ArtsWeek: a capella, for your nerded-out listening enjoyment
I think we all have something we nerd-out over. One of my weaknesses is a capella. I grew up Southern Baptist and in some ways my entire musical aesthetic is driven by the sounds of my childhood: the choir, of course, and also gospel quartets. Every Sunday I’d get up and flip to WXII for the weekly quartet show before church.
Modern a capella comes from a similar place, I think, and I can’t help my fascination with the things that the human voice can do – especially a collective of human voices. I freakin’ loved The Sing-Off, despite the fact that it was hosted by Nick Lachey and employed the utterly talentless Nicole Scherzinger as a judge and by the last season it had slaved itself to the whims of the corporate factory pop machine.
I have a pretty over-the-top playlist on Spotify, and while I don’t love everything on it, I periodically crank it up and let my nerd flag fly. So for our ArtsWeek festivities I thought I’d share it with you. First, though, here’s Home Free with “Ring of Fire.” They won season 4 of The Sing-Off, and Tim Foust was not only the best bass singer I think I’ve ever heard (and one of the best in any style or voice range), he was hands-down the best singer period that season.
Also, remember the band Sheriff? They hit #1 with the ultimate ass-grabbing slow-dance power ballad “When I’m With You” in 1989. That song, if you recall, featured lead singer Freddy Curci hitting a note at the end so high only dogs could hear it and holding it for three days.
Ever wonder what Freddy is up to these days?
And now, the playlist. Enjoy.
I also love a capella music and thought “The Sing Off” managed to run it by rewarding groups that sounded like instruments. They should have gone to Universities for their judges. I grew up Church of Christ where everything was a capella. My University ACU has a “Sing Song” contest every year and it is a capella.
I thought Folds was a good judge (although I dreaded the part in every finale when he got up on stage to ruin a song with one of the lucky acts) and while I wasn’t a B2M fan I thought Stockman was generally helpful. Scherzinger was as useful as a sack of hair and I still don’t get why anyone thinks Bareilles has any talent at all.
My preference is for voice that sound like voices, too. Pentatonix was the end of it all.
I tend to prefer the pure Gospel quartets. Like you guys said, I prefer straight voices to voices sounding like instruments. I recently saw a youtube vid of Bill Gaither, Russ Taff and 3 others doing the national anthem a capella. No autotune there, just beautiful straight voices.
When I was in the Army I went to a talent contest and there was this a capella group of 4 Black men doing Motown songs. The bass singer for that group is the best singer I’ve ever heard in my life. Full and rich and low and resonant. He undoubtedly could have had a career in music if he’d wanted.