You might’ve seen the video, but have you read the blog? Well no, you haven’t, because I have just written and posted it here.
So here’s what happened: about a month ago I had the pleasure of attending part of the Voice Festival UK London regional round, which was the first of five regional rounds in February and March, preceding the Grande Finale last saturday, again in London. So during this first regional round, I happened to be in London doing a course over the weekend and Alex (as part of the VFUK-team and holder of the @VoiceFestival twitter account) was so kind to invite me to join them as their guest.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve witnessed some of the discussion going on last week around where professional a cappella groups should be heading. (If you haven’t, CASA has posted a nice overview of all articles in the discussion. For me, the discussion already started a couple weeks earlier with Deke’s post The Next Steps.) This talk has also brought more importance to the question “What is a professional in a cappella?”, and made me think about how we label ourselves and each other.
These are my thoughts on The Big Q, as stated by Florian Städtler in his blog 6 lessons from LACF 2012. The Big Q, freely rephrased, is this:
“In a community where friendliness and camaraderie prevail, but we also seem to be living in an a cappella-bubble, separated from the mainstream, are we willing to give up on some of the friendliness in order to break through this bubble? Is it maybe even necessary to get more business-like in order to mature our way of making music, or can we break into the mainstream while keeping our warm ways of dealing with each other?
My answer to this is a resounding: The two are completely separate and do not have to influence each other at all.
The best quotes are those that don’t need many words to say it all.
” The joy of singing a cappella is
that you can just do it.”
Gracefully stolen from Annemarie Homan’s Blog about the Single Singers.
I know, it has been a few weeks since the final episode of The Sing-Off aired, but what better time to write about a Christmas Special than during the actual days of Christmas? In this episode, the competitive element was gone altogether, since Pentatonix already scooped the grand prize a week earlier. So this week it was just performances, performances, performances.
And to my great surprise, unlike the live finale, the sound of this live episode was excellent. (Maybe it were those $200K-jitters affecting the vocal cords after all?) There were quite a few unique and special performances and I’m gonna give you a selection of just four of those. But if you have the time, it’s not a bad idea to watch all of them on youtube.
Oh yeeeaaaaahhhhhhh!!! As I’m writing this, some of the best groups from all seasons are singing their hearts out during the final episode of the season, the live holiday special. (NBC gracefully waited until the Dutch sinterklaas-evening was over to air this. Very nice, NBC.) Me? I’m still happy about last week’s results. Can I just praise myself for a little bit? Do you mind? Well, this is my blog so I’ll do whatever I want and @#$% you if it bothers you!
Here’s what I posted in the second installment of my Sing-Off reporting:
Wow. Wow wow wow! We’re coming to a point in the competition where i’m starting to feel uncomfortable criticizing these groups at all. In 10 weeks, we’ve gone from a mish mash of 16 diverse groups of varying quality to four top-quality a cappella groups each with a distinct personality. Since all performances this week were excellent, I’ll jump straight to the gossip-section!
In short, the internet just blew up over the elimination of Afro-Blue. As I expected, Pentatonix and Urban Method reached the finale without any problems. The final spot had to be battled for by two fundamentally different groups: young, playful, energetic Dartmouth Aires and mature, skilled, jazzy pros Afro-Blue. After a truly impressive and emotionally charged encore by both, the Aires were allowed to stay because of them being way more consistent during the entire season. Which, I think, nobody can deny they were. If you want my outright opinion, here’s what I think happened: the elitist musician awoke in the viewer, filled with prejudice. Surely, a bunch of guys jumping around and having fun can’t be better at music than a serious group of trained jazz musicians? “Good music starts at being able to keep a stable pitch”, writes an indignant youtube-commenter. Well, I’m sorry I have to break it to ya fella, but you’re wrong. Good music starts at people wanting to hear more of it. This has always been the case and if your education has told you otherwise, I’m afraid you have been fooled.
Episode nine! We’re getting close to the end of this series and I love how the advantages of a longer season are starting to show. First off, some people are really finding themselves. (I’m talking about Urban Method’s Katie of course. I mean, wow. That’s transformation on a personal level. After watching this episode I even dreamt about her and me being romantically involved with each other. Wait, I wasn’t gonna share that! Help! Cheese. Buildings. What was I talking about?)
Right. What I really love is how the groups are learning from each other and stealing each others’ tricks. While Vocal Point is usually super-smooth, they involved a very cool skipping beat in ‘Every little step’, which before was exclusive to Pentatonix’ clubbing style. Seeing Mitch (from Pentatonix) obviously loving it in the background made the entire thing even more awesome.
But Pentatonix wasn’t just watching passively how other groups were stealing their moves. They came back strong with a signature Committed-style choral breakdown followed by a little à-la-Nota samba beat in their rendition of ‘OMG’. In ‘Let’s get it on’ Avi even brought some Afro-Blue style bass licks. Just fun stuff all around, noticing these little things really gives the show more depth.
Yes, I have failed! This is the first blog I didn’t manage to churn out before the airing of the next episode, and I feel bad about it. But man, have I been sick last week. Or rather, exhausted to a point where I found myself in bed for almost a week, for several days not being able to talk at all. Let me tell you, that is one weird experience. And frustrating, above all.
And while we’re on the topic of not discussing this particular episode, let’s throw in some gossip. As you might know, I’ve been a huge fan of Pentatonix ever since they opened their mouths on the show. As such I’ve been following them on twitter and am noticing something weird: the three founders of the group are doing quite a few performances at the moment just with the three of them. As I recently learned, bassist Avi and beatboxer Kevin were added to the group just because five members was the minimum required. They were doing their first performances as a five person group on The Sing-Off, which seems completely crazy to me, considering how tight that was.
Anyhow, just the other three are doing a lot of appearances on radio shows, at schools, and even posting thank you-messages just by the three of them, stating that their buddies are out of town. Which may be true, but may or may not be the reason why they are not participating. Does this mean they were eliminated during the taping last summer, and decided to continue in their original formation? (And for the sake of the show can’t tell anybody yet?) Or am I being delusional here? What do you think?
All I’m trying to say is: these guys better not be kicked off ’cause they’re too amazing to not be in the big finale, and they better not leave Avi and Kevin behind because the five of them are too amazing to break up. That being said, here’s what I thought of the actual episode.
This is the first time I’m writing about one of the enormous opening-tunes. There’s a reason for that. I don’t know if anything has changed in the mixing and choreographing of these numbers but they seem a little more bland than previous years. But wait, I am not here to moan, I’m here to give you highlights. And this week’s opening number was an obvious highlight.
This video appears in:The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 4 – Highlights
A cappella to me means authenticity. You can't hide while you're singing. Your emotions will always resonate in your voice, in your body. Whether you like it or not, you're basically naked.
This, to me, makes a-cappella the most beautiful artform of them all. On this site you'll find reports of my own a-cappella endeavors, as well as blogs on what's happening in a cappella-land.
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