A Cappella – No Instruments Needed

I love a cappella music. Singing it, listening to it – it really doesn’t matter. I love it either way.

I’d listened to a cappella off and on for a while (mostly Straight No Chaser), but I really started getting into it a couple years ago when my family started watching the Sing-Off.

We missed season one. Season two was wonderful, and we were hooked. Season three was even better, and I was addicted. The show was then cancelled, but it was brought back this past Christmas for a fourth season. The best parts of seasons three and four? Tight harmonies and clever arrangements.

Every episode of the Sing-Off begins with all the groups banding together for an arrangement of a popular song, which often relates to the theme of the episode. Season four started off with the groups singing a mash-up of songs by Fun. Through the season, they went on to do a party anthem mash-up and “movie night” mash-up, among others (each of these reflected that night’s theme).

Season three’s winner has made a cappella mainstream and popular (Pentatonix, anyone?). Pentatonix’s harmonies are tight, with innovative (and fun!) arrangements, and they cover some of my favorite music while still introducing me to some songs that I’ve never heard before. Some of their covers I actually prefer to the original version (“Royals,” “I Need Your Love”). And while Pentatonix won the third season and is, by far, my favorite a cappella group, so many other groups have gone through the Sing-Off that also produce quality music. 

Season three introduced rap-apella through Urban Method. Urban Method finished third in the competition but still had high-quality music. My favorite song they did? “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Other than this rendition, I have never heard a rap in the middle of that song, but it works really well!

That season, the Dartmouth Aires finished second. And, boy, could they sing. In one episode, every group created a mash-up of songs by an artist. The Aires mashed up three of Queen’s songs – “Killer Queen,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Somebody to Love.” Their lead singer’s voice was gorgeous – Michael O could sing, pouring so much emotion into the music (and he could hold notes for an insanely long time).

And that’s only season three. Season four aired this past December, and oh my gosh was it good. This season aired over the course of only a couple weeks, but those weeks were packed with a cappella and talented singers. 

This season was structured differently than the two I had previously seen. In seasons two and three, the judges determined who was going home, and that group would sing their “swan song.” But in this season at the end of each episode, the bottom two groups sang off, alternating parts in a song to determine who would stay and who would go.

Season four featured a country-pella group, a group entirely composed of high school students, ten backup singers who banded together to create a group, a Filipino-American boyband and six other groups. 

The covers produced during the Sing-Off are often my favorite version of a particular song. In this season, Ten (the group of backup singers who banded together) gave a chilling rendition of “Skyfall” during the movie night themed episode. 

The high school students were phenomenal – especially when you take into consideration that they’re still in high school. They could definitely keep up with the “big kids” with their covers of “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” and “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).”

The Filipino-American boyband had so much energy and stage presence that most of their songs were just plain fun to watch. They are the traditional boyband with typical boyband energy and dancing, but they just don’t have any instruments other than their voices (a good example of this is their cover of “One More Night”). And they can sing and sound great without any studio mixing or synth. 

And finally, Home Free introduced America to country-pella. Home Free won the competition, and they deserved it. Their vocals were smooth, with the tightest harmonies of the season. Home Free had their style, and they knew it. They were a country group, and they added that country flair to everything they sang. I was impressed with their first performance (“Cruise“), and they just kept on going up from there!

Current favorite a cappella covers
I Need Your Love” by Pentatonix
Royals” by Pentatonix
Skyfall” by Ten
I’ll Alright” by Home Free and the Filharmonic
Ring of Fire“ by Home Free

What’s your favorite genre of music? Do you listen to a cappella? If so, who’s your favorite group?

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7 thoughts on “A Cappella – No Instruments Needed

  1. Rebecca J Kochsmeier says:

    The Sing-Off is, in my opinion, the best singing competition TV show out there. It's better than The Voice, American Idol or any attempts on America's Got Talent. The Sing-Off has so much talent in one show – no clue why it's not more popular.

  2. Zack Anderson says:

    I don't know what my favorite genre of music is. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of acoustic. Also, I don't regularly listen to a capella, although I enjoy it. I do have a Straight No Chaser Christmas CD, which is fun.

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