A 27-year-old composer and music director from New York City unintentionally created an extremely long and amazing TikTok musical duet chain about grocery shopping.
There are now more than 500 duets to his original TikTok with an entire cast of grocery store characters that other people have created — but we'll get into it.
In late September, Daniel Mertzlufft posted a parody inspired by a song by Louisa Melcher about one half of a couple fighting in the aisles of a grocery store.
"Her lyric 'And we’re fighting in a grocery store / And I love you, but I don’t know if I like you anymore' just screamed modern musical theater to me," Mertzlufft told BuzzFeed News.
"I’ve had people duet my videos before, which have led to some awesome collaborations — so I wasn’t surprised when they started, but I never imagined it would take off the way it did."
After he posted his video, TikTok user @another.blonde matched his drama and sang the role of the other half of the couple fighting in this imagined grocery store. Her video went mildly viral.
Then things took off brilliantly. User @kelseyjadebacon dueted their duet by resuming the role of the child of the couple who are, as you remember, fighting in this grocery store.
"Dad?" she whimpers at Mertzlufft at the end of her TikTok.
A store employee played by @ireallylikemusica1s joined the fight/duet.
"We close at 9," she adds to the drama.
Next, user @alexengelberg dueted the bunch as a can of soup watching the drama unfold. "I'm a can of soup," he sings forlornly.
The harmonies are growing, the chorus is powerful, and the theatrics are alive. User @themichaelspencer entered the duet as "the squeaky wheel on the shopping cart." He's just squeaking and howling but somehow still seemingly on key.
Next: @stevenglukas dueted as "the automatic door with the too loud bell."
And then: @rikeygalvin is the grocery store employee who hops on the intercom.
Earlier this week, user @igorandwheezy entered the musical as the produce water mister. His performance comes in at the very last second, but it's just as effervescent.
Mertzlufft told BuzzFeed News he went through about 200 duets of his original TikTok before he realized things were getting out of hand — but in the best way.
"I really couldn’t believe it. So many creative people just hopping off of one another," he said. "My favorite part of working in the arts is collaboration, and it’s been hard to feel that in the past few months, and it was incredible to feel that again."
He's elated it's brought so much joy to people during a tenuous time nationally and politically.
"I’m just happy to have helped bring joy to people. The world is a lot to take in at the moment, and if I helped to bring joy, starting with Louisa and with every person who added duets, I’m proud to be a musical theater parody TikToker," Mertzlufft said.
(H/T: this Twitter thread by @emmaspacelynn)