“Never gonna let you win / Never gonna lose again / Trophy’s gonna stick around in Complex / We’ve got the biggest staff and we’ll get in one last laugh / Dooley knows that we are the best hall.”
The words reverberated through the WoodPEC Thursday night during this year’s Songfest as The Complex residents and staff members sang their own version of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Less than an hour later, their deafening roar boomed from the WoodPEC after they learned they won their second consecutive Songfest.
“This back-to-back win was really special to me, being a ‘double ‘plexer,’” Complex Sophomore Advisor (SA) and former resident Summer Joy Huey (20C) said.
Songfest is an annual competition among freshmen residence halls. Per tradition, each hall’s Residence Life staff creates parodies of popular songs, changing the lyrics to both brag about their hall and playfully bash other halls.
While Complex took the win, Turmilton, a combination of Turman and Hamilton Halls, took first runner-up, and Longstreet-Means Hall (LSM) won second runner-up. Awards for best lyrics went to Raoul Hall, best T-shirt to Alaharris, a combination of Alabama and Harris Halls, and best banner to Dobbs Hall, the oldest residence hall on campus.
College Council President Cassidy Schwartz (18C) and Student Government Association President Gurbani Singh (18B) were among the judges for the competition. Both Schwartz and Singh said that the performances have improved significantly since they were freshmen. According to Schwartz, Complex residents stood out with their energy.
Raoul resident Jovaan Velez (21C) said that he and other Raoul residents met up frequently over the few days leading up to Songfest to polish the routine to perfection. According to LSM resident Jonathan Rosenfeld (21C), the practices were “brutal,” and staff posted the lyrics in the LSM shower stalls to ensure peak memorization.
“Songfest is pretty much the greatest thing Emory has to offer,” Rosenfeld said. “[It is a] great way for the hall to get together, great way to build community [and] scream your head off — It’s a great time.”
SAs did the majority of work planning and creating the routines and lyrics, while Resident Advisors (RAs) supervised and mentored. According to SA Danial Arslan (20C) of LSM, SAs can be a part of two committees: choreography or lyrics. Arslan said the lyric video displayed during competition, the banner displayed behind the freshmen and the T-shirt designs are all left to the RAs.
After the SAs chose the songs for competition, RAs approved them. SAs write the lyrics with guidance from RAs, and then send the final drafts to the RAs for approval again. After the final sign-off from RAs, dance moves are paired with every line.
“[RAs] help a lot during the lyric and [choreography] process because for the [SAs] it’s the first time they’re doing it, and [RAs] have this experience from previous years,” Arslan said.
Before the freshmen displayed their hard work on the floor, their Orientation Leaders (OLs) performed a special dance routine. Unlike the freshmen in their performances, the OLs did not change the lyrics to their accompanying songs, nor did they sing along.
According to OL Sydney Hwang (20C), the OL dance captains completely choreographed the dance. She said that the OL group was really unified and enthusiastic this year.
“[The OL dance is] our last opportunity to really show the first-years the school spirit we all have for them, the school spirit we want them to emulate,” OL Captain Zach Denton (18C) said.
According to Denton, the captains also choreographed Lady Claire E. Dooley’s dance, which Dooley and her bodyguards performed as the judges deliberated.
“I think this event is so great because this is the time that Emory really gets to show their spirit … [the competition between the halls] carries on throughout the year,” Singh said.
The Resident Hall Association (RHA) attempted to use Songfest to increase school spirit on campus, according to RHA president Aaina Pahwa (19B).
“In previous years, there’s been a lack of communication on what exactly [Dooley’s Bowl] is and where exactly your Songfest points go,” Pahwa said.
Dooley’s Bowl is a competition held between the freshmen residence halls throughout the year, with points awarded based on the residents’ participation in campus events, Pahwa said. For Songfest, halls won points based on their final standings and specific awards. The points won will remain in a continuous tally, the hall with the most points at the end of the academic year winning the bowl.
Despite the losses, some freshmen remained proud of their residence halls.
“It’s a bummer we didn’t win, but we’re going to come back next year and win,” Raoul Hall resident Carmen Baden (21C) said. “I’ll still be passionate about being in Raoul, my first home.”
LSM resident Austin Graham (21C) said that the overall experience exceeded his expectations.
“To any people who skipped tonight — you know who you are — you missed a good time,” Graham said. “I’ll always remember this.”