Midnight Ramblers sing Army by Ben Folds

I've stumbled across a really excellent performance by a spirited a cappella group with an arrangement that really caught my eye.  Of all the others of this song I could find (save the Stereotypes), this is the only one that was particularly entertaining:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBR5rFh9gBs

Here's why it works so well:

  • These guys are fantastic performers, and are so comfortable with what they're singing that they can rock out.  The arrangement is excellent because it allows the singers to do just that.
  • Maybe most importantly: a (somewhat) independent bassline supports a block of uppervoices which is essentially singing in homophony. Putting all the voices together like this makes the backups much more monolithic and less complex, but the strength it brings is undeniable.
  • The arrangement is written right into their sweet spots as vocalists. Best yet, it plays directly to their strengths with loud and resonant sustained notes -- this is a very vocally conscious arrangement.
  • There are many repeats in it, which means it was probably possible to learn the notes quickly, leaving much more time to work on performance aspects.
  • The tenors are written  well within the clef; all parts are low and in a comfortable tessitura.
  • The words in the background go by fast, and are sung by the entire group at once, which makes them oddly easy to ignore as a churning of the block's accompaniment.

For another take on this (mine), see this page. I am strongly in favor of elevating the quality of a cappella arranging on college campuses today; these guys are an example of what makes a cappella singing cool.