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The A Cappella Blog

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


Proverb: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Each year, a cappella critics (myself included) and experienced audience members alike roll their eyes the same old song choices, choreography, and solos we’ve seen dozens of times over. We crave innovation, new interpretations, outright invention.

And, every now and again, we crave nostalgia.

Certain songs dominate particular years, whether it’s every group covering “Clocks,” “Viva La Vida,” or “Hide and Seek” in the late-mid-2000s, guys covering Lady Gaga at the turn of the decade, the nation’s brief love affair with “Firework,” or “Some Nights” and “Gangnam Style” getting sung to death in 2013. The cream rises to the top, and a handful of really strong groups will own these songs in their own era, while the rest simply drive the songs into the ground.

But then, something interesting can happen.

Take The Edge Effect singing its Jackson 5 medley at SingStrong 2012. We’ve all heard each component piece of the song a cappella. But we hadn’t heard it for a while, and rarely had we heard it sung that well.

There’s no secret formula for how long to wait before revisiting a once popular song choice, but there is the principle that if you wait for the wave to pass, then look through your group’s repertoire from five-to-ten years ago, you just might find some material that you can reinvent and make fresh—that the audience will welcome simply because that song choice has been missing for so long.

Want proof that this can work? Pay close attention at your next alumni show. See which songs really pop the audience, and study why. Take advantage of what your audience has been waiting to hear again.

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