My Own Private Pitch Perfect
Have we all seen Pitch Perfect? If not, stop what you’re doing, and go see it right now! Why-you ask? Imagine the euphoria of winning the Olympics, while being asked out by your number one crush, while being champagne-drunk, while finding out you just won the biggest lottery in the world, while you were at a Jay-Z concert and all of a sudden Beyonce came out (like she jut did at Jay’s last concert); because that’s how euphoric Pitch Perfect made me feel.
Really, I can’t seem to gush, rave, or emote enough about how good Pitch Perfect is. It’s the new Bring It On (another feel-good movie, which I happened to watch over 45+ times during the summer of 2004 [Go Clovers])! And Pitch Perfect had me feeling emotions.
Just as Bring it On made me yearn to be an extremely gifted, awesomely acrobatic male cheerleader (not enough to make me go out and actually become a male cheerleader, mind you), Pitch Perfect made me yearn to be in college again, singing in a college acapella group. In some ways, Pitch Perfect could have been my destiny.
By all accounts, I have a really good voice. Actually, you guys can judge for yourself (ignore the moments of pitch imperfection-the acoustic sound in the room was tough, coupled with the fact that the introductory note is not my usual starting octave).
Now I don’t think I’m like Mariah Carey or anything, but I can carry a tune decently well. And I think most people would agree with that. Singing has always been a really fun hobby/minor passion for me, but nothing that I ever took too seriously (until I did, you know?).
When I was in high school, I was a certified “jock,” who played football and ran track. Still, I yearned for more. Like Claudette from City High, I always knew that “I wouldn’t mind being an actress, but I loved to sing.” That’s when I decided to enroll myself in my high school’s choir against my father’s wishes, who worried that choir would “interfere” from my sports commitments. But I didn’t allow Papa to Preach.
Undeterred, I enrolled in my high school choir anyway during the second semester of my freshman year-determined to get a solo by the first week. What I quickly learned was that seniority, social politics and tenorous red tape (I was a tenor-get it?) would inhibit my changes of gaining a solo . Quite humbly (or anything but), I felt that talent should trump experience.
By the following semester, after watching some boy with way less talent (than me) got a solo, I decided to quit the choir. Logically, I thought: if the choir doesn’t care enough about their own brand to let my star shine, I didn’t care enough about the choir’s brand to bestow them with the gift of my star! Whoa. Actually, maybe I’m more like Mariah than I previously thought (on FIRE)?
Just because the choir didn’t work out as a vehicle to showcase my talent, I didn’t stop singing. On weekends, I sang Selena (per my mother’s request)-on stage-in front of dozens of people at my mother’s mariachi restaurant in Orange County. Actually, now that I’m writing that-I realize that I still haven’t recovered from the emotional scars of Como la Flor.
Once I started my freshman year of college, I decided that I would finally pursue my dream of singing 100%. Listening to the angelic, beautifully complex harmonies of the acapella groups on campus-I knew that I needed to be in one. Demonstrating my vocal ability for my freshman Orientation Leader (who happened to be in my favorite acapella group on campus), she told me that I had an “amazing voice” and definitely needed to try out for her group.
When I didn’t get into the group that semester, I wasn’t discouraged at all. Several of the members of the group told me after that they were “super interested,” but that they weren’t “looking for a Tenor” at that time, and that I should try out the following semester because they would be needing a new tenor by then. Heading back home to Los Angeles for summer break, I had a plan: become the best singer in the world and then get mad solos in thta acapella group!
Sensing the seriousness of my mission, my father generously spent a few thousand dollars on voice lessons with one of the best vocal coaches in all of Los Angeles. And I was very touched and inspired. This man had worked with many talents like Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Pink, Beyonce, and me! It was an era of Go Big or Go Home, and I stayed on my Oprah all summer long-practicing and preparing for vocal domination.
By the time I flew over the gorgeous, azure waters of Cape Cod ready to begin my sophomore year, I was ready to kick some ACA-ASS. Strategically, I decided to switch up my songs. Since I had already auditioned with Stevie Wonder and (I can’t believe I’m writing this out loud) Selena, I selected a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song (“Zephyr Song”) as my audition song, and I went up before several groups and sang my aca-heart out.
Sadly, no one was feeling those emotions, especially the group that I longed most to be in. In fact, I was told that “Zephyr Song” was the worst song to choose, because it didn’t accurately demonstrate my “vocal range”l; and that I should have stuck with something more soulful. Since that was extremely constructive criticism, I felt that I could build on that critique, practice some more, and try again the following semester.
That’s not to say that I didn’t get callbacks for other groups, because I did. But I didn’t want to be in those groups. I wanted to be in the group I wanted to be in, and I wasn’t going to give up just because two people didn’t think I sang the right song for my audition. So I tried out again the next semester, and it happened.
I got called back for the acapella group of only my sweetest dreams. Little did I know, it would all turn out to be a beautiful nightmare. When I showed up at the callback, I found that instead of multiple people-it was down to me and just one other dude. Sizing up my competition, I didn’t feel intimidated in the slightest. He was nervous, wore braces, and just seemed like the goodiest of the goodie goodies.
As far as I was concerned, baby boy wasn’t any real competition. I was singing Stevie Wonder (as I had been instructed by the aca-executives), so clearly I was going to kill it. I truly wasn’t phased in the slightest; I even wished that this boy and his braces would have a great semester (while I’d be singing beautiful harmonies in the acapella group of my dreams).
When I returned the next morning and saw my name on that list, I felt the most intense pleasure of working hard for something and realizing all of my dreams. It was my moment, and in that very moment I was King!
Well, I would have been, if that’s how life worked, because I saw all of my dreams of aca-stardom crumble before my very eyes when I saw that boy’s name instead of mine.
(Feature Image via Universal Pictures.)