By Ezra Emerson
It’s that time of year again. After our lovely Pesach break, we entered the period known as sefira, which is the 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. We are meant to use this time getting ready to reaccept the Torah upon ourselves. One feature of the sefirah period is that we don’t listen to music made with instruments but can listen to music with noises made by people, known also as acapella. If you’re a music lover like me, this can be a rather difficult restriction to adhere to. However, thanks to Spotify, I was able to find some pretty cool acapella groups, which I will share with you in this piece! Below are nine of my favorite groups, including secular and Jewish artists. Let’s turn up the music!
Pentatonix (PTX) is just flat-out amazing. They started back in the early 2010s and instantly became a big favorite of mine. They cover throwbacks like “Starships” by Nicki Minaj, “Problem” by Ariana Grande, and “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, which I personally think are even better than the originals. PTX has even collaborated with some pretty well-known artists, like Kelly Clarkson and Maren Morris among others. They also have two number-one albums on the Billboard top 200 chart, which is pretty cool for an acapella group.
2. Home Free
I LOVE COUNTRY. I don’t think there has been a day that has gone by without me either singing or listening to country music. I can go on and on about how good Eric Church, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, and Morgan Wallen are. To be honest, I didn’t expect country acapella to be that good, but Home Free has truly knocked it out of the park. The way they use their voices to recreate the country feel of songs truly amazes me.
Voiceplay has great beats and rhythms in all of their songs. They sing songs fromBroadway shows, movies, and other famous artists. Their 2013 Sing-Off win gained them a lot of popularity, and to this day they are one of the best groups in the acapella world.
4. Tufts Beelzebubs
Many colleges have their own acapella groups that are often quite good. The Tufts Beezlebubs have been around since the 1960s and have had over 300 members over the years. In my opinion, they are one of the best college acapella groups. They won second place on the NBC show Sing-Off back in 2009 and have done background vocals for various songs on Glee. They were also the inspiration for the Barden University Treblemakers in the popular movie series Pitch Perfect.
5. BYU Vocal Point
We have all heard the jokes about BYU and YU being the same. While it’s a funny joke, we are actually quite different. Besides being part of different religions, YU no longer has an official school acapella group, while BYU has had one since 1991. BYU Vocal Point is one of the best acapella groups in the collegiate setting that I have ever heard. They also are one of the best-dressed groups, with their very eye-catching blue suits and matching converse all-stars.
DCapella is amazing. I have loved Disney for my entire life, from the movies and shows to their incredible Parks.. This acappella group solely dedicated to Disney music means we can still blast “Circle of Life” from The Lion King, “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen, and “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana during the sefira weeks.
1. Soulful Acappella
Soulful Acapella are known for their excellent series called Kumzitz in the Rain. I love their harmonies and voices, and it’s cool to listen to some famous niggunim sung by professionals without the use of instruments.
Who doesn’t know about YU’s once proudly associated acapella group? They blew up the internet with “Miracles” back in 2011, and each year they create new Jewish lyrics to popular songs. Fun fact: they were once more popular than the YU Basketball team.
3. Y-Studs A Cappella
Since we are on the subject of once associated acapella groups with YU, it’s only fair to bring up the Maccabeats replacements. The Y-Studs added their own style and lyrics to popular songs, and are always a great listen to. They are not part of a YU anymore, however, so it should be only a matter of time till a new group comes along.
Below, I have included a playlist of my favorite songs from the various groups I mentioned in this article. I hope you enjoy it! At this time, I would also like to encourage the return of both the YU and Stern acapella groups. For reference of the past Stern acapella group, here is a Facebook link to The LexSingtons and here is the Spotify Playlist Link.