The star of the World Cup so far is undoubtedly the Vuvuzela: the plastic horn that when blown in unison with 10,000 others, sounds like an angry swarm of bees.
Broadcasters are apparently racking their brains over how to screen out the noise when showing live matches, but reports today that up to a million are being imported into Britain show the instrument must have some fans.
Naturally, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are more than ten: iVuvuzela, Vuvuzela 2010, Vuvuzela World Cup, Virtual Vuvuzela AND Virtual Vuvuzela Max, Vuvuzela Extreme and – bucking the naming trend – Annoying Football Horns.
These apps promise the full Vuvuzela experience in your iPhone, but can they possibly compete with the real thing? Thanks to an ill-advised eBay purchase when tipsy after the England match, I’ve been finding out.
Pros: They’re cheap – most are free or 59p to download. They’re also instant, with no wait for a Vuvuzela-shaped package to arrive in the post. Some are looking to add features beyond the obvious ‘blow into the mic to make a sound’ functionality too. For example, Vuvuzela World Cup – my pick from the apps – lets you pick the colours of your country, but also includes a two-player mode to battle a friend for plastic-horn-blowing supremacy. Another important pro is that they’re easy to use – check the Cons for the Real Vuvuzela for more info on that.
Cons: Well, they might have digital goodness, but they don’t give you the all-important physicality of raising your horn into the air and blatting out a sound that will have cats fleeing in terror. Also, the iPhone app isn’t quite as much fun to pass on – who wants their iPhone mic to be covered in the spittle of friends and strangers?
Pros: It’s a big coloured trumpet that makes a silly sound. What’s not to like? Plus you can dance with it and wave it in the air as an alternative to blowing – something that you might not feel as comfortable doing with your iPhone in a crowd scenario.
Meanwhile, the Vuvuzela I bought came with proper instructions too: “Simply put your lips inside the mouth piece and almost make a ‘farting’ sound. Relax your cheeks and let your lips vibrate inside the mouth piece…” It also talks about a “boogying blast”. You can’t argue with that. Also, children love a Vuvuzela. My son says it’s already his “favourite trumpet” – admittedly not hard, since he thinks any kitchen roll or toilet roll tube is a trumpet.
Cons: It’s actually bloody hard to get that relaxed cheek-vibrating farting sound to work. Which is to say my blowings so far sound less like bees, and more like wet splats. The intricacies of the real Vuvuzela clearly take time to master – and frankly, there may not be much time until the novelty wears off. Plus, ordering one online risks marking you out as an eejit in the eyes of your postman, and especially your neighbours.
You can’t beat the real thing, so they say. If you’re going to a stadium in South Africa to cheer on your team, an iPhone app won’t cut it for volume or style. Get a real Vuvuzela. But if you’re just carried away by the buzz (ho ho, literally) around these instruments and want something to show off to your mates in the pub, an app is definitely the way to go. Plus, it’ll be easier to delete when the novelty wears off (i.e. tomorrow) than disposing of a three-foot long piece of plastic…