Spring Sing 2018 Was Totally Not What I Expected

As a first-year transfer, I had a heard a lot of different things about Spring Sing. I knew that it was a long-held tradition of UCLA, but I didn't quite understand what the event consisted of. For some reason I had this preconception that it was a multicultural event, like those annual assemblies my high school had, to celebrate culture and ethnicity. Something about Sara Bareilles being discovered at Spring Sing when she was a student somehow made its way into this narrative, but I never dwelled long on the contradictions in my mind. 

I brought up the possibility of going to Spring Sing 2018 to my roommates, all transfers and study-aboard students, and they responded with excitement. We woke up ridiculously early the morning tickets started selling. After a sad hour spent in light rain, we got some pretty good seats straight in front of the stage, in the second highest section. Weeks passed and I had almost forgotten about Spring Sing until the Thursday before. All my roommates expressed their excitement throughout Friday, the day of the event. They too had heard their share of rumors and were eager to know what all the buzz was about. 

After waiting in line and going through the long process of bag checking, by the time I got into my seat, the lights were already out and the show runners were introducing the last of the judges. Of the ones I heard, I only recognized Dot Jones, Emily Osment and Corbin Bleu. I was doubly impressed by UCLA’s ability to attract such famous people, and also surprised by the fact that there were judges. “Wait, this is a competition?” I realized to myself as I sat down. 

As this realization came upon me, the lights blacked out, and Spring Sing seamlessly began with the first act. Whether they were a solo act, duet, dance group, band or Acapella group, I became extremely aware of the immense talent prevalent in UCLA. People always say that UCLA boasts a great amount of talent, but Spring Sing slapped this fact right in my face. I was also proud to see that with UCLA’s diversity in ethnicity comes a diversity in voices. Many singers defied the popular conception that Asians cannot sing, proving they indeed can. 

This fact was proven time and time again throughout the night. It was amazing to see that there are differences in vocal timbre among a single group such as Naya Zamana and Bruin Harmony. The musicians were amazing. Particularly impressive was the pairing of voice with saxophone, alongside beautiful piano accompaniment, by Austin Gatus and Ryan Glatt. Gatus imitated vocal riffs with his saxophone, adding in dashes of jazz influences. I also loved the band Jaded, noticing at times a kind of conversation between the main vocalist and a muted trumpet. The flute solo was also a nice touch. 

Performances that especially captured the audience were Hayden Everett, Caroline Pernick, and Emily James, evidenced by the sea of flashlights during their moments on stage. Everett is a great singer and musician in his own right, but what really tied in the performance was his voice in harmony with Pernick’s. As for James, her original song was powerful with moving lyrics, as she performed with the right mix of emotion and showmanship. 

Some of the best moments of the night came from the laughs elicited by the Company skits and videos. I could tell they had put in a huge amount of time, effort, and hard work into creating the comic breaks between acts. I was also impressed that a fair amount of them could also sing. The standout comic skits were the talking statues of the Statue Garden, the parody of "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast, and "Stranger Campus." 

A moment that I cannot leave out is Brad Delson’s speech for accepting the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement award on behalf of Linkin Park. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how funny and incredibly down-to-earth he is. I was again struck by the fact that many UCLA alumni have gone on to be famous, to change the world. 

By the end of the night, the competition aspect seemed less important. Everyone had given a great performance, and wasn’t that kind of the point? Spring Sing is about showcasing the talent bursting at the seams in UCLA, and celebrating in the university’s diversity. Spring Sing 2018 was definitely nothing like my expectations. My misguided preconceptions were completely shattered, but I learned so much about the nature of UCLA.