To quote my friend Rachel’s blog, I’m probably the last person on the planet to discover the PS 22 Chorus, but the wonder of the internets is that Target doesn’t run out of the great new toys. If you haven’t watched these incredibly talented fifth graders singing songs like Eye of the Tiger, Don’t Stop Believing, Just Dance and Viva La Vida, you are missing a chance at joy.
Part of what I love about the videos is the pure quality of the singing: strong voices, great harmonies, impressive attention to rhythm. But the other great part is the spirit. The kids are hilariously ironic, and yet, still sincere and sweet. Check out the moody chest-clutching during “Viva la Vida!” The unselfconscious swaying during “Don’t Stop Believing.”
It’s as though Greg Breinberg, the chorus director who should be offered a MacArthur Genius Grant any day now, told the kids, “All right, this is old white folks’ music, and one thing we love about the old white folks is that they like to feel emotions deeply. So everyone, put your hands on your hearts. Now scrunch down your eyebrows. Now nod as if to say, ‘Dude.’ Yeah. Can you do that? Oh, Srivasti–awesome! D’Angelo–your sway rules! Tanika–I love the closed eyes!”
But the kids aren’t making fun–they’re totally into it. I’ve thought all this time that the sweet-spot of kidland was the seventh grade classroom—from the teacher’s point of view that is (it’s often inferno for the kids.) The kids want to please, laugh at your jokes, and can take sarcasm, which can be a necessary buffer to venting actual frustration. But maybe Eden is waiting for me two doors down, in the fifth grade homeroom, where they’d flinch at my sarcasm but offer something so much sweeter.