For the uninitiated, it can be difficult to understand why people love a cappella. Heck, even for those of us who do actively enjoy it, it can be difficult to put into words why we enjoy this art form so. While we’ll never have a truly comprehensive list of everything cool about a cappella, 200 Reasons to Love A Cappella is our best attempt at assembling a list of what makes it great.
Reason #25: Hearing a Song Get Reinvented
There are a lot of different opportunities in selecting the repertoire for an a cappella group. You can lean on old favorites to please the crowd. You can do obscure stuff to really stand out and introduce your fans to something different. You can arrange what’s on the radio now to make yourself immediately relevant.
These are all valid strategies, but another one to pursue is to do what you can to really reinvent a song. It might mean switching up the gender of the soloist, or having multiple soloists. It might mean creating a choral arrangement. For really ambitious groups, it might mean really mixing up the tempo and chord structure, converting an upbeat tune to a ballad or vice-versa. Regardless, it’s taking something familiar, and truly making it your own—making it new, relevant and exciting.
This isn’t the best example, but I’ll call on a reinvention that will at least be familiar to readers. In launching its hit series Glee, the show debuted an a cappella rendering of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” This song was big in the ‘80s, had a huge revival in the mid-2000s, and had since settled back into the realm of songs that are familiar but not especially popular with a contemporary audience, who will call it overexposed (to be honest, once any pop culture phenomenon reaches Family Guy, its cool factor has probably run out).
What Glee succeeded in was making the song fresh again. With dueling male and female soloists, delivering a cappella to a national audience that was largely unfamiliar with the medium, and, OK, cheating by throwing in a few instruments, the song was reinvented and became an overnight iTunes best seller. That’s what reinvention is all about!
I love it!