A Muted and Bizarre 2019 Spring Sing Fails to Dazzle

Last year as a new transfer student, I had no idea what Spring Sing really was until I watched it with my 5 housemates. After witnessing the immense talent, the scale of the production and the size of the crowd, I was thoroughly impressed and amazed. This year, my roommate was determined to go again, and despite my tendency to not leave the house, she managed to convince me to accompany her. I figured, I had fun last year. What could go wrong? 

Apparently, a lot. After last year’s memorable comedy video skit parodying Stranger Things, my roommate accurately prophesied that Company would do one of Game of Thrones this year. Admittedly, the routine of skit, talent, skit, talent gets repetitive after a while, so a really good video in the middle of an act is a fantastic way to grab the audience’s attention once again. Stranger Things accomplished this fairly well, but the GOT skit introduced the Company before the show even started. It felt awfully rushed. 

There were several technological mishaps throughout the show, starting from the first performer Aaron Chadrick’s introduction video. The audience sat there for a good 30 seconds or so before they figured things out. I’m not saying tech issues don’t happen and that they’re the death of a show. However, they do color your perception of the show. I was also under the impression that Chadrick’s microphone was a bit wonky. He seems like a perfectly capable singer, but the microphone made his voice sound filtered or modified, in a sense. 

The duets were mostly ineffective, with forgettable melodies and difficult to discern diction. The most interesting one would have to be Sofie & David, who performed “Back to Venus.” They were the only pair who enunciated enough for me to tell what their song was about, and their harmonization was soothing. 

The dance performances were—odd. Icarus, an all-female dance group, was quite beautiful in their sparking outfits and flowing motions. It was a lyrical piece, with a more contemporary feel to it (I am no dancer, I apologize). ACA Hip Hop, who I was super excited to do a hard-hitting hip hop dance with lots of swag and energy, also opted for a more muted performance, though my roommate positively freaked out when the last song of their medley was by Billie Eilish. It felt like contained kinetic energy, with all those moving bodies, but it had no where to go. I’m sure the dance had plenty of artistic messages that totally went over my head. Outspoken’s collaboration of dance and spoken word was also peculiar. 

There were only two acapella groups this year: Bruin Harmony and Random Voices. I saw Bruin Harmony last year, who were amazing of course, and they too did a softer song, “Gravity.” It was a nice performance because they’re good at what they do, but after so many other subdued performances it just felt like a permutation of those before. However, they did have an Asian soloist who really stole my heart with his angel-clear voice. Random Voices was more effective with their arrangement of “Shake It Off,” which ended in a satisfying belt. I”m not saying that acapella groups have to sing loudly and hold long notes to be impressive, but in the context of all the other soft-toned performances, Random Voices stood out more. 

The bands really took the cake as the most bizarre. I was super excited as soon as the vocalist of BUTR sang her first note; a gentle, intoxicating voice that felt smooth as—well, butter. However, the song lacked structure and the instrumentation drowned out the sweet, caressing vocals, so the performance ended up chaotic. It felt like a torrent of overlapping sound that left me bewildered and disoriented. Dark Dazey was just wack; I have no other words to describe it. 

There were a few acts that were thought-provoking and worthwhile. Confluence mixed tap dance and instrumental music, which I found fascinating and oddly soothing. Others thought it was weird, but it reminded me of Happy Feet, in a good way (I’m also obsessed with that movie). Nina Marie’s vocals were a little shaky at times, but her lyrics were killer. Sometimes figurative language and effective storytelling are all you need for a good song. Most definitely, the band TAXI’s performance of “Dancin’ on the Roof” brought a smile to my face. After so many eccentric acts, this feel-good, dance number really did the trick in the closing the show with a positive, predictable beat and infectious energy. The lead singer also had this charisma that made it impossible to look away. Their saxophone player’s awesome solo proved that these guys are musicians who know what they’re doing. 

Impossible to ignore or forget, Company really stole the show. Most of their skits did a really good job of punctuating the performances with their video and live skits. My particular favorites were of the students introducing themselves in class; I vaguely remember, “Just me and my Flintstone vitamin gummies on the train to school,” and the one about trickle-down health. Last year, Company skits were mostly fun and games, but this year they used their sketches as tools for social commentary such as on overcrowded housing around UCLA, trickle-down economics and UCLA’s constant capitalization of students (grapes and egg). 

Clearly students these days are turning to alternative music and interesting combinations in their artistry, and that’s good, in its own way. College is about experimentation, and what better place to experiment, to push boundaries and to criticize the world around us than at a school production, for the student population to see? However, including an entire show’s worth of these offbeat acts made it difficult to really become involved in the show. Either way, I seriously hope someone signs TAXI one day because those guys are freaking good.