A friend on my Facebook filmed herself involved in a strange ritual involving a plastic cup and some clapping. I watched it several times and then posted a comment to ask what it was all about.
It turned out, in order to understand, that I should have had my volume playing while I was watching, but also I needed to know the cultural back story. The song my friend was singing was related to a film, Pitch Perfect.
In the film they sing what has become known as ‘The Cup Song’.
It appears that this song is quite a trend – or I assume – was a trend. The film was made in 2012. Looking on YouTube there are loads of examples of girls doing the song – to different levels of expertise of course. This is my personal favourite:
The singing is superb. But it’s in the kitchen so has the charm of the amateur – something I love about YouTube.
And here is a tutorial (also in a kitchen):
(Maybe kitchens are a theme – the cup song maybe requires it. Sorry but I will not watch the whole film just to check).
Again, there are loads of these tutorials. Which I assume it is better to watch on slow and repeatedly. It seems the girls are all looking at each other’s videos; choosing to make one’s own is about social participation, joining in the action, parallel play on a global scale. There is a sense of this game playing involving participants across the life span. I think it’s wonderful!
It reminded me of my school days, when the girls would pass on songs and clapping routines in the playground. I used to love doing them. I especially loved doing them in big groups all together, singing really loudly. For some reason our teachers sometimes shook their heads at the dances that might go with our songs. Maybe they were a bit precocious – I remember one song referring to Dinah Dors!. (You can imagine the actions!)
But I love that this tradition goes on, partly with the aid of digital technology. It’s all been written about already by Jackie Marsh and Julia Bishop.
I think this playing online shows people interacting with those they already know – making films together – as well as with people they don’t know – the invisible audience and commenters. When I was a kid we performed sometimes for our teachers, sometimes parents. We taught the songs to each other – but mainly we just liked singing and clapping together. It was quite a physical way of showing friendship.