Thanks to Fox’s Glee, NBC’s The Sing-Off, and the Pitch Perfect franchise, a cappella has seen a huge rise in popularity. As such, many groups have risen to YouTube, TV and radio fame. Here is a list of artists that you, if you love a cappella, absolutely need to hear.
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1. Gentleman’s Rule
Gentleman’s Rule is a seven-member male group that sings pop and R & B favorites, with a few surprises — like their versions of “Trap Queen” and “FourFiveSeconds” — as well as their own original music. “The Pachanelly Canon” is the song that put them on the map. It’s a clever mashup of Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” but “Cheerleader” is my personal favorite.
2. Voca People
Take cover! The Voca People have invaded the planet! Hailing from Planet Voca, The Voca People combine harmony and humor for humans’ delight. They’ve even traveled from their home — uh, planet? — right into New York City. Don’t let those costumes fool you. The Voca People boast imaginative vocals and ingenious arrangements. Their “Disney Medley,” had my kids entranced, but I can’t stop listening to “Treasure.”
3. Street Corner Symphony
Street Corner Symphony is unassuming. Without attention-grabbing attire or looks, each member retains his own personal style, allowing the music to speak for itself. Strong vocals make each performance a solid 10. Their takes on “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Down on the Corner” offer funky ear candy, but I love “Madness.”
4. Naturally 7
I saw Naturally 7 for the first time during Michael Bublé’s To Be Loved tour in 2014. This all-male ensemble provides the illusion of a traditional band with full vocal support. Their arrangements are innovative, their instrument vocalizations are indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts and they perform breathtaking covers and original tunes, like “Fix You.”
What can I say about Pentatonix that hasn’t already been said? The co-ed ensemble, who broke into the mainstream on NBC’s The Sing-Off, creates a sound that’s smooth, sleek and soulful. Their covers and original music have moved millions. They recently won a Grammy for their arrangement of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” and they’re versatile enough to rock everything from “Payphone” and “Born to Be Wild” to my personal favorite, “If I Ever Fall in Love,” which features Jason Derulo.
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6. Straight No Chaser
Straight No Chaser won our hearts several years ago, after a PBS performance of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” That performance launched the ensemble, who were studying at the University of Indiana towards different careers, to worldwide stardom. I love these guys so much. Jerome Collins is my favorite member — that man has some serious spunk. I find it harder to pick a favorite song, but if I must, it has to be “Creep.”
7. Home Free
Climbing to fame via NBC’s The Sing-Off, Home Free serves up country-flavored a cappella with a fantastic sense of humor. The members of this five-piece ensemble, rich in baritones and quirky sound effects, do not take themselves too seriously. If I could describe them in a word, it would be adorable. If you find yourself in a lousy mood, cue up their cover of “All About that Bass” or hear standout vocals on “Ring of Fire.” My number one Home Free recommendation is “Honey, I’m Good.”
More graduates of The Sing-Off, VoicePlay is a serious contender in the a cappella world. This five-piece ensemble from Orlando can be described as nothing less than hot. With rotating guest singers and a wide vocal range, VoicePlay always hits its mark. Their version of “Wrecking Ball,” featuring Sarah Vela, is incredible.
9. Peter Hollens “and Company”
Ever hear the term one-man band? This guy is the real deal. You can say he does his own stunts, singing up to 14 separate parts during one song. Plus, he’s fun to watch! He performs a wealth of music from both movies and Broadway shows. Check out his version of “The Hanging Tree” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingly – Part I.” It is haunting, and I can’t get “Hallelujah,” featuring Jackie Evancho, out of my head.
10. The Filharmonic
Like their talented colleagues, The Filharmonic rose to fame after The Sing-Off. These six young Filipinos are really freaking talented. “All of Me” shows their soft-as-teddies side and “Drag Me Down, Stitches, Bad Blood, Can’t Feel My Face, and Omen: Monster Mash Up” is an irresistible dance mix, but I love “Flashlight” the best.
So there you have it — enough great a cappella to fuel a whole new playlist on your iPod! Aca-awesome!
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