What, you think you’re too cool for Christmas records? You’re going to like this one, and so will your grandma.
The LA-based a cappella group Sonos has just released December Songs, filled with music for the season – several originals, plus some strange and soulful covers of classics. The group’s “Ave Maria” is an especially beautiful, surprising arrangement of the hymn, which morphs from traditional madrigal to pop anthem:
Sonos stopped by Studio 360 last year and performed some of the group’s best-known work: inventive covers of pop songs, including Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.” They told Kurt that they sometimes get grief from purists (Sonos happily uses special microphones, loop pedals, and digital effects to alter the sound of their voices). But they also get major props from us for pushing the form in new directions:
It turns out that Fox’s hit musical comedy “Glee” was primetime TV’s gateway drug to a cappella. NBC’s “The Sing-Off” ended last night. Kudos to the winners aside (congrats to Nota), if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from a week of this show, it’s that matching fluorescent outfits and coordinated dance moves do no favors to a cappella music. Distracting, disturbing, and just plain da-da-da-dumb.
I get my a cappella fix from the fantastic Sonos – six singers out of LA who soup up their sound with the sly use of electronic effect pedals.
Hear their killer cover of Björk’s “Joga” live in Studio 360 earlier this year:
Seniority rules at Yale, but not entirely. The Whiffenpoofs are the century-old men’s a cappella ensemble, limited to 14 vocalists from each year’s senior class – you’ll hear them on this week’s show. But there’s a noteworthy junior who’s hot on their heels.
Tenor Sam Tsui is a featured soloist with the Duke’s Men of Yale. And he fronts another a cappella group on the side that might be even more exclusive than the Whiffs. That’s because there’s only one member of his collective. Sam’s six-part-harmony tribute to the late great Michael Jackson has been seen 1.7 million times and counting on YouTube. The performance is produced by Kurt Schneider, Sam’s Yale classmate and neighbor from his Pennsylvania hometown. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s incredible. That’s Sam at center stage singing the hook from “Thriller.” And that’s him in the red shirt singing about the kid not being his son – and in the other red shirt also.
We’ve got another dazzling Jackson interpretation on the show this weekend. The L.A.-based indie-a-cappella group Sonos visit Studio 360 to perform a classic by the Jackson 5.