awards were announced last year, 4pm was the first group we congratulated,” Chong said.

Airband is one of the most popular Calvin traditions, with thousands of students and guests packing the Hoogenboom gym where the performances took place.

The event itself was headed by a student committee of five members, who began planning for the show in October. They arranged sound crews, oversaw logistics and screened acts for appropriateness and readiness.

Junior Megan Jenkins, who served on the committee, was impressed by how far the groups came. “When Black and Yellow did their run-through, they had almost nothing choreographed. They’ve obviously come a long way in the last few weeks.”

“At that time it wasn’t all together,” junior Rae Mason responded. “But we rose to the moment!”

Though Black and Yellow kept its spot as judges’ favorite, the people’s favorite was a different contest.

Monitors registered the decibel level after each act, and the group with the loudest cheers won the coveted People’s Choice award, which included an encore performance.

For the Kids, who were cheered on to People’s Choice, was made up of 14 members of third Huizenga.

Last year’s People’s Choice winner, Unicorns Exist, was also made up of one dorm floor, but For the Kids felt like their performance was different.

“We didn’t want the act to be about third Huizenga,” sophomore Rian Bylsma said. “We didn’t want to push our floor because that’s not why people are coming. Really, we’re like any other group, we just happened to meet in our dorm.”

For the Kids interviewed children to see what they thought should be included in the act, and with the kids’ input, performed to a mash-up full of Disney movies, High School Musical and video game theme songs. They used props and costumes to create a fun and high-energy performance that spotlighted all their members.

Performances seemed to be split between trying for first place and trying for People’s Choice, and the resulting performances were very different.

Black and Yellow, 4pm, MTB and Asian Persuasion used dancing to tell their stories, most using mash-ups of contemporary pop and hip-hop songs. For the Kids, 1-Z and best video award-winner 90’s Kids went different routes with allusions to video games, Disney movies, throwback songs and memes.

“Our main goal is to make our friends laugh,” junior Chris Thyberg of 1-Z said. “We think of it more as a talent showcase than a competition. We know we’re never going to be better dancers than Black and Yellow, so ours is more about humor.”

Humor proved to be an essential element, as the audience’s favorite moments were those that made them laugh.

“I thought 90’s Kids should have won a prize,” freshman Pilar Tackie said afterwards. “They were so funny!”

The difference in styles made it difficult to judge the best act, but students agreed that it was better than, for example, changing the rules to require more uniform performances.

“It’s a very open-ended competition so you can do what you want,” sophomore David Vander Haak said. This meant that there were different levels of talent, and different approaches to a good lip-dub.

But all performances were essentially in the same vein. “People like loud music. People like funny things,” Vander Haak said. Airband was certainly full of both elements.

In the end, it wasn’t about the prizes or the places. Airband put on a diverse and high-energy show, and it left the whole student body buzzing.

“I know all the groups have worked really hard, and now it’s really just a chance to get together and have fun,” YeJoon Chung of 4pm said.

Freshman Pilar Tackie was impressed enough to want to join in. “Next year!” she said. “I hope to meet some people and do that!”