Harmony and Joel Kaplan
April 2021 – Harmony Kaplan co-hosts the popular weekend radio show “Shop Girls.” In partnership with daughter Allison, the Edina senior enthusiastically reports on the latest retailer openings and bargain hunts in the Twin Cities. After COVID-19 upended life as we know it in March 2020, this resident of the Dewey Hills Neighborhood channeled her enthusiasm into an altogether new message and medium.
It began, modestly enough, as a lark to fill time in quarantine and entertain a few friends. “We were suddenly in lockdown, and I found myself playing around with a few old songs,” Harmony explained. She revamped the lyrics to those melodies, transforming some into short and catchy hygiene PSAs, and others into morale boosters with a pandemic twist.
For back-up vocals, Harmony enlisted her husband of more than 50 years. “Joel was a bit reluctant at first, but he’s been a good sport,” Harmony said.
“Well, most of the time,” Joel added.
Fans can get a good glimpse of the couple’s dynamic from their minute-long send up of the Frank Sinatra hit Love and Marriage. “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage – but if this lasts much longer, all bets are off!”
In addition to classic acts like Sinatra and the Anderson Sisters, the Kaplans have parodied Christmas songs and showtunes from Mary Poppins, Hello Dolly and Gypsy.
The unlikely but bona fide social media stars can be found on Instagram, but have their biggest audience on TikTok: 30,300 followers and nearly 335,000 likes across more than 50 videos. The Kaplans are tickled to have this following because, they freely admit, “we knew basically nothing about TikTok before this pandemic. Our 16- and 13-year-old grandchildren had to help us get started.”
Locally, KARE 11 and Fox 9 News have aired stories on Harmony and Joel (who have also embraced the nickname “Distancing Duo”), and both Gov. Tim Walz and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have tweeted about the hometown heroes.
The pair’s creative and uplifting quarantine project has also been amplified by national news personalities like David Muir and Katie Couric. In early March 2021, Muir profiled the Kaplans during ABC World News Tonight’s recurring “America Strong” segment.
Harmony and Joel say they are equally touched by the heartfelt comments that their videos have received from perfect strangers. “We’ve heard from everywhere … England, Dubai, Switzerland, you name it,” Harmony explained.
“Hardly any of them are snarky,” Joel added.
“Many are along [the lines] of ‘You don’t know how much this means to me. I’ve been crying all day, and this was the first thing that made me smile,’” Harmony said.
In an amusing contrast, “our older grandkids were excited for us at the beginning, and couldn’t believe how it was mushrooming … But, they’ve since gotten rather blasé about it!”
While the Distancing Duo of Edina do not anticipate keeping this act going indefinitely, they have not set a firm end date, either. When that time comes, though, Joel has an idea for how to cap things off.
“There’s a song I like called The Party is Over.”