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Hardly Better Than Karaoke

Logarhythms Don’t Deserve Kresge Billing

By Devdoot Majumdar

Staff Writer

The MIT Logarhythms

Kresge Auditorium

Dec. 13, 8 p.m.

It’s not too great a time to be a Log. I can remember a time when the Log, regardless of his lisp, his looks, or his height, was respected -- even desirable -- for all of his self-aggrandized splendor. So many times would the hallways resonate with their voices during their many unsolicited attempts at music.

They were like MIT’s own version of the Jets -- singing, fraternal, not so dashing, but cool nonetheless -- and people ate it up. They did, after all, win national a cappella awards, and one of them almost qualified for American Idol. But the well has run dry, and the currency that once took them to the status of Kresge headliners is nearing bankruptcy.

The Logs gave MIT their best shot at last month’s concert at their Kresge Auditorium. Two years ago, the Logs discovered that they could tap into their popularity and do the unthinkable. Previously, Kresge Auditorium had only seen a cappella during the yearly Campus Preview Weekend ensemble concerts and the Greater Boston Invitational Sing, where the Logs perform alongside such niched acts as the Cross Products and Techiya.

It was then that the Logs decided that they could headline a Kresge concert all by themselves, and they did so with flying colors. For two straight years, the Logs have packed Kresge like only the Dalai Lama can.

But with the loss of perhaps their strongest member, Karl A. Erdmann ’02, who did much of the composition and arranging, the Logs now face the Tom Cruise quandary: they have the look, but they are just plain constipated in the quality department.

Christopher D. Vu ’04 opened up the concert with Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover.” Stevie Wonder has always been good to the Logs, and Vu is by far the stand-alone vocalist among the bunch. It was delivered like everything Vu sings: Michael Jackson meets a cappella. The song was crisply delivered and, if anything, left an optimistic aftertaste, soon to be lost by a string of forgettable covers.

William E. Baker ’05 delivered a surprisingly good version of Beck’s “Lost Cause.” I’ll admit this much: he’s certainly mastered the drone. Though the interpretation as a whole only demeaned the song, Baker did a fairly decent job in keeping “Lost Cause” alive.

Two good songs aside, the Logs brought us roughly 15 terrible renditions. Though a bit more fun than listening to karaoke, their concert was punctuated by my many impulses to leave early, which I resisted in hopes of being able to write this tribute. I began to realize that the key to good a cappella is simply choosing to cover good songs with bad original singers. For example, a good cover would be a Weezer song, as they’re catchy but sung fairly poorly. And an awful song to cover would be a Boys II Men song, as it’s difficult to surpass the original song’s glory.

With that in mind, the Logs delivered a version of Weezer’s “Island in the Sun.” But as imperfectly as Rivers Cuomo delivers the catchy song, the Logs still managed to do worse. This is a song that’s unimpeachably catchy and that has tremendous potential, and yet the Logs found a way to kill it. The repeating melody definitely has the potential of being intoxicating in the way that a song like “Take Five” can go on for twenty minutes and still be interesting. And yet, the Logs proved their innate brilliance at the drone in this long, boring Weezer cover.

Particularly memorable was junior Kaliq Chang’s rendition of Craig David’s “Seven Days.” The song left me wondering if Chang was indeed singing in English. Though David’s original was perhaps a tad nasal, Chang went Tevin Campbell on estrogen with this song.

The Logs brought to Kresge several other bludgeoned hits, from a prepubescent “Stacy’s Mom” to a voice crack spectacular in the form of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”

For all their efforts, the Logs have clearly become a vestige of what they once were. Their skits aren’t funny, their voices aren’t solid, and their song selection is terrible. Basically, it’s high time that the Logs retire their Kresge credentials for a few years of ego deflation and practice in 10-250.