Mixed Company unites anti-romantics for ‘Love Sucks’

From disappointment with Marriage Pact to weariness over dating apps, disillusionment with finding the ever elusive concept of “love” has perhaps never felt stronger on campus. 

Stanford’s oldest all-gender a cappella group Mixed Company (Mixed Co) channeled this sentiment into their annual anti-Valentine’s Day show, “Love Sucks,” at Toyon on Saturday. Paper heart decorations emblazoned with personalized messages such as “Lucky for you I’m a vampire” and “Kiss me, cowboy” welcomed audience members into the venue. 

The performance attracted many singles and couples alike for a night of sexy lyrics and impassioned renditions of popular songs, including “Bellyache” by Billie Eilish and “The Weekend” by SZA. 

The show aimed to offer students a chance to have fun by finding solidarity in the anti-Valentine’s Day sentiment.

“‘Love Sucks’ brings the campus together with a kind of silly anti-Valentine’s Day idea, but more so in the spirit of love, sexuality and supporting the arts,” said Mixed Co alum Nicole Jehl ’23, who attended the performance Saturday. “It’s a big highlight on campus, not just among the a cappella community, but also for the greater community, which is really special.” 

“Love Sucks” doesn’t just bring together students across campus — Jehl was one of several previous Mixed Co members coming back as audience members. 

“While I was in college, I had never been more proud of something, but coming back and seeing people — both familiar and new faces — made me especially proud,” said Natalie Stiner ’23, another former Mixed Co member. “I know how much work goes into this performance and how nerve-racking it is, so just seeing everyone blossom and come to life on stage was incredible.”

Mixed Co changes the theme for every iteration of “Love Sucks,” maintaining traditions while bringing a new sense of individuality in each performance. This year, they embraced “Mixed Country,” performing songs such as “Last Name” and “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood. 

“We thought it would be fun to try country songs, but not an entire country set. Hence why we took off our pink cowboy hats after one song,” said baritone and Mixed Co performance manager Nicholas Buckovich ’26. “We’re trying to find new creative ways to switch it up every year.” 

The performers evoked strong emotions from the audience; listeners requested an encore and gave a standing ovation at the end. 

“I loved all aspects of the show — the aesthetics, the songs, performances, the artists, everything,” said audience member Luv Jawahrani ’27. “The show exceeded my expectations by 1000 percent. I want Mixed Co to have shows more often!”  

To Stiner, the event’s turnout and the audience’s appreciation were indicative of a campus-wide value in the arts. 

“I would say there’s so much excitement and commitment to art and music on this campus,” Stiner said. “Showing up for the arts and being so excited is what this event is all about.” 

According to Buckovich, Mixed Co members rehearsed together for at least seven hours each week. Beyond rehearsals, orchestrating the event also required collaboration among several planning committees. 

While an essential part of a cappella is harmonizing as a group, several songs in the performance featured solos, highlighting the voices of individual singers. One song featured all seven new members of the group.

“The Harry Styles medley was the first song that we learned all together. All the newbies have a solo in it, which is really special, and the energy is always so high for that song,” said alto Mia Grace Davis ’27. 

While Mixed Co performs popular songs, members add personal flavor by uniquely arranging all of their own music. For “Love Sucks,” Davis and tenor Zoey Hu ’24 arranged Sabrina Carpenter’s “Feather” by writing the melody before adding the harmony and a cappella vocals. 

“Being able to build something from the ground up and call it my own is very validating,” Davis said. 

As an art form that unites people from different backgrounds, a cappella offers a particularly special community to Mixed Co members. 

“It’s this beautiful art form between a huge, diverse group of people across different class years and across different studies,” Jehl said. “It’s a really cool experience to listen to all these people making this incredible art together, and celebrate and uplift each other.” 

Beyond the emotionally charged songs of “Love Sucks,” Mixed Co also offers members a space to regroup and channel passion into their music. 

“I love our community so much. Whenever we have rehearsals, I know that I can always return to such a special group, and sing and laugh with them, and just share special moments, even when my day goes really poorly,” Davis said. “It’s honestly the best thing I could ask for on campus.”