Author: Kit

Lip Sync Battle brings cringeworthy slapstick to Pause Stage

Oles crowded the Pause on Nov. 19 in anticipation of the “Not Your Voice Lip Sync Battle,” put on by the InterHall Council. The hosts, Maddy Reichel ’19 and Joey Dagher ’20, had no trouble getting the audience amped for the event, especially after introducing the judges and prizes.

Campus celebrities Pastor Katie Fick, SGA President Emma Lind ’17 and “professional lurker” Cosi Pori ’18 judged the event. Responsible for awarding coveted prizes such as two tickets to the Lumineers, a year’s subscription to Spotify and a large Pause pizza, the judges had a lot of pressure on them.

This pressure only intensified after the first round of performers showed their stuff. Colin Alexander ’19 and Whitner Schellingerhoudt ’19 opened the event with the Flight of the Conchords song “If You’re Into It.” Referencing Swannie Wilson ’19’s talent portion from Champion of the Hill by throwing spaghetti at a hapless girl was a particularly smart and hilarious move on the part of the duo.

This humor-filled beginning foreshadowed all the laughter to come. Jon Hollister ’19 threw layers and layers of tie-dye t-shirts into the audience to Kesha’s “Take It Off,” prompting much punnery from the judges: Pastor Katie declared the performance “tie-dye for” and Pori commented that it was “multilayered.”

Other standout performers included Hannah Read ’20 and Emily Kaliski ’20 lip syncing to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us.” Harkening back to the artist’s “Thrift Shop” roots, they danced in fake fur coats and threw Monopoly money into the audience.

Alyssa Mettler ’17 conquered a childhood fear when she performed the choreography to Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” that she failed to do in fifth grade.

“I wish fifth grade Alyssa could see her now,” Lind commented.

Thomas Pfingsten ’20 and Austin Charging ’19 stunned audiences with their incredible choreography to Kesha’s “Blow.” Their glitter, acrobatics and silly string filled out their exciting performance. Their elaborate makeup and outfits added even more pizazz and flair.

Michaela Blakeslee ’20 and William Randolph ’20 reminded the audience that love comes in all forms with their touching routine to “Eenie Meenie.”

“Heterosexuality is so beautiful. You should never be ashamed of who you love just because you’re straight. I love straight people,” Pori said.

Despite the insane amount of talent onstage, there could only be three top groups. After much deliberation, the judges eventually decided that Hollister, Read and Kaliski, and Pfingsten and Charging would move on.

But the event didn’t stop there! The remaining contestants had a new challenge to face: impromptu lip syncing. The groups got to choose from hits like “Come on Eileen” and “Proud to be an American” by luck of the draw.

Read and Kaliski chose first and went for Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby.” Quickly dividing parts, the two shone with their quick wits and athletics. The worm was, as always, a brilliant addition to their repertoire.

Next were Pfingsten and Charging with the middle school classic, “Low.” The two weren’t afraid to “give that big booty a slap” to remain authentic to Flo Rida’s original message, nor did they let the constraints of the stage limit their movements. All of this, plus their athletic dance moves, made for an amazing performance.

Hollister finished the show with Fergie’s “My Humps.” Like Pfingsten and Charging before him, Hollister did his best to stay true to the song. Stuffed shirts by his chest and butt mirrored Fergie’s “lovely lady lumps” and were quickly cast aside, as he drew back from his previous performance that evening.

The judges had a tough decision ahead of them, but while they deliberated, the audience enjoyed an improvised performance to High School Musical’s hit “Bop to the Top,” by the IHC.

After the audience enjoyed that blast from the past, the judges announced their decision.

Pori informed the audience that their criteria were “liberal arts innovation, art, bravado, versatility and lack of cringe-ability.”

Ultimately, Read and Kaliski got first place (and the Lumineers tickets), followed by Hollister with the Spotify subscription and Pfingsten and Charging with the large pizza.

“I’m surprised that Austin and Thomas didn’t win,” Holly Ness ’19 said after leaving the event. “Their dancing was just so amazing!”

I would have to agree with Ness. After all, what says “liberal arts innovation” more than Silly String? What is “bravado” if not pantomiming booty slaps onstage? Clearly, the judges need to re-examine their ideas of what true art looks like.

stooke1@stolaf.edu

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Jesse McCartney: too close for comfort

Like much of St. Olaf’s campus, I was ready for a fun, nostalgic night when I heard Jesse McCartney would be performing at the fall concert. While I certainly screamed with joy once McCartney finally sang the first few notes of one of his most popular songs, “Beautiful Soul,” McCartney had already spoiled the evening with his downright creepy comments about young women. Between declaring that he “only goes to sorority houses,” not fraternities, and getting uncomfortably close to a female student onstage, McCartney’s actions were prime examples of behavior that perpetuates rape culture.

The term “rape culture” is one of those common feminist buzzwords that many people bemoan while rarely understanding all of what it encompasses. Simply put, rape culture is anything society does to normalize sexual violence.

So, yes, McCartney did cross a line when he made comments about sorority houses and name-dropped the infamous Robin Thicke – whose single “Blurred Lines” has been widely criticized for encouraging disregard for consent – before performing a cover of one of Thicke’s songs. Even something seemingly innocuous like calling young female fans “babes” perpetuates rape culture in that he simultaneously infantilizes and sexualizes his fans.

During his performance, McCartney asked for a volunteer to come up on stage. Does this promote rape culture, even if there was some semblance of consent?

In this situation, it’s important to remember the power McCartney wields as a celebrity. Because of his celebrity status and age – 29 is way closer to 30 than 20, y’all – McCartney has more power and influence than most of his fans, particularly his college-aged ones. As many say, “with great power comes great responsibility.” In this case, McCartney had a responsibility to ensure that his fans were comfortable.

When he asked for an audience member to come up on stage during one of his songs – without first clarifying exactly what was going to happen before he extended this invitation – McCartney failed to live up to this responsibility. He could have easily violated the student’s personal space, making her feel extremely uncomfortable but unable to do anything about it, since this was Jesse McCartney’s show and there was an audience full of girls who wanted to be in her position.

But doesn’t everyone in the music industry perpetuate these same behaviors? Shouldn’t we cut him some slack? It is true – the music industry is certainly notorious for sexualizing anyone and anything, with or without consent, in a misguided effort to make millennials buy their music.

However, I would argue that the prevalence of this tendency doesn’t equate to its acceptability. The flu is certainly quite common across the United States during these months, but that doesn’t make everyone desperate to catch the virus.

Musical artists should rely on the quality of their work to make a living, rather than sexual gimmicks. If McCartney had written a radio hit in the last ten years perhaps he wouldn’t have felt compelled to milk the grossest and most tired tropes of pop performance.

When McCartney interacted with the audience like he was a hormonal teenage boy, he quickly reminded me why his success as a heartthrob ended years ago.

While I certainly didn’t appreciate this behavior from a 29-year-old, I’d be just as disappointed if he were 19 or 16. McCartney’s age definitely heightened the creepiness of the whole situation, but his behavior and attitude towards women is unacceptable regardless of his age.

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