Should Mormons feel obligated to support Vocal Point in the Sing-Off?

This can apply to all sorts of reality-ish contests, but I want to focus on Vocal Point for two reasons. First, they are very, very good at what they do. I’ve yet to hear the judges say anything critical about them.

Second, they really want you to know that these clean-cut, well-dressed, physically-fit men are heterosexual. I mean really heterosexual. The kind of heterosexual that goes on “filmed for a national audience” type group dates that include belting out show tunes, while not at all looking like a polyamorous collective.

The thing is, although I like them well enough, I like other bands more. For instance, I much prefer the other group, Delilah, which features some ex-BYU students:

Actually, my favorite band is the DC-based Afro Blue, but that’s irrelevant. My point is that we often feel a need to support our fellow Mormons just because they are Mormon. Here’s another example: I have been an Atlanta Braves fan my whole darn life thanks to Dale Murphy‘s association with them in the 80s, combined with TBS’s cable ubiquity. One of my fondest teenage memories is a Braves game I attended where Murph hit a homer. This also explains my early fondness for the Celtics (Danny Ainge) and the Cowboys (Danny White).

My question is: is this a good thing? Should intra-religious loyalty trump other considerations in art (or politics)?

Finally, hat-tip to MCQ for reminding me that this show was on.


  1. Is that Will Arnett as the lead singer for Vocal Point?

    I agree, there’s a tendency to support other Mormons-especially in fields where a Mormon is a bit of a novelty or the definite minority.

  2. All other things being equal, I support the Mormons. Otherwise, they’re on their own.

  3. I was an Orioles fan. In addition to collecting Orioles-related baseball cards, I also collected the card of LDS players.

    Are you a Braves fan because of Murphy? Weren’t they also the closest thing to Florida back then?

    I usually root for the Mormon on reality shows. I think David Archulletta was the last Mormon I ever voted for,

  4. Echoing madhousewife on this one. There’s going to be some bias though if the performance is more dirty than entertaining though.

  5. Wow, that guy really does look like Will Arnett. The whole “we love kissing girls” part of their profile really seemed like overcompensation, didn’t it?

    I’d say if I feel any obligation, it’s to root against the Mormons in this case, not because I have anything against Vocal Point, but the whole idea of going on one of these singing reality shows just seems to amplify the schlockiness of Mormon pop culture. Forget Shakespeares and Miltons; it seems like we’re doomed to produce Donny Osmonds and David Archuletas.

  6. I nearly lost my testimony when I was forced to choose between two Mormons on American Idol a few years back.

  7. You’re not obligated to support them, you’re just obligated to feel bad if you don’t. It’s the Mormon way.

  8. Madhousewife: word. Scott B–awesome!

    I founded Vocal Point 20 yrs ago w/ my best friend Bob. I would hate it if you voted for Vocal Point just because they are Mormon. But… I hope you are proud of them for what they do well and for holding their standards and representing the Church well. That’s where I am.

    John C… Afro Blue is AWESOME, as is Delilah. Those 3, plus Urban Method are my favorite 4. If they need a “marketable” recording group (which they do), they cannot pick Afro Blue or Vocal Point. But we can continue to enjoy them as long as they are on the show!

  9. Nice to see you here, Dave! As for who I would vote for, if only Extempo were in the line-up…

  10. Politics is reality showish to me and I feel absolutely no desire, pressure or guilt to even lean a mormon direction.

    I like vocal point. I think they are fun and energetic and so polished…sometimes too polished for me. I like Urban method.

    I’ll show extra interest in a talented mormon, but I’d rather let the best person win.

  11. I cannot, in good conscience, support Mormons when they make it look like you have to be a dork to be Mormon. When they draw a connection between some ridiculous thing they’re doing and the fact that they’re also Mormon, that’s where I draw the line. When they say that singing in an a capella group is the most fun that nine clean-cut Mormon guys can have on stage, they’re dorkifying Mormonism. I cannot stand for that.

  12. “…they’re dorkifying Mormonism. I cannot stand for that.”

    You’re right, we don’t really need the help.

  13. As a Utah alum, I’m somewhat embarassed to admit that I became a 49ers fan because of Steve Young (I was already a celtics fan before Danny Ainge), but I remain a 49er fan because of Alex Smith! I generally do cheer for Mormons to do well when they are in the public eye for some reason. It’s almost a subconscious thing. They’re my people, and I feel a connection. I like Vocal Point, but as I said in my post at KB, they’re not my favorite group. I certainly wish them well, however, and I hope and expect that they will make it to the final three or four groups in the competition. I don’t think they’re too much dorkier than the other groups in the competition. Let’s face it, a capella is pretty much a dork-fest to begin with. Being a bunch of white guys from Provo adds to the dork factor, but not by a ton.

  14. dorkfest indeed. well said, MCQ!


  15. Russell… you are too nice. EXTEMPO did one or two songs that could have competed, but this field of competition is OFF THE HOOK. I would NEVER want to throw down with Afro Blue… I would, however, love to sing with them / collaborate / share the stage. Same with Urban Method. I hear from the set that Vocal Point and Urban Method have become the best of friends. Twitter confirms that. Very cool!

  16. Bob Ahlander says:

    Let’s make this deal: I won’t expect you to support Vocal Point just because they are Mormons, if you don’t expect me to support Glenn Beck just because he is Mormon.

  17. My usual snarkiness aside, I have put quite a bit of thought into why Mormons tend to pay attention to other Mormons in the spotlight (since that’s basically what Linescratchers exclusively does). Of course there’s just the tribal affiliation thing going, and of course our strong need to feel like we’re normal and assimilated into American culture. But I think there’s a deeper thing, too, and that is our need for people to show us it can be done. In the case of songwriters and rock bands in the church, there are a ton of very gifted musicians who would probably be quite successful in music, who simply don’t think it’s possible to be a faithful member and a touring musician. They haven’t seen anyone do it successfully. They don’t even know it’s an option. So when we hear about Mormons on the big screen, TV, or in famous bands, it kinda gives us all hope that we’re not all destined to be dentists or founders of small Utah tech startups. For our youth, I think this drive is stronger than we realize perhaps.

  18. Dave, I would think they would rather become best of friends with Delilah. Or were they already(wink)?

    John, you have me curious now: how many members of Delilah are from BYU, and which ones are they?

  19. Also, Dave, let’s do a regular thing where you give us more updates from the set. We want the real inside info, the nitty gritty dirt of the show, like who Nick Lachey is hitting on and whether any of the the contestants are chillin’ with Sara Bareilles, that kind of thing.

  20. Bob Ahlander says:

    MCQ: the two members of Delilah who are LDS are Amy Whitcomb (sings lead alot, super strong rock voice0 and Laina Walker (redhead, sings a lot of back-up). Laina is currently enrolled at BYU. Not sure if Amy has graduated or not yet.

  21. “don’t expect me to support Glenn Beck just because he is Mormon”

  22. Syphax,
    I think that there is a lot to that. It makes me wonder about how we pick and choose our role models in general. Vocal Point, wildly talented as they are, simply aren’t going to be as cool as Brandon Flowers or Low. The brand of music that they perform is, as Dave put it, staunchly uncommercial (Bieber covers aside). Do you think that the compromises necessary to make it outside the Mormon market are too great an obstacle for mainstream fame? I ask, acknowledging that plenty of Mormons (even active Mormons) have managed it.

  23. I stop watching shows once they feature a Mormon.

  24. I don’t think that Harry Reid gets a whole lotta love for being a Mormon.

  25. You need coolin’, baby, I’m not foolin’.

  26. My wife and I have a Vocal Point Album or two. But we far prefer “Inside Out”, “Octapella,” “Eclipse,” and “Voice Male” all of which are vocal groups comprised entirely of Mormons.

  27. Bob, thanks for the info. Those two are freaking awesome, as are all the members of Delilah, but I have to say that I’m glad you didn’t tell me that the two Mormons were Kendall and Ingrid. I wouldn’t have believed you.

  28. No.

  29. John C. – Well, I would vote no – “making it” doesn’t necessarily mean too many compromises to handle – based on the fact that “making it” is more vague nowadays than it ever has been. It used to be that signing to a record label was “making it,” because record labels had a lot of power with image control, tour management, distributing, etc. Now, being signed to a record label raises as many problems as it solves. Being successful as an indie musician is just as hard. So the question then becomes, what is “making it” exactly? Anyone getting into the Biz with hopes for a nebulous kind of “I want to be huge” will spent their lives full of anxiety and stress, always hoping for the next big thing around the corner. The thing that surprises most people about the music industry is that the temptations of the Biz aren’t just drugs and sex – even more spiritually destructive is the temptation to completely use people as stepping stones to achieve something that has no real concrete definition anyway. I know this because there was one time in my life when a very successful musician took an interest in me, and was buying me instruments and offering to fly me out to England to record an album, reserving spots for me at a certain record label’s New Year’s Party, etc. It turns out that a big component of his interest in me was that he wanted me to date his daughter (whom I liked a lot but was not at all attracted to). Just the offer of fame, fortune, success, etc. kinda wrecked my life for a couple months, because in my mind I knew that all I had to do was… pretend to fall in love with someone.

    I came to my senses knowing that 1) obviously that’s a horrible way to live, 2) I didn’t want to get “big” whilst losing my soul, and last but not least, 3) taking that step into the darkness wasn’t actually guaranteeing me anything. “Big” in this context is meaningless. There’s no “end of game, you win” involved. As soon as I got a few minor successes using these people as stepping stones, what would I do then?

    So, those are the compromises that can happen in the music industry. However, I only bring this up because I think the most powerful way to avoid these pitfalls is concrete goal-setting. My point here is that if a faithful member of the church makes very concrete goals for their careers – like, I want to write an album, I want to go on at least one national tour, I want to play on the same stage that I saw King’s X play on (this was mine) – and then makes concrete plans to get there, knowing that it will require time budgeting, hard work, realistic expectations, and the possibility of temptations, then I can unequivocally say that faithful Mormons can “make it.” Any attempt at shortcuts, getting something for nothing, or a poorly-defined set of goals, will lead to heartbreak for you or the people around you. So it’s very much like many other careers, this one just happens to be in the spotlight in front of thousands of people. Sorry for the long-winded response, but I have given this all quite a bit of thought.

  30. Karmen, you make a compelling argument!

  31. Scott, right. I should have waited to even read the post until I got home from work (shouldn’t be reading BCC on the job anyway!), but it’s Friday, been a long week and Vocal Point, with all their lovely sweetness and virtuous appearance just isn’t “my cup of tea” (so to speak). My argument, compelling or otherwise, is simply that no one should be supported simply because they are part of the same organization– religious, political, economical, anything. I’m not a Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, or the guy down the road fan just because we’re of the same religious persuasion. If I were interested in whatever the competition Vocal Point is participating in, I would hope that I would listen to all participants and choose whichever is best, but I’m just someone who reads/writes blogs and only have an amateur and very subjective opinion when it comes to performances such as Vocal Point. I recognize who they are because they have been on the BYU home page and that’s about as far my opinion of them goes. Besides, they look like Marriott Center ushers in their jackets, shirts and ties.

  32. Do any BCC readers read simply because the contributors have a Mormon connection?

  33. I am rooting for Don, the LDS English professor on this season of Survivor. She just won immunity for her time (we are watching it a few days late). My son yelled: “Let’s go Mormon!”

  34. I had a stake president years ago who chewed me out for suggesting that Mormons support other Mormons. “Of course we don’t!” I asked him, in follow up, why he was such a Shawn Bradley (in the middle of a terrible pro career playing in a different city) fan and why we stopped rooting for the Tampa Bucs the minute Steve Young got traded to San Francisco.

    That said, what’s Vocal Point?

    (BYU grad, TCU/Texas/Ohio State fan)

  35. Shouldn’t that be “Dawn”? And there are two Mormons on Survivor this season.

  36. I’ve really enjoyed the competition, and I love Delilah. I didn’t realize Amy Whitcomb is Mormon; what an amazing voice!

    As to the question of the title, I don’t feel obligated to support other Mormons – but, all other things being equal, I do. It’s a tie-breaker for me – like rooting for family, which is the best analogy I can articulate. If another contestant is better than someone in my family, I’ll root for that person – but, given equal ability, I’ll root for family every time.

  37. Janessa,

    Yep, it is Dawn. Thanks for catching that.

  38. Sharee Hughes says:

    A person’s religion has nothing to do with their talent. I have only watched the show once, and I thought Vocal Point was very enjoyable, but, so were some of the other groups. As far as Mormon a capella groups go, I’ll take Voice Mail any day. They are funny as well as talented

  39. “A person’s religion has nothing to do with their talent.”

    Exposure to something early and steadily, in a culture that has valued it for generations, has a lot to do with the development of talent of any kind – including academic success.

  40. Am I the only Mormon who finds male a capella unappealing?

    That said, I usually root for Mormons. I just feel like I have something in common with them. If I found out I had something in common with a different contestant (hometown, favorite food, etc) I’d feel just as inclined to vote for them. But if I feel a Mormon isn’t representing us well (like making us all look like giant dorks) I’ll root against them, passionately.

    Usually the Mormons on The Biggest Loser come off hard working and generally likable and they usually don’t make some sort of issue about their religion, so I tend to root for them.

  41. “Am I the only Mormon who finds male a capella unappealing?”

    Hardly. A capella of any sort is never going to conquer the majority and take over top 40 radio. It’s a niche interest at best, even among Mormons.

  42. Wow that first one is hawt. And yes, that guy totally looks like Will Arnett.

    Not that I’m not super impressed by them, but I’m even more impressed by whoever does their arrangements. Spectacular job on that.

  43. Yes

  44. Supporting Mormons is the only reason I read this blog.

    But dayumn, I love me some acappella. Sorry, heteros.