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Ikki-Idol: Worst Organization Ever.

January 4, 2010

I attended Ikkicon this past weekend and took place in Ikki-Idol, which was basically a karaoke competition. I already wrote all of this and posted it on the Ikkicon forums. But this was incredibly necessary to pass on. This is basically how NOT to run a panel. Please read with great consideration.

This was too necessary for me not to say.
For those who do not know, I’m the one who won 2nd place in Ikki-Idol this weekend. I emplore anyone reading this to consider the fact that I am not ungrateful for my placement. 2nd is quite obviously none-too-shabby, and everyone else did a damned good job.

However, I beg that this event not be run similarly to the way it was run this year ever again.

I’ll start by saying that I came here and I read your rules as listed right here in this thread in the forums. I followed each of the instructions and prepared as such with the rules posted. These rules suddenly changed as soon as the event took place, null and voiding all the work and preparation I did and all the hoops I jumped backward through to meet your requirements.

1. You may sing any song from any anime, video game, or japanese songs.
This was suddenly changed so that you could instead sing any song of any variety. I disagree with this choice if only because I came to an anime and Japanese pop culture convention. Why do I care to perform a song from something else? I can go to a bar or karaoke establishment and do that.

2. first round you will be given 1 min and 30 secs. The second and third round will be allowed to sing the whole song.
I took the time and effort to edit the karaoke version of my first song down to the TV Size version, which sat at about 1 minute and 30 seconds. You suddenly decided right there on site to say, “Nevermind, you can do the full song now.” If anyone else like me decided to actually read the forums and follow these rules, they would have found themselves a little miffed, just as I was.

5. Sign ups are before hand… we will give you 15 mins to show up and sign up… more time will be allowed if there are less then 20.
The organizers of this event arrived late anyway. 20 mins went by. There were no physical sign-ups. It was simply, “Okay, jump up here and we’ll listen to you.” And you continued to take entrants throughout the course of the panel. Far more than the 20 person limitation as stated a little later in the rules.

7. We Will call your name three times, if you are not there then we will skip you but you do have a window to still show up and perform but its not a very big window.
Again, never at any time during the preliminaries did you ever take any of our names. Therefor, our names were obviously not called in any sort of an organized list.

9. You will have to provide your own song via CD or flash drive. Please no Ipods or MP3 players.
This was one of those many things that changed on the spot. I bothered to have two copies of my music – one on a flash drive, and one on a CD. More time was wasted trying to find an adaptor cable to connect iPods and other MP3 players for people who did not follow the pre-determined rules.

10. Songs from video games can include some from rock band 1 and 2, guitar hero 1, 2, 3, world tour, 5. Band Hero and Lego Rock Band. No songs from DJ Hero or any other music based game that wasn’t listed. Remember this is Ikki-idol… not anime idol. We are looking for the best singer… not who can sing a anime theme song the best.
Again, understandable that it’s not all about an anime theme song. And while I thought the games listed here were stretching things a bit (as none of these are influential in Japan and this is a Japanese culture convention) I was perfectly fine with this rule. However, this rule was null and void as soon as it was determined that any song from anything could be used.

11. You may restart a song if you have too but please keep in mind that you will be mark down one whole point on your final score.
Restarting happened more than once. Points were not ever deducted. If anything, the judges took more pity. Points seemed to hardly even matter in the long run.

12. This panel is rated PG… so let’s keep that way.
One individual in the preliminaries sang a very not PG song. Instead of disqualifying said individual, he simply said, “I already said these songs needed to remain PG. I’ll let it slide this time. But next time in the finals, I won’t accept it.” Rules are there for a reason. Please enforce them.

13. This is not karaoke… you may bring a sheet for you to read but its not recommended.
As it was not recommended, I assumed there would be penalty for reading lyrics and not already having your piece memorized. This, however, was completely not the case.

18. All judges will be fair and rate according to how well the person did… if one of the judges rates someone unfairly because of friendship or rivalry then the judge will be replaced.
There is one specific instance I can think of that more than bothered me, the way the judge chose to judge. One individual performed an American rock song. His voice was fine, but he was reading the lyrics at the same time, and even with those lyrics he frequently forgot his lyrics. The two female judges judged pretty fairly (though, again, they deducted nothing for reading the lyrics on the spot). But Great Saiyaman judged not on performance, but based on personal bias. The song apparantly had some tie to a close friend that had passed away. Because of nothing more than the choice in music, this judged gave the individual a 10, sending him to the finals. Now, look, don’t get me wrong. No one is saying that you losing a friend isn’t valid. However, how was this individual supposed to know that this song was of any importance to you? And why should that even matter? As a judge, you should judge with completely no bias. This judgement was completely inappropriate and had nothing to do with the individual’s performance capabilities.

Past this, the organization was attrocious. As was already mentioned, the event organizers couldn’t be bothered to reach their panel on time. They most certainly weren’t prepared to set up and play music in a timely fashion, either. Initially, they had to borry a portable CD player/mini boom box from a contestant in order to even get the show started, instead of having the necessary equipment already provisioned. It was also already mentioned that no names were ever taken, so how was anyone supposed to remember who performed what? Who was supposed to remember what scores were given to whom? The answer is, no one remembered any of it. Scores were thrown around very loosely, and with no notation of how well anyone did, the points completely don’t matter. Saiyaman chose his finalists based solely on his personal memory. With no list to go by, he simply pointed at participants still sitting in the audience and said, “Finals, finals, uh… finals…” and then asked the finalists to FINALLY write their name down on a sheet of paper, signing up for the finals on the next day.

On top of that, please explain to me how Saiyaman even remembered who performed what and how well they performed. Because with nearly every contestant, he got up and walked away, stuck his head out the door, chatted with someone, etc. In personal opinion, he was completely unfit to judge. Also, instead of using his precious time to take more contestants, he would also take phone calls and think it was amusing to share his phone conversation over the speakers. It was also more than apparent that his taste in music won over the contestants’ performance. This was proven in the situation stated in the paragraph above, as well as during my performance. While he stated that I performed well, he questioned why I chose “Jpop”, as it was obvious that he’s not interested in Jpop. I explained that it was an intro from the recently-completed anime TV series, Miracle Train. He completely dismissed it, saying he’d never heard of it, and that he’s only ever watched five anime, and that three of them were Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT. I couldn’t care less whether or not you enjoy watching anime (though this would make me question why you’re even attending this convention, much less hosting this event), but the least you could do was judge based on performance, not on whether or not you liked the piece. If you didn’t like my performance, then just tell me as much. I’m tough-enough-skinned, I can take it.

The two female judges were the most fair, though, while I admit to not really knowing, it would seem as though none of them (Saiyaman included) have ever been taught in musicianship before. For example, the girl who won 1st has a beautiful voice, and she would most certainly be a far better pop star than I ever would be. However, in her second song in the finals, she sang the entire piece in a completely different key from her background music. I’ve never even heard the song before, and I can tell you it was performed in the complete wrong key. Now, in the key she performed it in, she DID stay in that key. However, it was still the incorrect one, and for that reason sounded completely jarring against her background music. The judges never even picked up on this or commented on it. Common musical terms like, “pitch”, “volume”, or “tone” were never used. There WERE however sentences like, “I like the way your voice went up and down with the notes.” What does that even mean? While the judges were very kind and polite, I did not feel as though they were qualified to judge such an event.

Again, to speak of judging by pity, one girl was sent to the finals simply because she couldn’t choose a song, and when she finally did choose she didn’t do so well. Because of that, she got a do-over. A do-over? Why not just make this karaoke, and not a contest? Hell, I like karaoke just fine, I’d be cool with that. But this was not karaoke. It was a contest, and in contests, there’s no do-overs. People who don’t perform to the best of their abilities don’t go on to the finals, whether you pity them or not. If you pitied her enough to give her a do-over, then allow her to perform at some other time of the day, perhaps in front of you outside the panel. But allowing the do-over addition to the finals is completely inappropriate in a contest.

And then came the finals. Much of the same problems repeated themselves. The hosts were late and unorganized. Ikkicon staff themselves had their entire act together during the preparation for this event, so I cannot fault them in any way. They were even running around trying to find the organizers of this event. The time for the event to start came and went, and finally at least ten minutes later, the event organizers arrived. It was never certain where we finalists were supposed to line up. It was never certain where the music was going to be playing from. We were asked to write our name in one location, and then we were shuffled around to another location to finally write our names down. Finally, with much struggle, and a great deal of time later, the Ikkicon attendees were let in the door and the event begain.

With nearly every individual, it was a struggle to get the audio set up. This is because, instead of running this in a similar way to cosplay, where they take your music ahead of time and line it up so that it can all run smoothly one after another, the audio was taken from us only at the very moment we were walking up on stage.

Stage presence was also never included in judging. Very few people did so much as remove the microphone from its stand, dance, interact with the audience in anyway, etc. And anyone who did do these things never had these things critiqued. I personally felt that the girl dressed as Chibi Moon had fantastic stage presence alongside fairly accurate singing capabilities. Her stage presence was among the best of any of the contestants. Yet she ended up not making the cut amongst others who did little but hover over their microphone in a very nervous fashion.

Judging, toward the middle of the finals, became very rushed (not that judging or scores ever even mattered in the end because, yet again, scores weren’t notated and scores were all over the place, and if they had gone by the scores given then I promise that the poeple who won would not have). This is because they knew they were going to run over. And suddenly, us finalists in the second half were told that we were not going to be allowed to perform both of our pieces, and that we would only be allowed to choose one song. Now, that’s just about the most unfair treatment of any kind I’ve ever heard. Was it our fault that you guys were running late? And what about the first half of the contestants? They had no song limit past the already pre-determined two-song set-up. Those individuals already had the advantage of being able to perform two pieces. And then suddenly you say that the rest of us can’t play on the same playing field? That is attrocious. This whole time, I could have been practicing and perfecting just one of those two pieces, instead of wasting my time on the two pieces I thought I’d be performing. And I know some of the other girls felt the same way.

And then after the winners were determined, we were told there would be an interview and photo shoot of some variety. This, of course, did not occur. I approached Saiyaman to discuss the winnings. He stated that they would maybe/maybe not have the interview on Sunday, and if we did I’d have to look for him SOMEwhere on the convention grounds in his Saiyaman cosplay. That was a little vague for my tastes. He said that the interview and photo shoot would most likely have to take place at the “next con”. Which one? The next one in Texas, one I may or may not be able to attend? The next Ikkicon, in another year? He stated that he’d later have his contact information to his MySpace, and that we would have to contact him for the retrieval of the prizes, including next year’s Ikkicon pass. There’s been no info on that MySpace address just yet, though I do admit, it’s only been a single day since Ikkicon ended. But wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to take the contact information from US? Asking us to contact him has high potential for someone else stepping in and fraudulently taking the top 3’s winnings.

I want to finish this wall of text by stating that the winner had a lovely voice and performed before cosplay very nicely. I also had the opportunity to speak with one of the judges during the Para Para panel the next day, and I think she’s a very kind and fun person. This description I’ve given is in no way making a cut at anyone’s personal character. However, I am still feeling completely astonished at the organizational skills of the event organizers. I would strongly suggest either having a more organized plan of action next year, or (and this is, I’m sure, the least-desired result) have new individuals organize the event.

I am fully aware that by my pointing out these issues that I jeopordize the receival of my prizes, including the pass to next year’s Ikkicon. However, I am a journalist, first and foremost. And for the sake of journalistic integrity, it is more important to state the truth than sit back and let this happen again, all because I wanted a free badge to next year’s Ikkicon.

So, please take what I say with a grain of salt, if you must. And take away my badge, if you believe you must. But this was too important not to mention. Thank you for your time and attention.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 10:26 AM

    This reminds me of the nightmare that was Cosplay Karaoke at Anime Central last year; It seems like disorganization and Karaoke are going hand in hand as of late.

  2. JoeCava permalink
    January 4, 2010 12:29 PM

    This reminds me of the year I did “Iron Karaoke” at Anime Boston 08. I was one of the first contestants and ended up doing a much better job singing the random song I was given then I thought I would. The voting however, was done by audience members and NOT by any panel of judges. This meant that since I went first everyone who had actually watched me perform had left the panel when it was time to choose the winner. As a result, I didn’t even get one vote. It was alright though, instead of getting sweet trophy’s like that had the year before when I came in second, winners got to sort through some guy’s box of old CDs!


  3. January 4, 2010 4:00 PM

    It is commendable that you would do this for the sake of integrity, especially considering how insular a community you’re commenting on. If nothing else, it seems that exclusion in the future wouldn’t be such a loss, as it wouldn’t negate the individual and personal connections you made that should persist onward.

    Also, congratulations on the placement… Last, it sounds like they were used to judging something more akin to the general interest ‘variety’ performances of other conventions than actually focusing on the specialization the theme of their competition put forth. And the judge behavior you mentioned… Regardless of the event format, his behavior was completely out of line, and worthy of dismissal without strict organization in the future. Still… Hope the rest of the event was enjoyable, even if your Twitter posts would imply otherwise…

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