The ACB Cool 100: Apologies, Explanations, Lessons Learned, and Gratitude

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For the past two weeks, we’ve been running The Cool 100, a countdown of cool people in a cappella. The feature generated a lot of responses—many of them appreciative, some of them corrective, and a few down right condemnatory. Breaking from our normal format, I’d like to take today’s post to “clean up after” the Cool 100, after which we probably won’t speak of the list again.

I came up with the Cool 100 with the intention of celebrating 100 people who don't ordinarily get their just due. Almost no one in a cappella gets as much recognition as he or she deserves, and that’s particularly true of the individuals who generally go nameless in favor the groups they sing with or the companies they work for. I thought listing individuals would shine the appropriate spotlight and that using a ranking system would make it more fun and engaging for the readers.

In my full-time job outside a cappella, I work in an administrative position for a youth program. That means that a part of my job is inevitably involves having corrective or disciplinary discussions with students. One of the recurring themes in these conversations is the difference between intent and impact. Sam thought he was roughhousing with his friend; Bill thought he was being bullied—we can’t excuse Sam’s behavior just because he says he didn’t have malicious intent. What we can do is educate him, assign the appropriate consequences, and watch to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I had good intentions when I wrote The Cool 100. That doesn’t excuse the negative impact it had on some people in the a cappella community. There were those who objected to the very concept of ranking people. There were those who were offended at their omission from the list. There were those insulted with where they ended up in the ranking. And there were those who, quite rightly, pointed that while the list acknowledged a few international figures, it had a absurdly high bias toward a cappella personalities in the US.

To all of you, the best I can do now is offer a sincere apology. I can’t guarantee I’ll never offend you again, but I can say that your feedback has been heard, loud and clear, and I’ll do my best to do better by the community for as long as I’m a part of this blog.

The A Cappella Blog is, first and foremost, a fan site. While we’ve benefited from guest posts by genuine experts like Deke Sharon, Bill Hare, and Amanda Newman, over 90 percent of our original content comes from me—an a cappella fan who never sang with an a cappella group or worked in a recording studio.

When we first started this site, it was a very good week if we got a couple hundred unique visitors to stop by. Today, I’m humbled and astonished that we have several thousand unique visitors most weeks and have a sizeable network of followers on Facebook and Twitter. With that said, I want to make it clear that this site was never supposed to be about me, but rather a platform for the fledgling a cappella media. If you spot an error on the site, please let me know. If you’d like to contribute a more expert opinion than mine, drop me a line—we’ve had over a dozen other writers come and go over the years, and they can attest that if you have an opinion or information to share about the a cappella world, we will rarely turn you away.

I want to thank all of our readers for your interest in The A Cappella Blog. And to those who choose not to read this blog, but stumble upon this post and who contribute to a cappella in any way shape or form, thank you for being a part of this vibrant, diverse, and beautiful community. I hope some folks got something out of The Cool 100. More importantly, I hope we can all put a silly and perhaps ill-conceived list behind us and move on to better things.