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How Main Street made the biggest barbershop hit of the decade

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Main Street’s modern pop medley “These Will Be The Good Old Days Twenty Years From Now” is crushing on YouTube, with hundreds of thousands of views, and links from media outlets, social media, and blogs around the world. How did the beloved five-time medalist quartet come up with this innovative, side-splitting performance?

main_street_BIn its first week on YouTube,  your video has nearly 450,000 views from more than  225 countries around the world, and the pace continues to increase. What’s life been like for Main Street this past week?

The amount of attention and support has us both shocked and elated, not for Main Street but for the barbershop art form. When you read the countless posts, tweets and articles written about the video, there has been nothing but positive reactions about barbershop music, and what a great thing that is! When you realize the majority of these comments are from non-Barbershoppers, it feels good to know we are being viewed favorably in the public eye.

Where did your idea of using pop songs in a medley come from?

Tony DeRosa, our lead, had suggested the idea of Main Street singing pop songs in some form or another a few years ago. However we didn’t really know how to make it work for Main Street, so the idea was shelved for future consideration.

It wasn’t until earlier this year when Mike McGee (baritone) was watching a YouTube video of The Osmond Brothers singing a song on the Andy Williams show that sparked the idea. The quartet was singing a song called, “These Will Be The Good Old Days Twenty Years From Now” which contained a storyline that would be a great vehicle to theme a medley of popular music ranging from the 1980s to current day. The juxtaposition between pop music that is “cool and hip” against the stereotypical “square” barbershop quartet persona of Main Street was too good to pass up.

We presented the idea to arranger Clay Hine, who was instantly attracted to the concept. After lengthy research, we came up with more than 40 songs to be considered for the medley. Clay was able to whittle it down to eight tunes which he felt would lend themselves not only to the contest parameters, but also would be relevant to the demographic in the audience.

How long did it take you to learn the song?

The arrangement wasn’t completed until the first week of June,  about three weeks before the contest. We had to move fast to memorize not only the music, but the choreography, which was fairly complicated for quartet standards.

Mike had begun choreographing the medley before it was even completed to give us a head start. At one point, we were learning notes and polishing dance steps at the same time. However we weren’t concerned, Clay is a masterful arranger whose arrangements are creative, but also very singable. We’ve also found recording video on our iPhones and instantly uploading to YouTube is a tremendous tool helping us refine our performance and critique what does and doesn’t work.

Sometimes groups capture lightning in a bottle. Did you know you had a hit on your hands?

main_street_CInitially we were excited about the concept, however there may have been slight hesitance leading up to International because we weren’t sure if the barbershop community would recognize the songs. Fortunately, the week before contest, we sang the medley in front of the Toast of Tampa Show Chorus and also at a local church concert. The audiences were very receptive at both performances, and it helped to instill confidence within the quartet. (Note: After the contest, one Music judge said, “I didn’t recognize any of the songs, but the 7,000 people behind me were so loud, rolling with laughter I said to myself, ‘This must be funny!’”)

That same week we had a coaching session with comic genius Rick LaRosa who “plus-ed” the song with some subtle nuances, helping to focus the communication and execution of the theme to the audience. One major change that received one of the largest responses from the audience in Pittsburgh was modifying “Uptown Funk” from a boogie-groove uptune into an overly contrived barbershop ballad, bringing out our best impressions of ballad overacting in a quartet performance.

Clay Hine and Rick LaRosa are incredible artists in whose creative ideas, forward thinking and honest opinions we have the utmost trust. We are very thankful for their time and commitment to Main Street.

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