The Best of British 2012 is our unofficial countdown of the top ten UK a cappella tracks of the past year. Over the next few weeks leading up to the Christmas period, we will be counting down, from ten to one, what we believe have been the best tracks on show this year, ranging from awesome arrangements, sensational solos, marvellous mash-ups, punny parodies and everything in between.
In order to determine which tracks were to be considered for this accolade, we decided to restrict our selections to songs that fell under ONE or BOTH of the following categories:
a) A song that made its live debut in 2012
b) A song that was featured on a 2012 album
For example, although all of the tracks featured on The Accidentals‘ EP made their debuts at the 2011 Voice Festival, because the album was released in 2012, all of the tracks on the album were considered. Also, several tracks were considered that were not released on albums, for example songs by The Oxford Belles or The Sons of Pitches from their 2012 repertoire.
We made a list of all the eligible songs from all the eligible groups, and then picked the top three tracks from each group, where possible. We then narrowed this shortlist down to 25, before picking our 10 favourite tracks. Opinions were divided, scores were combined, and in the end there was only one winner. But who will it be?
The countdown continues:
9. The Sons of Pitches – Club Medley 2
‘Outstanding Stagecraft’ – Voice Festival 2012, Final
‘Outstanding Performance’, ‘Outstanding Choreography’ – Voice Festival 2012, Birmingham Regional
Dropping in at number nine is the second of the seemingly annual medleys of classic club anthems from Birmingham’s finest, The Sons of Pitches, aptly titled, Club Medley 2. With the track mashing up the likes of Taio Cruz’ Dynamite, Dead or Alive’s You Spin My Head Round and Tik Tok from Ke$ha to name but a few, it has become a staple in the Sons’ repertoire in the past year, and has sung and danced its way into the audience’s hearts and memories.
Strange to think, then, that three months before the Voice Festival, the arrangement wasn’t even in existence. “Mark Nathan arranged the number around Christmastime last year,” said recent Sons’ alumnus Tom Mackley. “The Sons at the stage only had a repertoire of about three songs, so we knew over the holiday we had to go away and build our VF-UK set, with Club Medley 2 being one and Settle Down being another.” The song actually debuted before the Voice Festival, at a live music venue hosted by Jools Holland called ‘Jam House’. “It went down really well, and we kept editing and improving throughout the first half of the year – the arrangement at the final was different to the one at the Birmingham Regional. I think that’s the beauty of the song – bits can be added and taken away quite easily, and members of the group can add their own individual parts as they go along. It’s really quite a collaborative effort, and that’s what makes it one of our favourite songs to sing.”
And the fans’ reaction to the song? “It’s certainly our most popular song,” continued Mackley. “Whenever we perform, it’s usually our finale. It’s current, beat box/bass heavy, different and fun, and it has songs that everyone recognises contained in it. OK, so it’s not a gloriously rich, full-bodied ballad, but it allows people to dance along and really lifts the energy in a room whenever it is performed.” The group also feel it’s one of their most important songs, and one that helped to define their style as a group. “Without Club Medley 2 I’m not sure the back end of the last academic year would have been so successful – it really was the catalyst that allowed us to find our identity as a group.”
When questioned about the comparisons to the first Club Medley, Mackley believes the second one trumps the first: “I think the reason Mark decided to create another one was because the first one had won the ‘Outstanding Arrangement’ award at the 2011 Regional. But this one has a slight edge, I think: the beat box battle, the sub woofer effects, the break dancing and the whole bus stop sequence just added an extra touch of originality and a stamp of individuality that the other one didn’t quite possess.” It’s clear the boys enjoy performing the song, too: “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we’re around to mess around and pretend we’re the best thing to come out of the University of Birmingham since Lizo Mzimba for three-and-a-bit minutes!”
We look forward to seeing if The Sons of Pitches have anymore award-winning Club Medleys in their back pockets in the coming year. For now, enjoy this one again as we continue our countdown at number nine.
You can watch the Club Medley 2 at the VF-UK Final right here