It all comes down to judges' preference. They clearly favored the musical theatre type production rather than Johnston's traditional show. Best band, best vocals, best soloist; their choreography was super clean; not really sure how they didn't get first place, but no surprise they technically won by more points.
First and foremost a lot of great performances and the groups should be applauded. The subjective nature of the judging can also be baffling(in what we in the audience consider obvious placing of performances vs others). But when you throw in the caveat that your system is applied two different ways that create different results, then perhaps it’s time for the system to be adjusted.
I suppose it DOES come down to the judges, but it's not necessarily about "preference" (or, at least, it shouldn't be). There is bad judging all the time, but I do believe most judges do their best to fairly score the ballot in front of them. When you consider categories like tone, intonation, dynamics/phrasing/musicality/interpretation, diction, projection, difficulty, facial expression, execution, complexity, pacing, costuming, etc, etc... none of these criteria have anything to do with "musical theatre" vs. "traditional." If (IF) the ballot has categories like music selection, production value, use of props, etc., THEN the judges have an opportunity to share their opinions on the composition of the show. But, those types of categories usually comprise a tiny percentage of the ballot.
If the only things being judged are singing, dancing, and the band, the "type" of show being performed should have nothing to do with it. In a perfect world, that is...
on Feb 11, 2019, 4:07 AM (Edited by Steven32SC)
What I’m saying is, YES, SCORES are determined by vocals, visuals, and everything that goes along with them, which is why Johnston won in raw scores. But when it comes to deciding the ranking, maybe ONE more judge chose Linn-Mar over Johnston, all things considered or not — it’s bound to be subjective. Personally, I think the fact that Johnston has always had a traditional show (without speaking lines and story-telling), yet the way they can still be as amazing as they are and portray emotions is PHENOMINAL, which is why they are one of the Mid-West’s absolute favorites. They do not need props. They use a MULTITUDE of talented soloists throughout the entire show. Linn-Mar was fantastic; and I do understand the consensus system; I’m just trying to get across why the general public feels the way they do about how it all played out.
on Feb 11, 2019, 4:22 AM (Edited by Kettlecorn)
I enjoy reading everyone's opinions, so don't take this as a critique of your personal thoughts.
The last thing I will say is that Johnston didn't "technically win" because that isn't how the competition was designed to be judged. The ranks were determined based on the raw score. The important thing here is that most judges had Linn-Mar over Johnston.
For example, in a hypothetical situation, 2 out of 3 judges may have Group A in 1st place, but the last judge likes Group B so much that group B ends up with more points. This judging system was designed to prevent this from happening. By converting points to ranks, Group A would win because most of the judges thought they had the better show.
I think a lot of us got confused when someone provided the raw point total for prelims, when that wasn't even the way finals were determined. Fortunately, Urbandale is super transparent about the way scoring happens
on Feb 11, 2019, 4:57 AM (Edited by SCAficionado)
Kettlecorn- Exactly. The the purpose of consensus ranking is to stop one judge from swaying the results. I wasn't there, but I would guess Johnston's performance was phenomenal. The majority (consensus) of judges just had LM in first.
Also, remember BB was a daytime caption, so that award had nothing to do with final rankings. At night, the distribution of captions (BV, BC) was 1-1.
But don’t each of the 5 judges cover their own area? If that’s the case then the raw score is the only measure of the true strength of the show. Let’s turn this around. Let’s say Group A dominates the visual categories by 10 points for both judges and is 2nd to group B for vocals by a point for each of the 3 judges. In this case the more dominant show loses.
It seems to me that the consensual rating system is designed so one judge doesn’t hold too much sway, but doesn’t this also downplay their opinions and expertise? Just a thought as I’m still trying to figure out even with this system how the one group didn’t make finals though they had more points and were favored over the next two groups by 3 of the 5 judges in the head to head.
Part of the thing is, these two groups in particular are 10-12, as they have students attend two middle schools, a 6-7 building and an 8-9 building. This is also why 9th grade show choirs are a thing in Iowa.
Benjamin - valid points. I've been so busy updating results I haven't had a chance to agree and share. I'd add two additional things that make it unique for Iowa especially. First, a lot of their "4A" choirs truly are really large schools in growing suburbs which certainly helps (Ankeny, Waukee, and I'm sure there's more). Second, I'm pretty sure Iowa kids come out of the womb with jazz hands. It's a completely different culture in Iowa (at least it seems). Nearly every school has one and literally some of these choirs have 120 kids in them. It's amazing really how popular show choir is in Iowa.
Jeff - The "4A" in defining their "4A choirs" is actually the way they divide schools up for sports divisions. These are, of course based on school size and population. Prime examples of 4A schools would be Johnston, Waukee, and Ankeny Centennial. It also seems popular, especially in the Des Moines suburbs, to have that strange 6-7 and 8-9 middle schools, all three of those being districts that follow that system. From an educator's standpoint, however, I can see why they do it. One of the great things about having these large schools is having so many awesome kids who want to join the music programs. It seems to be very common in Des Moines to participate in bands and choirs. Iowa definitely takes show choir (and vocal music in general) very seriously, all across the state.
I wanted to jump in here and try to clear up some of the confusion around the results of our event yesterday. We don't like it when a participating choir leaves confused and unhappy with the result and feel terrible that our friends from Decatur may have left with a bad taste in their mouth, so I want to be very transparent about what happened.
Let me start by saying thanks to all of the participating groups. This was one of the most competitive fields in our event's history. The quality of the choirs led directly to the current confusion being discussed because all of the groups were so evenly matched.
Our preliminary results and finalists were determined using a consensus ranking system. Each judge scores a ballot in their area of expertise; three vocal judges and two visual judges. Their scores are then converted to a rank and those ranks are used to determine the consensus of the panel. Here is a very over simplified explanation of how that works.
If three of the five judges had group A in first place, then they are first place. What the other two ranked them is inconsequential. Once first place is determined you remove that group and their ranks from consideration and use the consensus among the remaining groups to determine second. You continue that process until the top 6 groups are identified. The philosophy behind this scoring system is meant to keep a single judge's opinion from skewing the result which can and does happen when only using raw score to determine the outcome.
At our event raw scores are only ever used as one of the tie breakers and that did not come into play yesterday, so the raw scores are meaningless in trying to comprehend who did or didn't qualify for finals.
So...how did we wind up with 7 finalists? This consensus system was used to determine the outcome of the prep category using just the rankings of those six groups and Eternal Rush was the champion of that division.
At our event all 20 of the groups that performed on Saturday are eligible for finals. When the consensus ranking was applied to all 20 of those choirs the top six shook out as Linn-Mar, Johnston, Waukee, Ankeny Centennial, Mitchell, and Johnston's prep. This was obviously confounding to Eternal Rush since they won the prep division and now Synergy qualified for finals and they didn't. We hadn't anticipated this possibility, so the compromise was to add a seventh finalist and include both of them in finals and move the first finals performance time slot up to 7:30.
One thing to keep in mind about the Best Band caption since it has been brought up a few times: it states below that band scores were used to determine the band caption, but weren't used for the overall outcome. Also, just another thought: it looks like while maybe Johnston was 1st in vocals and Linn-Mar was maybe 2nd--- Linn-Mar was 1st in choreo and Johnston was ranked 4th by both visual judges. But what do I know? Maybe at this level of excellence, it is just judge's preference. At least both groups will go head to head again in a few weeks!
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway is that there were some out-of-this-world performances. It was probably the top 5 in Iowa performing on the same stage- 1 hosting and 4 competing. It confirms my belief that some of the best live entertainment in the country is being provided by these high school show choirs. All participants should be super proud of the performances they gave.
Figured it out-- finals weren't determined by the raw scores alone. It was used by "ordinal ranking consensus." Below is a link to their site, which has a section that describes the judging process for prelims and finals.