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A CAPPELLA REVIEW

The Muses Find Their Tune

‘Real World’ Theme Works in Singing and Skits

By Zachary Ozer

MIT Muses

Wong Auditorium

May 1, 8 p.m.

When I think of MTV’s “The Real World,” what generally comes to mind is a group of strangers thrust together with the hopes that their differences will incite conflict. The Muses concert on Saturday night, of the same namesake, was a demonstration of quite the opposite.

Indeed, those watching in the nearly packed Wong Auditorium saw unparalleled displays of camaraderie and teamwork, rather than the manifestation of antagonism for which the MTV show is renowned. Rather than appearing when expected, the Muses, like all great inspiration at their own discretion.

The evening began with “On the Real World,” a reworked version of The Carpenter’s “Johnny Angel.” Although the new lyrics focused mainly on the interpersonal relationships of the group members, it was well received by the audience. The melody complemented the group’s natural harmony perfectly, and soloist Anastasia M. Rodriguez ’04 carried a pitch perfect tune seemingly without effort. Even at this early hour, it became readily apparent that the Muses would have to battle technical difficulties and mediocre acoustics characteristic of Wong Auditorium.

The introductory arrangement seemed to reflect the pieces which the group members personally wanted to hear, rather then a specific genre or field of emotion. A sketch comedy piece meant to resemble a piece from “Real World” transitioned appropriately into Pink’s “Feel Good Time.” With its techno interludes and diva-like moments from Pink, it was definitely the most ambitious piece attempted throughout the evening. The group’s choreography captured the song brilliantly.

And then, seemingly directly from the roof-deck of Apple Studios, came The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” With a bit slower tempo than the original, the piece achieved new depths of meaning. Jennifer N. Fishe ’07 stole the spotlight as a soft spoken, but heartfelt John. The rest of the Muses easily stepped in for Paul, Ringo, and George.

The rest of the evening reflected thought in terms of the song arrangement, although the sketch comedy most definitely suffered. The spectacular vocal displays were followed by sketch comedy which made me wonder if perhaps the Muses themselves were relying on inspiration. A spoof on MTV News, Charlene Shih ’07 and Caroline S. Reilly ’06 tried to reenact the incident at the Superbowl involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. The piece evidently was not well-rehearsed and came off as superfluous boobage.

The great exception to this was another “Real World” skit by Rodriguez and Weifang Sun ’04 which came to resemble the infamous scene from Katz’s Deli in “When Harry Met Sally.” The skit dealt with the nightly ritual of group member S. Alki Delichatsios ’05, and then led into Blondie’s “I Touch Myself.” Much like Meg Ryan in the film, Alki apparently enjoyed performing a little bit too much, because she continued even after her fellow Muses were quite done.

Other highlights from the evening included an inspired performance by Sheena C. Hembrador ’06 of Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go.” While the lyrics and melody were that of the original recording, Sheena and the Muses imparted a new soul into the song.

Unsurpassed was the performance of “Muses Never Get Over You” Natasha N. Rushing ’05. Her voice was reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, completely at ease and yet resonating throughout the room. She seemed so natural and so at ease one had to wonder whether she had been born in front of a microphone.

Later, Hembrador and Rushing performed a duet together of “You Thought Wrong” by Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra. The duo’s astonishing voices blew the crowd away. As the song progressed, the duet became even more intense as they drew on other’s energy to provide one of the most spectacular moments of the evening.

What really made the concert amazing were not the impressive vocals which one could find at any a cappella concert, but rather the great bond the Muses share with each other. The Muses carried out their tradition of singing “How High the Moon” with their alumni, but the evening’s crowning moment was the tribute to their seniors. While the young group may not have quite perfected their ability to carry a theme throughout an evening, the friendship of the Muses will carry them until they find their tune.