Saturday, December 20, 2008

The first day of Christmas

Another album streaming over at AOL Music is Straight No Chaser's "Holiday Spirits." I can't help it - I get nostalgic for college a cappella at this time of year!

And Straight No Chaser is a Christmas feel-good story if ever there was one - formed over 10 years ago at Indiana University, the group of 10 guys did what all college a cappella groups do: they sang, they graduated and they moved on with their lives. But in preparing for a reunion last year, one of the members made a video of their college highlights and posted clips on YouTube and their "12 Days of Christmas" quickly became a viral sensation so enormous that even the president of Atlantic Records noticed. He reassembled the 10 original members of the group and gave them a record contract - "Holiday Spirits" is the result.

What sets them apart from the thousands of other a cappella groups around the country? Well first, their talent is enormous. Every single one of them is an outstanding singer and their voices fit together exceptionally well. But I think the real genius is in the arrangements, which show a real creative spark (the aforementioned "12 Days of Christmas" incorporates melodies of several other Christmas carols as well as Toto's "Africa.") They pick likeable songs, arrange them in unique and creative ways, and sing them flawlessly. That, evidently, is the recipe for success.

But to give you an idea, watch the original YouTube sensation:

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