The idea was simple: beat two of the biggest names in music against each other on Instagram Live for a friendly head-to-head battle. Nobody would actually be declared the winner. But fans could listen to their favorite songs and fight endlessly about who had better hits.
The performances are powerful, the format is sometimes glitchy and the audience is completely hilarious. In short, it’s a good time.
And given the tragedy that is unfolding around us, Verzuz is a welcome distraction.
Here are 5 reasons why the weekly showdown is a big hit.
It is a joke machine
The cultural jokes made in real time and after the live streaming are what makes the battles of Verzuz surprising.
Viewers tune in to the talent and the songs, but above all to the comments section, where they often make fun of the artists and their performances.
“It’s like watching old people using Jitterbug phones,” tweeted singer Toni Braxton during the April battle.
“Kelly is checking if Nelly’s WiFi is okay,” Townsend tweeted.
Even the people in the comments section are not safe. Remember when singer Tyrese lit up in a typos? The singer-actor commented “throw the card” during the battle of Babyface and Teddy Riley. He probably meant “towel”, but that day automatic correction was not on his side.
“Throw in WHAT Tyrese?” one person tweeted.
“” Drop the card … “- Tyrese. Lawd I can’t,” tweeted freelance journalist Natelegé Whaley.
It takes us back in time
The songs played during the battles of Verzuz bring us all back to that moment when we either listened to the song for the first time or played it constantly on our MP3 or CD players, or even on our Walkman.
“I will never forget how gushy this song made you feel,” tweeted singer Jessie Woo during the battle of Nelly and Ludacris, referring to Nelly’s success “Dilemma”.
“Babyface’s music brings so many memories. On Saturday morning my mom was using the broom like a microphone, an old album cover for a dust pan and threatening to throw away all the toys we hadn’t come to claim”, ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson tweeted.
Even specific song lyrics led to unity during Verzuz. Many viewers were tweeting their favorite lines to hit the songs.
We see the stars interacting in real time
Of course, we all know that these stars have interacted in one way or another, but on Verzuz we can see it in real time.
Sometimes it seems to intercept a private conversation. And when they express respect and mutual admiration for mutual work, feelings come into play.
“You inspired me,” Teddy Riley told Babyface during their live streaming.
“We keep ourselves on the alert,” replied Babyface.
Of course, frank conversations reveal some of the artists’ idiosyncrasies. When Jill Scott and Erykah Badu lost track of time while streaming, Badu admitted that it wasn’t new to her.
“I don’t have a conception of time. I don’t know what that means,” Badu told Scott.
Such moments are what makes Verzuz so special.
It brings us together
Verzuz’s biggest attraction is that it looks more like a house party than a competition.
Culinary vibes attract all different types of viewers, from Snoop Dogg to Michelle Obama.
“Our First Lady is chatting!” tweeted director Jennifer Lé in April during the battle of Babyface and Teddy Riley.
Live streams have also spanned generations. Many of those who commented on the battles admitted that they were watching with an older parent or relative.
Others had to teach their parents how to use Instagram only for Verzuz’s occasion.
“I called and gave my mom a 10 minute intensive course on Instagram * only * so she could access this #Verzuz,” tweeted NBC correspondent Blayne Alexander.
And that’s the thing about Verzuz, it’s not just a Generation X or a thousand-year-old thing, it’s for everyone, in all generations, to come together. Flashbacks for some were new additions to playlists for others.
It’s a break from the coronavirus
For many fans, tuning in and singing together was a welcome distraction from the scary news on TV. It transported listeners back in time – perhaps to a better time – when life seemed easier and more carefree.
Journalist Yamiche Alcindor summed it up perfectly.
“Verzuz is literally saving the week,” he tweeted.
CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report.
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