Valentine’s Day is here again, which means it is time for another holiday showered with often unwanted and cliché gifts from loved ones.
However, instead of sending the usual box of chocolates or greeting card, a more unique and interactive present is becoming increasingly popular on campus.
For the past few weeks, orders for “singing valentines” have been flooding the inboxes of Phi Mu Alpha’s singing group, The Dreamers, and The Nittany Knights Barbershop Chorus, a local State College chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The Dreamers, which is entering its 23rd year performing singing valentines to the community, have had great success in sales this year despite only performing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, instead of the entire week as they have in the past.
“It’s cheap, it’s extraordinarily romantic, it’s a bunch of really well-dressed guys, and it’s a pretty fun thing to break up your day with,” director of The Dreamers Ben Cooper said.
Students, faculty and people of the community are able to purchase the special valentines leading up to the holiday to be sung to their friends and loved ones on campus or throughout State College.
Both The Dreamers and The Nittany Knights perform the singing valentines dressed in suits and ties, typical of the classic barbershop style.
The songs that the groups serenade their audiences with are of the barbershop fashion as well, consisting mostly of 1950s doo-wop.
“Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Heart of My Heart” are popular tunes among the repertoire of The Nittany Knights, whereas The Dreamers often sing classics such as “Brown Eyed Girl” and “For the Longest Time.”
All of the songs that the groups perform are sung a cappella.
“[The Nittany Knights] sing in four-part harmony,” Bill Drosnes of The Nittany Knights said. “It sounds really pretty, so the cornier the song, the better.”
The Dreamers business manager Brian Bender said that the group sometimes gets requests for modern songs and often receives demands from buyers to help enhance the embarrassment on the receiving end.
“We often get requests to wink a lot to make them feel uncomfortable,” Bender said.
Last year, Cooper said the members of The Dreamers got down on one knee and sang to three unsuspecting young men in room 100 of the Thomas Building, which seats over 700 students.
Both groups said they ask permission of professors before making an entrance in classrooms or lecture halls, but said the professors are usually open to the intrusions.
However, not all valentines are solely given in classrooms.
The Nittany Knights have performed in on-campus locations such as the dining commons, fraternities and residence halls. They have also delivered valentines at locations such as the Allen Street Grill, 100 W College Ave., at nursing homes and even via Skype.
For most of those who sink in their seats when called upon with a message from their special someone, embarrassment abounds at first, Drosnes said.
“The initial reaction is embarrassment, but that lasts for about 20 seconds,” Drosnes said. “Then, because the music is so nice, and all the other people around are watching, the person we are singing for suddenly realizes that she is really special because no one else got one. After a minute, it turns into a great experience sometimes full of tears and smiles. It’s the highlight of the day.”
For Cooper, the best part of performing the oft-embarrassing but sweet gesture is to get out, have fun and partake in the biggest event for his group that reaches the most people.
Drosnes said being able to share his talent while bringing a smile to others is the most rewarding aspect.
“It is an amazing gift, and if more knew about it, they would opt for it over other typical gifts,” Drosnes said. “You can always go out to dinner, but the surprise of a quartet is truly special.”