For today's Global Hit, the subject is complaints. Complaints about the weather, the neighbors, the government. All set to music. The World's Patrick Cox has more.
Tellervo Kalleinen is a Finnish video artist who lives in Helsinki. Some time ago, she and her German-born husband Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen were talking about the nature of complaints how everyone makes them and no one likes to hear them.
â€œAnd I spontaneously got excited and I said to Oliver, you know in Finnish vocabulary we have a word "vvalituskuoro" which literally means complaints choir, and you use this in the situations where you feel everybody's just complaining. And you might say "you are all like one big complaints choir." And so very quickly we got this idea that hey we should actually take this word very literally and make complaints choir.â€
Kalleinen and her husband had been offered a residency at an arts institute in Birmingham, England, and it was there that the first complaints choir was born. The artists placed ads in local papers inviting people to send in their complaints.
The choir was formed by some of the people who responded to the ads. The gripes - like the quality of the singing voices -- varied wildly, from shoddy town planning to too expensive beer. The experience convinced Kalleinen that she'd tapped into a deep-seated and universal need to complain - and to do it collectively. Next, she targeted Helsinki.
You can't get rich by working...and love doesn't last forever. Those are the opening shots of a 6-minute ode to kvetching. Helsinki eclipsed Birmingham by the sheer magnitude of its complaints.
â€œWe had thought that the maximum number of complaints we can just handle in a workshop is like 40 or something/Then we just started to get in more and more people and finally we had 90 people, and of course it was our principle not to say no for anybody, so what could we do other than try to find a bigger rehearsal space than we had thought about.â€
"We always lose to Sweden in hockey and the Eurovision Song contest" they sing. They continue, "why does no-one agree with me and why does Tram number 3 smell of pee?"
There are complaints about saunas. And there are complaints about the weather, men who snore, women who complain, TV, the dentist, sex lives - or a lack of them, and reference numbers - they're too long.
Two other places have since got in on the act, a suburb of Hamburg, Germany and St Petersburg in Russia. Kalleinen says the organizers in St Petersburg were eager but cautious.
â€œThey loved the idea, they wanted to do it there. At the same time, they were really deeply afraid nobody would show up because they told that first of all in Russia everybody are so busy just surviving that they would never take part in anything just for the sake that it might be fun or interesting. Also they said people would join the project only if they are paid , that nobody do anything for free.â€
As it turned out more than 40 people showed up to sing about rude waitresses, alcoholic plumbers and St Petersburg's famed white nights...that make it harder to see summer fireworks.
The complaints choirs have got more than a half million hits on the video website You Tube. That's spread the word...so much so that Tellervo Kalleinen is having trouble keeping up.
â€œIt seems this complaints choir concept has been taken really, really well around the world, and we are getting regularly these emails where people are either asking couldn't we come to make complaints choir project in this and that country, but also we get emails from people who say hey we would like to start our own complaints choir without you. And is this ok? We think this is great like what bigger can you great than a phenomenon that doesn't any more need you but which gives people a lot of joy and a lot of possibility for self-reflection. So right now we are just waiting what happens.â€
On the complaints choir website, there are suggestions for new choir locations - Huntsville, Alabama anyone? Pittsburg? Paris? Meantime, there are plenty enough complaints from Finland, like "My friend likes his mobile phone more than he likes me." Also, "My dreams are boring."
and perhaps best of all, "our ancestors could have picked a sunnier place to settle."