Lots of people have been asking what we make of Gareth Malone’s latest Naked Choir project (which takes the form of a singing contest between a cappella groups) and whether we are involved. Indeed, the eagled eyed amongst you may have spotted Nic Doodson’s name in the credits.
Nic was almost a judge on the show, but unfortunately his commitments with The Magnets and his new a cappella production Gobsmacked! meant he was restricted to an advisory role. However, being the cream of the a cappella crop, our new recruits are well represented. Our new tenor Nick Girard is sagely judging and beatboxer Ballzee generously mentoring on the show. It is also lovely to see director and choreographer Andrew Panton on the panel. He did fantastic work with us on our 2005 and 2010 Edinburgh Fringe productions.
It was fantastic to see our favourite a cappella upstarts, the Sons of Pitches do so well on Tuesday’s show. They are a mile ahead of where we were at the same stage of development on leaving university 18 years ago, and it would be fantastic to see them succeed professionally. It was a bit of a shame that the younger group, Flight of the Phoenix, didn’t make the cut. While utterly inexperienced there were a couple of really strong moments in their arrangement of Counting Stars that suggested they could have developed something special given a bit more time. Sweet though they were, we’re not sure we’ll see much musical development from the old boys in YesterYear, and were surprised to see them progress.
If we are to be at all critical of the show, it is a shame there isn’t a spot on each episode for a performance by any of the UK’s top groups (beyond a couple of welcome but brief clips from Gobsmacked! and Oxford University’s Out of the Blue). Given that much of the audience will have only very limited experience of a cappella music, it would be lovely if they could have a chance to compare the acts on the show against the very best the genre can offer. Think of Strictly Come Dancing where the contrast between the celebs and the professional dancers makes you appreciate the skill of the pros all the more. The absence of the Swingle Singers, King’s Singers, Black Voices or *cough* ourselves seems a bit of a missed opportunity to showcase just how good professional a cappella can be.
That aside, we have got to thank Gareth for putting a cappella firmly in the spotlight in the UK. Perhaps in his heart he really wants to be an a cappella singer, rather than a conductor? After all, as one of our supporters pointed out on Twitter, an anagram of his name is ‘Oh Real Magnet’. Time to join up Gareth!