Woe Is Me! “My Close Friend Randomly Starts Singing in Social Situations. It’s so Awkward. What Do I Do?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“My close friend starts singing in social situations. She’s a good singer, and I think she seeks validation for it — but it’s a constant thing and it gets annoying. I don’t want to hear live music anywhere and everywhere I go, especially if I’m supposed to clap or show appreciation every time it happens. I don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her to shut up. What do I do?”
— Make It Stop
SM: Dear Make It Stop, I guess you don’t love your friend like a love song, because now you’ve got bad blood, though she doesn’t know it just yet. If these amazing and also awful references aren’t enough of an indication, this is me saying it out loud and clear — I AM your friend. Not only do I sing loudly (especially when it’s uncalled for), I also send appropriate (read — inappropriate) musical WhatsApp voice notes when an apt friend emergency presents itself (anyone who’s in a friendship LDR will get this, I hope). The only difference is I don’t do it for validation.
But from your woe, it seems like you’re not sure if your friend does this for validation or not. So, I suggest, that every time she starts singing, you join her. If she’s doing this for attention and appreciation for her singing skills, your joining in will annoy her. This means she’ll either stop singing altogether because you keep stealing her glory, or she’ll confront you and ask you not to join in, in which case you tell her how you feel, and reach a mutual non-singing agreement. However, if you join in and she seems to enjoy it even more when you sing along, then it was never about the validation. It was about love for music. And love for life itself. Though La La Land did not deserve that Oscar nom, living your life like it’s a musical deserves your dedication. So sing. Sing like no one’s listening. Sing because it’s the dark times. And sing, because — to quote Shah Rukh Khan from yet another film where he was an asshole but an asshole who makes you cry when he dies — ‘kya pata kal ho na ho?’
LG: Dear Make It Stop — I need more info. Is your friend singing along to whatever music is playing? Because if so, omg, I’m that person. Fwiw, it’s not about validation; I genuinely have to sing to get the music out of my head, otherwise, it becomes super distracting — like a monologue in a different language going on in the background. Sometimes I can tune it out; sometimes I can just appreciate the internal monologue with the external music, and sometimes I have to engage with the monologue (sing). I fully recognize the latter can be super annoying to others — and I try to ask if my singing is bothering people and offer to stop.
Or, are you saying your friend isn’t singing along to anything but starts her own impromptu a capella concerts? If the latter … yikes. That’s … a decision. (Brave, in its way; performance scares me.) Since you seem to care about her feelings, I suggest sensitive obfuscation. Like, after she sings one song, say something like, “That was lovely. It’s put me in the mood for music! Shall we turn something on?” Then, put on some music. If she sings along, you can turn up the volume so you hear more Ariana than an amateur. Hopefully, she’ll eventually get the hint, in a way that doesn’t deny her the validation she needs.
PP: I thought super hard about your woe, Make It Stop, and everything I want to suggest seems actually undoable since it’s a dear friend whose feelings matter to you, even if her singing doesn’t. I mean, unless she’s the kind who can take a playful taunt and still get it, this is a very sticky situation.
So, here’s what I would do in your case: walk away when she starts singing at parties, talk to other people, have a drink. If you’re alone with her and she starts singing, maybe tell her your head’s been hurting since the morning that day, or that you suddenly remembered this one thing you’ve been meaning to ask her (and then just change the topic)…or when she starts singing, you could go like “oh my godddddd, I heard the best cover/saw the best dance routine to this song. LET’S PLAY IT!” I don’t know, Make It Stop. This column was slowly making me believe as if I was actually qualified to give advice, but your woe — your woe has brought me down to earth.
AM: Hi, Make It Stop, maybe, the next time you’re sitting with your close friend, just bring up a random incident about someone else showcasing a talent everywhere this person goes. For instance, talk about how this friend likes to rap and starts rapping at gatherings and parties. Say it was fun initially, but lately, she reminds you of a child who’s asked to recite ABCD in front of guests just because they want attention and people to praise them. I think this is a subtle way to slip it in, and I’m sure your friend will get it.
ADT: Dear Make It Stop, I know you’re here for advice, but all I can ask you to do is PLEASE sing louder, louder enough to have a singing-face off, like a Step Up, but for music. I also need you to record this and send it to us. This is for research, science and a friend. Please.