Like The Dark Knight, Be the Hero A Cappella Deserves

Not So Different

Life is full of lessons to be learned. When we’re thinking about how to best lead, promote, sing, or otherwise operate within the context of an a cappella group, it’s worth looking beyond the realm of a cappella itself to what other walks of life can teach us. In honor of its sequel’s much-anticipated release next weekend, in this edition we take a look at what you’re a cappella group can learn from The Dark Knight.

In the iconic closing moments of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Jim Gordon labels Batman “the hero Gotham deserves, but not one it needs right now.” In so doing, the character encapsulates Nolan’s vision of the super hero in an era when society refuses to cheer any one idol, and an era in which rallying against an idea or an entity is a surer route to unity than gathering support in favor of anything will ever be.

And what of Batman? Is he still a hero if people fear him, hunt him, and curse his name?

While interpretations may vary, my read on this imagining of Batman is that he is a hero if for no greater reason than because he perseveres and gives a city what it wants and needs with no regard for what he, himself deserves.

Collegiate a cappella has seen its share of dark knights. It’s University of Chicago Voices in Your Head, who, in spring 2012, delivered a level of artistry and drama hitherto unseen in a cappella. It’s The Vanderbilt University Melodores who dared to reinvent a cappella as a hip-hop-alt-rock genre unto itself in 2011. It’s GQ, out of Towson University, appropriating the best threads of barbershop, contemporary a cappella, and choral music to create something new and awe-inspiring over the past year.

A cappella is waiting for its next guardian. But guardians in this realm are not the ones who maintain the status quo or sing quietly. They’re the ones who push boundaries and force the genre into relevance by trying out bold new approaches to music, bringing their sound to new audiences and, in general, delivering not the sound that anyone is calling for, but rather the sound that the a cappella community deserves.

Consider this article your bat signal. Heroes, heed the call.