Playlist of the Month: Amazing A Cappella

Pitch Perfect 2 comes out today, which, if you’ve been living in a cave since 2012, is a film franchise about competitive college a cappella groups. A cappella has had a revival of sorts since then, with shows like The Sing-Off also providing a platform for a cappella groups to score record deals.

But since we’re both nerds, we’ve appreciated good a cappella for years. In 2011, I think we both found this video by Swedish girl group Erato on our own separate Internet journeys and appropriately fangirled when we realized we were equally obsessed. And then the lovely Lennon and Maisy, pre-Nashville fame, did a cover of it and subsequently got 10 times more famous. Hey, what are you gonna do. Either way, this cover of Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend is fantastic, and is just one example of how lovely and powerful a cappella can be. In the spirit of Bechloe and Fat Amy’s return, here are some of our favorite amazing sans-instrument performances, from real life a cappella groups.

Traci’s Picks

Berklee College of Music’s Pitch Slapped – Medley

In Pitch Perfect, the Barden Bellas’ main goal is to win the national a cappella championships. This is not made up. This is a real thing that college kids do. If you went to a school that was serious about a cappella like the one I went to, you understand. The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) is what it’s called IRL, and it’s very serious. In 2014, Berklee’s Pitch Slapped won the ICCAs with this medley. In college, I went to a like, 10 hour (approximate time) college a cappella concert, and Pitch Slapped was one of the better groups. Sometimes you’ll find that not all soloists in these groups are the greatest, however every single person who sings a solo in this is amazing. Plus each arrangement is full of impressive harmonies and the transitions between songs are flawless. No wonder they won.

Duwende – Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson

Just a quick side note: I found this group about a year-ish ago online and went through all their music videos, and when compiling this playlist, I promptly forgot what the group name was and all I remembered was that they sang a lot of R&B songs and the bald lead singer was freaking hot. Through intense internet research, I finally found them, and here they are! These guys (and gal) do a bunch of great Michael Jackson covers, including this one, you know the track released after MJ died and with JT.

Hyannis Sound – Unchain My Heart by Ray Charles

When I first found out about Hyannis Sound, it was when I still lived in Boston and I went to Cape Cod to visit my friend who was there for the week with her family. I don’t remember how they found out about these boys, but apparently they’re an all-male a cappella group that tours the Cape and New England every summer with their fantastic voices. Most of them are college kids who spend their summer break singing, and it’s great because it’s basically some of the best a cappella singers in the U.S. After going to their concert, I immediately watched all the videos on YouTube I could find because I’m an insane person who fangirls over college a cappella groups. But this soloist’s voice doe *emoji of praise hands*…

Firedrill! – If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys

Speaking of fangirling… I saw Firedrill!, a Boston-based all-male a cappella group at the 20 hour long concert that I was talking about earlier (the length of said concert gets longer everytime). They closed out the concert as the ‘special guests’ and THIS GUY who is singing lead… I pretty much died when I heard this live. How am I even alive right now?

Fermata Town – Ain’t It Fun by Paramore

Hi, my friend is the girl singing Hayley Williams’ part, so, full disclosure. Good thing they’re fantastic.

University of Southern California’s SoCal VoCals – The Wire by Haim

I’m cheating because we usually only pick five songs, but it was super hard for me to narrow it down (see: Honorable Mentions). Despite the fact I still don’t understand what’s happening in this video (why are they birds, tho? oh USC film students), the vocals on the SoCal VoCals’ version of The Wire are on point and I love this arrangement. Plus, it helped them win the ICCAs this year, so if Elizabeth Banks says it’s the best, I do too.

Honorable Mentions:

Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop, Sara Bareilles and Sonos – Gravity, my boys BSB – Safest Place To Hide.

Molly’s Picks

Once – Gold

Is it cheating to include an a capella number from a Broadway musical instead of by a bona-fide a capella group? Or is it just the beautiful marriage of the two cheesiest musical forms: a capella and musical theater? Sometimes I get a huge kick out of a capella and sometimes I cannot deal with how corny it is (come on, everyone, you know it’s true). Anyway, this is refreshingly low on the “bum bums” and “shooooom” sound effects.

Sonos – White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes

What I love about Sonos: yes, they are an a capella group, but their arrangements are more reminiscent of really beautiful choral music (that is: also fairly low on the bum bums and shoooooms). This is gorgeous and if I weren’t compiling a post on a capella music, I would have to remind myself that this was even a capella.

ShireiNU A Cappella of Northwestern University – A-Punk by Vampire Weekend

Some music really lends itself to a capella performance. See, e.g.: James Taylor; anything on the doo wop spectrum. Maybe it’s because they remind me of Cape Cod and overall preppiness and so does a capella, but I’d absolutely put Vampire Weekend on that list. Music for boat shoes and GTH pants (JK I hate GTH pants).

Harvard LowKeys – Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

Again, this sounds as much like a really solid choral arrangement as it does a capella – there’s some beat boxing … can you call it beat boxing when it’s Sufjan Stevens and Harvard? … but the soprano part sounds more like a liturgical descant than a chirpy a capella “oo, oo” thing. We already told you we’re nerds, you had to know we were going to toss in things like “liturgical descant.” A pitfall of a lot of a capella groups is keeping the volume in the 9-10 range the whole time, but this group plays with the dynamics instead.

Broad Street Line – Grace Kelly

Once upon a time, when I lived on the Broad Street Line and attended Temple, I had never heard of this group. Shame on me, I totally missed out! Anyway, remember how we were all really into Mika? Let’s do that again.





Be My BFF: A Love Letter to Anna Kendrick

Of course I was aware of Anna Kendrick, mainly from Up in the Air, not Twilight (c’mon, folks). But the more TV interviews I saw of her, the more I knew we could potentially be the best of friends. Obviously I did some further research on Anna, and I made the connection that she was in Camp, one of the most niche, musical theater movies ever. In my opinion, she stole the show with her fantastic, mature version of Ladies Who Lunch. I used to listen to that version over and over again in 2003, and had no idea who she was or what was to become of her. Turns out, Anna had been on Broadway when she was only 12 years old, and had already been nominated for a Drama Desk Award AND a Tony Award!! My brain exploded. She was a theater girl?!!?  WE WERE MEANT TO BE. Then my fasination with her only began to grow, as I watched every interview, read every tweet, stalked every Instagram pic.

And that, fellow readers, is why she has a restraining order against me.

I jest. In an effort to get you all on board with the AK47 (which is her Twitter name and I just realized how awesome it was), here’s a few reasons why she is just the most awesome person ever. If you’re reading this… let’s be pals.

Accurately explaining the difference between East Coasters vs. West Coasters on Ellen

“Mysoginistic rapper Anna Kendrick has a dirty Taco Bell secret” on Conan

She already likes Azns (Per her Funny or Die sketch with real K-Pop group f(x) )

In the event you haven’t seen Pitch Perfect (do it), AK47 is an amazing singer

Like, really, really good. And living out the dream of singing with Kristin Chenoweth

Like, she’s so good, she’s playing the lead in the musical adaptation of The Last Five Years – WHICH IS ONLY MY FAVORITE MUSICAL EVER

She hangs out with the coolest people

But also wants to be friends with celebs, just like us

Laura Benanti, Broadway goddess

We have the same feels

And insecurities

And pop culture interests

And is just hilarious, in general

In short, I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And to answer your question, dough. Always dough.

The Best Moments of the MTV Movie Awards

The lovely Rebel Wilson did not disappoint on Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards, and the show had its fair share of memorable moments, including the much awaited Pitch Perfect reunion and Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt!

And while I haven’t watched Movie Awards as religiously as I used to as a teen, I wanted to take a second to remember some of the greatest MTV Movie Awards moments of the past. Ok, in full diclosure, this is basically a way for me to relive the golden era that was Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. So what.

Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise (as Len Grossman) dancing – 2010
This is just as odd as it sounds.

Jim Carrey accepting Best Male Performance – 1999
Jim got into character to receive his award. Word is still out on exactly which character it was he was getting into.

Jimmy Fallon & Kirsten Dunst co-hosting – 2005
Good lord everything about this is sooo 2005. Sorry KiKi – you tried singing. Good thing my mad J Fall was there to rescue you from sucking.

Kristen Stewart dropping her Golden Popcorn – 2010

Hilary Duff and Amanda Bynes – 2003
This clip isn’t even from the actual awards show, but it’s a reminder that as a child star, you can go either one of two ways when you grow up.

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling accept Best Kiss – 2005
Best moment in the show’s history? Probably. I will randomly think of this and rewatch it, hoping my powers will bring these two soulmates back together… I need a boyfriend.