Joanna Burns  returns to her A Cappella roots for this week’s music round up.         

Bear with me… If any of you know me, you might know I do a bit of a cappella at university (read, a lot of a cappella). I think it is one of these marmite things but, even if you think you hate it, have a listen to my top five a cappella tracks. It was inevitable.


SoCal VoCals – Tightrope

Since I cannot dance to save my life, this performance of ‘Tightrope’ is one of my favourite a cappella performances. The choreography is so clever but does not take away from the arrangement and the incredible soloist. This group, from the University of Southern California, have so much energy and their great vocals and dancing match this. The year this song was performed, the group went on to win the International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella (the one from Pitch Perfect), which is a very big deal in the a cappella world.


Semi-Toned – Rich Man

Having performed at competitions and the Edinburgh Fringe with them over the last four years, I have been able to watch Exeter University group Semi-Toned grow into the incredible group they are now. With ridiculously tight vocals accompanied by slick dance moves, this all-male group won the university competition, Voice Festival UK back in April. One of their songs was this mash up of Gwen Stefani’s ‘Rich Man’ and ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. They went on to make this ridiculous and hilarious video for the song, so enjoy the sweet sounds and hilarious outfits of Semi-Toned.


The Swingles – After the Storm

As the kings and queens of British a cappella, The Swingles continually produce extremely high quality a cappella. The first time I saw this group live, I was completely blown away and this is my favourite track of theirs from that set. The group have been around for over forty years and started off doing a cappella arrangements of classical pieces. While retaining this style, they also perform contemporary repertoire and this Mumford and Sons cover will make you cry and blow your mind at the same time.


Nor’easters – Jaywalk

The Nor’easters are the perfect example of the fact that American groups take a cappella to another level. With the use of microphones and the larger group size, the sound they make is incredible. Their main soloist, Sam Creighton, has a voice better than 99% of recording artists right now and this song shows that off. The group were featured on the John Legend produced TV programme ‘Sing It On’ which everyone should watch because it is hilarious and dramatic and wonderful.


The Sons of Pitches – MmmBop

If you have been watching BBC 2’s ‘Naked Choir with Gareth Malone’, you will know this Birmingham group. Having started as a university group, Sons of Pitches are now trying to break into the professional world and I have no doubt that they will succeed. This video of ‘MmmBop’ by Hanson in ten different genres encapsulates their fun, inventive style. They often do improvisation in shows including a variety of genres, which always amazes me so they channelled this skill in this video. I love them and so should you – so watch this wonderfully fun and energetic take on Hanson.



Joanna Burns