Many times in American history, especially the history of live television broadcasts such as the Superbowl, we have proved to know very little when it comes to singing. From Christina's most recent National Anthem flub to the incessant chanting of "U.S.A." at the World Cup, as a culture and society we don't seem to have a firm grasp on songs which could unite us as a country. Which is a shame because I totally love to sing, and so does the rest of the world.
Attend any soccer game around the globe and you'll find stands full of singing fans. The fans know every word to every song, and while most of the songs revolve around drinking or something non-soccer related, they still have the same effect of uniting and motivating the players on the field and the audience watching near and at home.
Hit up Oktoberfest and you'll find tents full of singers, albeit extremely intoxicated ones. Ask any person in those tents and they'll tell you the memorable event of the festival was not always the beer, neither was it the lederhosen nor was it the super sketchy carnival rides, but rather the sense of community, the comeradeship fostered by the songs. Nothing in the world compares to swaying arm in arm with someone you don't know, singing songs you both love.
Go to a pub in London, patrons will be singing. Head to Tokyo, and I guarantee you will end up in one of the hundreds of karaoke bars, belting out your own slightly subpar rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On."
Even China is getting its vocal groove on, and it's such a groove that Edward Wong of the New York Times reported on it. Bo Xilai, the party chief of Chongqing, is "centered on singing Communist classics... for a nationwide mobilization to celebrate the 90th anniversary." Even though political scientist Zhang Ming at Renmin University argues this new movement of singing old songs is arguably more "pink" than "red," and the songs are being used to "praise the party and party members," instead of incite violence and revolution, singing these 90-year-old classics still brings the country together. The movement allegedly began after one of the party chiefs spoke with a student who didn't know the lyrics to "Ode to the Motherland," and if that's all it took to instigate the initiation of nationwide choirs dedicated to singing American classics, true classics, like Katherine Lee Bates' "America the Beautiful," to the more modern homage, like any song by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, then young women like Christina could probably remember the lyrics to the National Anthem, drunk, sober, nervous or prepared.
Why can you leave the states and find communities of singers? Why don't we sing in America? Why don't we have awesome drinking songs? Or sports songs? Why is our "go to" chanting U.S.A.? I feel like our capabilities far exceed these three letters, like we have the potential for a more substantial show of patriotism!
WIth the rise of flashmobs, groups of dancers that plan secret dance offs in large groups of unsuspecting people, maybe it's time we start songmobs, groups of people that sing inspiring songs in large groups of unsuspecting people. If you were shopping in the Beverly Center, and from all levels of the mall could hear people singing, "She's just a small town girl, living in a lonely world," would you get your Journey on and sing back, "she took the midnight train going anywhere?" Or would you be too cool and act like people had lost their minds? A flashmob is nearly impossible to join because you have to know the dance, but if people start songmobs, we could be part of something much bigger than one single voice. We could be part of a community, we could be active participants in what makes America so rad.
I, for one, am going to start singing more, singing the songs from my childhood like Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird," and Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," because it's awesome that I'm free to sing about being free. So if you are from the "home of the brave," and you happen to see me singing this Fourth of July, at the beach, Washington Street Pier, or 3rd Street Promenade, (and not begging for change for doing so), get a little courageous and sing along.
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