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USG hosts $80,000 virtual Lawnparties with headliner Jason Derulo

A screenshot of Jason Derulo's performance
A screenshot of Jason Derulo's performance

On Friday, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Social Committee hosted Lawnparties virtually, with Jason Derulo headlining and Glenna Jane Galarion ’21 opening

Viewership for the virtual event averaged around 400 at any given point in time, peaking at around 500 near the end of Derulo’s act. According to USG Social Chair Sophie Torres ’21, total viewership was “over 1,900,” not accounting for the viewing parties watching through each account.

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The concert was also available for students to watch online until 9 p.m. on Saturday.

Torres told The Daily Princetonian in an email that the members of the Social Committee “are incredibly happy about the way Lawnparties turned out.”

“I thought it was an amazing concert and that our acts, Glenna Jane and Jason Derulo, were really fantastic. I could not have asked for better performances,” Torres wrote. 

“I also want to give a shout-out to my amazing committee who helped me significantly and to everyone in USG for all of their hard work, both related to and unrelated to Lawnparties.” 

The event — streamed live on YouTube — started at 7 p.m. and lasted over an hour. Derulo’s performance itself lasted approximately 45 minutes and featured back-up dancers, a smoke machine, and digital art montages between songs. The setlist included recent hits such as “Savage Love,” which became popular on TikTok a few months ago, as well as some older fan-favorites like “Talk Dirty.” 

Galarion sang two songs for the opening performance: “Them Changes” by Thundercat and “Redbone” by Childish Gambino. The accompanying music was played by Ed Horan ’22, Christien Ayers ’23, Ewan Curtis ’23, and George Rettaliata ’21. 

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As viewers waited for Derulo, students from Vote100 — an initiative focused on inspiring undergraduates to participate in all elections for which they are eligible to vote — held a brief discussion on the importance of voting in preparation for the upcoming election. 

The USG Social Committee took several measures to make the event as interactive as possible, including hiring PUSH — a live streaming consultancy and production company — in the hopes of improving the quality of the show. 

This year, the Social Committee hosted a virtual meet-and-greet with Derulo and a few students. Viewers could tag @princetonsoccomm on their Instagram and TikTok posts to enter for a chance to win. They also ran a t-shirt giveaway benefiting Tigers for Nassau, with proceeds going to COVID-19 relief for local businesses. 

Despite the interactive elements, some students were disappointed by the performance. The criticism stemmed from earlier backlash directed at USG for spending $80,000 on the virtual event — or 42 percent of its annual budget — during the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of students criticized the $80,000 price tag during the event using YouTube’s chat feature.

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USG has maintained that rules surrounding funds already earmarked by the University prevented the Social Committee from donating the money — or from spending it on any events in future semesters.

After attending the event, Ben Guzovsky ’24 commented, “I was disappointed but not surprised. Even online, there is so much potential for an event like this to be special, but I really did just spend an hour watching Jason Derulo and three backup dancers hang around what looked like his kitchen.” 

Masha Khartchenko ’24, one of the winners of the Derulo meet-and-greet, also told the ‘Prince’ in an email that it did not live up to her expectations. 

Despite being informed that the meeting would last three minutes, “I did not get to ask him the questions I wanted to,” Khartchenko wrote. “When I joined the meeting, he said hello to us, told us to take a screenshot, and then left — a total of 10 seconds.”

Khartchenko said she had just enough time to ask him if he was going to vote, to which he responded that he was. 

She thought Lawnparties was fun, and she enjoyed hearing Galarion sing. Khartchenko, however, expressed frustration about the event’s price tag.

“It felt so wrong to hear that they are spending 80 THOUSAND dollars to hear a TikToker sing VIRTUALLY, while there are people dying because they cannot afford healthcare,” she wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ 

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