Singing off pitch at work


A fellow entry-level worker (we’re the proletariat of advertising) walks into an open production room next to me, on the 10th floor. He wears an iPod earphone – and two seconds later, I hear muted but distinctly off-pitch crooning coming from the production room.

I look over to a designer who I know loves music; I’m hoping that he will look back and share my excitement about the flawed singing-along. But Chris is wearing earphones of his own. I am alone in this robotic world of enjoyment, musical ecstasy repressed under the sound of printers.

Yet, some articulation (like my colleague’s, who has left the production room and is now singing at his desk) gets out. That articulation, slow but sharp, is the rebellion that we all live for.


BFA (the band) played at Mercury Lounge last night.


My friend Michael and I, college seniors and of course a little tired of life, stood amid other young, hip listeners that looked like they appreciated Broken Bells and Crystal Castles and maybe PJ Harvey sometimes. The crowd chanted “Toddlers, Toddlers” because the Toddlers from North Carolina had just finished playing. We wondered whether Michael’s Sierra Nevada and my glass of vodka were worth our commute to downtown Manhattan on a Sunday night – neither of us were huge fans of the Lower East Side.

Then BFA came on, and it was hot in the room. I took off my jacket. We knew the guitarists and the singer were suffering under blue lights on the stage, but we bobbed our heads and swung our hips from side to side.

“This is really good,” Michael said. “Thanks for taking me here.”

You’re welcome, I told him – and yes; it was good. The guitar line was captivating. The vocals sent out the energy we needed to get through our night; the vocals paid our bills. I was grateful that the lead singer had unmistakable passion – he admitted his enthusiasm, even. Yet there was no scratching at my ears. BFA’s music had a velvety edge, and I wanted to dance.

Two songs into the act, the lead singer told us to leave if we had come to “get mellow,” to leave after the next song. I thought: slow song is coming, all right. An instrument made a short appearance; singer said the word “eighties” like he was stretching it out to dry. The next word was “night,” and then I knew that these guys had talent. They put together all five of their instruments, with the voice, into one moment, and I felt goose bumps everywhere scattering around Mercury Lounge like a pearl necklace broken on the UWS.

Forget my glass of vodka and the scorching blue lights of the Mercury Lounge. I hope these guys have their songs played atop a tower of ice. Given the right audience and the support they deserve, they would melt it all down with their drive to create.