The Round Table

The Round Table: The most important thing an a cappella group can do to be successful

For The Round Table, we call together a panel of strong voices from the a cappella community to weigh in on a major topic related to a cappella.

For this Round Table, we pose the question:
What is the most important thing that a collegiate a cappella group can do to be successful?

The participants for this session of The Round Table are:
Wayne Scheck, a member of Rutgers University Deep Treble.
Eric Talley, an alumnus of Appalachian State University Lost in Sound, a cappella recording producer, and the author of The A Cappella Blog’s “Recording Rant.”
Mike Chin, content manager of The A Cappella Blog.

Wayne Scheck
If I had to pick one thing an a cappella group could do to lead to success it would be networking. Creating good, solid relationships, whether it is with important business contacts or with other groups around the country, getting a groups name out there is very important. Firstly, a well-known group around campus usually leads to better attendance at concerts. These audiences are not only large, but good audiences usually add an extra dynamic to a concert. A really fired up and really excited audience can make or break an a cappella concert.

The Round Table: Where Will A Cappella Be in 5 Years?

For The Round Table, we call together a panel of strong voices from the a cappella community to weigh in on a major topic related to a cappella.

For this Round Table, we pose the question:
Given recent developments and trends, where do you see collegiate a cappella in five years?

The participants for this session of The Round Table are:
Deke Sharon, the founder and current vice president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, a past director of the Tufts Beelzebubs, and a co-founder of BOCA, the ICCA tournament and a successful professional group, The House Jacks.
Mike Scalise, production manager of The A Cappella Blog
Mike Chin, content manager of The A Cappella Blog

Deke Sharon:
This is an excellent question, asked at perhaps the perfect time, as we may well be at a significant crossroads for collegiate a cappella.

If you'd asked me this question two years ago, I'd have said "probably about where we are now, but a little bigger, maybe a few more originals, and some new studio effects."

Now, it's anyone's guess. A reality show devoted entirely to collegiate groups? The ICCA finals televised annually? The movie "Pitch Perfect" becoming the next "American Pie"? It's hard to know what will be the next big catalyst, and whatever it is, collegiate a cappella will be significantly affected.

The Round Table: What Do You Want To Hear?

For The Round Table, we call together a panel of strong voices from the a cappella community to weigh in on a major topic related to a cappella.

For this Round Table, we pose the question:
What are some songs you would you be most interested in hearing a group cover (well) in 2010 and why? What should groups be mindful of in considering these songs?

The particpants for this session of The Round Table are:
Mickey Rapkin, the author of Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory and GQ senior editor
Genevieve Chawluk, alumna of University of Rochester Vocal Point
Mike Chin, content manager of The A Cappella Blog

Mickey Rapkin:
I’m a big proponent of collegiate a cappella groups performing songs that the audience is intimately familiar with, songs their fans can name within two jeer-neers. I don’t have a lot of patience for collegiate originals, or obscure indie rock tunes. Not even your friends (or your parents) love you enough to sit through two hours of that.

A guideline: I think, too often, groups fall in love with a song, arrange it, learn it, and only then realize: Crap, none of our 16 members can actually sell that solo. Inevitably, you award the solo to the best of the worst, perform it once in concert, and then shelve the song indefinitely.

It’s a waste of (beer) time.

And so, the songs I’d want to hear in 2010, in no particular order:

1. “Rhythm Nation,” Janet Jackson
The onslaught of Michael Jackson tributes is coming. So wouldn’t a Janet retread be a nice surprise?

2. “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” Michael Jackson
Because Michael Jackson deserves every last tribute.

3. “Anna Begins,” Counting Crows
I’ve never seen a band fall so out of favor with college kids so fast. But this song is a gem.

4. “Uptight,” Stevie Wonder
Long live Motown.

5. Anything by Alanis Morissette
While reporting Pitch Perfect, I remember watching an all-female guest group perform an Alanis Morissette cover. Some girl sitting me snickered at the song choice, leaned over to her friend, and said something rude about how “tired” the song was. She literally said something like, “It sounded as if it was lifted from a late 90s BOCA album.” The truth is, don’t hate the song, hate the arrangement. I’d love to see a group go back to the Alanis oeuvre, or the Coldplay catalog, and re-arrange one of those overdone songs, making it new again. That would be progressive.