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Concert Review: Impulse Mixes Humor and Harmony

Newest All Male A Cappella Group has Potential

By Jillian Berry
ARTS EDITOR

MIT Impulse / MIT Muses

Fall Concert

Friday, Nov. 17, 2006

54-100

MIT Impulse, MIT’s newest all male a cappella group, held its fall concert this past Friday, Nov. 17, in 54-100. The six members of the group — Zachary J. Watts ’07, Jonathan M. Long ’08, Christian R. Deonier G, Hao Ding ’10, Christopher M. Yang ’08, and Terral R. Jordan ’07 — all came running out on “stage” in sophisticated suits. While the concert featured the MIT Muses, they did not perform as an opening group, but instead came on halfway through the show.

Impulse started off with Yang singing “Thank You” by Boyz II Men. Their rendition had a mature and jazzy tone with each member providing a different range of music. The background singers’ range would have been more impressive if there were more members to help fill out the sound. With only six members (who seemed a little nervous) it sounded like something was missing. However, they performed this song again at the end of the concert (which was a little odd, I must admit) when they were more relaxed, and it sounded like a different song with Yang belting out the lyrics with energy and feeling.

The men next went on to perform “Sweet Adeline,” a 1920s vaudeville song, with Ding as the soloist. Standing on stage in a line, they were reminiscent of an old barbershop quartet (even if there were six of them). For their third piece, they set up by explaining that this was their attempt to be a “boy band.” Jordan took center stage as he sang Da Vinci’s Notebook’s “Title of the Song.” This song probably drew out the most laughs as it satirizes the banal lyrics of the typical boy band singles. Although there were a few off notes, the audience was so into it, and the singers were so energetic, that it didn’t matter. Impulse followed up with Jordan singing “Tempted” by Squeeze, after which the Muses, MIT’s all female a cappella group, took the floor.

Morgan C. Scully ’09 started things off for the Muses with Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.” Scully’s voice was intoxicating and sounded as if it were coming from somewhere very deep inside of her. However, she was somewhat overpowered by the rest of the group, who seemed a little out of sync. Next, soloist Priscilla W. Army ’10 performed “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, followed by a rendition of Shakira’s “Don’t Bother” by Lunduo (Linda) Ye ’08. Ye’s voice was deep and soulful, but like Scully, she was often overpowered by the background singers. However, during the chorus, I was impressed as everyone came together as a whole.

When Impulse returned, they decided to show us their “real” voices and sing The Beatles’ “Yesterday” without microphones. While they certainly proved they can sing without microphones, I was not a fan of their arrangement for the song. Forced to become a typical a cappella song, the piece lost the intense, yet subtle power of what is considered by many to be one of the best songs ever written.

After “Yesterday,” they returned to the microphones for “I’ll Hear Your Voice” by Rockapella and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (I guess they wanted to be like that other all male a cappella group on campus). With both of these songs, they sounded as though they were finding their rhythm, as more energy and confidence flowed through their performance.

In between all the songs, there was some comedic banter between the group members and the audience. This certainly helped to set the mood and allowed the singers to relax a little. As many in the audience were friends of the Impulse men, they were very comfortable yelling out ridiculous things, which made the audience feel more involved. In fact, after their rendition of “Title of the Song,” a member of the audience yelled out, “Chris Yang, are you married?” After a pause, Yang replied with a well-timed “no?” The members even made light of their nervousness as Yang singled me out (he knew I was writing the review) and explained that he had had a nightmare that the review in The Tech would be titled “Bad Stand-Up Routine Interrupted by Mediocre Singing.” Luckily, MIT Impulse does not need to worry about that happening. This new all male a cappella group is certainly no Logs, but it has a lot of potential. With a little more time, and maybe a few more members, I think they’ll fit right in with the other a cappella groups on campus.