The Break Up

Absurdist A Cappella

This time we discuss how to use a cappella to break up with your significant other.

Setting the Stage: There are lots of things people need to do during their time in college. There’s studying for tests, roommate quarrels, late night philosophical debates, young romance, Saturday morning hangovers—learning experiences all around, to be sure. Among the things that many college students do each year is to break up with a significant other. Why would we take this deeply personal experience, of all things, and try to connect it to a cappella? Why because it’s absurd, that’s why!

Song Selection: When you’re using your a cappella group as the vehicle for ending a relationship, once of the key steps is to make sure the message is clear—that it’s over. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be sympathetic, even a little melancholy. For these purposes, consider Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” or Michelle Branch’s “Goodbye to You.” For a song by the same name and general sentiment, but a very different attitude, go with Scandal’s eighties anthem of independence “Goodbye To You.” Along those lines of celebration, you can take on a different approach altogether by getting metaphorical, implying your liberation from the relationship is a greater cause for celebration than one might rationally think. You can get spiritual in this case with a little “Free At Last.”

Setting: The setting for this all depends upon your intentions. If it’s the end of an ugly relationship after which you want to hurt and embarrass your ex-to-be as much as he or she has wounded you, do this on the biggest stage possible, in front of as many people as possible. In fact, think about a big crowd no matter what. If you’re using an a cappella performance to dump your partner, you’re kind of asking for a violent reaction and the large crowd can create a physical boundary and plenty of witnesses to help keep you safe.

Choreography: You don’t want to throw in so much choreography that your message gets lost here, so simple may be best. You may consider throwing in some pelvic thrusts toward another group member or audience member as an overt indication that you’ve moved on to someone else, but again, it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish here.

Other Notes: Whenever you’re using a cappella toward a personal goal, there’s a real risk the performance will come at the expense of actually entertaining your larger audience. If you’re going to go through with this, at least try to stay in tune.