So this past weekend ICCA finals were held in New York (congrats to the SoCal VoCals!). Given that, we decided it would be fun to take a gander back the first song of the set that won Vocal Point the 2nd place spot in the competition last year. The guys absolutely rocked “Beat It” and it’s definitely become a VP favorite for us.
If you want to go check out a version of this number with great audio (all the guys are mic’ed and Tanner even has his throat mic), go here and see the video from the Women’s Conference in April of 2011. Now, you may be asking, “Troi and Crusher, if that video has such good audio, why are you reviewing a different performance of ‘Beat It’?” Well, silly reader, you should know by now that when it comes to VP videos, if a certain someone happened to film it, it’s pretty darn likely we’re going to use it! So…
We want to give a huge shout-out to Papa Sterling, who has provided us (well, YouTube at large, not us specifically) with an expertly-filmed video! The ICCA videos were the ones where we could truly appreciate the man’s artistry for the first time. And for that, we’re forever grateful.
Right as we start at :02, Keith gives the audience a look, like, “Y’all ready? ‘Cause we’re about to slap you in the face with some awesomeness.”
Or maybe he was thinking about baby seals. Or keeping his balance in the upcoming lean. Or… yeah, no… it was definitely to warn the audience about the slap of awesome headed their way.
Then the guys put on their fedoras (we love these fedoras!) and go into the MJ lean. Which, this a good time to mention a fun game you can play as you introduce your friends and family to the wonder that is Vocal Point. After they’ve seen a few videos, but before they have seen enough to be completely familiar with each individual Vocal Pointer, bring them to this gem, and have them cover their eyes up until :07 when the guys have obscured their faces. Then, see how quickly your friend can pick out and identify one of the shawties. In our experience, without fail, Jake’s quality of movement gives him away by :21.
And what a quality of movement it is – he puts an almost sassy (we love sass!) spin on the move from :21-:24.
Also, as they move into the bendy section, his legs… they don’t quite bend like human legs. Watch Jake and then check out McButters beside him. (go ahead, we’ll wait) See? Completely different.
Then they shift into a new formation as the audience goes crazy for what they’re doing. While we’re sure that they’re all really naturally snappy snappers, it is kind of fun to imagine that maybe one of the guys (take your pick who) couldn’t actually snap and maybe had to go to VP snapping boot camp or something. Or maybe had to mime it? Can you imagine if that conversation came up during auditions? “Can you sing?” Yes, of course. “Dance?” You know it! “Snap your fingers?” Er, no? Oh, snap.
Next up at :31 we have this great lean-y bit where Keith’s feet are not planted the same way as everyone else’s.
Everyone else’s toes are pointing slightly stage left on the first lean, and Kevin’s are pointing almost perfectly straight ahead. Now, it doesn’t actually matter, he still manages a good lean. But, it does make him look pretty Gumby-esque.
You know who doesn’t manage quite as far of a lean the first time? McPrecious. Yep. It’s true. Check out Tanner and (gasp!) Hunsaker. Look at how far they’re leaning! Look at McNotTheLeaningTowerOfPisa. Kinda not so much. Luckily, he recovers and drops it back a little further on the second lean. Also, Keith’s feet are pointed more like everyone else’s on this lean and generally all the guys are looking pretty spot-on by this point.
Keith takes us into the verse right around :38 and he sounds just great. This is one of those examples of a singer taking a really well-known song and paying homage to it without imitating it. Keith’s not MJ, and he’s not trying to be. He’s still true to himself as a singer while showing total respect for the original. It’s a tricksy thing to pull off, but Keith does it well.
So here’s a great shot of all the guys now that we’re well into the song:
Check out how jaunty all those fedoras look! We really do love them. Now, you’ll notice that most of the guys have their fedoras pulled down low on their brows. And by “most” we mean “all but McKay.” His hat is tilted up so you can see his shining beacon of McSunshine. Guess you really can’t hide the McMoneymaker, right?
At :58 Tyler is fully committed to the choreography and gets extra low to the ground. Who does he think he is, Tanner? Droppin’ it like it’s hot like that.
The guys hit the body rolls section of the choreo at 1:04 and they all kind of add their own flavor to it. Ben keeps snapping through the first one, Tanner hops a little on the second one, and Robert and Mikey just kind of look naturally cool. Can’t quite see McButters (who put him in the back?), but the other half of the bonded pair pulls off some impressive body rolls, especially considering all of the limbs he has to wrangle.
At 1:14 Ben and Jake are together stage right – a risky choice, but they pull off the moves and we’re thoroughly impressed. These guys have come a long way from “Hip to be Square” in 2010.
The choreography at 1:25 is classic VP “Why does this look so cool?” and Keith’s legs look incredibly long. But, you know, when don’t they look long? The guy is all limbs! This bit of choreography definitely puts them to good use.
And then the bit continues with this group look into the audience:
They’re just so… cheeky. And coordinated. This may be one of our all-time favorite choreographic moments from VP. It also just goes so well with the cool vocal things they’re pulling off (“cool vocal things” is the technical term, if you didn’t know). Yup, we’re big fans of it.
Then we’re into the next verse and after some more coordinated moves, the guys break up into two groups, perhaps gearing up for a rumble. And then we totally get a “being a human is hard” Jake moment at 1:38.
Oh Jake honey, humans don’t bend and point like that.
Of course, this is followed immediately by a very powery power stance. Who was the poweriest of them all? Take a guess! 😉
And now we’ve reached the portion of the performance where the guys gear up for their second set of body rolls (at 1:42). As you can see, they all sort of gear up differently…
We know you’re wondering and nope, we won’t do it! We absolutely cannot pick a favorite part of that photo. It is ALL SO EPIC. Oh boy, it just gives us so much joy.
Anyway, all of the guys get into their body rolls in earnest, except for McKay, who kind of does a half a body roll and then not so much while heading stage left (he’s better when he’s heading back to the right). Don’t worry, McButters, Shelf People aren’t required to do body rolls. Just bell kicks. Oh wait…
As we reach the finish line (which is really just lap 1 of 4 in terms of the ICCA set) Keith hits some great falsettos as the guys finish up the choreo. Then they go for one final lean while Keith closes with some MJ moves.
And then everyone hits the ending together at 1:56. And the audience goes absolutely nuts.
Now, we’re going to stop right there, even though the Papa Sterling-shot fabulousness continues on into “It Had Better Be Tonight.” That’s a performance analysis for another day. Today is all about “Beat It.” And we don’t know about the rest of you, but we’re pretty sure that this jam is going to be stuck in our heads all day long tomorrow. As long as we can restrain ourselves from busting out the choreo we should be good. Deal? Deal.
-Troi and Crusher