James’s Musings

thoughts, photography, and geeky stuff
from an unrelentingly curious Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Bubbles, Crashes, and Some _A Cappella_ Brilliance

by James G. Beldock on December 10, 2007

Every on­ce in a while, a YouTube video gets my at­ten­tion, as this one has. In the week since its post­ing, it has be­gun to go vi­ral, with some­thing on the or­der of 700,000 view­ings. For those of us work­ing in the Tech Industry—es­pe­cial­ly those of us in Silicon Valley and in the Tech Industry—it pret­ty much tells the whole sto­ry:

**GRINCH UPDATE 12/18: Some mil­i­tant copy­right hold­er has filed a DMCA Takedown re­quest with YouTube, so this won­der­ful piece of (IMO) fair use par­o­dy was tem­porar­i­ly un­avail­able. Fortunately, Matt Hempey has cre­at­ed ver­sion 1.1, which went on­line this evening**

**GRINCH UPDATE 12/18: Some mil­i­tant copy­right hold­er has filed a DMCA Takedown re­quest with YouTube, so this won­der­ful piece of (IMO) fair use par­o­dy was tem­porar­i­ly un­avail­able. Fortunately, Matt Hempey has cre­at­ed ver­sion 1.1, which went on­line this evening**

As I poked around YouTube to see what oth­er bits of cyn­i­cal com­men­tary I could find, I found that the group which cre­at­ed this lit­tle gem, The Richter Scales, has been busy singing their unique sharp com­men­tary for a while. Check out this equal­ly fun­ny piece (which hasn’t quite gone viral—34,000 views since September) about the sub-prime debt melt-down:

This par­tic­u­lar one strikes a chord (sor­ry :-)) be­cause the song on which it is based, “There’s a Fine, Fine Line (Between Love and a Waste of Time)” from Avenue Q, was writ­ten by my friend and col­lege class­mate, Bobby Lopez, who just might just be the youngest com­poser to win a Tony Award for best score, which he and col­lab­o­ra­tor Jeff Marx shared in 2004 for Avenue Q. The world is, in­deed small.

And it gets small­er.

With a lit­tle more pok­ing, I dis­cov­ered that The Richter Scales are based right here in San Francisco. They’re quite the mot­ley crew of for­mer a cap­pel­la singers from var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties. Naturally, since my al­ma mater has some­thing of an a cap­pel­la “prob­lem” (15 singing groups on one cam­pus will do that), I fig­ured I might find a few, and, sure enough, there’s friend Nils Erdmann, a year ahead of me and a mem­ber of the elite Senior mens group the Yale Whiffenpoofs. A cap­pel­la singing was may­be the high­light of my un­der­grad­u­ate ex­pe­ri­ence, and my group, Out of the Blue, is still go­ing strong—some would say stronger, now that that my voice is but a dis­tant memory!—and cel­e­brat­ing its 20th Anniversary this year. With some 200 or so alum­ni, there will be a run on hotel rooms in New Haven for the event….)

And now it comes full cir­cle: A cap­pel­la singing seems to be some­what ad­dic­tive for those of us who in­dulged in it in col­lege, and just the oth­er night, an old friend from school asked me if I’d sing back­ground on a project her band was work­ing on. Little did I know the ev­i­dence would be caught on tape—complete with a street-side ser­e­nade and the re­sul­tant re­ac­tion from our Mission crowd:

And now for the clincher: The Richter Scales have quite the sense of hu­mor (as wit­ness their great “I Hate A Cappella”), but they’re even tougher on the Tech in­dus­try. Earlier this year, they were nom­i­nat­ed for a CARA award (by CASA, the Contemporary A capel­la Society of America, who else?) for “I’ve Got Mail”.

Enjoy.**If the Grinch lets you.**

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