Based on the 1960’s song of the same name made famous by The Crystals, Da Doo Ron Ron provides a worthy example of an energized Decider that I’d particularly recommend if your ensemble contains strong and confident singers.
Players form a line on the edge of the stage or its equivalent. An audience member’s name (or really any word can suffice) is obtained that will serve as the inspiration and target rhyme for the song that follows. Ideally, a musician plays a lead in, although you could use a track or sing a cappella. Starting with the player positioned most stage right, improvisers take turns offering a new original rhyme in the rhythm of the song, with the third player providing three quick rhymes in a row during the song’s faster section. Each new verse continues the same AAAAA rhyme scheme until a player stalls, stumbles, repeats a prior offering or doesn’t manage a rhyme at all, at which point the audience eliminates them with a game show buzzer sound or similar. After each elimination a new name is obtained and the process continues until a single winner (or winning team) remains.
If you’re unfamiliar with the song you can check it out here on YouTube.
Players receive the name “Pete” to inspire the song. The music starts…
“I met him on a Monday and his name was Pete.”
“Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron”
“He was so suave he knocked me off my feet.”
“Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron. Yeah!”
“He kissed so sweet.
“He dressed so neat.”
“He was so discrete.”
“Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron.”
The song continues to the next verse…
“Standing by Pete’s side I felt so complete…”
“Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron…”
In addition to serving as a melodic decider, this game offers opportunities to hone rhyming, charm and story-telling skills.
Traps and Tips
1.) Clearly set the rhyme. As players (or the host) elicit new names to inspire each re-start, be sure to clearly set the rhyming expectation. In early verses it’s fine (and perhaps advisable) to shorten a more complex name (Peter to Pete) to set players up for more initial success. The first singer of the verse should clearly set this expectation with the first line of the song and end their improvised phrase with the adjusted name or nickname. As the game moves into later rounds, it can prove a playful challenge to accept multi-syllabic names, especially if you need to start eliminating players more quickly. In my current venue we’ll often use a tough name for the penultimate round and then return to a one syllable offer for the final two players so that there’s a greater chance to get a more finessed final battle!
2.) Watch the rhythm and articulation. If you are rhythmically challenged you’ll want to spend some time drilling the tempos and timing of the underlying song as this game will quickly go off the rails if players are inconsistent. Nervousness can tend to make you rush through your offer or push to the shared “Da Doo Ron Ron” refrains in a way that upends the rhythm: rely on those more musically inclined in your ensemble (and hopefully the musician if you have one) to clearly set and maintain these elements. If you struggle with the timing, err on the side of fewer words as attempting to cram effusive meanderings into the allotted time will usually spell disaster. Fewer words will also encourage stronger articulation which is another key element. Punch that final rhyme word: you’ll want to make sure the audience and fellow players can hear it to enable both enjoyment and eliminations. There can be an understandable inclination to retreat into your head a little in this game as you search for an unused rhyme, so make sure you’re giving full attention to the line endings of your fellow ensemble members too.
3.) Relish the “third person” struggle. While you could certainly break up the faster section of the song into three consecutive singers, this moment of intense challenge elevates the playfulness and danger of the game. When you land in this position, enjoy that undeniable panic. The audience will love you if you make it through with some sense of grace, and applaud you if you ultimately succumb after a valiant effort. As players are eliminated, strive to rotate who will land in this position in the next round. If I’m facilitating this game, I’ll tend to restart the song with the player in the line immediately after the person who just went out, but sometimes I’ll deliberately mix that up especially if someone keeps landing in this more difficult position or one team is over-featured in terms of remaining players.
4.) Honor the frame of the game. Audiences can prove reluctant to initially eliminate players, especially if they are particularly charming or playful, so you may need to encourage this from the stage. A player who deviously gets away with a slant rhyme, homonym or repeated word can add some spice if it happens once, but remember that the game is designed to eliminate players so ultimately you want to give the audience permission to do so. To this end, make sure you clearly set up the pertinent list of infractions when you introduce the game: stalling, stumbling, not rhyming, repeating a rhyme or getting out of rhythm are my standards. If players are delightfully but frustratingly excelling, that’s when you can also add additional rules such as no slant rhymes. Accepting eliminations with great exuberance and good will also goes a long way to empowering your audience to play along.
5.) You can play this as a non-elimination game too. I don’t see this done as often as I’d like as Da Doo Ron Ron makes a charming stand-alone musical game as well. It’s typically four verses that chart how a couple in the audience met. The game is set up with a brief interview of a willing couple where you elicit both people’s names, where or how they met, and perhaps a couple of words about each of them. Their story is then retold through song. The first verse talks about the first audience member, typically using their name or nickname as the AAAAA rhyme. The second verse follows the second person and uses their name in a BBBBB rhyme. For the third verse you construct a CCCCC verse (often using their meet location or similar as the rhyme), and you end with a DDDDD verse ruminating on their future together, ideally culminating in an apropos target rhyme set up by the first singer. If you’re playing on a four-person team, you can split up that challenging position so that the fourth player takes the third rhyme in the faster section or just let the first position rotate through the team as it will.
As players become increasingly comfortable and successful with this game you’ll want to crank up the challenge by increasing the song tempo each round (this is the down side of using a track which will make this adjustment unlikely). It also adds an exciting level of impressiveness when each rhyme also further develops a common story thread. If you’re playing this a cappella I’d strongly recommend that you put your stronger singers at the front of the line so you can start off on a firm footing, and eliminated singers should probably continue to sing the unison sections from the wings to give the song more gusto.
Connected Concept: Decider