ICCA quarterfinals are done. Over the next three weekends, a cappella fans across the US are going to be treated to a series of six ICCA semifinals, the winners of which will progress to the ICCA Finals in New York City. But which semifinalists are the best? Which groups have the best shot at Finals? Of winning the entire tournament? In this special feature, I’m taking my shot at predicting the top 35 groups remaining in the ICCA tournament.
In the interest of full disclosure, there are many groups in the tournament I have not seen live this year, and there are some I have not even seen video of. The rankings are based on a combination of my experiences with the groups, the groups’ past track records, word of mouth, quarterfinal scores, and a healthy dose my personal opinion and intuition. This is not a scientific process, and is intended for entertainment purposes. Please feel free to chime in with your own rankings on Facebook and Twitter (@acappellablog).
1. The Northeastern University Nor’easters The Nor’easters are quite arguably the most accomplished group not to appear at ICCA Finals in recent years. Persistence just might pay. Fresh off a huge victory in the collegiate competition at SoJam X, The Nor’easters and their diverse, at time monstrous sound, look poised to emerge from a revamped Northeast region for their first run at Finals. With so few recent finalists left in the tournament, they have every chance of going all the way.
2. The UCLA ScatterTones Look at the facts: 1) in the past six years, only one group has topped The SoCal VoCals in ICCA competition—The Scattertones, and 2) the only group that could top The Scattertones in competition last year was… The SoCal VoCals, who entered Finals through the backdoor and became the first Wild Card group to win it all. With The ScatterTones’ top LA rivals not competing this year, after finishing first among college groups at the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival scholastic competition this February, and winning their ICCA quarterfinal, The ScatterTones are making a serious claim to being the most dangerous group in the tournament right now.
3. The Florida State University AcaBelles The AcaBelles and their hard-hitting, seamless sets have become a veritable institution in the ICCA South, and a perennial threat for Finals. The group aims for its third Finals berth in six years, after narrowly missing the cut last year. Could this mark the first time since 2007 that an all-female group wins the whole tournament? This is not a group to sleep on.
4. University of Oregon Divisi Speaking of all-female powerhouses, how about (arguably) the original one of the modern era in ICCA? Not to get overly sentimental about it, but how cool would it be for the group that indirectly inspired Pitch Perfect’s Bellas to win its first ICCA championship in the same year their fictional counterparts brought a cappella to the silver screen? Stranger things have happened. After winning their quarterfinal, Divisi may have just enough momentum on their side to carry them all the way back to New York this April.
5. Emory University Dooley Noted Dooley Noted edged out The AcaBelles at the Clemson University quarterfinal this year in a set rich with complex arrangements and killer soloists. A new force may be rising in the ICCA South.