DCI’s Best of 2018

During the week of Finals, I posted a survey asking drum corps fans to submit their nominees in various categories. The results of that not so scientific survey are finally tabulated below with some of my own picks.

Who do you nominate for best overall concept/show design (and you are buying what they are selling)?

Survey says… Santa Clara Vanguard Rounding out the top three are Boston Crusaders and Bluecoats.

My pick… Santa Clara Vanguard. If you follow me on Twitter this is likely not going to be a shock at all. I have said this many times, but Babylon is and should be considered the greatest program ever performed in drum corps. All the elements that came together in that show were perfectly constructed and choreographed with some of the most masterful use of design to music and staging I have ever seen into a well rounded program.

Who do you nominate for best drill?

Survey says… Santa Clara Vanguard Boston Crusaders and Blue Devils also received votes.

My pick…Santa Clara Vanguard I am in full agreement with Boston in the second but, but I really struggling to understand how Blue Devils, who barely did that much drill made the top three at all. It was basically a football field sized winter guard show. Who would I put in the third spot? Tough call. Crown did some nice things on the field despite the tragedy that was their show. If you look at how they used drill in combination with staging, I think it would be a mistake not to mention the Blue Stars.

Which corps had your favorite selection of music this year?

Survey says… Santa Clara Vanguard Rounding out the top three are Bluecoats with Boston Crusaders and Carolina Crown with a tie for third.

My pick…Bluecoats. This one was really tough for me to answer, because Vanguard’s musical selections were a very close second. That being said, Bird & Bela and God Bless the Child are some of my favorites. Disagree with the Crown pick by fans. Do they have a fantastic horn line? Absolutely? Did their music fit their show? Absolutely not. This was particularly good year for ballads which makes for plenty of honorable mentions. The first goes out to the Blue Stars “Close to you” and The Mandarins “True Colors.”

Who do you nominate for best color guard?

Survey says… Boston Crusaders followed by Blue Devils and the Cavaliers and Santa Clara Vanguard with a tie in the third spot.

My pick… Boston Crusaders BAC’s guard was just ridiculous and the show was set up perfectly for them to succeed. Honorable mention is going out to the Blue Stars who also looked very impressive. Blue Devils and Cavaliers should be on this list, but in Finals, they both did not have very solid performances.

Which corps do you nominate for best flag designs?

Survey says…Boston Crusaders with the Cavaliers not far behind. Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard round out the third spot.

My pick… Blue Knights. Thank you for being bold enough to use neon Knights. Not only that, but there was some nice designs that really fit well with their show. The big flags that draped the sideline at one portion of their show are a bit iffy for me still, but all in all the rest of their designs were spot on and added to their program.

Which corps do you nominate for best props?

Survey says… Santa Clara Vanguard with Bluecoats and Blue Devils rounding out the top three.

My pick… Santa Clara Vanguard Those stages are a big reason the design of their show was so successful. I am shocked more votes didn’t come in for either Blue Stars or The Academy. They both are good examples of how their props were used to enhance the design of their shows.

Which corps do you nominate for best uniforms?

Survey says…Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets took a distant second followed by the Bluecoats.

My pick… Blue Stars I really had a difficult time deciding between the Stars and the Blue Knights. The Blue Stars really took a huge risk with these costumes which I really appreciate how they made it work. I think going forward more corps will begin to adopt similar costuming in their shows.

Which corps do you nominate as the most improved corps for 2018?

Survey says…The Mandarins ran away with this caption and for good reason followed by Spirit of Atlanta. The surprise here is Boston Crusaders coming in at third.

My pick…Mandarins and Spirit of Atlanta Yes I am cheating a bit, but I have a good reason for listing both. The Mandarins have been inching their way up to the Top 12 over the last few seasons finally breaking through this last season and in a big way. That kind of move cannot go understated. However, look at what Spirit also accomplished. In 2016, they were 18th (and I could argue should have probably been lower) to pulling themselves out of design hell and nearly knocking the Crossmen out of Finals to take the 12th spot.

Which corps was the most disappointing in 2018?

Survey says…Madison Scouts, however, Carolina Crown was only 8 votes behind. Phantom Regiment filled the last spot in this category.

My pick…Carolina Crown Madison’s show was far from perfect, but at least you know what they are trying to do. A recent World Champion shouldn’t have the kind of question marks Crown’s show had to keep them alive. Crown should be expected to do a lot more than what they did with Beast. They were lucky to be ranked as high as they were. Yes, Madison is also a former multi-World Champion. The difference is, Crown knows who they are and should be. Madison is undergoing a bit of a change of identity. 2018 was a good step in the right direction for Madison and hopefully their alumni open their eyes and start to understand that.

You are allowed to pick one corps and one moment from their show. What was your favorite moment of 2018?

Survey says…I mean, is this really going to be a surprise? Santa Clara Vanguard “My Body Is Not A Cage”. This vote really wasn’t even close. This portion of Vanguard’s show was a beautiful arrangement that really captured the audience. SCV’s mello sustain and, of course, the horn snap also received plenty of mentions.

My pick… I can’t disagree with My Body is a Cage I have had that portion of the show stuck in my head almost all season and I have been as mesmerized by that portion of the show as all the other drum corps fans out there. This was such a good season for drum corps, one of the best in my opinion. My runner up would go to Olivia and the Bluecoats The Drycleaner from Des Moines. Olivia probably doesn’t get enough recognition she deserves for her part in the show, and her vocals in that section were phenomenal.

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