Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Destiny's Child Gets an A Capella Makeover

All right folks, it's June, the best month of the year! I have one heck of a month in the works for you, too, so make sure your bookmark is set properly and keep stopping by regularly to catch all the excitement as it unfolds. But rather than pounce in without looking and charge on through gracelessly, I thought I'd start off with a song for the day that provides a fun change of pace while remaining entirely relevant.

As loath as I am to admit it, I found myself this Saturday sitting in an auditorium on the campus of that other school across town, also known as ucla (Bruins are either too good for or unable to recognize capital letters), where my brother was singing in his final concert with the co-ed acappella choir The Scattertones. For those who don't know, acappella choirs are popular, typically student-run groups of singers primarily at colleges and universities nationwide who perform re-imagined, ingeniously arranged, and completely instrument-free renditions of songs either popular in themselves or originally performed by popular artists. The annual division championships of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs) routinely sell out theaters and concert halls in a way probably rivaled only by Yo-Yo Ma or a former President, and these musical institutions of the college experience almost always manage at least to bring excitement and joy to all within earshot.

UCLA Random Voices 2009-10
Opening for the Scattertones was another group of song-happy Bruins, the all-female Random Voices. Since my aforementioned brother just happens to be going steady with one of the outgoing members of this girl group, I had already had the pleasure of hearing the recent studio cut of Random Voices' second and final song of the brief opening set, which they had performed for the university's big "Spring Sing" competition earlier this term.

Any fan of the pioneering R&B girl group Destiny's Child would get an easy kick out of a well-arranged and well-performed acappella medley of several of the group's early hits, including "Say My Name," "Bills, Bills, Bills," "Jumpin' Jumpin'," and "Survivor" (whut?). But even the neutral onlooker would have a hard time not bouncing to the effervescent beat of the solid arrangement, from its love affair with the alto line, team efforts from all parts on backup and accompaniment duty (most impressive on "Survivor"), and some seamless and clever segues between songs (I especially admire the sliding chords that guide "Bills, Bills, Bills" into "Jumpin' Jumpin'")?

 NOT the UCLA Random Voices

In a group with, at my estimate, but one black member (the soloist on "Say My Name," natch), you have to admire the tenacity of these mostly white and Asian gals as they convincingly tap into their ghetto sides for this enjoyable acappella romp (bolstered in its studio recording by some healthy but not obviously false bass line assistance). Whut?

"Keep On Survivin' (Destiny's Child Medley)"
UCLA Random Voices
UCLA Spring Sing 2010

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