I enter this school year with the luxury of life as a non-enrolled student. Taking time off from school has taught me a great deal about the unique challenges of life in the workforce and affirmed my qualms about online education, if only based on my friends’ testimonies. But above all, my time off has stirred in me a deep desire to settle into my lofty palace on the mountaintop of gap semesters and watch the civilization below burn.
Whatever group event you had planned before the pandemic, the following is certainly true about it now:
- You plan to hold a Zoom version of it, and
- it is going to suck.
Now, the performing arts are defending their claim to the throne as the worst community on campus. Because no matter how you spin it, student-directed, fully nude adaptations of The Bacchae will always be worse when breakout rooms are involved.
One set of performance groups, though, may use this opportunity to reach a catastrophic extreme of collapse. But their success hinges on the answer to my essential question: could Zoom a cappella possibly be worse than a cappella itself?
Let’s go over what the two have in common: a cappella is bad by default, so is everything on Zoom. You only go to acapella shows because your roommate in Doox would guilt you if you didn’t; The same is true of Zoom hangouts! Most importantly, Shades is the sole group that can consistently deliver in both mediums.
But think of the things that make live a cappella so singular! Consider, for instance, the real-time reactions of the entire group as that one alto soloist shouts their way through a haphazard Billy Joel medley. Think of the alarm in the musical director’s eyes as the tenors start belting halfway through the first verse. You know how sometimes you show up to a dinner or something and there’s an a cappella group performing while everyone is eating? Think about first-year you, silently pushing expensive food down your gullet while somebody with the voice of Russell Crowe and the confidence of Michael Jordan croons in your ear. God, I miss it beyond belief.
Even so, the potential for disaster in Zoom a cappella is so rife I could cry. I will be showing up to every Zoom concert possible in the coming months on the off chance that the soloist forgets to unmute before they begin singing. I can’t wait for the one a cappella baby who didn’t get the memo about matching backgrounds to hastily switch theirs out at the top of the show.
And I know what you’re thinking: David, aren’t you in an improv group? Isn’t improv miles worse than any form of acapella? The answer to these questions is best provided in two parts: yes, and fuck you.
I can forgive Yale’s centuries of crimes against humanity. But I can never forgive its long-game con job in making us all believe that a cappella is not only acceptable, but also cool. Zoom a cappella, though, might just be so bad it’s good. Like FRIENDS, or expired edibles.
Frankly, I’m on the edge of my seat.