College, they say, is a time of self-discovery. And so, some of us discover that happiness is found onstage, involves the wearing of matching outfits, and includes the singing of Journey songs (even the instrumental parts) in perfect harmony. Ah, cappella! What would our 21st-century campuses be without you?
In Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, a GQ editor named Mickey Rapkin shines a bright light on this highly competitive, rapidly expanding subculture (there are 2,400 glee clubs in America alone). The author, who is an alumnus of Cornell’s oldest all-male singing club, Cayuga’s Waiters, follows top-tier a cappella groups as they vie for the national championships, outing quite a few celebrity glee-club members along the way. (The list includes Peter Gallagher, Diane Sawyer, James van der Beek, and — wait for it — Osama Bin Laden.)
Although to those of us who went to college in the 20th century this phenomenon seems somewhat incomprehensibly retro, at least it’s charmingly non-preprofessional. As Stephen Colbert reminded Princeton seniors in his graduation speech in June, “When you leave here, no one will ever, ever want to hear you sing a cappella.”
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