Students Sound Remarkably like Professional Singers at Lip Sync Battle 

Written by: Spenser White  / Photography by: James Faynik

Around 50 students gathered in the chapel Friday night to experience the now annual OKWU event known as the Lip Sync Battle. Only in its second year, this event, where performers mouth the words to songs while dancing or acting, is quickly skyrocketing in popularity.

This year, there were five individual acts and six group acts competing for the coveted place of winner. The judges consisted of 2018 graduate Ben Staggs, senior Alex Young, and Professor Ben Rotz. The individual acts varied between parody songs, slam poetry, and passionate love songs. Junior Javier “Javi” Willetts started the night off with his rendition of “Man Don’t Dance” by Big Shaq, following up his performance last year of Big Shaq’sviral hit, “Man’s Not Hot.” Freshman Jessica Bradford stumbled around the stage crooning “Trip” by Ella Mai, next. The night took an unexpected turn when senior Klaryssa Renae introduced the audience to a different type of art with the Slam Poetry act “Cynthia” from the movie 22 Jump Street.

David Ramanko played two characters when he sang YouTube stars Rhett and Link’s “Thoughtful Guy.” Colby Martinez, the winner of the individual acts, impersonated Tina Turner with “Rollin’ in the River,” complete with a fringed shirt and Motown attitude.

The shirt caught my attention, so at the winner’s circle, I asked Colby about it. “It was completely homemade,” he assured me.  When I questioned how he made it, Colby’s fiancée, Kameron Mendes interrupted that she had actually made it. “I just used a black tank-top, safety pins, and fringe from Hobby Lobby.” Whatever she did, it certainly got the attention of the judges.

Next, the group acts performed. Colby turned right around and performed with Kameron and Callie Brezillac. This trio sang a medley from the musical Mamma Mia. The Deck sisters, McKenna and Morgan, then performed the song “Sisters” from White Christmas. School heartthrobs Benjamin Bender and Kazden Ammons got the audience on their feet with “Fight for Me” by GAWVI. The largest group, made up of Colby (again), Kaz, Callie, Matt Greenwood, and Emily Balliviero, conjured nostalgia for their audience with their interpretation of Boyz ‘N the Sink’s “Bellybutton.” Kazden slid across the wooden steps athis speedy entrance and right off the stage. He assured me that he is “fine,” and the adrenaline rush meant he “didn’t feel anything.”

Bryce Stratton, Michael Chew, and Eder Garcia Saucedo wowed the audience with their flips and tricks while miming “Greased Lightening” in full 50’s attire. Kazden and his girlfriend Anna Hutchinson rounded out the evening with a short performance of “All in the Family,” in fully accurate generational costumes.

Despite some technical difficulties, the Deck sisters managed to charm the judges and won the group division. “I’m surprised,” laughed McKenna. “We decided to choregraph the dance on our own instead of copying the movie,” offered Morgan. “We started practicing—today, actually.”

Quite possibly the highlight of the night was the two emcees, Matt Greenwood and Briant Bowerman. Between the odd jokes about Briant’s bellybutton, to inciting an all-out state song war in the audience, they kept the transitions running smoothly. Matt told me that they actually hadn’t planned their transitions. They didn’t even have a list of the songs until 15 minutes before the battle. This event, though only existing for two years, is shaping up to be an exciting tradition in the student body.