Not just another a cappella article

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This is a tough article for me to write. I’ve had this idea for such a long time, but the courage that’s needed to say what I’m about to say cannot be overlooked. I’ve stirred awake night after night over this, thoughts of what writing this article says about me playing on loop in my brain. But I knew that I could no longer keep quiet about this. So, I’m going to call myself out before anyone can– I am a superfan of a cappella on this campus and I am not ashamed. I do not use these words lightly. Chances are, if you’ve ever been to any a cappella concert, you’ve seen me there. Whether it be holding up a poster for my friends on stage, cheering a little too loudly to be considered proper audience etiquette, or dancing in the back, I’ve been there. I even beatboxed with CODA at Arts Marathon this semester. So yeah, I think I have the jurisdiction to take you on this journey that we’re all about to embark on, together. Here is my not-so-humble opinion of the ten best a cappella performances that my superfan eyes and ears have ever had the pleasure of witnessing:

10. “Teach Me How To Pray” by Spelles/ “Skyfall” by Adele (Chaimonics): Something about me: I love a mashup. But what do I love more? A mashup that I didn’t even know was a mashup because it’s so cohesive. The contrast between the raspy low notes of “Teach Me How To Pray” and the angelic high notes of “Skyfall” is perfect. The soloists compliment each other, and play off of each other with the stage presence being completely encapsulating to the entire audience.

9. “Long Train Runnin’” by The Doobie Brothers (Dynamics): Unfortunately, I’ve only been blessed to hear this song once so far. But mark my words, I will be in attendance at every single Dynamics performance in hopes to hear this again. The soloist commands this song and takes it by the reins and completely makes it her own, and it is simply dynamic.

8. “Thank You” by Boyz II Men (InAcchord): Nothing brings me more joy than seeing a full a cappella group arm in arm, singing together, and WITH a full-blown beatboxing solo. Are you kidding me? What could be better than this? Oh, only the fact that it’s their alumni song. When InAcchord calls up their alumni, they’re always accepted with open arms, and my heart becomes full. Embracing one another, singing in unison as the song ends, that’s what a cappella should be about.

7. “Valerie” by The Zutons (Chaimonics): If I need some extra serotonin pulsing through my veins, please someone give me a recording of this performance in an IV. When I picture watching this, I see it as approximately 70 degrees and sunny, with a slight breeze in Parents Plaza, and everyone is having a fantastic time. It’s a fan favorite for a reason. You can see it from the smiles across the audience members, and you can see it from the smiles across the Chais on stage. It gets knocked out of the park every single time it’s performed, and I will never get tired of hearing it. 

6. “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan (InAcchord): Listening to this performance makes me want to throw a chair at the wall and scream, in a good way. I can feel the anger, I can feel the chaos. I’ve seen people with their mouths agape during the entirety of this song (me included). The pure, unfiltered heart and soul seem to stay both in the building and in my ears long after the song is over. 

5. “Midnight” by Coldplay (AcaFellas): Something about all of the AcaFellas singing a Coldplay song gets me every single time. What I love so dearly about this performance is its togetherness. When I look at the stage and see a row of flannels, all singing in perfect harmony, a tear comes to my eye. But it’s not about the flannels. It’s about the people wearing them. And I think that’s beautiful.

4. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins (Noteworthy): Now I’m no a cappella performer (obviously) but I do know a fantastic arrangement when I hear one. Collins’ song not only covers that, but simply surpasses it. The “oh lo-o-ord” little downwards step sells me this song right from the start. Every time the rest of the group matches lyrics with the soloist for parts of the performance, I’m convinced I’ve seen God. When I watch this performance, I feel like I’m walking through a dark October fog, looking for something that can never be found. It’s eerie, it’s moving and it’s incredible. 

3. “1950” by King Princess (CODA): Man oh man, I cannot wait until I get to hear CODA perform this song again. I immediately tried to Shazam this song when I heard them sing it, and consequently asked myself how I had never heard it before. What sticks out to me in this performance is how soft it is. CODA, as a group, supporting their soloist with their a cappella vocals provides this balance with the soloist that is unlike any other. The cherry on top, of course, is the last lingering note from the soloist. Truly breathtaking. 

2. “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates (AcaFellas): I think Hall & Oates was made for collegiate-level a cappella. Something about the AcaFellas gracing their audience’s ears with “Rich Girl” is just right. The sweet serenade that this performance gives its listeners is pure perfection. You know the feeling when you gulp down crisp water that’s slightly below room temperature? That’s this song. When the day comes where “Rich Girl” is hopefully revived after its soloist graduated last spring, all will be right in the world again. 

1. “Yoü and I” by Lady Gaga (Dynamics): Maybe it’s because I only had the joy of hearing this Gaga hit once. Maybe it’s because I heard it as my freshman year was ending and the lyrics “something, something about this place” made me sob. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t a dry eye on the stage as Gaga was belted through the Event Space. It was probably a combination of the three. Whatever it was, I think about this performance and this song an unhealthy amount to say the least. The raw emotion and talent that completely overtook the stage was goosebump-inducing, and I would simply do anything to watch this performance one more time. 

The emotional turmoil and struggle that went into making this list must be known. I say this wholeheartedly: I have never seen an a cappella performance that I haven’t loved. Something about it just gets me every single time. If I could, I would have every a cappella performance ever playing on loop 24/7. 

Though I very obviously have a tendency to over-exaggerate (only a little) about collegiate a cappella, I think there is something important that can be found somewhere in this article. There is so much raw talent on this campus. It speaks volumes that six different groups of students can all create a sound that is uniquely their own, and perform this sound with such vehement joy.

I get a cappella. I get the hype, I get the culture here. So call me a weird superfan, I don’t care, but I will unabashedly support the facet that creates another quirky subculture here on campus.

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Amy Swartz ‘26 is an English & creative writing and political science double major. She is a General Editorial Assistant, and is thrilled to be a part of such an amazing organization! Outside of the Weekly, you can always find her reading a new book, updating her Spotify playlists, or rewatching an episode of New Girl!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Amy, this is very brave of you to publish. To make a list so subjective and speak as if it is fact? You are rooted in your morals and your opinions and I applaud that. However, I beg you to consider your position- there is an awful lack of “No Excuses”. “Brand New You”? “Changes”? Maybe from your seat in the audience, your vision impaired you from seeing a clear truth. There are some real hits left off of this list, and I would like to know what makes you qualified enough to meditate on this truly controversial subject. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking and well written article. You are a wonderful journalist. Well wishes for your future down this path. -MH

    • Hello MH,

      It’s evident that opinions on music can be highly subjective, and I appreciate the passion you bring to the discussion. While Amy’s list may not align with your preferences, it’s essential to recognize the diverse range of opinions that exist regarding the selection of songs. Different individuals resonate with various tracks based on their personal experiences, tastes, and emotions. The list provided by Amy is just one interpretation, and it doesn’t claim to represent an absolute truth. Music, by nature, is subjective, and what one person considers a “hit” might differ from another’s perspective. Amy, like any writer or journalist, presents her viewpoint, and it’s natural for readers to have differing opinions. It’s the beauty of art that it can evoke such varied responses. While your favorites may not have been included, it doesn’t diminish their significance to you or others who hold them dear.

      Thank you for acknowledging the thought-provoking nature of the article. It’s discussions like these that contribute to the richness and diversity of musical conversations. Wishing you continued enjoyment in exploring and celebrating the music that resonates with you.

      • Jackson,

        I fear you may have ate me up. And yet, I will try to form a rebuttal.

        I appreciate the dialogue you have helped me create, and I agree with a lot of what you are saying- music and one’s opinion of it is subjective.

        However, a capella is a serious topic on this campus which can not be taken lightly, and I fear we must come to a realization that it is a topic that requires a truly informed decision. I was simply inquiring Amy’s validity in that these songs are not just music. They are renaissance. They are art. One can not just “make a ranking” of a soundscape such as the one created by the oral talents of each beatboxer, each soft alto, each angelic sop. We must recognize this “wide range of music” which you speak of as opposed to limiting our taste. I am simply encouraging Amy to elaborate on these opinions. Cite sources, take in public opinion.

        I take my ranking of a cappella quite seriously. I apologize if I come across as gauche or out of touch. Amy’s article was incredibly well written, and no doubt well informed. I simply wish to encourage and reinforce my peers to research the intricacies of an art form of a capella.

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