Seeing a Second Group Sing the Same Song—And Do It Better

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #113: Seeing a Second Group Sing the Same Song—And Do It Better

Most of us who have attended an a cappella competition have seen it happen. A group sings a song. Sings it ably. Makes an impression.

Some time passes.

Another group starts its set, and with those opening chords, some eyes roll, heads turn, smiles cross lips. There may be laughter. There may be groans. The occasional collective “ooh” that materializes when a crowd recognizes a throwdown.

In short, the group is singing the same song as a group that came before it.

Whether it’s “Hide and Seek,” “Viva La Vida,” “Too Close,” or “Some Nights,” certain years see certain songs emerge as the darlings of the a cappella world. It can be an awkward development or an annoyance.

But sometimes, the second group does something to make the audience take notice. Cleaner vocals. A creative arrangement. Staging that makes everyone in the auditorium take notice.

A second, better performance of the same song highlights some of what’s most appealing about a cappella. In an art form dominated by cover songs, great groups make the music their own, improve upon it and give us all something special to remember.

I love it! 

Beyonce medley

Tuesday Tubin'

This week, we present The NYU Mixtapes’ Beyonce medley.

Ireland’s A Cappella Competition

Event Reviews

This post was written by Leanne Fitzgerald, Mezzo Soprano with Ardú Vocal Ensemble, hosts of Ireland’s A Cappella Competition 2016.

A cappella music is one of the fastest growing forms of music performance in the world and this August the first A Cappella Competition was held in Dublin, Ireland.

Ireland’s A Cappella Competition is the brainchild of Ardú Vocal Ensemble, a mixed a cappella group of six singers from across Ireland and the UK. Since 2014, Ardú have pioneered the genre of a cappella music in Ireland with performances across the island and even represented Ireland abroad at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, London International A Cappella Choir Competition and the London A Cappella Festival 2016.

On Wednesday, 24 August, seven Irish ensembles competed for the winning title of Ireland’s A Cappella Competition which included a customized trophy along with a free recording session at Windmill Lane Recording Studios, recorded and produced by Dublin Studio Hub.

Opening the competition with an uplifting performance were Beating Time, a ladies barbershop chorus based in County Wicklow who specialize in close harmony four­-part a cappella singing.

Following them were The Ramparts Chamber Choir, a new, young men’s barbershop group, directed by Ruaidhrí Ó Dálaigh, who won the hearts of the audience (and the audience prize) with their rendition of John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold.”

The youngest contestants on the night by a long ­shot were The Decibelles. This promising four­piece female ensemble from Dublin gave a very charming and emotive performance of the Mumford and Sons tune “Timshel.”

The Kelly Family Vocal Ensemble is made up of Frank, Rebecca, Orlaith, Emily and John Kelly, to create a unique blend of voices because of their family relationship which has been honed since the young people were children. They entertained the audience on the night with one of the best known songs in the a cappella repertoire, “The Java Jive.”

Female a cappella group Síonra sang their own very fluid arrangement of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and stunned the judges with a particularly beautiful performance of “August” by Michael McGlynn.

The Apple Blossoms are a bright and bubbly girl trio and finished the competition to rapturous applause. They performed an impressive medley, arranged by the ensemble themselves to include snippets from Fleur East’s “Sax” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” to ultimately win the competition, in addition to earning joint Best Performance honors with The Ramparts Chamber Choir.

Other highlights from the night were a guest performance by adjudicators The Key Notes and an impromptu a cappella workshop by Ardú which culminated in a mass performance of Lorde’s “Royals” with all competing ensembles and the entire audience!

Ireland has a multitude of talented singers along with brilliant composers and arrangers. The audience for modern a cappella is primed, ready and waiting and events like Ireland’s A Cappella Competition could be the beginnings of a national platform for modern a cappella singing in the future.

The One Guy Who Wants It Badder Than Anyone Else

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #112: The One Guy Who Wants It Badder Than Anyone Else

People in a cappella groups are, by their very nature, performers. Singers to be sure. Sometimes dancers. Sometimes thespians.

And then there are those people who take things one step further. When the whole group jumps in the air en route to the dub step break down, he’s the guy who jumps a little higher than everyone else. When the choreo gets most frenzied she’s the one who walks the line between show choir ready and so frenzied you think she might explode. When the group sings its most heart-wrenching ballad, he’s the guy you think could actually die of heartache before your very eyes.

Talent, precision, and planning are vital parts of an a cappella group’s success. But there’s also something to be said for sheer desire. Today, we salute the folks who want it--the competition victory, the special award, or simply to put on a really good show—a little more than the rest of us.

I love it!


Tuesday Tubin'

This week, we present Portland State University’s The Green Note performing Matt Corby’s “Brother.”

Hearing a Song You Thought No One Else Knew

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #111: Hearing a Song You Thought No One Else Knew

We all have our songs. Deep cuts from a favorite artist that only the truest fans have heard. One off tracks by obscure bands you only know because you heard them one night on the college radio station or took the time to look it up after you heard play over a montage on your favorite TV show. Such songs are special, in no small part, because you feel a sense of ownership for them, a sense of pride because you recognize that songs greatness while others don’t recognize it all.

Yes, having your song is great. But it’s even cooler when you discover other people who share your passion.

Case in point, I recall listening to the ICHSA Finals a few years back and hearing Pioneer High School Soulfege sing its take on “Iowa” by Dar Williams. A relatively niche song by a relatively niche artist. One my favorite songs from college. I rarely find another soul who knows it, but there was a group of high school kids singing it live in New York. I heard them sing and I realized I wasn’t alone.

One of the greatest powers of a cappella is for artists to take music they love and make it their own. When you hear someone else share the obscure corner of your palate, it’s a beautiful thing.

I love it!

Next Page
Seeing a Second Group Sing the Same Song—And Do It Better
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Ireland’s A Cappella Competition
The One Guy Who Wants It Badder Than Anyone Else
Hearing a Song You Thought No One Else Knew
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