Those of you who follow me on Twitter know my feeling about the University of Chicago Voices in Your Head ICCA set this year and the first track off of their new EP – David Guetta and SIA’s Titanium. For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter – Why not? But also, I absolutely love them. Now the second track off of the Voices in Your Head album has been released, another track from their much-acclaimed ICCA set, We Found Love by Rihanna. I’m going to take a moment this morning to talk about my favorite moments from the set, the currently released tracks, and what I hope is coming.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video of this year’s Voices in Your Head ICCA set which took home the Midwest ICCA Semifinal as well as multiple performance awards.

First, couple of notes on the performance. I’ve always been fascinated by Voices’ decision to use all available solo mics and distribute them through the sections. I’ve heard it harm them a couple times when a soprano lands on a truly soprano pitch, meant to act as an overtone, but ends up louder than the bass. Most of the time, however, the blend is remarkable considering half of the group is mic’d and the other half is under their own power. I’ve always wondered if the alto with out the mic is insulted by the choice, or just how that decision is made. Any Voices in Your Head members or insiders care to share?

The choreography in this set is some of the best I’ve seen from Voices in Your Head, and one of the few times I’ve heard non-comedic choreography get cheered in a cappella.

I am a huge fan of Chris Rishel’s arranging, and this set took my adoration one step further.

Top 3 Favorite Moments:

3) The Voices’ take on We Found Love has many great moments, from the bell tones that open the piece to the massive walls of fantastically dissonant sound built at various points in the work. The one part that I consistently click back to here again and again is the final break down before Titanium. The men singing to the women “Let it go!” and the women echoing the title lyric, plus the addition of vocal percussion for the first time in the set is very effective and feels like it should have been in the original. I also love the progression that leads into this section. Really, I loved all of We Found Love.

2) I mentioned earlier in this post that this choreography for me was some of the best I’ve seen from Voices. I’ll take that one step further and say that it’s some of the best I’ve seen period. I’m at a loss to find many other ICCA sets that were on the level of this. We Found Love has this fantastic male/female divide, but the top moment for me is the choreo that makes the audience cheer during Titanium. I’m going to describe it as a set of equalizer bars. The group lines up in columns and with the members doing a specific arm motion, column by column does an in sync knee bend, creating a rolling effect across the heads of the group. That description should make it clear that I have no dance training and am not a choreographer. Hoping it made some sense…

1) The bridge of Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons is epic. Just by the nature of what they’ve written, it should be. However, as one of the most covered songs of last year, few groups seem to capture this. Chris Rishel nailed it. (Was there ever any doubt?) I’ve clicked back and listened to this roughly minute long section close to 20 times and have found myself having to pick up my jaw off my desk even now. On top of the great arranging, it’s sung well and with great emotion – an essential piece of this song that is frequently missed by other groups.

The first two tracks from the EP have been the first two songs from this ICCA set and I can only hope Little Lion Man will be following soon. I’m going to save a full review of the tracks for after the full EP is released, but you should pick up the first two today. Probably right now even. Here’s the link.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this and I apologize to those of you who have been hoping for more posts. I’m going to be attempting to post more in the coming weeks, including some posts on arranging and group dynamic. Also, my Twitter followers are aware I will be looking for a new post-collegiate contemporary group in Chicago soon – or perhaps I will be starting one. Help finding a musical home or building one is greatly appreciated.

All my best,

Brian