200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Crimson

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #180: Crimson

The past seven years have seen an explosion in the number and quality of a cappella groups—professional, amateur, college, and high school. Based on this rapid expansion, it can be too easy to overlook the pioneering work of groups that came before television deals and major motion pictures. One such group is Cheyenne Mountain High School Crimson.

I covered my first ICHSA shows when the Finals were still merged with ICCA Finals in one big show, and one of the positive outcomes was the opportunity to first see Crimson grace the stage in New York in 2007. The all-female group immediately stood out for, despite its small size, achieving an excellent sound and putting on a tremendous stage show. I’ve had the opportunity to see the group now and again over the decade to follow, and have been consistently pleased to see them continue to evolve while retaining these core principles of producing a clean sound and putting on a great show, not to mention evolving with the times and even releasing fully produced music videos.

Continuity of excellence is particularly difficult for scholastic groups, for which there tends to be a ton of turn over at least once every few years. Crimson has remained a group to watch out for.

I love it!

Men of Note

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #179: Men of Note

Before enterprises like The Sing-Off and Pitch Perfect launched a full-fledged explosion of a cappella at every level, there were Men of Note.

That’s not to say that Men of Note has gone anywhere—the all-male group out of Cherry Hill West High School in New Jersey is, to the best of my knowledge, still singing—but there’s a particular magic that the group achieved in the late-to-mid-2000s that still sticks with me.

These were the years when the group was a dominant force in competitive a cappella, capturing three ICHSA Championships, besides recording, and ultimately sending a contingent to The Sing-Off.

We could debate whether and how this group fits into the scheme of all-time great groups, but what I’ll always remember most about them is a unique sense of style and class—a breezy, confident, fun showmanship that made their every performance irresistible. Plenty of a cappella groups strive for intense and brooding nowadays, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but Men of Note stand out to me as evidence that a group can thrive with a lighter heart and rock-solid harmonies.

I love it!

Enormous High School Groups

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #178: Enormous High School Groups

In recent years, high school a cappella groups have inched closer and closer to their college counterparts in terms of song selection, staging, and number of group members. But there’s a history of much larger high school groups, some of which are still thriving in their local communities today.

I recall my first few ICHSA shows and seeing groups with as many a thirty to forty members on stage. Sure, the number is a little unwieldy, and can cause problems when it comes to quality control, tuning and blend, and figuring out an effective, dynamic visual presentation for so many people. Just the same, there’s a certain kind of joy that’s intrinsic to these performances and to these groups.

A cappella is a competitive medium, but particularly at the scholastic level, it should also be platform building friendships and community. The biggest groups also suggest the biggest hearts, for a mentality of helping everyone who wants to be involved find a spot, and embracing the joy of creating as one big community.

I love it!

Aca-Couples

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #177: Aca-Couples

Don’t get me wrong—intra- or inter-group aca-dating can be problematic. The theatrics of relationship spilling over into any work or performance situation runs the risk posing a distraction and throwing larger group dynamics off-kilter. Moreover, for inter-group dating, there’s the potential for jealousies or conflicts of interest that can take a toll on a relationship.

But then there are the times when it works.

As I imagine most people who take the time read a post on The A Cappella Blog might agree, investment in the a cappella world is rarely a casual pursuit. What may start as an extracurricular or a hobby so often becomes the center of so many singers’ lives. Thus, having a partner who can instantly relate to the experience of rehearsals and competition, who can speak using the same musical vocabulary, and who actively wants to hear your old group’s old album, all add up to beautiful foundation for a beautiful relationship.

I love it!

Groups With Unique Identities

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #176: Groups With Unique Identities

I’ll always remember my first trip to ICCA Finals, back in 2007. It’s a show that Noteworthy rightfully won, making a statement for all-female a cappella. A show that featured a raucous classic-rock-rooted set from The Binghamton Crosbys. It was the first time I heard a Christopher Diaz solo.

But for all of these amazing performances, one of the pieces that sticks out most was the set from Rocktavo. Yes, it was a very good set. But all the more so, it was a theatrical, imaginative set that sound like nothing else in contemporary a cappella in the year 2007.

I’m not here today to make an argument that Rocktavo was or is necessarily better than any other group competing in ICCA, but I am writing to emphasize how distinctive a set needs to be to stand out in the mind of critic ten years and over fifty competitions later.

Whether it’s song selection, sound, look, or the combination of these and far less readily labeled factors, a group with its own, unique identity stands out and stands a chance of accomplishing the kind of set that becomes the stuff of legend.

I love it!

Stages

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #175: Stages

The year was 2015, when then-Ithacappella-member Dan Purcell married his love a cappella to his passion for film making. The result was Stages, a beautifully produced five-part musical that showed a character undergo the stages of grief against a backdrop of simply stunning music from Ithacappella. The sound was simply lovely, the cinematography professional, and the storytelling appropriately subtle while still clear.

What I may love most about Stages is that it was a project that showed the potential for what a cappella can do, well beyond the bounds of live performance, studio recording, or even a traditional music video. It was an ambitious, creative endeavor, and I’d love to see more projects like it in the years ahead.

I love it!

Next Page
Crimson
Men of Note
Enormous High School Groups
Aca-Couples
Groups With Unique Identities
Stages
Pocketappella
Off-Beat Openings
The One Person Rocking Out the Hardest
The End to Controversy on the Internet
Controversy on the Internet
Improvisation
Start-Up Groups
The Diversity of Acts In a Competition
Rediscovering an Album
Bringing Alumni on Stage
Big Crescendos
Big Crescendos
Fun Encores
Soloists Who Sound Like the Original Artist
The Wall of Sound
When Someone Nails a Stevie Wonder Solo
Building a Personal Connection to a Song
Dedications
Subtle Movement
Adapting to the Audience
Adapting To The Environment
Embedded Solos
Personal Style
The Robot