Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Choir That Rocks - or just jiggles about a bit - Part 2

Having got over the disappointment of 'The Choir That Rocks' - or as the Daily Mirror calls it, 'The Choir That Sucks', not the Choir itself, just the documentary, and I couldn't really argue with that, I was interested to see if it pulled its socks up for Part 2. They stayed resolutely around its ankles with the odd foray up to just below knee level.

This episode was to feature the Farnham 'Teen' Choir who I had seen perform at Wembley (well,  you all know we got there so not much point pretending!).  I was knocked out by Rachel O' Brien, who sang 'You've Got the Love' by Florence and the Machine to rapturous applause.  That such a great voice could come from a teenager was amazing. So I was a little bit miffed to discover that she's actually 22 and a university graduate.  It seemed to be stretching the idea of a 'Teen Choir' just a little bit far.  There are lots of new Teen Choirs being set up all across the country. The age range states 11-20. Hmm, so why, I have to ask myself, is someone who is clearly too old for a teen choir taking the starring role in the documentary?

And my dears, the producers must have just about peed their pants when they discovered that not only can the girl sing but she's got a heart condition too! And one, incidentally, that Hugh Bonneville can't seem to get right. He called it Vasovogal Syndrome. It's actually called Vasovagal Synchope, a synchope being a medical name for a faint.  It's not, strictly speaking, a heart condition, rather a malfunction in the autonomic part of the nervous system that regulates the flow of blood to the body. It causes a drop in blood pressure and slowing of the heartbeat and then you faint.  It's not lifethreatening, just bloody annoying, but the producers, and Rachel herself were not about to let that stand in the way of a bit of dramatic telly. 

Most VS sufferers have a trigger that brings on an attack according to a friend who suffers from it. Rachel's was clearly a very rare one as it came on every time a TV camera was pointed at her.  We were treated to a 'beauty shot' of  'all the drugs she has to take to control it' but a quick freeze frame revealed that they seemed to be all the same drug, Fludrocortisone, which is prescribed to anyone with what is called orthostatic intolerance (just see how much you're learning!)  - basically if you stand upright too long, you faint - and what looked suspiciously like vitamin tablets. I'm not trying to make light of her condition but I can't deny that by the end of it I was mutteringr rather unkindly "Just faint for God's sake and get it over with' every time she fluttered her hand and commented on her heart 'going funny'.

My own choir featured far more so it was fun to see who got a close up and who was going the wrong way in the dance moves (Steve, you know who you are!). The sudden appearance of one of our soloists fronting the Stroud Rock Choir was a bit strange. As far as I know, she only goes to ours.  It gave me a creeping sense of unease, that the documentary was not, in fact, being very honest.

This was further compounded by the secondary story of whether or not Rachel would sing well enough for 'The Man from Universal' to be whisked off to record her 'first' solo at the Abbey Road studios and thus realise her dream of becoming a recording star.  We all knew she'd do it, she does have a wonderful voice but when I did a quick Google of her to find out her surname, having missed it on the documentary, I discovered that she has already sung solo on Rock Choir's first album. (Track 5 apparently, in case you actually care). So the big 'will she/won't she' get to sing solo was just another bit of not entirely honest telly.

So it's the final instalment tonight, and I think it will be the best one. The whole Wembley thing was absolutely fabulous and I hope the cameras manage to really capture the atmosphere. I'm looking forward to hearing how we all sounded together. When you are sitting in one voice section it's quite difficult to hear what the whole thing sounds like. 

The single 'Something Inside So Strong' from the (my!) new album goes on download release at 10pm tonight.  It will be available on iTunes for a mere 99p.  Please would you buy it and ask all your friends to as well. The live track we recorded at Wembley is Track 20. All the royalties go to Refuge, and goodness knows they could do with it.  With a fair wind it might even go to the top of the download charts which would mean I could (almost) honestly put No 1 recording star on my CV, which is in itself as much a work of fiction as this whole documentary thingy.

Apparently Caroline is in discussions with the Olympic Games Committee about Rock Choir performing at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. That would be pretty amazing. Watch this space!






14 comments:

Steve said...

The producers really don't come across as being at all trustworthy, I have to say. I know they want to "make a show" but bending the truth like that seems a bit daft when you're making a documentary as opposed to a dramatization!

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

The Olympics - now that would be fabulous. Fingers crossed for you x

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

Well, I watched it last week because you told me to!
It was okay, sort of. The singing was great but I wasn't keen on the 'drama' part. Not necessary. It seems that the programme was trying to imitate the choir programme on last year with the guy that looks 15 (they all look fifteen from where I'm standing!) - anyway you know the one I'm talking about - with kids in the Brighton area who eventually sang at Glynebourne.

Wylye Girl said...

Steve, exactly right. It doesn't need to.

Trish, I must say I'd get pretty excited about that!

RotN, exactly. It doesn't heal the sick or cure the lame, it's just fun and the whole story of how it started and grew, and why it grew, and the benefits of singing in a choir would have been enough without all the other nonsense

Sarah said...

I didn't watch it but it sounds like the programme was trying to make too much out of a simple idea and thus spoiled the whole thing.

Also doesn't it make you cynical when they start massaging the truth to make a bit of manufactured drama?

Wylye Girl said...

Anonymous, I'm afraid that I have a policy of not publishing anonymous comments but thanks anyway. I agree that programmes do need a 'bit of drama' to sell but does it have to be dishonest? There was a comment on RCs Facebook page pointing out that the York Choirs are going really well - all except Knaresborough, which is, of course the one they focussed on. I don't think so. As for being careful how I put things, as it is my blog I reserve the right to put things however I want to. If people don't like it, they don't need to read it. As I've said before, I love Rock Choir but I think the documentary sold out to cheap telly drama. Just my opinion and others may not agree

Elaine said...

I hate it when documentaries deliberately 'tug at our heart strings' and make things overly dramatic. I think the story of Rock Choir's journey to Wembley would have been interesting anyway without the added drama of 'will they/won't they' and Rachel's illness, so I agree with you that the documentary sold out to cheap telly drama.

Wylye Girl said...

Elaine, it was such a missed opportunity on so many fronts that I feel quite angry about it.

Elaine said...

I wonder how many other Rock Choir members feel the same way as you do? I imagine that it's quite a few.

About Last Weekend said...

Wow, so impressed you have a song on i-tunes! I didn't see the documentary as in the US here but think everything's sort of being taken in the Jersey Shore direction unfortunately, producers can't seem to let things be...

Wylye Girl said...

Sarah, I just realised I didn't reply to your comment. Tres rude! The producer's background is TV talent shows so I guess I was naive to expect any less

Elaine, Rock Choir seems to attract it's fair share of zealots who can see no wrong but I know a lot of people were very disappointed with the documentary

ALW, Jersey Shore, eeewww! It seems that the viewing public is deemed to be so shallow that we can't just enjoy a damned good story. It has to be all 'human interest'. Or disinterest as far as I'm concerned

Wylye Girl said...

Anonymous, as I said, I don't post anonymous comments.I dislike dishonesty and there was much in that documentary and that story which was dishonest. If you don't like my comments, don't read them

Em said...

hi wylye girl, sorry to hear your thoughts about the documentary. It is actually vasovagal syndrome (as defined by the consultant), I believe synchope is the term for the actual fainting. Anyhow, technicalities aside (as it doesn't really matter)... nobody in Rock Choir (not Rachel, not Caroline, not anybody) had any editorial control over the documentary, so it really wasn't down to anybody how any individuals or the choir was portrayed. Rock Choir has evolved from what was a very small choir to a national thing, and this transition has been a bit of a learning curve for everyone in and involved in Rock Choir. The documentary was indeed another new situation, and I'm sorry if you felt some were portrayed to incite 'drama', but we're all real people (with feelings), and not playing the drama for the cameras, and we're all mainly here for the singing and camaraderie, you're welcome to come down to surrey and see us all and see just that...

Wylye Girl said...

Em, I got your second comment but had already posted the first so I haven't done so with the second as it said the same. I moderate comments and as I am on holiday at the moment sometimes they take a while to appear. I am actually a Rock Choir member myself. The documentary didn't do it justice

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