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Mustangs Sing Their Hearts Out During Mustang Idol

On the evening of February 9th, 2024 at the Yorba Linda High School auditorium, the lights dimmed as the audience grew silent with anticipation. A wave of cheering and clapping overcame the audience, welcoming the beginning of Yorba Linda High School’s talent show, Mustang Idol. Twelve students competed in singing to determine who would take first, second, and third place as Mustang Idols. Each contestant dedicated a tremendous amount of hard work to preparing for their phenomenal performances. Each competitor exhibited their unique and powerful voice while captivating the audience with their stage presence. The judges Connor Hipwell, Steven McCann, and Brie Byers watched each act and made the tough final decision of who would become a Mustang Idol. 

As the first singer during Act I, Katie Ruoo sang “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan. Following her was Chloe Gan (“Creep” by Radiohead), Meliah Samora (“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica), Nicole Slack (“Icarus” by luvbug), Eunice Kim (“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys), Kaylie Lam (“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor), Cosette McCulloch (“Snow Angel” by Reneé Rapp), Sofia Shoaib (“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd), Hayden Ritchie (“Pure As the Driven Snow” by Rachel Zegler), Naomi Cheng (“Say It Back” by Luna Day), Jennalyn Urquico (“Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato), and Hasti Khodabandehlou (“Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood). 

Tensions were high after Act I as the judges discussed and settled on the six competitors who would move on to Act II. As a past theater kid with a musical background in trumpet, bass, guitar, and vocals, Connor Hipwell (S) states that he and the other judges considered “…four categories: song choice and how well it fit [the singer], stage presence, their vocal technique, and the overall performance.” After crossed fingers and silent wishes, the emcees Andrew Gardner and Charlotte Schultz announced who would be advancing to the final round of singing. 

Although many of the contestants carried a strong chance of moving forward, Katie Ruoo, Chloe Gan, Eunice Kim, Cosette McCulloch, Hayden Ritchie, and Hasti Khodabandehlou continued on and performed their second song. The stakes were high with these final performances, and each finalist sang with a passion that had the audience enthralled. Katie Ruoo sang “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, Chloe Gan sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day, Eunice Kim sang “Love” by Keyshia Cole, Cosette McCulloch sang “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Tori Kelly, Hayden Ritchie sang “Piece By Piece” by Kelly Clarkson, and Hasti Khodabandehlou sang “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. 

I have been a judge for Mustang Idol for a few years, and the best part about watching the contestants is seeing people you would least expect to sing (such as the quieter students) having these amazing voices.

— Connor Hipwell

After Act II, the judges commented on the six contestants’ performances and provided critiques for each singer. Each piece of feedback was thoughtful, and Connor Hipwell (S) expresses, “I have been a judge for Mustang Idol for a few years, and the best part about watching the contestants is seeing people you would least expect to sing (such as the quieter students) having these amazing voices.”

As the final top three winners were chosen, YLHS alumni Max Greene performed three songs that he wrote after looking through a selection of random Wikipedia pages. These original songs, “The Duck,” “Big Boy Williams You’re Gonna Be a Star,” and “Black Granite,” entertained the audience with their upbeat tunes and comical backstories. After Greene’s performance, the finalists and the song of the night were announced. In a suspenseful moment, “Pure As the Driven Snow” by Hayden Ritchie was proclaimed the song of the night. Finally, Andrew Gardner and Charlotte Schultz revealed the winners of Mustang Idol: Cosette McCulloch in third place, Hayden Ritchie in second place, and after a special drumroll, Eunice Kim in first place. 

Mustang Idol was a tremendous success, and every performer who participated wowed the audience with a captivating voice and stage presence. Mustangs, if you have a gift for singing, enter Mustang Idol next year for a chance to be the star of the stage.

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About the Contributors
Milla Jans, Editor
Milla is a sophomore at Yorba Linda High School and is currently an editor for The Wrangler. In the upcoming years she will be working towards her goal of writing and publishing a book. Milla’s other aspirations in life include obtaining a law degree and opening a business. In her spare time she reads, listens to music, writes poetry, and practices her self-taught drawing skills. She hopes to adopt a cat one day and travel to other countries including Iceland, Poland, and Quebec to learn more about their cultures. Milla plans on making her remaining years at YLHS meaningful and fun and is excited for her second year at The Wrangler.
Leilah Huttner, Photojournalist
Leilah Huttner is a junior at Yorba Linda High School. This is her 1st year being a part of The Wrangler. Leilah likes to sing, act, hang out with her friends, and listen to music in her free time. She wants to eventually pursue a career in criminal psychology and live by the coast. At YLHS, Leilah is involved in Theatre and has been in the musicals Mamma Mia, Carrie, Urinetown, and Into the Woods. Her all-time favorite color is orange, which is also her favorite fruit. Leilah loves Yorba Linda High School and is excited about what this new year will bring.

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