I’m sure that you’ve heard of Eurovision, the music competition in which Britain makes a fool of herself by performing some awful tune and receiving ‘nul points’.
Well, here in the valleys we have our very own take on the Song Quest, which has an unexpected green twist. Yes that’s right – I’m talking about Envirovision, the battle between schools in the RCT who vow to write and perform their very own environmentally-friendly tunes in order to win a spot in Ponty’s Big Weekend as well as £600 for their school.
This year I, accompanied by Youth Mayor Jenna Calridge, attended the live final in the Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd, which showcased the top six schools.
Y Pant, the winners of the previous two Envirovision contests, were keen to hold on to their title whereas the other schools were even keener to knock them off the top spot. The songs were performed in front of a live audience and a panel of esteemed judges, including singer Amy Wadge, Capital FM DJ Kam Kelly and Steve Bush, the Producer of Stereophonics, all of which had nothing but praise for the young musicians.
Each school chose a topic to write a song on, be it cigarette waste, environmental crime, recycling or zero waste. The songs, which had been written and recorded in a mere two days prior to the competition, were of an excellent standard and a great credit to the music departments in the RCT. None of us envied the judges, who had the task of differentiating between the grand scale of talent on offer.
After a short set by leaders of the local scene Ladies Love A Superhero, the judges had reached their decision. Service Director for Streetcare, and judge, Nigel Wheeler, announced the winners with Mayor Cllr Doug Williams, presenting each prizewinner with an accompanying oversized cheque.
In third place were perhaps the most unique contenders, Aberdare Girls School. The girls, who have come in third a few years in a row now, put a military slant on their song “Environmental Crime”. Dressed in the appropriate army get-up, the girls marched onto stage as the final entry, and their distinctive take on the competition placed them firmly in the audience’s minds.
The only Welsh speakers of the competition, Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda, took home second place for their song “Gwneud Gwahaniaeth Heddi”. Although a lot of the audience couldn’t understand the lyrics, the meaning was clear through the feel of the song and was beautifully performed. Distinguishable by the trumpet soloist who the crowd worshipped, YG Cymer were a fantastic tribute to the cause, and I personally was reminded of the musical stylings of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – a compliment in anyone’s book.
And in first place, with a £600 cheque and a slot in Ponty’s Big Weekend alongside Jessie J and Olly Murs, was none other that Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School. Their song “Criminal” was wonderfully performed and well received by the audience. The pupils bore t-shirts reading “I’m not a criminal – are you?” and gave an energetic and thorough performance. Youth Mayor Jenna, who hails from Bryn Celynnog herself, was as overjoyed as the pupils themselves, and as the school returned to the stage for their encore they could barely contain their excitement. Well, they are going to Ponty’s Big Weekend, after all.
The Envirovision Song Quest hauls a great load of talent every year, and this year certainly was no different. To hear and download “Criminal” and all the other entries for free, log on to www.learnthrusong.co.uk.